Stamped Concrete: Adding Base Color

The base color is the primary color used in stamped concrete. The base color is chosen to reflect the color of the natural building material. The base color is produced by adding a color hardener to the concrete. Color hardener is a powder pigment used to dye the concrete.

The color hardener can be applied using one of two procedures; integral color or cast-on color. Integral color is the procedure where the entire volume of concrete is dyed the base color. The entire volume of concrete is colored by adding the color hardener to the concrete truck, and allowing all the concrete in the truck to be dyed. Cast-on color is the procedure where the surface of the concrete is dyed the base color. The surface of the concrete is colored by spreading the color hardener onto the surface of the wet concrete and floating the powder into the top layer of the wet concrete.

Concrete can be colored in many ways; color hardener, integral liquid or powder, acid stains to name a few. The process of integrally coloring the concrete offers the advantage of the entire volume being colored; however, the surface strength is not increased as with the use of color hardener. Dry shake color hardener is another popular way to color concrete. You broadcast the hardener on the concrete as soon as it is floated for the first time. After letting the bleed water soak into the hardener you float and trowel it in. This method only covers the surface about 3/16 of an inch but it gives the concrete surface a longer wear life.