Coloring Concrete with Pigments – DIY Instructions for Colored Concrete

Coloring Concrete with Pigments – DIY Instructions for Colored Concrete

Whether table decorations, planters or concrete furniture for the garden, the building material, which has proven itself due to its compressive strength, is enjoying increasing popularity in the DIY sector. However, since the choice of colors for concrete remains rather limited and the “standard gray” has become a bit out of fashion, there are various options for color design. So if you want to add some color to everyday gray concrete, this article will tell you everything you need to know about coloring concrete with pigments.

In the beginning, the question arises, which building material is actually the right one because the trade offers countless types of handicraft concrete to lightning cement and cement screed.

cement

Cement is the most widely used material worldwide and is mainly used as a binding agent. As a binding agent, it forms the basis for concrete, plaster, mortar, and other building materials, as it begins to harden through the chemical reaction with water. Portland cement is the most common type of cement among the various types of cement. It is primarily used to manufacture concrete and is known for its typical gray color.

concrete

In order to produce this artificial stone, you need a binding agent, which is mixed together with an aggregate. Therefore, water, cement, and a mixture of gravel and sand often form the main basis for this building material. Concrete is known for its extremely high compressive strength; the use of steel reinforcement results in reinforced concrete with a very high tensile strength.

mortar

This building material is used for bricking up and plastering walls or laying tiles. Here, too, cement and water, together with sand and lime, form the basis. The different masonry mortars differ only in the mixing ratio of the individual components. The intended use decides which mortar is required. Mortar also serves as a base for screed and plaster.

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Color pigments for concrete

If you want to color concrete sustainably, color pigments should be the first choice. In contrast to surface treatment by painting or varnishing, pigments can be used to color the entire concrete. This has the advantage that the concrete retains its color even if the surface is exposed to mechanical abrasion and weathering, such as paving slabs. With a ratio of 1% to 5% color pigments to the amount of cement added, you can influence the intensity of the colors.

Tip: Particularly intense and light colors can be achieved with white cement.

If you add more than 5% of pigments, however, there is no stronger color because the mixture is then already saturated. We have tested three different colors with different pigment proportions for you and would like to present the result to you here.

  • Coloring at 2% and 5% with brown pigments
  • Gradient at 1%, 2% and 3% with red pigments
  • Gradient at 1%, 4% and 5% with green pigments

Although we worked with different proportions of pigment, the intensity of the color gradient turned out a little less than expected. But it is still strong enough to achieve contrast. If gray cement were used, the colors would be darker. Experiment to get the shade you want.

Note: The statics of load-bearing components can be influenced by the color pigments.

Make your own planter – instructions

Concrete as a craft material is becoming more and more popular and is ideal for garden furniture, decorations, or, as in our example, for a planter.

1. The material

We have listed the most important materials that you need for the colored concrete bucket. Whether you mix the concrete yourself or buy creative concrete is of course up to you, but we decided to mix it ourselves because we want to achieve a strong and light color with white cement.

  • cement
  • sand
  • Color pigments
  • Protective gloves
  • Respirator
  • mold
  • Bucket to mix
  • Cover film
  • Stir stick

Tip: If you have a cordless screwdriver or a drill to hand, you can equip it with a mortar mixer, which makes it easier to stir the concrete.

2. The shape

Before you start you need a mold. There are no limits to your creativity here. Depending on how you want your planter to look, make an inner and an outer mold. You just have to make sure that your shapes are well sealed and that there is some space, preferably 5 cm or a little more, between the shapes. This means that the planter is stable enough in the end. Cardboard boxes or plastic trays are best, as these can be easily removed after the concrete has dried.

3. Color concrete

If you have prepared everything, you can now start mixing and coloring the concrete. Do not forget to wear a dust mask and protective gloves. This protects your skin and the airways from the aggressive, fine-dusted cement. Now add about 1 – 5% color pigments to the amount of cement you need. We chose 4% pigment:

  • this was 84 g of pigment powder on 2.1 kg of cement

Now stir the cement with the color pigments so that they are finely distributed. Now add the desired amount of sand that you need for your concrete. The ratio of sand to cement for concrete is 4 parts sand to 1 part cement. For our project, however, we are based on creative concrete and work with a  ratio of 1: 2 (cement: quartz sand).

Finally, gradually add water and stir the whole mixture until the concrete has the desired consistency. To pour it into a mold, it should be about as runny as semolina.

4. Water the planter

When the concrete is ready, start pouring it into the mold slowly and evenly. After you have poured the concrete into the mold, you should compress the mixture a little by pressing it firmly so that no air bubbles form.

Finally, cover the bucket with foil and let the concrete dry for 24 to 36 hours. After the drying phase, remove the inner and outer mold. If you want, you can still work on the concrete by sanding it down.

Tips for readers in a hurry

  • Concrete consists of cement, water, and a mixture of gravel and sand
  • You can buy the concrete ready-made (expensive) or mix it yourself (cheap)
  • Procure material
  • Build and seal the mold
  • Add 1 – 4% color pigments to the required cement
  • 2 parts sand to 1 part cement for craft concrete
  • Add water and mix well
  • Pour concrete into the mold and let it dry for 24 to 36 hours
  • Take the concrete out of the mold and sand it down