Learn the differences between concrete dyes versus concrete stains and how to tell them apart.

Fairly new to the decorative concrete industry, concrete dyes are currently all the rage, replacing the previously popular concrete staining fad, below we describe the differences between concrete dyes and concrete stains and how to tell them apart.

Concrete staining is a chemical process, whereby the staining agent reacts with the calcium hydroxide present in concrete, but when making use of a concrete dye, the process is rather that of pigmentation; a non-reactive method where colour is mixed with concrete and penetrates the cement particles.

To follow, let’s explore each process in more detail, helping to highlight the differences between these two approaches to colouring concrete.

The Process of using a Concrete Dye As discussed the process of using a colour dye is a non-reactive one whereby colour pigment particles mix with the cement particles. Smaller in size, dye pigment particles are able to penetrate cementitious surfaces, allowing for more intense colour saturation while leaving minimal residue to clean up on the surface of the concrete after the effect has been applied. Available as a water or solvent based formula, concrete dyes can produce a monotone to translucent finish depending on the formula selected to be applied.

Designed to resemble marble, similar to the effect resulting from chemical stains, water based dyes produce a more translucent and uneven effect whereas solvent based dyes create a more solid and uniform colour finish. Other more unique effects may be accomplished by mixing water and solvent based dyes together producing a distinctive blend of colour.

An important note to remember when making use of concrete dyes is that given the rate at which pigment particles in concrete dye are able to penetrate porous cement particles means that even the smallest mishap during the application process can result in an undesirable finish. Another note to be aware of is that concrete dyes are not UV stable making them only suitable for indoor concrete flooring and not concrete flooring surfaces that are exposed to harsh sunlight and any adverse weather conditions throughout the day.

Concrete colour dyes are also available in an extensive colour palette, offering vibrant colour finishes and intensities. Although new to the concrete flooring industry, making use of concrete dye technology creates unique and diverse colour techniques for a striking and distinctive look to decorative cement.

Understanding Concrete Stains Concrete staining can be an intricate process given its translucent and marbled effect. Acid or water based concrete staining is available in a gorgeous variety of colours with end results that guarantee a unique finish well suited to both interior and exterior surfaces. Using a stain to colour concrete is the more popular method to creating a decorative look offering the ability to achieve almost any accent to concrete flooring.

By penetrating the concrete, cement staining agents have a chemical response when coming into contact with the calcium hydroxide present in the concrete mix. This process results in a unique mottling effect that resembles finishes similar to that of marble or granite. Although available in a variety of colours, acid stain tones are typically limited to earthy tans, browns, terracotta and the most exotic or the range, opaque blues and greens. Water based stains are available in a more extravagant colour palette broadening colour options and even allowing colour mixing, two tone blending, the layering of stains or perhaps even the inclusion of stencil decals where desired.

Regardless of the method used to colour decorative concrete flooring, the pigmentation process to adding accents to concrete is both affordable and accessible offering a variety of finishes, intensities, colours hues and effects.