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There are a number of options for adding color to concrete. You can narrow down the choices by taking into consideration whether the concrete is going to be poured fresh, or if it is an existing, or older, cured or hardened concrete surface.

When the concrete is a new pour (in other words it hasn't been placed yet), you have a bit more diversity as to how you want to finish it. Here is a breakdown of the options for both scenarios.

New Pour

When the project includes new concrete that is to be poured on the jobsite (freshly-placed, usually delivered to the site by a ready mix concrete company in a concrete mixing truck), there are several concrete coloring and finishing options which are generally not possible with an older, or existing concrete slab. Let's take a look at some of these options:

Sika Scofield Integral Concrete Color

Integral concrete color is color that is added to the concrete mix at the concrete batch plant. It is called integral because this color is added into the concrete mix, and when the concrete is poured out of the truck and into the formwork, it is colored all the way through.

Integral concrete color is typically the most cost-effective way to add color to concrete, and it can be used alone or in conjunction with other concrete finishing techniques to create a variety of appearances. The simplest way to use this coloring method is to do a broom finish on the surface after placement. This is a common technique for exterior concrete plazas, sidewalks, drives, and patios. Integral concrete color is also used for cast-in-place, tilt-up, and manufactured concrete products.

Scofield Integral Color System:
CHROMIX® Admixtures for Color-Conditioned® Concrete
SOLACHROME™ Integral Treatment for High-SRI Concrete

Sika Scofield Concrete Color Hardener

Concrete color hardener is a powdered coloring product that is broadcast onto the surface of freshly placed concrete, and then troweled in to create a uniform, consistent colored appearance. It generally provides a more solid looking color compared to integral color, and is available in a range of permanent, high-opacity, vivid colors.

Color hardened concrete has performance advantages. Due to select aggregates and other technology, color hardened concrete has a higher compressive strength at the surface, making it suitable for even vehicular traffic. It is commonly used for warehouse, industrial, commercial, hardscapes, splash pads, and parks.

Scofield Color Hardeners:
LITHOCHROME® Color Hardener
EMERCHROME™ SC Color Hardener

Sika Scofield Stamped Concrete

Stamped concrete refers to the technique of using pattern or texturing tools to create a concrete surface that mimics the appearance of brick, stone, slate or tile. Finishing concrete in this way is a more cost-effective option to using actual stone, slate, or other paving materials. Using this finishing technique requires the use of two or three coloring products to complete the desired effect.

Another option for a textured concrete surface is to use a Concrete Surface Retarder. This is the technique used when you see pebbles, rocks or aggregate at the surface, although lighter etches can be achieved. The surface retarder is sprayed onto the surface of the freshly placed concrete, where it delays the set time of the surface paste. This allows the surface paste to be washed off, revealing a specific depth of aggregate at the surface.

Scofield Stamped and Textured Concrete:
LITHOTEX® Pavecrafters® Concrete Pattern Tools and Texturing Skins
LITHOCAST™ Surface Retarder

Existing Concrete Slab

When the project involves concrete that is already in place (whether newly cured or older concrete), you generally cannot use any of the coloring or texturing options listed above*. But there are some great coloring options available:

Sika Scofield Concrete Stain

Concrete stain is used to color the surface of an existing concrete slab. It is typically sprayed onto the prepared surface, and sometimes worked in with a brush. There are a number of different types of concrete stain on the market, but they are generally divided into two types: acid stain and water-based stain.

Concrete that is colored with acid stain has a unique, variegated appearance, and the color is permanent. Available in a limited palette of browns, greens and blacks, acid stain chemically reacts with the concrete and becomes part of the concrete surface. No two acid stained floors will be alike in appearance. Acid stained floors can look either antiqued or contemporary, depending on the design of the surrounding environment.

An alternative to acid stains are water-based stains. These high-performance, low-odor stains offer more color selections than acid stain, including vibrant reds, purples, yellows and blues. One benefit of water-based stains is that the area that is stained can be more quickly returned to service. The use of a protective sealer is important to maintain the color.

Scofield Concrete Stains:
LITHOCHROME® Chemstain® Classic Acid Stain
LITHOCHROME® Tintura™ Water-Based Stain

Sika Scofield Formula One Polished Concrete

Polished concrete has been around for a number of years, but was mostly relegated to warehouse floors. With the introduction of concrete dye and specific finishing options, this durable and low-maintenance floor has entered the architectural mainstream.

Ground and polished concrete is a mechanical process of cutting or honing an existing concrete slab, adding dye (color) and a densifier, and then polishing to the desired level of gloss. Densifying products are used to harden the surface by filling the naturally existing surface pores with additional calcium silicate hydrate (CSH), a naturally occurring mineral in concrete that gives concrete its strength.

Scofield Polished Concrete System:
SCOFIELD® Formula One™ Liquid Dye Concentrate
SCOFIELD® Formula One™ Lithium Densifier
SCOFIELD® Formula One™ Guard-W
SCOFIELD® Formula One™ Finish Coat

Sika Scofield Concrete Overlay

If you are dealing with an existing concrete surface that you want to add texture or pattern to, you can use a cementitious overlay to do it. Overlays are poured onto a suitable (and suitably prepared) concrete substrate, and then imprinted with a pattern tool or texture skin. The overlay is usually colored with a color pack.

Because of their relatively shallow depth, overlays cannot be stamped with patterns that have a deep grout line. Seamless texturing skins are often a better choice with this type of material, and you can also use stencils to achieve patterned effects.

Scofield Overlays:
SCOFIELD® Texturetop® Pro

A Final Word on Color

In order to bring out the most beautiful depth of color in any architectural concrete floor or hardscape, the use of a compatible sealer is a must. Not only do sealers make the color pop, they may provide protection against a variety of hazards including spills, water intrusion and other forms of abuse. Scofield manufactures a complete line of compatible solvent-based and water-based sealers and curing and sealing compounds. Ask your Scofield rep which choice he recommends based on your project needs and circumstances.

Contact us or call us at 800-800-9900 for more information on any of our architectural concrete coloring systems.

Sika Corporation
Sika Scofield Sales Office
4155 Scofield Road
Douglasville, GA 30134
Phone: 800-800-9900
Sika USA