Did you know you can color concrete using stains or dyes? That’s right: Whether your concrete is new or old, it isn’t doomed to be drab forever. From dandelion yellow to violet purple, it can be easy to add pigment and interest to cementitious surfaces.
There are definite pros and cons to using stains or dyes to color concrete. Understanding the different approaches (and which one is better for a given project) is important if you’re considering adding character to your own concrete structures.
Dyes are nonreactive which means, unlike stains, they don’t chemically react with the concrete. So, they are safer to use than stains. And because they have low or no volatile organic compounds (VOC), they are easier on the environment. Plus, they can be quick and simple to use for the DIY homeowner. You basically have two types of concrete dyes to choose from.
Both water- and solvent-based dyes work by penetrating the concrete’s pores to change the color. A coat of sealer over the top of the dye ensures it stays looking good.
Stains, on the other hand, typically contain hydrochloric acid, metallic salts and water, and react chemically with the calcium hydroxide in the concrete to permanently change the color. Unlike penetrating the pores of the concrete like dyes, stains actually etch the surface and create a mottled, variegated finish.
And that’s the real difference: Stains are permanent. Dyes? less so.
So, which one is right for your project? It really depends on your preference, style and long-range goal for the surface. It’s worth noting that dyes aren’t UV-stable, meaning they will fade or discolor in the sun. So, they aren’t the best option for outdoor spaces. However, because dyes don’t permanently alter the concrete as stains do, it’s possible to change the appearance years later. If you get tired of pigment, it’s possible to re-color the concrete with dyes.
No matter what coloring option is right for you, Intermountain Concrete Specialties has you covered. From stains to dyes to sealers, we have the products and expertise you need to successfully complete any home project. Come and talk to one of our experts at any of our seven locations, from St. George to Idaho Falls, for all your concrete project questions.
Well-planned, beautiful landscaping is the goal most home owners have for their home and garden areas. We admire perfectly manicured lawns and lively flower gardens during a Sunday afternoon stroll. But how often do we notice or point out the beauty of concrete walkways and patios? Oftentimes, this type of work is overlooked as an element in landscaping, that adds a unique touch to your home. All that stops now!
Concrete is amazingly versatile and can be a creative method to add decorative detail to your home, especially on a budget!
What is Stamped Concrete?
Stamped concrete is an easier, and less time-consuming method for creating beautiful, multi-dimensional walkways and patios that look very similar to their more expensive counterparts of stones and pavers.
After concrete is poured and settled, an experienced contractor uses large stamps from a set of patterns to press the desired decorative look into the soft concrete. Adding a powdered color additive to the mixture before it is poured is another option that creates a beautifully unique element to the finished product. Once the stamped concrete is dried, it can also be sprayed with a color additive; however, this can begin to peel over time. For this reason, many professionals recommend using the powdered additive before pouring the concrete. Another piece of advice is that a good concrete sealer is invaluable to off-set any fading of the coloring over time.
It is important to note that while this finish work does sound simple, there is plenty of room for error. It is advised that only experienced contractors or very serious DIY pros undertake this type of project. If the concrete mixture has too much or too little water, stamping can be quite the challenge, with many undesirable outcomes such as rough or brittle edges.
What are the Pros?
Using stamped concrete to bolster your landscaping can really add an elegant touch that is considerably less expensive and is also a much faster process. Stonework and pavers can be a long and tedious way to break the bank!
Concrete work that is well-designed and poured correctly has proven to stand the test of time and is a remarkable method for keeping weeds and grasses at bay as well. Stones and pavers allow weeds to grow between the joints, creating an uneven pathway. Concrete certainly has the advantage if this is a concern in your yard.
What are the Cons?
As with all good things, there are some drawbacks to consider. There are some stamps that can actually make the concrete be smoother than it might be otherwise. This can produce a slippery affect when wet. To avoid this problem, the use of a non-slip additive can help to prevent this.
The stamping texture itself should be considered. This may cause some uneven places that are not suitable for the elderly or small children who are learning to walk. Moreover, these small grooves are likely to cause some patio furniture to wobble slightly if the placement isn’t just right.
Snow removal can also be a point of frustration due to the uneven textured surface. Moreover, for this same reason, debris and dirt can become lodged in the grooves more easily as well.
If the concreted area will be load-bearing, such as a driveway, it is important to use a stronger concrete mix, or to plan for a thicker slab. Additionally, it may be a good idea to use a textured skin for this instead of an actual stamp, as this will still offer a unique look without creating grooves.
Is Stamped Concrete for You?
Stamped concrete can be a budget-friendly and creative way to add some elegance to your landscaping. While there are a few special considerations, many find this additional touch to be esthetically pleasing and a durable choice for their home and yard. If you are considering concrete work for your new home or you simply need an outdoor upgrade, stamped concrete can really take your landscaping to the next level.
Utah’s home market is hot right now. It’s a seller’s market for sure. But it doesn’t matter how high the market is – if your home lacks curb appeal or is in obvious need of repairs, potential buyers may not give it a second look.
Curb appeal can raise property value as much as 12 percent and increase resale value up to 14 percent. It also decreases the amount of time your home spends on the market. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Before you go crazy planting flowers to make things look pretty, let’s take a look at some ways to see actual return on investment.
Most buyers have a hard time seeing past messy landscaping, cracks in concrete patios and a cluttered home or yard. Savvy sellers know how to make their home appealing to buyers. This includes cleaning up landscaping, staging the interior, and making necessary repairs.
Concrete cracks raise a red flag for Utah homebuyers. If you notice cracks in concrete patios, sidewalks or walkways it’s important to repair them before they get worse. Also check for cracks in the foundation and remember, if the crack is wider than a nickel you’ll need to have it looked at by the pros.
A kitchen can make or break a sale. Potential buyers look for updated floors and countertops, and an outdated kitchen can affect overall home value. But you don’t have to spend all of your potential profits updating a kitchen you won’t be using once you sell. A minor kitchen remodel can result in 114 percent of costs recouped.
Concrete countertops are an affordable and creative way to update a kitchen for a completely customized look. The average cost of a standard thickness concrete countertop is actually less costly than granite, engineered quartz and other high-end materials.
This is another space that’s important to potential home buyers, and improvement dollars can yield a strong ROI. Materials will affect the price of the patio but using higher grade materials won’t necessarily give you a higher ROI. Decorative concrete is an ideal option for getting a high-end look without using materials that take more money out of your pocket than they will put back in it.
Fluids such as oil, gas and transmission fluid can leave stains on garage floors, driveways and patios. Whether a stain is new or old, it can usually be removed or lightened, depending on the surface.
To remove oil from concrete, an enzymatic multi-surface cleaner like Grime Monster can help breakdown oil and grease without leaving a halo effect. New stains can be covered with cat litter or baking soda prior, to absorb excess oil. Other stains may require a different process and products. An ICS concrete specialist can help you determine the best method to remove your particular concrete stain.
There are plenty of options to choose from to improve the value of your home. A little research on the best investment for your neighborhood and budget could pay off in nicely when it’s time to put your home on the market.
Spring has sprung in Utah and the arrival of warm weather makes us want to head outdoors. It’s the perfect time to clear out the clutter and start fresh, but save the closet organizing for rainy days. Instead, tackle these outdoor spring cleaning and home maintenance projects to get your home ready for spring.
√ Decks, Patios and Porches
The first step to deck, patio and porch maintenance is a good spring cleaning. Sweep and power wash, clear weeds and debris, and check for loose steps or railings. If you notice cracks in concrete patios, follow the same steps we recommend below for sidewalks. Once your patio is clean and repaired, protect it from future stains and damage with a concrete sealer. Consider beautifying with decorative stamped concrete to enhance home value and appearance.
√ Concrete Sidewalks and Walkways
Concrete sidewalks can take a beating in winter. The first step to spring concrete maintenance is a good cleaning. Sweep away any debris so you can get a good look at the current condition. Next, carefully inspect concrete, checking for cracked or crumbling areas. Visit one of Intermountain Concrete Specialties six locations in Utah and Idaho the products, tools and tips you need to repair concrete cracks before damage progresses.
Check concrete foundation walls, floors and slabs for cracking, heaving or deterioration. Some cracks are minor and can be repaired. If the crack is the width of a nickel, it’s time to call a professional.
Winter can take a toll on your roof so perform a close inspection each spring. Check flashings, and look for punctured, cracked, curled or missing shingles. Some are visible from the ground, but it’s a good idea to get a closer look to see if roof maintenance is required.
Gutters and downspouts need to be clear of obstructions to properly manage rain water and to prevent moisture damage to your home. Clear leaves and other winter debris from gutters, reattach loose ones, and make sure water runoff is directed away from the house. If there are leaks, dry the area and use caulk or epoxy to seal.
Check for loose siding panels and ensure the flashing is in place. Clean siding with a pressure washer to remove winter’s dirt and debris. Take care of any necessary exterior siding repairs or painting.
Routine maintenance on your central HVAC unit can improve airflow, which in turn can lower heating and cooling costs. If you have an outdoor unit, remove dust, leaves, grass clipping and any other debris that may be blocking airflow. Be sure to shut power to the unit before performing any maintenance. HVAC spring maintenance is definitely something you want to tackle before Utah’s summer heat kicks in.
√ General landscaping
This is a given when it comes to spring home maintenance. Clear dead leaves, branches and other debris; clean out garden and flower beds; prune and trim trees and shrubs; and reseed thin or damaged areas of the lawn.
Check for leaky valves and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Clean or replace poorly performing sprinklers, check operating pressure, and adjust sprinkler heads as necessary. Open the main water valve slowly to allow pipes to fill gradually and avoid bursting a pipe.
√ Windows and doors
Check screens for punctures or holes, and inspect windowsills and doorways for cracks and potential leaks. To protect from spring rains, remove eroded caulk and fill cracks with fresh exterior caulking. Repaint and seal for a beautiful home enhancement.
Your Utah home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Take care of it with spring cleaning and home maintenance so you can enjoy a safe and beautiful home for years to come. Don’t forget to check out our list of 7 Outdoor Concrete Projects for Spring and the 10 concrete products you need to make them happen!
Roasted marshmallows, S’mores, spending quality time with friends and family. We can think of many reasons to build a DIY concrete fire pit this summer. Fire pits are an affordable way to add cozy ambiance to any outdoor setting, and extend the use of your outdoor space well into colder months.
Things to consider when building a concrete fire pit are: permanent vs. portable, budget, location, safety* and style. Design can be as simple as a concrete fire pit bowl filled with lava rocks or gel candles, to more elaborate set ups with decorative concrete finishes and built-in seating. Design possibilities are endless. Consider the design of your home and landscaping when deciding on the style and size of the concrete fire pit.
Tools, materials and concrete accessories will vary depending on the type of fire pit you’re building. Intermountain Concrete Specialties can help you decide the best products and tools for your concrete project. Typically, a DIY concrete fire pit project will require marking paint or chalk, tape measure, shovel, level, pointing sand, general purpose sand, a bowl for the form or lumber for the framework, nails, L-brackets, fire bricks or a fire box, sealer, and of course, concrete. Additional products may be needed for your particular project.
One of our sales reps recently built this backyard fire pit using stone, Quikcrete Polymeric Pointing Sand, Quikcrete General Purpose Sand, and Creto Masterseal Stone Sealer. This permanent structure has plenty of area for seating, and a flat stone finish. A similar look can be achieved using decorative concrete for the surrounding platform.
The basic steps for any DIY concrete fire pit project include:
Stop by any Intermountain Concrete Specialties location with your design idea, and we’ll help you choose the right products and equipment to build a concrete fire pit that will have friends and family gathering, and building memories, for years to come.
*Check with your city or county for ordinances prior to building a fire pit, and practice proper fire safety when using a fire pit.
Spring is the perfect time of year to transform a dull concrete patio or walkway into a real showstopper. Learn how to give your boring gray concrete slab a facelift with a decorative concrete finish that can change the look of your yard.
Prep is the key to success for any concrete project. First things first, completely clear the space, then sweep the concrete surface clean, and power wash if necessary. Next, scrub away removable stains with a heavy-duty concrete cleaner like W.R. Meadows Ultrite Degreaser & Stripper. This biodegradable concrete degreaser penetrates concrete to soften, lift and remove oils, grease and dirt, plus existing curing compounds and seals. We typically don’t recommend priming concrete for staining; just make sure the surface is thoroughly clean before application.
Now it’s time to apply your decorative finish. One thing to keep in mind is that here in the dry Utah climate, paints don’t adhere very well to concrete surfaces. Instead of painting, we recommend a quality concrete stain that infuses color deep into the concrete, instead of covering the concrete on the surface.
Different stains are appropriate for different projects and yield different looks. NewLook Original Solid Color Stain, Smart Color, and Faux Fusion, and Innotech Concrete Acid Stain and Color Easy each create different types of finishes that works well in our climate. Since each stain varies in result and application, ask an Intermountain Concrete Specialties expert to help you find the best option for your project and desired look.
Tracy in our Ogden Intermountain Concrete Specialties showroom recently completed this backyard patio DIY at his home. There are a few ways to create this look. into newly placed concrete using Innotech Integral Dye to color the concrete, and then use Innotech Powder Release to highlight the grain of the wood texture stamp. If your concrete is already poured you can use Innotech Stampable Overlay over the existing concrete to give you texture and color. You can also refresh your concrete with a new color by using the NewLook concrete stains mentioned above.
Most importantly, make sure to protect your investment by applying a high-quality sealer once staining is complete. ICS High Gloss is a great outdoor sealer for decorative concrete. Formulated to seal, protect, and enhance colored and stamped outdoor concrete surfaces, ICS High Gloss Sealer creates a durable, breathable, non-yellowing, high-sheen finish. Best of all, this acrylic-based liquid sealing compound is easy to apply and dries quickly—so you can get outside and enjoy your newly transformed concrete patio!
When it comes to countertops, there are a lot of options on the market these days: granite, quartz, laminates, wood and concrete are just some of the possibilities. So why are so many homeowners choosing concrete countertops? Decorative concrete offers a creative and affordable way to change up the look in your kitchen and bathroom while delivering advantages that other materials can’t, especially when it comes to versatility and practicality. Concrete countertops can be designed to order, including color, shape, size, finish and edge, bringing a completely customizable look that can be tailored to your home’s design style.
Color options. Decorative concrete countertops offer endless color options, including integral color chemical stains and water-based stains. Prepare samples ahead of time so you know exactly what the final color will be. Color can enhance the pattern and texture of decorative concrete, bringing a huge impact to the overall design effect.
Texture / Pattern. Texture and pattern set the tone for the overall look of any decorative concrete project. Herein lies the beauty of concrete countertops, which can be created to mimic slate, granite, natural stone, brick, antiqued finishes, and more. Concrete countertops can be further customized with inserts and inlays, such as pebbles, sea glass, mini tiles and more.
Shape. Concrete countertops can be cast in any shape and size. This goes a long way in allowing homeowners to customize kitchen and bathroom countertops to their space and personal needs. Concrete countertops can also be created with custom edges. The design possibilities are truly endless when it comes to decorative concrete countertops.
Heat and stain resistance. Concrete is naturally heat resistant, but it’s also porous. Applying a surface sealant will increase stain resistance. Once a sealant or wax treatment is applied, avoid placing hot pans on the sealed concrete surface.
Minimal seams. Depending on the size of the concrete countertop, they may have to be cast in smaller sections. However, visible seams can be minimized with the use of a concrete filler that matches the color and texture of the rest of the countertop. And unlike tile countertops, there won’t be any crumb-catching grout lines.
Cost effective. The average cost of a standard thickness concrete countertop is cheaper than granite, engineered quartz, and other high-end materials. Best of all, you can achieve the same finished look with concrete as you can with more expensive materials. While laminates and other synthetic surfaces may be cheaper, they generically don’t have the same overall versatility as concrete.
Decorative concrete has gained popularity over the past several years, and now another design trend is on the rise: concrete furniture. Once a staple material for sidewalks and driveways, concrete’s versatility has found it’s way indoors.
Concrete is an easy, affordable and creative way to design and build custom furniture that brings a modern look to home décor. With its ability to be formed into just about any shape, concrete is an ideal material for crafting coffee tables, dining tables, seating, bookshelves, office furniture, even bed frames. And we’re not talking boring, gray, utilitarian furniture. Today’s advanced decorative concrete finishes such as concrete paint, stains, and stamping tools can create a high-end look that mimics slate, tile, stone and other sophisticated finishes—without the high price tag.
The versatility of concrete lends itself to furniture that can be created to beautify any type of décor. Whether your style is modern or contemporary, industrial chic or rustic, concrete furniture can be custom created for any room in the home, with a custom decorative concrete finish that complements your home décor style. Polished concrete, for example, adds a high-end designer look. A decorative slate or tile adds sleek, contemporary style. A decorative wood-finished concrete piece can look like the real thing, and be created to match rustic or modern styles. Minimally finished concrete furniture complements loft-style spaces. Painted concrete furniture is pure personality.
A variety of concrete furniture shared from ConcreteNetwork.com
Where to start? As with any furniture, first define your style, then design your room piece by piece. One thing to consider with concrete furniture is placement. This will not be a piece you’ll be rearranging often! Then accessorize just like you would any other piece, with blankets and pillows to soften the look of seating, or with knickknacks to add your personal touches of style.
Intermountain Concrete Specialties carries the latest in decorative concrete finishes, as well as tools, stamps, and molds to create any project you can dream up. Visit your local Intermountain Concrete Specialties showroom for advice on integral colors, paints, stains, dyes, sealers, forming equipment and more.
Whether you’ve just moved into your first home, or you’ve been settled in your forever home for years, you probably have a list of home improvement projects you’d like to tackle. Chances are there’s at least one concrete project on your to do list, whether it’s an aesthetic home improvement such as decorative concrete countertops in the kitchen, building an outdoor kitchen, or applying a decorative concrete finish to your floor, or a more utilitarian application such as pouring a new concrete RV pad or repairing a cracked backyard patio slab.
Even the most experienced DIYer can be overwhelmed at tackling their first concrete project, so we asked some of Intermountain Concrete’s most experienced employees what they learned from their first concrete project. From doing your research to making sure you have enough materials, time and help to complete the job, here’s what our experts had to say:
Preparation is Key
With more than 40 years experience in the concrete industry, Intermountain Concrete Specialties President Tony Frazier says that the first key to a successful concrete job is doing your homework. “More preparation is always better than hurrying to finish,” he says. “Make sure you have enough materials to complete the project, and allow enough time to complete your project before dark.” It’s also important to make sure the temperature is right for your concrete job application. Testing a sample area first can help you determine whether conditions and materials are right for the job.
Tony notes that his best tips are usually the results of his own trial and error! “For everything I have learned, I probably had several failures because I didn’t follow my own learned lesson,” he says. “My latest was staining a new addition to my patio. Instead of testing a sample area to see if the color matched the stain I had applied three years earlier, I pushed through and the color doesn’t match at all!” Tony says. “I’ve also run short on one of my concrete pours.” He’s learned over the years that planning helps, and so does sharing your failures and successes with others. It never hurts to ask for advice!
Do It Right From the Start
Idaho Falls Store Manager Gary Dumont says one of the first things he learned about working with concrete is that you’ll need more help than you think. “Try to get one or two people on your crew that have experience doing the work you are doing,” he says, “such as flatwork, walls, footing, etc.” He also offers these tips for a variety of concrete projects:
Ask for Help
“The first thing I learned is to have enough help and equipment to do the job, “says Kelly J. Harman, Vice President of Sales at Intermountain Concrete Specialties’ Salt Lake City location. “Concrete can get away from you if you don’t have enough help on the job.” He notes that all the effort you put in to have a beautiful, durable job that you will want to enjoy for years and show your friends will be of little value if you don’t have the right tools to get the look you want. “Your local ICS store can help you with the right tools and equipment,” says Gary, “but you’re on your own to make friends!” he jests.
Come See Us
While we can’t supply you with the crew, Intermountain Concrete Specialties does have the tools, materials, equipment and know-how you need. Visit any of our six locations and we’ll get you started on the concrete road to success!
Stained concrete is an exciting way to create an infinite array of decorative effects on both interior and exterior concrete at minimal cost. Chemical concrete stains do more than just add color – they infuse color into the concrete to create a rich, variegated finish. Instead of covering the concrete on the surface, like paint or other coatings, chemical stains penetrate or etch into the concrete, allowing the characteristics of the concrete to show through. The distinctive effect of chemical stain creates a timeworn patina that complements many decor styles, making it a favored choice for decorative concrete projects.
Concrete chemical stains can be either acid-based or water-based. Innotech chemical stains are created with combination of metallic salts in a water-based solution. This slightly acidic solution creates a reaction with the lime content in cured concrete, and may be applied to new or existing concrete that is free from sealers, paints or other coatings. Innotech acid stain products actually penetrate and remain in the pores to become a permanent part of the concrete, and therefore won’t crack, peel or fade.
Chemical concrete stains can be used on walls, floors, countertops and other concrete surfaces. The ultimate effect will be determined by several factors, including the concrete’s age, composition, porosity, and base color (click here for an interactive color chart). Because concrete chemical stains are translucent, they incorporate the concrete’s surface (including cracks and other flaws) into the finished effect. It’s important to use proper tools and application techniques, or an experienced professional, to achieve desired results, since once the chemical stain is down on the concrete, the color is permanent. It’s important to keep in mind that no two surfaces will come out identical, but this is the true beauty and appeal of concrete chemical stains.
Innotech water-based chemical stain is available in a variety of colors, and can be combined with other Innotech products to produce a wide range of color finishes. For tips on how to use Innotech concrete chemical stains, visit an Intermountain Concrete Specialties showroom.