Concrete dyes: What are they? What is their function? How can they improve the look of a concrete floor?

The best part of working with these dyes is that they can be mixed at a job site to get the desired color. Often, the dyes are used in combination with various other stains to produce a variegated look. When searching for concrete dyes, you will come across several manufacturers selling solvent and water-based dyes in a wide range of colors such as pastels, vibrant hues and subtle earth tones.

Property owners often prefer dyes that go along well with patina stains. These dyes will provide you with vibrancy and a large selection of color options. Experts say that applying dye is like applying blush on cheeks over foundation. Acid stains are only available in just eight common colors or neutrals. When using dye, nearly any color can be achieved to enhance the stain. Translucent dyes have the ability to penetrate concrete dyes within minutes in almost all kinds of climate conditions with minimum cleaning needed after application.

The applicator completes about 60 percent of the job faster than typical acid staining because there is less drying and cleaning time needed. Also, you can protect the floor with a topical wax or sealer. Urethane-based, water-based or solvent-based sealers have compatibility with dyes. Dye is a potent solution for virtually all applications when installers are looking for highly rich mottling effects along with the shortest installation time.

Concrete dyes assist in expanding the color palette of the concrete stains. Dyes can produce vibrant color accents that customize and enhance the concrete. Though stains are sometimes preferred because of their great color transformations, dyes are underrated color agents that are versatile and achieve vibrant tones that aren’t possible solely with stains.

Concrete dyes are not like the acid-based stains that chemically react with concrete. Rather, they have fine coloring agents which penetrate into the concrete surface. You will come across both solvent-based and water-based dyes, each having their own unique features. Solvent-based products offer bolder hues like orange, purple, yellow, red, green and blue. Solvent dyes can be used for obtaining higher depth of color. When diluted with water, the solvents produce a simple light wash of colors or paler shades.

There are many ways to apply concrete dyes. It depends on the results you wish to achieve as well as the size of the project. Experts typically use HVLP (high-volume low-pressure) sprayers on projects. Dyes can be applied in different ways such as rolling, spraying or brushing. Regardless of the technique used, it is vital to test the concrete’s surface for dye acceptance prior to starting application. The intensity of colors and degree of penetration would vary based on application method, porosity of concrete, age of concrete, cleanliness of surface and many other conditions. There are some surfaces that will not accept dyes even if they are non-porous and dense.

When applying dyes to a surface that’s already stained, you need to wait until the stain has achieved desired intensity and look. Prior to application, the surface must be cleaned as well as dried to obtain the best results. Dyes are usually formulated for penetrating into concrete. Still, it is vital to protect stained and dyed surfaces from contaminants as well as wear and tear. This can be done by applying a sealer. Experts also recommend applying more than one coat of wax or floor finish to protect the sealer from wear. You can also use sacrificial wax coating that acts as a shock absorber for grime, scratches and scruff. Also, it is easy to buff out floor finishing coats and to reapply more if required.

Concrete dyes can enhance chemical staining projects as well as open up entirely new design options. The primary reason individuals use dyes is the flexibility of obtaining colors that aren’t possible with normal chemical stains.

There are several more applications for dyes in addition to chemical staining projects including:

  • Softening areas where an overly bright tone has been produced by chemical stain
  • Building layers of colors
  • Adding visual depth and texture to concrete surfaces or cementation toppings
  • Enhancing stain colors, especially in regions of slab where stain isn’t reacting with concrete and color needs to be more intense
There are some limitations with concrete dyes. Like chemical stains, dyes are also used for enhancing instead of disguising a surface. They do not hide blemishes, cracks or various other flaws. They don’t mask underlying color either because the dyes are transparent. With concrete dyes, you must expect inconsistent variations in color.

Concrete dyes are also UV unstable. When using dyes, it is necessary to use job site color blending to obtain the desired hue. It may also require understanding the basics of color theory. The basics such as mixing yellow and blue to produce green and blue and red to produce purple would be helpful.