How to color concrete with latex

How to color concrete with latex

Do you have creative ideas for concrete crafts, but you don’t want to use concrete dye powder for some reason? Or maybe you have just heard about tinting concrete with latex paint and want to learn more?

For both of these questions, I have a guide written up here so you can learn more about the subject. Coloring concrete with acrylic paint can give you some new options, especially if you have some leftovers available.

That being said, mixing latex paint with concrete is not a new concept, but it has achieved new popularity as a way for cities to safely dispose of discarded paint. However, homeowners can also use the technique of mixing latex paint with concrete to get some of the less apparent benefits.

If you like to cast concrete into molds, for example, latex paint added to the mix will ensure that the concrete will hold better detail. There is also some evidence that latex paint will increase the strength of concrete by taking the place of air bubbles. However, there is a limit to the amount of latex paint that can be added before the strength of the concrete is adversely added.

If you are using paint that is a different color than the concrete, the color of the concrete will be affected. However, the amount of latex paint added ensures that this color is only a light tint. If you want stronger colors, you need to buy pigment for concrete. Still, mixing only latex will give light decorative color to the concrete.

Begin tinting concrete with the mixing

Now adding latex to concrete isn’t too complicated, you can even mix it pretty randomly if you don’t mind the best results. This is written after some research so it might be a good general guide. I’ve followed these quite closely and got some pretty nice results for some small decorations.

Step 1: Place the dry concrete mix in a bucket or other container you use for mixing concrete. If you are using part of a bag of concrete, be sure how much concrete mix you are using. The ratios are important for the concrete to reach its maximum hardness.

The easiest way to weigh the concrete would be using a scale if you have one around your house. The weight reads in the bag so it could also be divided into multiple containers, but that will be a little troublesome.

Step 2: Place 80 percent of the water required for the concrete mix into a separate bucket. The manufacturer of the concrete mix should indicate the correct ratio of water to concrete mix on the bag.

Step 3: Add the remaining 20 percent of the liquid required in latex paint to the bucket that contains the water.

Step 4: Add an additional 10 percent of water called for by the concrete mix to the bucket. Although this will mean you have exceeded the called for amount of water by 10 percent, this extra amount of water will make up for the lack of water in the paint. This ratio will still create the correct chemical reaction that will cause the paint to harden.

Step 5: Mix the water and paint thoroughly together. This way it will give even color for the concrete and you don’t have to see so much trouble mixing it with the bag.

Mixing latex paint with concrete and pigments can bring extra color

Step 6: Now it’s time to add the concrete into the paint/water mix. I like to do it this way because if you pour water into a large amount of dry concrete mix, it will take more effort to mix it. If you add concrete little by little to the water, it will be easy to mix until the concrete reaches the thickness we want.

If you have bought some pigment as well, this is the time to mix it. Start by adding it little by little as you mix, if it’s bright pigment it might get too dark too sudden. When you’re happy with the color, stop adding more. The color will probably be a little lighter than what it seems when it’s wet.

Now, after you have mixed it, let it stand for 3-4 minutes. The moisture will get into the concrete dry mix and it will become even thicker partially. After the time is up, mix it once more and it should be ready to use.

Step 7: Place the concrete in its mold or other intended use. Proceed with your project like you would if you were using standard concrete.

If you’re unfamiliar with pouring concrete, I’ll give it a quick explanation. There is always some air in the concrete mix so after you pour it into mold or form, give it a little hit with a hammer or use a vibrating tool that is for this purpose. It will help the air escape and your concrete will set as dense as possible.

Some pours fail if this is not done as there might be huge air pockets around the pour. As you are probably doing this for decorative purposes, you don’t want to fix it afterward as it’s hard to match the color again.

Step 8: It’s time to let it cure. Depending on the thickness of the pour, the concrete will be fully cured/hardened after 28 days. A week and it can handle even a car.

Depending on the use, you might even want to water it slightly for 2-3 days for it to reach maximum strength. After the month is over, you can consider coating for it if it’s placed outside. The coating will help it fight off weather so it will keep its looks for a longer time.

Conclusion

Adding latex to concrete won’t be hard at all. If you have leftovers from the home renovation or get some for free, it might be a fun project to make something out of it. Concrete is long-lasting so it will do fine outside or it can be used to make indoor decorations as well. Only imagination is the limit.

If you want to have deeper colors, you might give the concrete dye powder a chance. It gives more pigment and you can get darker colors with the help of that. Make some forms or molds for concrete planters and you could have ones that don’t have to be painted. Or if you want to make colorful garden spheres, those can be done too.

Here is the concrete planters project and also garden spheres where adding latex to the concrete could be a nice finishing touch. You can also look at these concrete candle holders and concrete leaves if you want to try some more concrete crafting.

The most important thing with these guides and methods is to have some fun doing them. Share them and do them with your kids and family so you can have some quality time together and you can even teach something valuable to the smaller family members.

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