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    Thread: Dye for concrete

    1. #1
      pickerel's Avatar
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      Dye for concrete

      My local rock yard has these rocks that I'm considering for edging my pond. I'm concerned that the gray concrete will look kind of funky around the tan stones. It seems like I have read on here that the concrete blends in more after everything is weathered. How long does it take? Would gray concrete ever look ok with these stones? Quikrete makes a buff dye that looks like it would be a pretty good match. Anyone have experience with these
      dyes?

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    2. #2
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      There appears to be more colors in those stones hidden by a tan coating. Wash with a muratic acid like one would use on concrete and then pressure wash. Looking closely there appears to be some hidden gems in there.

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      What do you think the tan coating is from?

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      You might like Concrete Acid Base Stains. Available at masonry supply stores.

      "Most acid stains are a mixture of water, hydrochloric acid, and acid-soluble metallic salts. They work by penetrating the surface and reacting chemically with the hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide) in the concrete. The acid in the stain lightly etches the surface, allowing the metallic salts to penetrate more easily. Once the stain reacts, it becomes a permanent part of the concrete and won't fade, chip off, or peel away.
      Like stains for wood, acid-based stains are translucent and the color they produce will vary depending on the color and condition of the substrate they are applied to. Each concrete slab will accept the stain in varying degrees of intensity, creating natural color variations that bring character and distinction to each project. What acid stains don't offer is a broad color selection. You'll mostly find them in a limited array of subtle earth tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens."


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      Quote Originally Posted by pickerel View Post
      What do you think the tan coating is from?
      Probably from water and reaction to chemicals in the soil over time. Often acid and pressure wash will lighten the age patina. I have seen some sandblast them to bring out the rich colors. Looks like rocks around me and about 10 to 15% will have nice colors. There is more color variation in there than the first impression. Sometimes the patina is deep. Get a few and test.

    6. #6
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      I used the quickrete dye quite a bit on concrete trim pieces
      It needs to be mixed into the concrete

      I kind of like the white concrete line next to the stone look



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      Quote Originally Posted by ricshaw View Post
      You might like Concrete Acid Base Stains. Available at masonry supply stores.
      Thanks for the suggestion ricshaw; I wasn't aware of those. I will definitely check them out.

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      Quote Originally Posted by delbert View Post
      I used the quickrete dye quite a bit on concrete trim pieces
      It needs to be mixed into the concrete

      I kind of like the white concrete line next to the stone look


      I hadn't considered that the contrast might look nice. What color were the stones you used?

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      Browns mostly


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    10. #10
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      I found the liquid color additive doesn't work on larger volumes of concrete, it just isn't enough pigment to really color anything more than just a small batch.

      I have tried powdered oxides (like colored hardeners) applied to the surface and had good experience, but had a hard time getting the colors as uniform as I wanted. Probably with more practice the uniformity will improve, but throwing on the colored dust was difficult especially on any surface not horizontal.

      For what I am doing, I think acid stain works the best. It provides a more uniform effect, but it must be handled carefully. To much color is possible, and it can't be removed once it hits the concrete. In places with too much color, another layer of mortar must be applied over the previously colored areas, allowed to cure about a month, and acid stain again applied. The acid reacts with the base in the concrete, it foams instantly, and the color matures over the next hour. and can't be stopped from my experience.

      I ordered this $35 sample kit, and had fun trying various combinations of colors, as well as dilution rates of each color. It is a good low cost way to test if you like the process. From my experience it must be ordered on-line, and is not available at any local source for DIY's. For me, I like various combinations of cola, tan, and black. Several good videos on line of the process.

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      With acid stain, the concrete must be at least 28 days old to achieve the best results, older is OK, but concrete less than about a month old will not react with the acid as well. Also, the acid stain looses strength in the bottle over time, so once you have it, don't wait 2 months to experiment. And, as I have experienced, too dark or rich a color is very possible by using acid stain not diluted with enough water. You can always make the color darker with more coats of stronger mix. In addition, it is acid based, so use common safety procedures.

    11. #11
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      I got my acid stain from a local White Cap store.


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    12. #12
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      My two cents worth- I would not attempt to change the color of the mortar that you use. I think it will look very nice as is. And if you get into changing color of mortar then you get into consistency issues. And as Grumpy pointed out it takes a lot of dye to change the color of concrete. So now you might end up with some light buff and some dark buff. IMHO mortar can be left natural color and go with stone all the way from white to black.

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      Just a random question, how come youre not going with a liner pond?

    14. #14
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      It is a liner pond. These rocks are going to sit on top of the liner around the top edge. I poured the concrete collar about 6" below grade. The rocks will all be at least 12" high so they sit above grade and partially submerged below water level. Here's a picture of the collar. I am going to start digging out the middle today.

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    15. #15
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      I would vote for leaving the mortar natural and see how it turns out. If you don't like it then you can stain the mortar with a small brush and careful movements not to drip on the stones. I would guess that within a year there will be algae growth on the mortar joints along with dirt and other stains that would mask the original color of the mortar anyways.
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    16. #16
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      Quote Originally Posted by Zac Penn View Post
      I would vote for leaving the mortar natural and see how it turns out. If you don't like it then you can stain the mortar with a small brush and careful movements not to drip on the stones. I would guess that within a year there will be algae growth on the mortar joints along with dirt and other stains that would mask the original color of the mortar anyways.
      I was beginning to think the same thing after considering everyone's remarks. Thanks to all for your feedback.
      Last edited by pickerel; 1 Week Ago at 08:49 AM.

    17. #17
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      I played around alot with mortar dye when doing my build... on the first round we were being very artistic trying to add in pea gravel and landscape gravel to make it look more naturalistic... in hindsight it wasn't worth the time... second time around we just dyed it and didn't add any gravel of any size... now a few years later I can tell you that we used a chocolate colored powdered dye and mixed it heavily, within a few months it was a khaki color... one option is to use regular mortar and fill almost to where you want it, maybe an inch shallow, let it firm up and then mix a coat of dyed mortar over the top and finish the detailing... I've got some pictures to illustrate what I'm talking about, also Zac is correct that once the algae grows on the mortar you can't see the dye at all... First picture is summer 2015' next is summer of 2017' I like the way the dye held up in the waterfall[ATTACH=CONFIG]
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    18. #18
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      This picture was the day we finished the stone work around the waterfall shower, if you look above the green bush there is mortar around those boulders as well that was put in a few months earlier... you can see how it has lightened in color, also if you look at the water line you can not tell that the stones are mortared and all the hours of extra work we put in detailing the mortar, like in the water fall... 2nd picture is from this summer
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      Last edited by Josh H; 1 Week Ago at 04:50 PM.

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      Wow what a beautiful pond

    20. #20
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      Thanks for the detailed info Josh. It seems the consensus is that after time the dye makes little difference around the water line. I will probably wait it out and leave off the dye to see what happens. I have enjoyed looking at all your rock work and pond. BTW, I looked up your original build and the shotcrete build and enjoyed those threads a lot. You have had your work cut out for you. That wall collapse is heartbreaking to see. Glad you can enjoy your beautiful pond now.
      Last edited by pickerel; 1 Week Ago at 10:38 AM.

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