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How to Use Concrete Dye to Color Interior Concrete Floors

by Kiley Tate-Potts
February 2021 –  $250 Cash Winner

Before: a dull and unfinished basement floor. After: a sleek and sophisticated polished look with Charcoal, White, and Stormy Gray Vibrance dye
Before: a dull and unfinished basement floor. After: a sleek and sophisticated polished look with Charcoal, White, and Stormy Gray Vibrance dye.

Welcome to our guide on how to apply concrete dye to transform the look of your indoor concrete surfaces. Whether you want to update the color of your basement floor or add some vibrancy to your indoor concrete surfaces, concrete dye is an easy and cost-effective way to do so. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to use concrete dye to achieve professional-looking results.

Step 1: Prep the Surface

Before you begin the dyeing process, it’s important to properly prepare the surface. The concrete must be free of debris, dirt, oil, sealers, adhesives, or anything that might prevent the dye from bonding with the surface. Use an organic degreaser at a medium concentration, scrub the surface thoroughly with a nylon brush, and rinse with clear water. If water run-off is not possible, use a shop vac, mop, and/or squeegee to contain the water and speed up the drying process.

Concrete surface being scrubbed and rinsed with organic degreaser
Concrete surface being scrubbed and rinsed with organic degreaser

If your surface has old stains, spray paint, or overspray on it, consider renting a concrete grinder for the day. This will help remove the old paint and provide a clean slate to work with. However, be prepared for a lot of dust during this process.

Concrete surface with old stains, spray paint and overspray on it
Concrete surface with old stains, spray paint and overspray on it
Rented concrete grinder being used to remove old stains and paint from concrete surface
Rented concrete grinder being used to remove old stains and paint from concrete surface

Step 2: Fill Any Cracks or Imperfections

To ensure a consistent color, you will want to fill any cracks or imperfections in the surface. Use a concrete patching compound  to fill any small hairline cracks.

Small hairline cracks being filled with cement mix
Small hairline cracks being filled with cement mix

Step 3: Apply Primer

Before applying the concrete dye, it’s important to apply a primer to the surface. The primer will help the concrete dye adhere to the surface and ensure even coverage. To save money, use the same sealer that you will be using as the top coat as the primer.

Sealer being used as primer and applied to concrete surface to help dye adhere and ensure even coverage
Sealer being used as primer and applied to concrete surface to help dye adhere and ensure even coverage
AcquaSeal Satin
AcquaSeal™ Satin

Before applying the dye, make sure that the primer base sealer has had sufficient time to dry. It is recommended to allow the sealer to cure for at least 12 hours before proceeding with the dye application. To test the readiness of the sealer, try scratching the surface with a thumbnail. If the sealer dents or scratches easily, it may not be fully cured and should be allowed more time to dry. Ensuring that the primer base sealer is fully cured will help to ensure that the dye adheres properly and provides a consistent finish.

It is important to note that Vibrance Dye should not be applied when surface temperatures are below 40°F or above 95°F. Make sure to check the temperature of the concrete before starting your project to ensure the best results. If the temperature is too low, try turning on the central heat or using other heating sources to raise the floor temperature to an acceptable level. If the temperature is too high, it may be necessary to wait until the temperature cools down before applying the dye. Be sure to turn off all heating sources and overhead fans during the application process, and only turn them back on after the dye has had a chance to dry. If you are using in-floor heating, it should be set at 60-65 degrees before the application and turned off during the process. Fans and heat can be turned on again to aid in the drying process once the dye has been applied.

Step 4: Mix and Apply the Concrete Dye

Before you begin applying the concrete dye, it’s important to properly mix the dye. Use a pre-measured dye packet from Direct Colors and mix it with the appropriate amount of acetone, depending on the size of your project. For example, mix the dye packet with 1 quart of acetone for small projects, 1 gallon of acetone for medium projects, or 5 gallons of acetone for larger projects.

CAUTION: When preparing the concrete dye mixture with acetone, it is important to use caution. Do not mix the dye and acetone in the sprayer using any type of electrical mixer. Acetone is highly flammable and using an electrical mixer could pose a fire risk. Instead, manually mix the dye and acetone using a stir stick or by shaking the container vigorously. As always, be sure to store and use acetone in a well-ventilated area and keep it away from heat, sparks, and open flames.

Pour the dye mixture into a can of acetone, tightly seal the lid, and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Allow the mixture to sit for one hour before using.

IMPORTANT:

  • Use an acetone-grade sprayer for the application of this product. Standard deck and fence sprayers cannot be used to spray acetone dye.
  • When using a 3-gallon or similar large acetone sprayer, do not carry it by the pump handle while spraying. Carry the sprayer by the strap at a 30 to 45-degree angle.

Once the dye is properly mixed, it’s time to apply it to the surface. Use an acetone dye sprayer to apply the dye in slightly circular motions with irregular overlaps. Shake the sprayer tank from side to side often to prevent the color from settling. It’s important to spray thin coats to avoid puddling. If you want a deeper color, you can apply up to four thin coats, waiting at least eight hours between each coat.

After applying the dye, allow it to dry for at least eight hours before applying a sealer. You can use a dust mop or microfiber mop very lightly to remove any excess dye that is not bonded to the surface.

After applying White Vibrance Dye in a random pattern
After applying White Vibrance Dye in a random pattern

Step 5: Add a Second Coat (Optional)

To create a deeper color or layer additional shades, you may choose to apply additional coats of Vibrance Dye. You can apply up to four thin coats, waiting at least eight hours between each coat. Follow the same application process as the first coat, but be sure to allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the next coat.

Stormy Gray Vibrance Dye layered over White in a random pattern
Stormy Gray Vibrance Dye layered over White in a random pattern

Top Tips for Applying Vibrance Dye for the Best Results

  • Apply thin coats of dye to ensure the best color quality and appearance.
  • Three or more coats should be sufficient for most applications.
  • If you want a deeper color, you can apply additional coats.
  • Avoid letting the acetone dye pool up on the surface. If this happens, mop up the excess with a disposable rag.
  • Allow the acetone dye to dry completely before sealing.
  • Before sealing, use a soft cloth or clean dust mop to remove any clumps or residue from the application.

Fixing Uneven or Inconsistent Concrete Dye Spots

To address the issue of uneven or inconsistent areas on the concrete surface , follow these steps:

    1. Make sure you are using an acetone-rated sprayer. This is important to ensure that the dye adheres properly to the surface.
    2. If the sprayer starts to drip, stop spraying and investigate the reason for the drips. Make sure that the seals are seated properly in the sprayer tip, and check the pressure in the tank.
    3. When drips occur, stop spraying and allow the dye to sit for 4-6 hours so it can dry and the bonding agent can solidify.
    4. To remove any excess dye, use a cotton cloth and acetone to lightly dab the spots until they diminish.
    5. The color may look disturbed after this process, so once the sprayer is no longer dripping, lightly mist additional color over the affected area and blend it into the surrounding space.
    6. Be careful when walking on unsealed dye. If it hasn’t dried and hardened, it can stick to shoes and lift, or pigments can be displaced by dragging your feet.
Uneven, spots or inconsistent areas on concrete surface due to malfunctioning sprayer
Uneven, spots or inconsistent areas on concrete surface due to malfunctioning sprayer

Step 7: Apply Concrete Floor Wax

To protect and extend the life of your sealed concrete floor, consider applying a concrete floor wax. This will add an extra layer of protection and help to prevent the need for future sealing. When applying floor wax, it’s important to follow these guidelines:

  • Apply two thin coats of floor wax, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. To minimize streaking, apply the first coat from east to west and the second coat from north to south.
  • Before allowing traffic on the floor, test the wax by applying pressure to the surface with your fingernail. If the surface dents, the wax will need more time to dry.
  • Depending on the amount of foot traffic, the floor should be waxed approximately every 3-8 months to maintain its appearance and protection.

Step 8: Enjoy Your New Look

Congratulations, you have successfully dyed your indoor concrete surface! With proper preparation, application, and protection, your new look should last for years to come.

Refinished Concrete Basement with Vibrance Dye

We hope this guide has helped you learn how to apply concrete dye and transform the look of your indoor concrete surfaces. Don’t be afraid to tackle this project on your own – with the right tools and guidance, you can achieve professional-looking results at a fraction of the cost. If you have any questions or need additional assistance, the team at Direct Colors is here to help.