Podcast: Calculating Pigment Colors for Any Concrete Project

You’re listening to Direct Colors podcast Episode 4: Calculating Pigment Colors for Any Concrete Project. Here at Direct Colors we encounter just about every concrete-related project there is. Learn how to use our Concrete Pigment Project Calculators for your particular project large or small.


You are listening to Podcast Episode 4:  Calculating Pigment Colors for Any Concrete Project. Today we’re talking with Shawna Turner about calculating pigment colors for any concrete project. So let’s get started.

Hey, everybody. Amie Nolen here. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for coming.

Amie N: We often have customers ask us how much concrete pigment is needed to make a certain color from our color chart and the answer is “it depends.” What’s the difference between concrete pigment and integral color?

Shawna T: Well, there’s really no difference between concrete pigment and integral color. Concrete pigment is the product that integrally colors concrete. Now integral colored means pigment has been added to the concrete mix prior to pouring so that the color itself is completely mixed throughout the slab that you’re pouring. If you chip the surface, for example, over the lifetime of the slab the color will continue to look the same on the top and the bottom of the chipped surface. Many people see this as an advantage for outdoor concrete.

AN: What information does a customer need to have when calling to find out how much pigment they’ll require for a project?

ST: Depends on the project. A truck pour which is probably our most common colored concrete project requires four pieces of important information – the psi or strength of the concrete, the percentage of fly ash in the mix design, the number of yards to be poured and the color of your choice from our color chart. The psi simply means the strength of the concrete. Most slabs that are poured indoors and out are between 3000 and 4000 psi. Occasionally it might be higher in a special circumstance. As long as you have this information, it helps us to know how much cement is in the mix your ready mix company is using so we can better calculate to amount of pigment you’ll require to create the color you’ve chosen. The percentage of fly ash is important. Increasingly ready mix companies are pouring more and more fly ash in their concrete. It’s cheaper and it’s a substitute for cement. To that extent, it’s important that we know what percentage of the mix is fly ash so we can determine if we need to increase the amount of pigment added to adjust for the fly ash. It’s especially important if you plan to later acid stain the concrete as well. The number of yards tells us how much you’re pouring so we can tell you the overall amount of pigment you’ll need for the job. It’s a simple question for your ready mix company to answer. The color choice reflects the pigment concentration needed to achieve each color on our color chart. For example, if you choose the Briar Buff color, that is a 3lb. color. We’ll put three times the concentration of pigment in the mix when compared to a 1lb. color. How we determine that we’ll talk more about that in a moment. For other projects like concrete countertops, pre-bagged ready mix or the like, you’ll want to provide the bag weight and the number of bags as well. That way you can calculate for how much you need per bag and your total order. Custom batches could be concrete you’re making yourself such as a slab or countertop or even stucco or plaster could be included in this category. You will rely on the weight of the cement in the mix to provide the calculation so it’s important to have that information. For most mortar, plaster, stucco, and non-sanded grout, the percentage of cement in those products is generally around 22%. You can certainly contact the manufacturer for the precise amount.