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.

AN: We have a number of project calculators on our website, directcolors.com, designed to help customers figure out how much pigment they”ll need for their project. How do the calculators work and how does a customer choose the right calculator for their project?

ST: We have five concrete pigment related calculators on our website at this time but we are adding new content all the time and will be adding new project options as part of our calculator series. Each calculator is designed to assist with a specific concrete mix. The most commonly used calculators on the site are the truck pour and 5000 psi concrete countertop calculators. We’ve discussed the truck pour already but I would like to go into a little more detail about what information can be found on each color chip on our color charts. When you look at the concrete pigment color color charts, either gray based or white, you’ll see three pieces of information. The first is the color name. We’ll use the example, Bamboo (550-2lb.). Second is the pigment type and is this case is 550. The third is the pound rating. On the project calculators page you will find the details including a diagram of a color chip along with a description of how to use the calculators for your project. Let’s speak more specifically about the concrete countertop calculator. The information required would include the bag weight, number of bags and pound rating. Sometimes they’re 50 lbs. sometimes 80 so we’ll include that. The number of bags for the total amount of pigment needed for the job or one bag for the individual or batch size calculation. The pound rating is the number that you see on the chip saying 1lb, 2lb, 3lb. etc. You’ll enter the number from the color chip you’ve selected in that box and calculate. The figure tells you how much you need for the project, batch or bag depending on what you’ve entered. The pound rating number simply stands in for the concentration of pigment in that mix. The lower the pound rating number, the less pigment you’re using to achieve a color.

[thst_toggle title=”How to Use Our Concrete Pigment Calculators” state=”closed”] Our Concrete Pigment Color Chart is designed to provide a close approximation of what our customers can expect achieve in gray or white concrete. For custom pours such as countertop mixes, plaster, stucco, grouts and other concrete-based products, we have found that the colors vary within an acceptable range to the majority of our customers, particularly when correctly adjusted to the specific job requirements. The pigment needed to achieve a specific color is based on the amount of cement in the mix rather than the total weight of the bag. Pigment Quantity Calculators are provided to accurately determine the amount of pigment needed for any project. These tools are designed to calculate for truck pours, custom concrete batches, 5000 psi concrete countertop mixes, and bags of ready mix concrete.

Direct Colors Concrete Pigment Calculator
Direct Colors Concrete Pigment Calculator

Concrete Pigment Measurement Diagram Example: Achieving a Cornflower (15.4-1lb.) Color in 20 Yards of 3000 psi Concrete Firstly, Cornflower (15.4-1lb.) is achieved using white cement. First, select the Truck Pour/Per Yard Pigment Calculator from the available options on the page. From the concrete strength drop down, choose the psi for your concrete pour. Consult the concrete ready mix company pouring the concrete for this information. Enter next the number of yards to be poured for the project and finally the pound rating. Using either the figure above or our DCI White-Based Concrete Pigment Color Chart, locate the pound rating in the lower right corner of the color chip. The pound rating for Cornflower is “1.” For a 3000 psi concrete, the pigment required per yard for Corflower is 5 pounds. The total amount of pigment required for 20 yards of concrete is 100 pounds. However, a concrete truck will not bring all 20 yards to your job site at once so a per truck calculation must be performed. In this example, each truck pour would consist of 10 yards per truck. Again using the same calculator, the calculation would be 50 lbs. per 10 yard truck. Being consistent with the water levels, mix ratios, and the amount pigment per truck pour is critical in achieving uniform concrete pours. [/thst_toggle]

Which calculator you choose depends on what kind of project you’re doing. A common project might be pouring colored concrete around a flagpole. If you’re using a pre-bagged ready mix, that’s the calculator you’d need to choose to determine how much pigment you’d need to achieve one of the colors on our gray-based concrete pigment color chart. Based on the project itself, you’ll choose which calculator to use. We do have a handy calculator on the site that is a little bit different and calculates for concrete slabs, columns and footing pours. Its purpose is to provide customers with a concrete calculation so if you need to know how much concrete you’ll need for a job, you can start with this calculator and move on to one of the other project calculators on the page.

Let me just take a moment to provide an example for how the calculators actually work. We’ll select the truck pour calculator for our example. The calculator asks for how many yards to be poured. For our example, we’ll be pouring 5 yards of concrete. It also requests the strength or psi of the concrete. For most common psi for residential concrete is 3000-3500. For our example today, we’ll say 3000. The pound rating is the final piece of information and the color we’ll use for our example is Bamboo (550-2lb.) Bamboo has a 2 pound rating so we’ll enter a 2 into the field. Click on calculate. For our example, we’ll need 10 lbs per yard or a total of 50 lbs. of pigment for the project. The calculators work a little different depending on the project but they each call for similar information and will answer how much pigment you’ll need. Hopefully this will give you a better idea of how to go onto the website and use the calculators yourself to determine what you need and what the best direction to go in is for your individual project.

AN: What are the advantages to integrally colored concrete compared with other color options?

ST: I think integrally colored concrete is by far the easiest option for homeowners. When you have a ready-mix company and a team of finishers come out to finish a slab, the color is already there. Once the concrete pour is finished and has cured for 30 days, the only thing left for the homeowner to do is choose what kind of concrete sealer to apply. It’s very easy for a homeowner to have a beautifully colored and finished decorative concrete floor, patio or similar project without having to a great deal of work. For outdoor concrete, the only thing a homeowner needs to do at that point is apply the sealer. Direct Colors offers many concrete sealers to choose from. The most common sealer for outdoor concrete is the Sprayable Satin Finish Sealer. The sealer can be sprayed from a fence and deck sprayer and just makes the whole process much faster and easier. For indoor projects, we have many options available and I would invite you to visit the concrete sealers page of our site for more information. Acid staining, another popular color option, is a process that take much more time and effort to complete. Acid staining can only be done when the concrete is fully cured which is usually 28-30 days after the concrete is poured. If time is a factor and often it is, choosing integrally colored concrete would be an advantage. For commercial customers, if they have the opportunity to pour their own concrete using integral color, it allows companies to complete the work much faster and bring the floor back into service more quickly than any other color option available.

If you have questions, call one of our expert technicians at 877-255-2656 and we’ll help you select the best products and technique for your needs.  If you prefer email, send in a free online design consultation and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.

Direct Colors DIY Home Improvement podcasts are produced twice monthly for your enjoyment and show notes can be found at directcolors.com/listen.  Feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed.  You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ , YouTube and Instagram. Thanks again for joining us!

Watch our video to see how to navigate the website to correctly measure concrete pigment for your next DIY project!