Concrete Crafts

Podcast: Concrete Crafts, Art and Décor

You’re listening to Direct Colors podcast Episode 38: Concrete Crafts, Art and Décor with Direct Colors Stains, Pigments and Sealer! If this is your first time listening, then thanks for joining us.  Concrete crafts, art and décor are becoming more and more popular with our customers, especially decorative concrete professionals, that make their living from the beautiful work they create. We are always amazed at what these fine artisans are able to produce with our stain, pigment and sealer products. Here to talk about some of the unique concrete craft projects she’s encountered and how our products contributed to the process is Direct Colors General Manager. Welcome back to the show, Shawna

ST:  Thank you, Tyler.

TT: So, is it true that the winner of this year’s End of Summer Facebook Photo Contest was a concrete artist?

ST:  That’s correct. Rebekah Dreisbach won the 2018 contest with her concrete vases. She used our 230 Black Concrete Pigment to create this really stunning marbled effect.  In fact, she had this to say in a Facebook review about her project earlier this summer:

“I stumbled upon Direct Colors randomly and I am so happy that I did. I started marking DIY Pinterest style concrete planters and decided to try and start a business making them. The quality of my work grew like crazy overnight with concrete pigment. I went to my first craft show this spring and got a wholesale order from one of the most sought after boutique shops while there. I do not think that would have happened without the dye. It allows me to create marbling and intense contract in my products that stands out from anything I’ve seen on the market. The customer service here is incredible. I had a lot of questions about the products that I was interested in and they spent a good amount of time on the phone making sure I got exactly what I needed.”

We were so proud to be a part of this and look forward to seeing what happens next for our winner!

TT:  Are you seeing a trend where concrete crafts and art is becoming more main stream?

ST:  I think so. In the past, concrete was only seen as a building material that came in one color! Now that high quality concrete overlays, pigments and stains, we have fine artists using our materials to make wall art worthy of a gallery exhibition. We had two concrete artists enter our contest this year, Donna Stewart Art and William Hall Art, with outstanding submissions. I’m both awed and wowed at what they can do and honestly, even after all the years and projects I’ve seen, I still can’t believe it. Donna works with our acid stains on overlay and William our concrete pigments. Each has displayed their work in gallery shows and all we can say is WOW!

TT: You’ve mentioned professionals using Direct Colors’ products for their work what about amateurs making something for their homes or gardens?

ST: No question concrete crafts are much more popular with the public and we’re seeing a wider variety of DIY concrete crafting ideas on Pinterest, Instagram and similar websites. There really are some fascinating projects out there and we enjoy working with our customers to get the results they’re looking for. A few months ago a customer sent a design consultation to our technicians about a décor project she wasn’t sure how to color. She had purchased pre-fabricated concrete otter statues. After discussing the project with her, we recommended both our concrete acid stain and Deco Gel acid stain to achieve the effect she described.  She was so pleased with the outcome that she later submitted her project for this year’s End of Summer Photo Contest.

Probably, the most common project customers use our products for are store bought statuary. Acid stain and Deco Gel acid stain are great options for coloring concrete statuary, especially water fountains and birdbaths because acid stain is a longest lasting color option available. We have another podcast on acid staining and sealing statuary I’d recommend to our listeners interested in concrete crafts or décor. Unfortunately, not all store bought statuary is created alike. Some are made with higher quality concrete than others so we always encourage our customers to do a test area on the statue base to make sure the material with react properly with the acid stain.

Having said that, more and more people are casting their own stepping stones, pavers and other décor using integrally colored concrete. What that means is adding powdered concrete pigment to the concrete before pouring for a solid color throughout. Pigment is super easy to use and if you’re trying to create a patio design with pavers, for example, it does give you the freedom to choose your own colors and create exactly what you want. We did a podcast on concrete pavers earlier this year if listeners would like to hear about that sort of project.

TT:  That’s great. Any closing thoughts about concrete crafts or art projects?

ST:  I’d just say that if you’re an artist, whether professional or not, and you’re thinking of working in a concrete medium, give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised about how relatively easy it is to work with and how many creative color options there are available on the market today. Our decorative concrete experts are always available to answer questions about our products and are happy to help. We hope all you budding concrete artisans out there will give us a call or send in an email about your next project!

TT:  Thanks, Shawna.  We hope our listeners will give concrete crafts a try. Sounds like a lot of fun! 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.


Winterize Outdoor Concrete

Podcast: Winterizing Outdoor Concrete

You’re listening to podcast episode 5: Winterizing Outdoor Concrete.  In this podcast, Direct Colors offers tips and recommendations on getting your outdoor concrete, countertops and concrete decor ready for the cold weather season. Time to winterize your outdoor concrete! If this is your first time listening, then thanks for listening and welcome to DirectColors.com/Listen!

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Malayan Buff Acid Stain sealed with Penetrating Sealer Concrete Bird Bath

Sealing Concrete Fountains and Birdbaths

You’re listening to Direct Colors Podcast Episode 1: Coloring/Sealing Concrete Fountains and Birdbaths. We answer frequently asked questions about how to color and seal concrete fountains and birdbaths. Making the right color and sealer choice is essential for both success and longevity. Find out more from the Decorative Concrete Experts!

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Calculating Pigment for Grout

Calculating Pigment for Grout, Stucco, Mortar and Plaster

You’re listening to Direct Colors podcast Episode 19: Calculating Pigment for Coloring Grout, Stucco, Mortar and Plaster. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for joining us.  Many of our customers are interested in coloring grout, stucco, plaster and mortar but have a difficult time finding the right colors, especially blues, and small enough quantities. Direct Colors General Manager, Shawna Turner, is here to talk more about calculating for and mixing custom colors in these materials. Welcome Shawna.

Amie Nolen: Calculating pigment for so many different cement-based mixes sounds complicated. Is it?

Shawna Turner:  It definitely can be. The difficult part is the fact that very few manufacturers report the product contents on the side of the bag. Usually the technical data sheet will include the amount of cement in the mix but that’ s not always available so we often are forced to make an educated guess that many vary somewhat from product to product.

AN: Why is the amount of cement in the mix so important for getting the color right?

ST: Concrete pigment creates color by coating the cement particles with color so other ingredients are a less important part of the color equation. The pigment needed to achieve a specific color from our color charts is based on the amount of cement only rather than the total weight of the mix. Each mix is comprised of a 3:1 ratio of sand to cement and/or lime. If lime is also added to the mix, the cement and lime should be added together for the purposes of calculating pigment load. Whether you are mixing your own material or using a pre-bagged concrete ready mix, having this basic information can help you to determine how much pigment you need for a project. Because grout, stucco, plaster and mortar are cement, sand and possibly lime mixes containing no aggregate, colors can appear somewhat different in fact than they are on color charts. Testing is incredibly important when working with these materials and will help avoid mistakes.

AN:  There are several concrete calculators on the website. Which calculator should a customer use for these mixes as opposed to concrete?

ST: The calculator most useful for coloring grout, stucco, mortar and plaster is called the Custom Batch Calculator. The Custom Batch Calculator requires two pieces of information – the weight of cement and/or lime in your mix and the pound rating for the color chosen from our concrete pigment color chart. We recommend calculating both for batch size as well as the overall project. For example, if you planned to use one 80lb. bag of stucco mix and wanted to integrally color the stucco to Cornflower. You’d enter 20 lbs. for the cement/lime content and a “1” for the pound rating to calculate the amount of pigment needed for the project which is just under a quarter of a pound (.21 lbs.) per bag.

If you’re calculating for a sample, the pound output from the calculator is likely to be unhelpful so we’ve provided a link to other calculation options at the bottom of the page. For example, say you have about 5 lbs. of cement/lime in your mix and the amount of pigment needed for the chosen color, Royal Blue, is 0.1595 lbs. 0.1595 lbs. is a difficult number to work with so converting lbs. to teaspoons for such a small batch is very useful. Using a conversion website easily found with a search engine, we’ll need 15 teaspoons to achieve Royal Blue in 5 lbs. of white Portland mix. Calculating from lbs. to grams is also a good option. Gram scales provide more exact measurements, especially when measuring small amounts, and can be used for any small or medium sized project.

We also have a step-by-step video describing how to use the concrete pigment calculators that our customers have found very helpful in determining how much pigment to order for an upcoming project.

AN:  What about sealing? Is it necessary in all instances?

ST:  Outdoor stucco applications should be sealed with an acrylic or penetrating densifier sealer to protect the color integrity from the elements. Some customers prefer a light shine and the easy application our Sprayable Satin Finish Sealer offers, especially for stucco projects. Our  DCI Penetrating Lithium Sealer Hardener has a matte finish is perfect for grout projects where gloss isn’t all that desirable. This sealer enhances overall concrete durability and is a one-time application which is super. Sealing for interior projects isn’t necessary but acrylic sealers will deepen color appearance and add some gloss.

AN:  Thanks for making pigment calculations for grout, stucco, mortar and plaster mixes easier to understand. 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!

Concrete Pigment Calculator

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.

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Concrete Book Holders

Shawna T: You’re listening to DIRECTCOLORS.COM/LISTEN podcast episode number 25, Take the DIY Decorative Concrete Challenge with Direct Colors! If this is your first time listening, then thanks for listening.  I’m Shawna Turner, General Manager with Direct Colors. This week we’d like to talk about getting started with those lingering concrete projects that you’d love to get done but just can’t seem to take the first step. Without question, spring is the time of year when things around the house need to be done before it gets too hot.  Don’t let the idea of doing-it-yourself overwhelm you. Our technicians are available by phone at 877-255-2656 or by email at [email protected] to answer questions and help you get started. Until then, here are a few helpful tips for first-timers to DIY decorative concrete:

#1: Start small… You don’t have to remodel the kitchen as your first project. Begin with concrete decor for the garden like statuary or a birdbath to get your feet wet and get accustomed to the products. Experience as we all know is the best teacher. We offer several how-to videos on concrete décor projects that might be useful as a starting point. We also have extensive photo galleries that include a variety projects featuring all our color products. Hopefully our customers will inspire you with their DIY skill and help you select an appropriate project for your own home.

#2:  Try some samples… If you are considering a larger project, such as refinishing a countertop, check out our samples and kits page first. We have concrete overlay samples, acid stains and pigments that you can create a sample board with to work on application technique and color selection.  If you have a flooring or outdoor concrete project, we offer individual samples and kits to test for concrete reactivity in the case of acid stain or deco gel acid stain and to generally make sure the product is a good fit for your project. Working with samples before beginning with a larger project makes a big difference in your comfort level.

#3:  Patios are our #1 project… If you want to try a flooring project, start outside. Patios are the easiest concrete project to complete and are most commonly what our customers cut their teeth on so to speak. We have some awesome step-by-step how to guides that will really boost your confidence about doing DIY projects yourself. Walkways, Driveways and Porches are also good options for first time projects. The products we recommend most frequently is acid stain and for previously colored and sealed concrete, Liquid Colored Antique. Both are great and with good application instructions, easy to do. Once you finish the outdoors, next indoor floors and countertops!

#4: Check out the How-to videos, podcasts and blog posts… Take the time to review the DIY experiences of others before proceeding. Good preparation is never wasted time. DirectColors.com and directcolors.com/listen offers a wealth of information on just about every decorative concrete project. Take advantage of what our customers and experts have put together to help make your DIY efforts go more smoothly.

#5: Free Individual Online and Phone Project Consultations…  If you still have lingering questions about the right product to use or anything else, contact the experts at Direct Colors. Believe it or not, they will take the time respond to your email or speak one-on-one with you by phone to work out the details about your project. There’s a free design consultation form online if you prefer or call at 877-255-2656 to speak with a technician M-F, 8:30am-5:00pm CST.

Shawna T: So Take the DIY Decorative Concrete challenge this year and get started on the kinds of projects that will both make your home a better place to be and increase curb appeal!

Concrete chop stick holders

Concrete pigments can be used for a lot more than just slabs. Our customers buy Direct Colors pigments for everything from decorative planters to warehouse slabs and just about everything in between. With more on the many uses for DIY concrete pigment is Shawna Turner, General Manager, with Direct Colors. Welcome, Shawna.

Shawna:  Thank you very much

Lisa: So let’s have it. What’s the most popular use for concrete pigment?

ST:  Without a doubt, it’s concrete slabs of every kind. If you’re just looking for a solid, rich color in your concrete nothing better than concrete pigment. It’s a stress-free color option and really the only thing the home or business owner has to do is seal the concrete after 30 days curing time. Integrally colored concrete is very popular for outdoor concrete, especially stamped concrete, but it’s increasingly popular for interior floors as well because it’s cost effective, easy and low maintenance.

Lisa: Please explain the difference between concrete pigment and integral color. Is it the same thing?

ST: Yes, it is but I can see were the terms might be confusing. Concrete pigment is a powdered pigment added to concrete prior to pouring to integrally color or color the concrete throughout. Because the concrete is integrally colored, the color is still visible even if the surface is damaged or chipped. The color really is permanent though it can fade somewhat overtime if not properly sealed.

Lisa: What are some other popular options for concrete pigment?

ST: I think concrete countertops are probably our second most popular project. Customers choose concrete pigment for countertops for the same reason as floors – easy to use, consistent color and good selections of color options. Pigment can be used in either a poured concrete countertop or in our concrete overlay. Our most popular concrete countertop color is by far our 15.4 Premium Blue Pigment followed by the 230 Black pigment. People really love their blue and black countertops.

Lisa: Can you use pigment for grout, mortar or other finishing materials?

ST: Sure. We get a lot of calls for custom grout colors in particular but concrete pigment can be used with any cement-based material. Stucco is also very popular. We offer a wider color selection than can be found at most big-box stores and we sell direct to the public. It’s difficult for DIYer’s looking for smaller pigment quantities to find affordable products locally or online. We have three varieties of blue concrete pigment for sale on our website, directcolors.com, which is a challenging color to find generally.

Lisa: Is there anything special about Direct Colors pigments that sets them apart from other products on the market?

ST: Why of course! Seriously though, it is important to choose pigments according to their use. Our pigments are UV stable and chemically inert so they can be used outdoors as well as with many different cement-based materials. Pigments that are not UV resistant will fade and deteriorate with exposure to sunlight. Because our pigments are non-reactive, they can be safely added to integrally color most any cement-based material. Keep in mind that all outdoor projects should be sealed with a quality concrete sealer and most indoor projects. Sealing protects the surface from undesirable staining, makes clean up easier and darkens the concrete color overall.

We use the same pigments in our Liquid Colored Antique and Tinted Concrete Sealers so each product can be used outdoors and if well maintained over time, the color will not fade with exposure to sunlight.

Lisa: Thank you, Shawna, for the information about what projects concrete pigment can be used for. Here are few blogs post on the subject from our website, directcolors.com – Color Stucco and Plaster with DCI Concrete Pigments, Top 10 Uses for Professional and DIY Concrete Pigment and Integral Color and Concrete Pigment for Tile Grout Color and More. A little something for everyone.

Lisa: directcolors.com/listen includes podcasts on many decorative concrete topics so visit our podcast library, including Episode 19: Calculating Pigment for Coloring Grout, Stucco, Mortar and Plaster and check back frequently to see what’s new in the world of DIY decorative concrete! Thank you for listening.

Lisa: The DIRECTCOLORS.COM/LISTEN podcast is produced twice monthly for your enjoyment and show notes can be found at DIRECTCOLORS.COM/LISTEN. Come back often and feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed.  You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. All links are in the show notes. I’m Lisa Bickel and thank you for joining us!