All About Powdered Concrete Color Formulas in Manufactured Concrete Stone and Tile

We now offer "WHITE" Concrete Color. Use to lighten standard gray concrete and make "Off White" concrete when using bags of pre-mixed Sand Mix or Concrete.

THE PROBLEM WITH COLOR--- Color is Subjective.  And worse yet--- It is a Matter of Each Individual's Perception.

What I may refer to as RED, you may consider LIGHT RED.  Your TERRA COTTA, may be my HARVEST GOLD, etc., etc.  "Color" is a matter of one's perception.  And the color is influenced by a number of factors.  "Light" is possibly the major influence on one's perception of color--- and the amount, degree, and angle that the light hits an object.  "Mass" is another factor that influences our perception of color.  That is why it is extremely difficult to answer one of the popular questions we receive on a regular basis--- "How much concrete color will it take to make"--- whatever it is that the customer may want to make.  

While we can offer our perception of what a color may be, and what it takes to get a certain finished "color" as we perceive it, you will need to experiment with very small batches of mix and color from that point until you attain the "base color" that you are looking for, and are happy with.  If you are happy with a color as it is illustrated on our website or in our color charts--- you're all set.  If you want it a bit lighter, darker, or deeper--- use less color or more color in the base formula we provide below. 

Insight into our Color Formulas:
Our base concrete colors have always been iron oxides in five basic colors. The batch formulas that we had provided to our customers in the past, and you may possibly have see elsewhere on our website, were made using a white or gray Portland cement and bulk sand formulas.  They were formulated and designed for our large Commercial Producers. Most of the formulas were based on starting with white Portland cement.  This worked fine then, as these Producers had all of the colors, and bulk supplies and equipment to make batches of concrete that would yield 85-90 square feet of tile from one batch. We at Olde World are now servicing another and very important category of customer base that we need to help with color choices--- the direct-purchasing, do-it-yourself and homeowner consumer.

One problem with the consumer customer is that the cost of 94-pound bags of white Portland cement have gotten very expensive when compared to standard gray Portland cement--- as much as three times the cost.  Due to the volume of stone and tile that our Commercial Producers make, that cost is not really that much of a factor.  This is due to the size of the yield from the standard mix. But the consumer customer will be making relatively small, more manageable batches using premixed bags of concrete or Sand Mix.  The main consideration for us then is that now, color formulas need to be formulated more for our do-it-yourself customer who is going to use premixed bags of concrete and/or Sand Mix to make their stone and tile.  The typical homeowner doesn't have the six-cubic-foot mixers, heavy-duty vibrating tables, piles of sand, large production and curing racks, etc., that our Commercial Producers have and need to make those large batches with the high yields per batch.

As mentioned elsewhere, we provide FREE basic instructions in the various techniques used to achieve a custom-colored tile or stone.  But other than those base colors and samples to illustrate them, the homeowner or do-it-yourselfer will have to experiment a bit.  Though we would love to be able to provide a formula for a color that is in one's head--- we cannot.  As stated, color is too subjective.  As such, what you might refer to as a "pink" color, we might perceive as a "rose" color.  Our "powder blue", might be your "light blue", etc.  For that reason, we can only give you some "base" color formulas and guidance.  You will have to make adjustments and changes from those formulas to get exactly what you see in your "mind's eye".  We are sorry that we can't be of more help in this area, but there are just too many variables to consider, as you will see below in our samples and illustrations.

YELLOW

BUFF

UMBER BROWN

CHOCOLATE BROWN

TERRA COTTA

RED - LIGHT RED

GREEN OR WILLOW GREEN

HARVEST GOLD - GOLDENROD

BLACK

MAROON

BASIC FIVE-COLOR SET

The Cobblestone samples below are the same stones as the stones in the above illustrations. The main difference is that the below photos were taken with the stones in the shade, and the above were in full sun.  Note that the lower examples "appear" to be a bit lighter in shade, and the depth of color is not as intense. Thus, another example of variables when it comes to describing colors.

Review of What Concrete Mix to use for What Application:
Before I get further involved with coloring the mix--- maybe I should review what type of concrete mix should be used for each application. For stone, patio pavers, brick veneer, tile, and smaller steppingstones, all being under 2" thick--- use premixed bags of Sand Mix, or one of our Portland cement and sand mixes.  Remember that our light and medium-weight mixes are for vertical (wall) applications only. For anything two-inches thick or more, and large (18"+) stepping stones, use premixed bags of concrete, (with the small gravel in it), or a standard Portland cement, sand, gravel concrete mix.

About the Formula Used for the Powdered Concrete Color Samples Illustrated:
To make all of the sample color stones and tiles below we mixed very small batches. We weighed 15 grams of powdered concrete color and mixed it into four pounds of Sand Mix taken from premixed bags for each set of color samples. The colors should vary very little, if at all, when using either premixed bags of concrete or our gray Portland cement and sand formulas.  Don't get hung up on the colors not matching exactly what you see on your computer screen--- that image is just one more variable, as discussed previously. Others variables are concrete brand used--- the base gray may be different, amount of water in mix, color of sand, etc. 

The rationale for using this color quantity is that it equates to one ounce of color per eight pounds of concrete sand mix--- which is the maximum ratio of color that should be used. Never use more than about five or six percent by weight actually, as you would just be wasting color and getting no deeper color benefit. You will also weaken your concrete product by doing so. 

To get similar colors to those illustrated, you should start with one-ounce of color (by weight) for each 10-15 pounds of cement mix. Let's say you wanted a typical TERRA COTTA color--- start with one ounce per 15 pounds of concrete Sand Mix, and see how you like it. If it's not dark enough to your liking, add more color. The differeneces will not be dramatic.  These measurement samples allow you to use 40, 60, or 80 pound bags of concrete, and get the same results with each on a percentage basis.

Realistically, the amount of color we used puts us at the saturation point for that quantity of concrete--- meaning, you will get very little difference in the intensity and depth of the color if you were to cut the weight of color used in the mix to start.  Remember too, there is only about 20% by weight of actual cement in each bag of concrete--- so gauge your colors accordingly.  And the "gray" concrete color may be different depending on the "brand" of concrete used... another variable to take into consideration. I recommend always using the same brand of concrete you start a project with, throughout your whole project.   

HOW "MASS" OR "SIZE" AFFECTS COLOR PERCEPTION

YELLOW

BUFF

UMBER BROWN

CHOCOLATE BROWN

GREEN OR WILLOW GREEN

HARVEST GOLD - GOLDENROD

TERRA COTTA

BLACK

BUFF

RED - LIGHT RED

CHOCOLATE BROWN

GREEN OR WILLOW GREEN

TERRA COTTA

HOW LIGHT AFFECTS COLOR PERCEPTION:

Note that in the 12"x12"x1/2" tile samples below, the color formula used for the samples are the exact same batches of concrete that the above Cobblestone samples were made with--- 15 grams of color to 4 lbs. of Sand Mix. Interestingly, each tile is made with four-pounds of Sand Mix. So the yields are: 40 lb bag of Sand Mix yields ten 12"x12"x1/2" tiles. A 60 lb. bag of Sand Mix yields fifteen 12"x12"x1/2" tiles.  

CLICK ON THE GREEN "LINK" BUTTONS TO GO TO THAT INFORMATION CATEGORY PAGE

NEW

NEED A BUILDING TO WORK OUT OF?   HERE ARE PLANS.

NEED SOME LANDSCAPING IDEAS FROM A PROFESSIONAL?