Most concrete projects designed with architectural formliner are intended to have aesthetic appeal and also incorporate concrete staining or coloration. Artfully applied concrete coloration can add incredible realism and bring the project to life. However, poorly executed staining can virtually ruin the aesthetic of the entire project.
Before you begin either designing a project incorporating concrete coloration, or contracting with a coloration company, here are some key things to remember:
Experience: Opt for an established contractor with at least 5 years of multicolor experience and be sure to review their portfolio. Multicolor concrete staining is more of an art than a science, and very few contractors have expertise in this area. If the staining is done poorly, the entire appearance of the project will be affected. It can be extremely expensive and sometimes impossible to repair the damage.
Curing: Concrete must be cured for at least 30 days before applying stain. If the concrete is not allowed to cure before applying the stain, the coloration won’t bond completely and will deteriorate very prematurely.
Pressure Washing: Before applying stain to the concrete, the surface must be pressure washed at a minimum of 3000 psi to remove dirt and loose debris. The surface then must be allowed to dry completely before applying the concrete stain.
Choosing color: Because coloration is more of an art than a science, we recommend that architects refrain from calling out specific colors. Very often, colors from a swatch will look very different in the field. If the coloration is intended to harmonize with the surroundings, we strongly recommend taking photos of nearby geology to demonstrate the desired coloration, and incorporating those photos into the specification. In addition, we recommend that the specification call for a mock-up to be stained on-site for approval.
Applying Multiple Colors: Using multiple colors (usually 3-5 different colors) is the best way to achieve a more natural looking finish. The staining contractor will apply the colors in layers, add highlights and flecking, and even make sure the mortar joints are colored correctly.