Coloured concrete is used in a wide variety of applications. There are three main methods of applying colour: integral, dry shake and surface-applied stains and coatings. All these methods have their advantages depending on the needs of the project and budget.
Stains and coatings are used on existing concrete and will be the least expensive. Dry shake applications are used on freshly placed concrete, such as industrial floors. Typically, these materials cost less than integral colour but the labour to finish the concrete is more intensive and costly.
Generally, integrally coloured concrete will have higher material cost coupled with a lower labour expense. With the integral method, pigment is introduced into the mix at the concrete plant, either in liquid or powder form. As with any concrete material, the main focus is proper design, accurate production of the mix, and achieving the correct finishing technique and curing. Although the iron oxides used to produce coloured concrete do not fade, it is easy for the surface to be damaged by efflorescence, dirt, and mould, which will partially hide the coloured surface. Applying a proper curing compound or sealer can protect the coloured surface and cut the need for maintenance. Properly produced and protected colour concrete should last for many years with minimal maintenance.