Integral Color vs Color Hardener for Stamped Concrete Patios

Integrating color into concrete is a mystery for many people. Let's demystifyb this topic.

In terms of color integration there are several ways to achieve a colorful concrete patio that is either stamped or smooth. You could choose between stains, liquid release agents, integral color, or a color hardener.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, but this post will compare and contrast integral color and color hardener and how they will work for your stamped concrete patio.

Applying color hardener to concrete

Integral Color: Pros and Cons

Integral color is a term used for concrete that has had color added at the manufacturer. Rather than staining the top of a concrete patio, your stamped beauty will have uniform color throughout the entire slab. The color will be true, even if the concrete is chipped.

Integral color is also faster to install, as the coloring has already been added. It is also a rather easy job for concrete contractors to handle and thus often comes out cheaper than other methods. If a messy worksite is a concern, integral color is a good option, as it involves little mess when installed.

One disadvantage to integral color is the colors you can choose from. Since the color is mixed with grey concrete, it is impossible to achieve vibrant colors. So, a bright yellow patio won’t be possible. However, if you prefer a darker red-brick look to your stamped concrete patio, you’re in luck. Weigh the color options with your overall aesthetic and you might land the color you are looking for.

Color Hardener: Pros and Cons

Color hardener is an option that concrete professionals have been using for many years. This solution involves essentially adding a top coat to a concrete slab before it fully hardens. Since the coating is 1/8″ thick, it will be very durable and the color will survive most chips and dings. The compression strength of a color hardener is impressive, withstanding 8,000 psi – double the strength of concrete alone. So, adding hardener can increase the life of your concrete patio.

Hardener also comes in a wide range of colors. In fact, there is no limit to the colors you can choose. So, with a stamped concrete patio, you might even section off parts of a design to have a certain color. With a little creativity, your patio can become a unique work of art.

One disadvantage of color hardener is the labor cost. It takes several men to float the hardener over your patio and then it takes quite a while to set up, during which time it needs to be monitored. However, considering the quality of a color hardener job, the extra cost is fully warranted.

Color hardener is also quite messy to install. However, since most any permanent construction does come with initial mess and bother, most homeowners who use hardeners are so pleased with the results that this aspect can be overlooked. However, if you have special plants or furniture nearby, they will need to be protected during the process. Your concrete contractor will know how to best proceed in most cases, but be sure to consult with them if you have any special concerns.

Consult a Professional

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to consult with your concrete contractor to assess which will work best for you. When you weigh your aesthetic, durability, and budgetary concerns, the answer will likely become obvious.

Achieve the elegant stamped concrete patio you deserve with GWC Decorative Concrete. We specialize in various concrete services including exposed aggregate, interior floors, pressure washing and sealing, concrete repair and finishing & sealing, and more! Contact us today to get started on your next concrete project!