Realistic Expectations of Integrally coloured Concrete

Realistic Expectations of Integrally coloured Concrete

Choosing Integrally coloured concrete products for your project? Good Choice! Because it has a lot of advantages. Since decorative concrete, integrally coloured concrete products are new, the market is unaware of its features and expectations. As a designer or a customer it’s very important to understand the realistic expectations of integrally coloured concrete products right in the beginning. Most of the times the manufacturers don’t explain the inherent features and the expectations of integrally coloured concrete products assuming that it’s a given! Eventually, there is a difference of opinion between the manufacturer and the client. Some designers and clients like the authentic look and feel of such products and some disagree with it. Let’s dive deeper into this subject and get some clarity.


Inaccuracy in colour is accurate and expected in concrete! There are many reasons which cause this confusion about colour expectation.  Integrally coloured concrete products, as the name suggest are manufactured by integrally mixing pigments into concrete while casting. The pigment is homogenously mixed into the product in the casting stage. Many chemical reactions occur while the concrete is setting and curing. The end result is absolutely natural, authentic and unique, something that is out of a human’s reach to control. The nature take charge! Even if the products are manufactured using the same batch of raw materials, moulds, and procedures, the products will have its own unique features including variation in colour. Period! Similar to other natural materials like stone & wood. This is what sets the integrally coloured products aside from synthetic and man-made products that are calibrated to perfection. In fact it’s just the opposite of a painted surface which is consistent in colour. Concrete lovers embrace the natural variation. May be its an acquired taste!

Raw materials: Another reason for shade variation in integrally pigmented concrete products are its raw materials. Natural raw materials such as cement which is made from natural lime, sand, industrial bye products, etc all vary in colour every time they are mined and processed. In most professionally practiced factories like Nuance Studio, all the raw materials are meticulously weighed to an accuracy of 0.1gm to 1gm to ensure consistent quality of the concrete. Yet, one can be assured of variation in colour of the finished product.

Sealer: All aesthetic products manufactured using integrally pigmented concrete will be sealed to protect the surface from stains, dust, etc.  There are different types of sealers that perform differently and have different abilities. They also change the final colour of the concrete. Some sealers retain the natural colour of the coloured concrete and some intensify the colour of the concrete. Sometimes, the desired performance of the sealer will outweigh the final colour of the concrete product. Hence, this is a vital point that a client needs to be educated about this subject, before placing an order with the manufacturer. For example: when a concrete wash basin is considered, the stain resistance attribute of the product is more important than the final colour of the product. Most of the surface treatments that are used to manufacture concrete wash basins intensify the colour of the concrete.

Colour Reference from Catalogues: Last but not the least, there are many instances where the clients would finalize the colour of the concrete by looking at the digital or the physical copy of the catalogue. To their surprise, the delivered concrete products would have a completely a different shade. The colours on the digital catalogue depends on the display clarity, brightness and many other factors. They would look completely different from screen to screen. In a printed catalogue, the printed shade of the swatch depends on the printer, paper texture and many more factors. Hence, its always advised to consider the colours in the catalogue only for reference and not as a dipstick to determine the actual shade or colour of concrete.

The Final Judgement

In a nutshell, there are too many variable that affects the characteristics of concrete. Colour being one of them. Companies generally have a disclaimer about the colour expectations in their catalogues that explain this phenomena in detail. The colour consistency of pigmented concrete is always rated as “V3” category which explain the variation that can be expected.  The imperfections of concrete, not limited to colour is what makes the material unique and has its own charm that is liked by many designers and architects from ages. Concrete is cold, honest, true and timeless!

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