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Decorative concrete, also commonly referred to as architectural concrete, can most easily be described as any technique that alters what would be plain, grey concrete to be more aesthetically pleasing. Decorative concrete can encompass many different looks and techniques. It can include simple coloring techniques such as acid stains, acrylic stains, concrete dyes, and integral colors (also called integrated colors; mixed into the concrete before it is poured). It can also include special treatments including stamping, scoring, chiseling, and polishing that can change the texture of the surface. Many times, decorative concrete integrates multiple techniques to truly customize the slab.
Probably one of the most well-known techniques for transforming plain concrete to be more design-friendly is staining, especially for interior applications. This technique involves taking a cured concrete slab and literally staining it to be a different color (or colors). There are two main types of concrete stain. The most common type of concrete stain is an acid stain. It is known for producing rich color. The acid reacts to the concrete and takes on its own life. The result is a marbleized coloring, much like grainy leather. It is probably one of the most difficult stains to work with; it requires much caution while applying because you are working with acid, after all. This stain does not cover defects in the concrete. On the contrary, it will likely show defects, even those you didn’t see when the concrete was in its natural state. However, this character that the acid stain reveals is part of the allure of the finished product of an acid stain job. Water-based concrete stains and acrylic concrete stains create a much more uniform look than do acid stains. These stains have a thin, milky consistency, allowing them to seep into the concrete’s pores, which differentiates them from any concrete paint, which can flake off because paints simply coat the surface. Because there is no chemical reaction between the stain and the concrete, it applies more like a dye. [Read More]