While concrete started out as a structural building material, in recent years it has become an indoor architectural and decorating staple. Its unrefined, utilitarian aesthetic has been used to create oceans of grey floors, walls and ceilings, as well as pieces of furniture, lighting and accessories. Now concrete version two is upon us – the material moving even further from its functional origins and into the ornamental, merging its edgy tactility with colours from every point in the rainbow.
‘Adding colour to enhance concrete’s appearance is gathering momentum as the next logical progression for the material,’ confirms Gus Colley, owner and MD of artisan concrete company Concreations. ‘It provides an enormous opportunity for creativity and setting the mood of a space.’
‘Colouring concrete enhances it, celebrating its rich textures and unique markings,’ agrees Tom Gresford, founder of Gresford Architects. ‘Coloured concrete has a rich, tectonic beauty and juxtaposes raw, unforgiving and brutal materiality with the delightfully lively effect adding colour achieves. Coloured concrete really lifts and enhances a space in unexpected ways – it can be physically hard and visually soft at the same time.’
There are no rules or boundaries when it comes to coloured concrete – pigments can be attention-grabbing or subtle, and used for flat surfaces or three-dimensional objects. There are several ways to add colour to concrete, and it’s a hands-on, messy business so expert help will most likely be required.
‘Concrete can be coloured using several different methods – by adding pigments to the mix, by staining it after it has cured or by applying pigmented material as the top layer of the concrete while it is wet,’ explains Gus. There’s a knack to achieving that perfect shade of concrete – it’s all about accuracy and consistency to create a smooth finish and avoid colour variations. Don’t be alarmed if the appearance changes as the material dries – so it’s a case of practice, practice, practice… or seek out a professional.
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