May 3, 2002

Colored concrete offers an alternative to wood, stone, brick

  • The use of colored concrete is expected to double in five years
    Master Builders Inc.

     Portofino Bay Hotel
    Photos courtesy of Master Builders Inc.
    Orlando, Fla.’s Portofino Bay Hotel features walkways and plazas that are cast-in-place concrete using Chromix systems to re-create a look of antiquity.

    Concrete enhanced with color and texture is a market that offers much promise for the future. In the United States, the demand for colored concrete is currently estimated at 4 million-6 million cubic yards per year and the use of integrally colored concrete is on the rise, with production volumes expected to double over the next four to five years.

    “This is an important market that offers ready-mix and precast concrete producers an avenue to expand their operations and increase the value of concrete as an attractive and functional design and construction option,” said Mike Shydlowski, president and CEO of Master Builders Inc.

    This is the age of architectural concrete and more than ever today’s designer is specifying colored and textured concrete. High-quality, colored, architectural concrete is providing designers with cost-effective and durable alternatives to conventional wood, stone and brick building products.

    Knowledgeable owners and builders have discovered that colored concrete adds value, not only to the appearance of the project, but in increased rental and sales prices.

    Non-specified projects — such as driveways, walkways and utilities — are estimated to consume about 60 percent of the colored concrete production, while specified (by architect or engineer) projects use about 40 percent. Starbucks, Disney and REI are some examples of owner demand for colored concrete.

    Cedar Court
    Microsoft’s Cedar Court in Redmond features sidewalks, plazas and common areas outlined with integral Chromix colors.

    To better respond to the increasing demand for colored concrete, Master Builders Inc. and L.M. Scofield Co. have formed a strategic alliance to provide their expertise in chemical admixture and colored concrete technologies. Both companies will manufacture and market Chromix admixtures, the Scofield brand name that is respected throughout the world.

    A new line of liquid integral coloring admixtures, called Chromix L, will be offered to ready-mix and precast concrete producers through Master Builders. The companies now operate as the only full-service supplier of products for Chromix color-conditioned concrete,” offering producers the flexibility to select from coloring admixtures in either dry or liquid form. The alliance offers high-performance products, complete service and in-depth technical support.

    Until recently, colored ready-mix concrete was produced by adding dry pigments or powders to concrete either at the job site or the batch plant. This process is prone to inconsistencies in color caused by varying amounts of water in the truck or inadequate mixing after the color is added.

    Now, liquid colors are added to specific mix designs at the batch plant where the water content and mixing are easier to control. This advancement dramatically improves both the consistency of color in ready-mix concrete and the ability of the ready-mix producer to match colors to meet architectural requirements.

    The process of coloring concrete is simplified by using a coloring admixture batching system that is flexible and accurate, enhancing productivity and reducing waste while improving product quality. The Chromix Coloring Admixture Measuring (CAM) System automates the dosing and mixing of coloring admixtures to avoid potential mistakes and reduce labor and cleanup.

    The CAM system incorporates a chart that references the colors available from Scofield, Davis, Solomon and others to allow four base colors to produce about two dozen different colors. The base colors are automatically batched by the computerized system in the correct proportion to formulate the desired finished color.

    The CAM system includes a state-of-the-art weighing system for improved accuracy with easy touch-screen operation and it also records color weights and other pertinent batch information for future reference.

    John Tellvik is a senior sales representative for Master Builders Inc., a provider of improvement, repair and restoration products for concrete since 1909.

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