Concrete Integrals: Faded or Not?

Concrete Decor’s Q&A in the Winter 2001 issue had included comments discouraging the use of integral coloring for concrete work in high altitude mountain environments. It was implied that integral coloring of concrete is UV unstable resulting in a color faded appearance over time. This is incorrect.

The use of integral colors, or “dust-on” colors for that matter, are very color stable when exposed to ultra-violet (UV) sunlight. According to ASTM C979, iron oxide pigments now used predominantly for integral and “dust-on” concrete coloring applications are not degraded by exposure to sunlight. What is often seen as a faded-look on these surfaces is mostly the result of dirt and diminished wear resistance due to improper maintenance.

The fact that mountain environments produce excessive rain, snow, dry spells, wind, dust, and falling debris from trees and scrubs, add to the difficulty of maintaining these surfaces. Most concrete applications, colored or otherwise, are most often improperly maintained. Like any applied finish, getting the most enjoyment and longest life from these decorative surfaces requires regular cleaning and treatment. Without proper maintenance on colored concrete the familiar faded look or dirty appearance will become noticeable. However, when concrete is properly installed and maintained, it provides excellent wear resistance and color value.

While many opinions circle about the difficulty of repairing gouges or deep scratches in integral and/or dust-on colored concrete applications we must be the first to admit that most are the result of individual experiences or preference. With this in mind, we will continue to explore ways Concrete Decor can better meet or exceed the limits of our understanding for the benefit of advancing the trade.

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