Although Brian Bettencourt has logged 16 years as a concrete contractor, he had not tried his hand at using color hardener until late 2003. He landed his first job while attending a colorhardener training workshop. And almost immediately, he was disgusted. “It was a nightmare,” he says.
Dispersing color hardener is a filthy job, he declares. “You’re covered from head to toe. It’s in your clothes. It’s on your clothes. If there’s a little bit of wind, it’s that much worse.”
The cloud of loose powder can’t be healthy to breathe, he says. And if a homeowner objects to the leftover dust on plants and walls, a contractor could end up doing a pressure-wash job on the house … in both senses of the word.
So Bettencourt marched home and, in only a few days, invented a better way to spread color: The Color Spreader.
The tool is a tray of steel mesh with an aluminum frame. It’s 18.25 by 18.25 inches, weighs 3.35 pounds and attaches to the end of any standard screw-on or plug-in pole. The holes in the mesh are big enough to let color hardener or release agent pour through when jarred loose, but small enough to keep clumps in the tray. Color hardener is dumped into the Spreader while it’s held over a bucket, then carried to the slab. When the tray is gently shaken back and forth over the concrete, the powder cascades downward in even strokes, laying a path 14 inches wide.
The tool disperses material more evenly than the hand-throwing method. And because even dispersal is more efficient, the job is finished more quickly.
On the first pass, hand-scattering will cover only 30 percent to 40 percent of the slab, Bettencourt says, while one pass with the Spreader will cover 85 percent to 95 percent.
The tool also doesn’t leave too much in spots, potentially saving the contractor a lot of powder. “That’s just a bonus at the end of the job, to be saving in product,” Bettencourt says.
And that powdery fog stays at knee-level and settles immediately, instead of covering everything from shrubbery to employees.
Bettencourt’s company, Innovative Tool Design, officially launched The Color Spreader at the 2005 World of Concrete show. “People can really relate to the Color Spreader once they see it in action,” he says.
Lee Levig, a Fairfield, Calif., contractor who purchased the tool, praises its speed and ease of use. “If you’re throwing color hardener, you have to have this tool,” he says. “It gives you a more even spread without giving you lumps and bumps.”
Now, Bettencourt is researching customized versions for other materials, looking into a larger model on wheels for commercial jobs, and taking pitches from potential distributors. “It looks like this thing is going to be going pretty crazy,” he says.
For more information about the Color Spreader, visit www.thecolorspreader. com or call (209) 522-7334.