Concrete pigment works by mixing a coloring agent into the concrete mix before it is placed. On the other hand, concrete stain is applied to the top layer of the concrete without coloring the entire mix. The cost will vary, based upon how the product works and how much is needed.
Pigment powder dyes are priced per pound. The retailer Direct Colors Inc. sells all pigment dyes at the same price per pound, regardless of the color needed, with 5 lbs. costing $25 as of 2010. The total cost will depend on the concentration of color needed. Brick red, for example, requires more dye for proper color concentration; 100 lbs. of dye is required to color 5 yards of concrete. However, the color sundried tomato only uses 25 lbs. of dye to color that same amount of concrete. The different concentrations are listed as a pound rating, with a range of 1 to 5 pounds.
Concrete acid stain is a liquid product and sold by the gallon. Concrete Supply House sells acid stain for a regular price of $45 per gallon, as of 2010. This gallon can cover up to 400 square feet of poured concrete. On sale, you can sometimes find acid stain in your chosen color for as little as $10 to $25 per gallon, but selections are very limited at this price.
Because concrete pigment and concrete stain are so different, it is hard to compare apples-to-apples in pricing. Instead, determine how much of each product is necessary to complete your particular project. A 5 yard pour with a thicker depth, for example, will use the same amount of pigment powder as a thinner slab. However, the square footage will be higher, requiring more acid stain to cover the same surface.
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