How to Texture and Color Cement

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Flat cement can look dull and uninspired. You can make it come to life with textures and colors. Here are some tips on how to texture and color cement for patios, sidewalks, poolsides, sculptures and any other form of concrete.

  • Scrape textures over the surface of wet concrete. Try sweeping a broom over the surface of cement while it is still soft but has set up sufficiently to hold an impression. You can also lightly use the tips of the broom to form little speckles. Or you can use combs and spatulas and putty knives to make designs and textures, and try using the square notched trowel used for applying tile adhesives to create interesting ribbon and line effects.

  • Press forms into concrete while the surface still impressionable. There are all kinds of preformed texture stamps you can buy or rent to mimic the surface of stone, rock, pebbles and many other designs. Or if you have something with an interesting texture you want to transfer, you can press it into the moist cement, cleaning it each time you use it again.

  • Embed materials into soft cement. You can sprinkle sand onto the surface of damp concrete to keep it from becoming slippery. Or use decorative pebbles and press them into the concrete. If you want to take the time to do something really artistic, you can make pictures or designs with pebbles, small tiles, broken crockery or colored stones.

  • Sculpt the surface before it sets up. This works better on curved or three-dimensional surfaces rather than flat areas. You can even do small sculptural designs along edgings or vertical surfaces where a relief surface is for decoration and not to be walked upon.

  • Add colors with concrete powders sprinkled or rubbed into the surface of the concrete when wet. Or mix the color directly into the cement. You can also achieve wonderful effects using acid stain and different colored paints on dry or even old cement.

  • By coloring and texturing cement, you can make columns into marble, walkways into pieces of art, patios look like flagstone and flat surfaces look like real brick. You can create faux rocks or colorful sculptures. More ideas and information can be found in the additional Resources listed below.

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  • Photo Credit Photos and jobs by Jane Schwartz Gates at Gates & Croft Horticultural Design
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