Dyeing floors is different from staining them. With dye, there is no chemical reaction with the concrete—it simply dyes the surface. Dyes can come in liquid form or as dry pigment, the latter to be mixed with a solvent (usually acetone). The color of the finished product and the depth that the dye penetrates into the concrete depends on the dye-to-solvent ratio. Dyes will not hide imperfections in the concrete; they are meant to enhance the variation that the concrete already has. Acetone dyes are made to be used on polished concrete floors that have not been sealed. If your floors have been sealed, the sealant will need to be removed before the dye is applied.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
Broom, vacuum, or mop
Solvent or water, as per directions on the dye
Paint sprayer with acetone-safe plastic tips and seals
Sealant (polyurethane or other)
Note: When working with an acetone-based dye, make sure the room is well ventilated; open all windows and doors when dyeing floors. Wear protective gloves and glasses, too, as acetone dyes are highly flammable.
1. Thoroughly clean the floor with a broom, vacuum, or mop. Let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.
2. Mix the dye in a plastic bucket according to the manufacturer’s directions.
3. Wearing rubber gloves, load a paint sprayer.
4. Spray the dye onto the floor from a distance of about two feet (60 cm), using a circular motion.
5. The dye should penetrate the surface and be absorbed within about 1 minute. If working with a water-based dye, wipe away any excess with water and a sponge to avoid puddling on the surface.
6. Wait 15 minutes and apply a second coat, if desired, to darken the color.
7. Using the sprayer with a nozzle tip made for sealants, spray with a sealant. The dye dries quickly, so the floor can even be sealed the same day.
8. Let the sealant dry for several hours before using the floor. Dyed cement floors should be cleaned like any other floor—with a mild mix of soap and water.
Photo and text excerpted from Marrakesh by Design by Maryam Montague (Artisan Books, 2012)
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