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The Best Concrete Colorant for Planters & Crafts

What’s the best concrete colorant to use for making concrete planters?

I’ve put together examples of some of my colored planters from over the years to show you how well the coloring held up to help you decide which is the best concrete colorant to use for your project.

I’m writing this as a follow-up to my article on how to color concrete crafts.

If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you start there first, as it is a primary to the basics of using various types of colorants with concrete. 

multiple bowls in a variety of colored concrete on a table

I wanted to provide an update on the success and failures of the different types of concrete coloring products I’ve used since starting my journey working with concrete.

But first, let me give you the simple answer to the question. The best colorant for concrete is one that is specifically made for concrete, such as mineral oxide powders. There is no better substitute.

When it comes to coloring concrete and maintaining color, there are two factors. One is the colorant itself and the other is if you apply a sealer.

A sealer is very helpful in maintaining color, especially for pigments not designed to be used with concrete, as they will need a little extra help. here’s an article explaining more about how and when to seal concrete.

Pocket Guide to Concrete & Cement Mixes For Crafts
Grab the free pocket guide. It has a handy chart for choosing the right mix for your project.

I’ve posted photos below of colored planters exposed to sun and rain for a minimum of 7 months.

Some planters were exposed to outdoor conditions for as long as two or more years.

But since some of the planters have only been outside for seven months, I will update here and in my newsletter if any coloring fades noticeably over time.

However, in my experience, most fading happens during the first six months.

Some of the links on this page have been provided as a convenience for finding materials. These links may also be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you.

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Green Marbled Concrete Planter 

bowl shaped planter with green concrete colorant and white marbling

*Be aware that many acrylic paints, including some colors from the same brand used in the marbled planter above, have not performed equally.

Also, some acrylic paints will dry out the concrete mix and cause cracking. Therefore, testing ahead of time is advised.

Fluted Concrete Planter

light gray planter

Vibrant Dyed Concrete Planter

marbled pink and white planter with some faded coloring from concrete colorant
  • Colorant: Cold water clothing dye ( powdered)
  • Sealer: none
  • Concrete mix: White, glass block mortar mix
  • Outdoor exposure time: 7 mos+
  • It has retained approximately 60% of its color.

Cheap Dyed Concrete Planter

faded purple and white planter
  • Colorant: Clothing dye
  • Concrete mix: White mortar mix
  • Sealer: none 
  • Outdoor exposure time: 7 mos+
  • It has retained approximately 35% of its color.

Stained Concrete Planter

  • Colorant: Water-based wood stain 
  • Concrete mix: White mortar mix
  • Sealer: none
  • Outdoor exposure time: 7 mos+
  • It has retained at least 95% of its color.

Latex Painted Planter

planter painted in a solid green color
  • Colorant: Latex paint (interior matte)
  • Sealer: Brush on, sealed prior to painting
  • Concrete mix: Off-white cement
  • Outdoor exposure time: 1+ year
  • It has retained 100% of its color.

Magnetic Cement Planters

brightly colored, marbled concrete planters
  • Colorant: Concrete colorant powder
  • Sealer: Spray on (the round ones), none (the dishes)
  • Concrete mix: Off-white cement
  • Outdoor exposure time: 10+ months
  • The sealed, round ones have retained at least 95% of their color.
  • The unsealed dishes have maintained nearly 95% of their color.

In summary, when it comes to the integral mixing of colorants, the best concrete colorant to use to retain color over time are the powdered pigments formulated specifically for concrete crafts.

The best performers for topical application are the water-based wood stains and latex paints.

If you want to learn all about how to make concrete planters, here’s a guide for making them.

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  1. Have you (or anyone reading this) ever tried India inks?
    They’re very vibrant and come in just about any colour you can think of.
    I’ve used them recently to stain wood (an Ikea stool) and it turned out great! I’ve done it previously too, (another Ikea stool) and that turned out well too. Did the first one a couple of years ago, and the colour is still vibrant. Unlike your concrete pots though, it’s not left outside in the sun and weather…so that might help. 😛
    I’m hoping that when I try this out (soon I hope, lol!) it will work well.

    What do you reckon?

    1. Hi Tanya,

      I haven’t tried India inks, but I have tried alcohol inks. The alcohol inks didn’t work being added integrally into the mix. And topically, though beautiful, faded once dry and continued to fade. It’s my understanding that India inks are similar, but India inks have more pigmentation, so they could be worth a try. I tried the alcohol inks with planters, so water and sun exposure–like you said, comes into play. If you use them on something that is inside, you’ll probably have better luck. Let me know how it goes when you do try them.

      Here’s the article where I tested the alcohol inks. I think it’s closer to the bottom of the page. https://artsyprettyplants.com/concrete-crafts-pigments/


  2. I have quite a few cans of leftover latex paint in my garage. They are a little difficult to recycle. Sometimes I have used latex paint as part of the liquid when I mix up concrete/ cement. This colors the concrete, of course. Seems to work okay; don’t know about the long term durability. Do you ever do this? I notice you refer to latex paint but only as a surface application.

    1. Hi Katrina,

      Thanks for bringing this up. I haven’t used latex integrally but I suspect it works great, at least as well as acrylic, if not better. I just hadn’t had any extra house paint colors that I wanted to use for a concrete project, so hadn’t tried it. I’m confident it would hold up at least as well as acrylic, and likely not dry out the concrete. However, I have an upcoming project that I’m hoping to try it with –using it integrally in the mix! And it’s for something that will be outside, so I will update the post when it’s been outside for at least 6 months.