You can make concrete white, and I’m going to show you how.
When it comes to cement crafts, white concrete is a popular choice. It is especially sought after in home decor items but can be difficult to find.
Most premixed standard concrete mixes come grey; and others are labeled off-white, which tends to be more of a tan.
However, we are in luck because it is possible to make concrete white. In fact, it’s quite easy to do.
Not only do many people love the look of white concrete products, but there is also a very important reason a white cement mix may be critical to your concrete project. It’s because it allows for bright colors.
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The whiter the mix, the brighter the color. When you add color to an off-white mix, the color still will be somewhat muted.
Adding color to gray cement results in a muddy, drab color with a gray undertone.
Portland cement is commonly sold as a gray cement. However, it is available in white at-home improvement and hardware stores in some parts of the US.
Pocket Guide to Concrete & Cement Mixes For Crafts
You must combine portland cement with sand for it to bind. So mixing it with white sand will result in pure white concrete.
Now, unfortunately, white portland cement isn’t available in most parts of the US. You’ll find mixed success finding white cement mixes in non-US countries.
I should also mention that even though bags of white portland cement aren’t available everywhere, you can often find specialty white mixes if you are willing to pay a premium.
Before I explain how to get your concrete white, let me explain the different products used for coloring concrete.
I’ll keep this brief because I have a separate article that provides in-depth information about concrete colorants you may want to read later.
Types Of Colorants For Concrete
Integral Concrete Colorants
- Concrete Pigment
These mineral oxides are formulated for concrete and can come in a liquid or powder form.
Latex and acrylic paint are options for coloring concrete by adding them to the wet mixture.
I have had some success using white paint to lighten up my mix, but it doesn’t compare to the method I have in the mini tutorial at the bottom of the post.
- Integral Dye
You can use clothing dyes, which come in either powder or liquid form. A drawback is that they require you to use a large quantity to achieve colorful results.
These also tend to fade quickly. Additionally, it won’t be a good choice if you go for white.
Topical Colorants For Concrete
Both latex and acrylic can be applied to the surface of concrete and have staying power.
- Acid stains
These stains contain an acid and salts that react chemically with the concrete to etch the surface and allow the color to penetrate it.
So far, I have not used these. But they are formulated for concrete, so they should work well. I’m not aware of one that comes in white.
- Water-based stains
There are many brands of water-based stains made for concrete. I have even had very good success using stain made specifically for wood on a cement planter.
- Topical Dyes
There are residential applications of dyes that will be much more concentrated than clothing dye, but they are not practical for concrete crafts because you apply them with sprayers.
The Way To Make Concrete White
Now, here’s the secret to the coloring! You will use white titanium dioxide powder. The price may seem high compared with other colors, but it is far more cost-effective than paying for artisan concrete (specialty).
These specialty mixes usually come in small 10 lb boxes and are hard to find locally, so you pay for shipping.
My best calculation is that it is at least 2-3 more expensive to pay for the specialty mixes than to add white colorant to an off-white mix –even factoring in the recent large price increase for my favorite off-white mix.
This will need to be mixed with a tan or off-white mix. It doesn’t work with grey concrete.
Are you ready? Read on for the easy, two-step tutorial!
Materials You Need To Make White Concrete
- Off-white cement
- Mixing bowl
- Disposable cup
- Nitrile gloves
- Safety mask
- Safety glasses
- Quality titanium powder
Steps For How To Make Your Concrete White
Step 1. Mix The Color Into The Dry Mix
First, pour the off-white concrete mix into a bowl. Then add the white titanium powder.
I often don’t measure my mix-to-colorant ratios, but here’s a planter I made a few years back and fortunately have notes on.
Depending on the size item you are making, you’ll need to adjust, but the ratio should be similar.
For this planter, I used the same cement mix and white concrete color I have linked to in the materials list above. My ratio was 2 cups of mix to 4 rounded tablespoons.
You are adding a fair amount of colorant to the mixture. Fortunately, with the titanium powder, this amount doesn’t compromise the concrete mixture consistency like it does with many other pigments that aren’t formulated for concrete.
In my tests, adding certain paints to a mix can sometimes cause cracking.
Once you have added the powdered titanium to the dry mix, blend it well.
Step 2. Add Water To The Dry Concrete Mix
Add water to the dry mix. Get the mixture to the consistency your project requires. The consistency will be project-specific and unrelated to whether you have a pigment added or are keeping it the natural color.
If the mixture appears very white when wet, then your results should be the same when dry.
I should point out that even though the mix can take a lot of colorant, you should still use the least amount needed to achieve the whiteness you desire.
Besides, it’s best to be frugal with the titanium powder since it’s pricier than the common black and red colorants sold at the big home improvement stores.
Another thing to note is that when you demold the concrete, it will appear more off-white at first.
This is because it is still wet. Once it has dried, your finished product will be a true white!
For more in-depth info on concrete crafts, this post provides in-depth information about the basics of concrete mixes and sealers.
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