Integral Color and Dry Shake for Stamped Concrete: The Ultimate Guide to Coloring Methods

Are you dreaming of a picture-perfect patio for those warm summer evenings, a stylish driveway that makes a lasting impression, or an inviting entrance way that welcomes guests with open arms?

If so, stamped concrete could be your ticket to realizing these dreams. Stamped concrete isn’t just about creating a sturdy surface; it’s about infusing artistry and charm into your exterior living spaces.

Stamped concrete is a durable, decorative concrete design and is the top choice when updating your exterior living space. If you’re going to redo your patio, driveway, or entranceway, picking the right pave coloring options is vital to getting precisely the look you want.
Integral color is another popular way to add colored pigments to imprinted concrete, and another option is a dry shake color hardener.

In this article, we would love to share each approach’s features and help you decide which suits your needs.

house with wide blue concrete floor driveway

Integral Color vs. Dry Shake Hardeners

Integral color and dry color hardeners are two standard methods used in the construction and design industries to impart vibrant, long-lasting color to concrete surfaces. Integral color involves adding pigments directly to the concrete mixture during the mixing process, ensuring that the entire structure is uniform.

This method provides a refined, natural look, making it an excellent choice for projects such as stamped concrete walkways and driveways. On the other hand, a dry color hardener is applied to the surface of newly poured concrete.

It consists of finely ground pigments mixed with cement and distributed evenly over wet concrete. Once applied, it is worked into the surface and then troweled to create a strong, durable, and colorful finish.

Dry Shake Color Hardener offers more color options. It can deliver richer, more vibrant shades, making it the preferred choice for decorative concrete applications such as patios, pool decks, and outdoor spaces. Integral color and dry color hardeners are essential techniques for enhancing the aesthetics and durability of concrete surfaces, offering endless possibilities in architectural and landscape design.

Integral Color Pros

Color integral is an application of paint or pigment in freshly mixed concrete just before stamping or pouring. This method offers several advantages:

  • Uniform Color: The use of integral color leads to uniformity in the color intensity of the concrete slab — providing you with an equalized look.
  • Durability: The color gets mixed into the concrete, meaning it’s not going to peel, chip, or fade away from continuous pedestrian traffic and weather conditions.
  • Seamless Repairs: Because of this, if repairs or touch-ups are ever necessary, matching the color is much simpler with integral color.

Integral Color Cons

Color integral is an application of paint or pigment in freshly mixed concrete just before stamping or pouring. This method offers several advantages:

  • Limited Variability: After mixing the colors, you only have a little leeway to make changes. Once you determine whether you want to buy the color, it isn’t easy to switch around.
  • Cost: Inherently, in an integral color, we have to add some extra pigments in the mix to improve its properties, which increases the cost of integral color compared to using dry shake color hardener.

Dry Shake Color Hardener Pros

Dry Shake color hardener can also be applied to wet concrete through the dry shake method by putting colored powder on top of freshly cast concrete before stamping. This technique offers its own set of advantages:

  • Texture and Depth: A dry shake hardener will give you bumps to create what is typically known as a “fresher” or newer look, great for stamping techniques!
  • Cost-Efficiency: For cost-sensitive projects, dry shake color hardener can be considerably less expensive than integral color.
  • Durability: It does fade out with use and, especially in busier areas, needs regular resealing for maintenance.

Dry Shake Color Hardener Cons

  • Inconsistency: Getting an excellent coloration distribution is hard, causing discrepancies ultimately result.
  • Durability: It does fade out with use and, especially in busier areas needs regular resealing for maintenance.

Selecting the Right Integral Color or Dry Shake Color Hardener

Project Type

Remember to consider the needs of your special project. For areas with heavy foot traffic — like your driveway — integral color may hold up better in the long run.

If you want to put some special touch on your decorative porch or pool deck, dry shake color hardener might work out great for you.

colored concrete floor

Desired Aesthetic

Consider what is the look that you want. Integral color is better to use if you want a uniform and continuous color on the cement.

Dry shaking color hardener could give you a rougher-looking and more mottled look.


Dry shake color hardener tends to be a less expensive option up front, yet it could need more regular maintenance, which would increase maintenance fees over time.

You might pay more for integral color, but the color stays longer.


Think about your preparedness for upkeep.

Color hardener applied in the dry shake method will probably need re-sealing earlier on and more touch-ups to keep up with how it looks initially compared to an integral color.

dry shake hardener in an industrial space

To Wrap Things Up

Whether you select an integral color or dry shake color hardener is ultimately determined by the needs of your project and your personal taste in decoration.

They both have advantages and disadvantages, so evaluate what you’re looking for in terms of priority, cost, and ease of upkeep when making this decision. Using the suitable application method, outdoor areas can become incredible, long-lasting works of art and nature.

If you’d like more information on stamped concrete and help figure out what color system would work best for your project, please call us today!
We’re here, ready to answer your questions to bring genuine pieces of artwork and create your dream outdoor living space with a stunning stamped concrete patio Las Vegas! We look forward to being your trusted partner on your journey to stamped tangible perfection.

Concrete Resurfacing Las Vegas
(702) 979-7722
*** For appointment only
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