Using Latex Paint To Tint DIY Cement Decor

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Update: I want to mention that I started a Concrete and Cement Furniture/Decor/Garden Community Board on Pinterest. I'd love it if you joined in the fun!
Update: Check out the Project Gallery on DIY Furniture Studio to see more cement/concrete furniture and decor with tutorials.
Learn how to create unique colorful cement decor using latex paint as a colorant. I feature many teal-tinted decor in this post in honor of Hometalk's office remodelling challenge. The team is redoing their office and will be selecting some of the Hometalk-inspired submissions to brighten their space. If you go to my blog post at the link at the bottom, you'll see more pots, planters, vases, and bowls of different colors.
This project started as sort of a natural extension of a previous post I did where I detailed how to make hand-formed cement vases (http://diyfurniturestudio.com/hand-formed-cement-and-glass-vases/). When I first made the hand-formed vases, I knew that I wanted to explore coloring them in some way. Then I saw in the comments and questions of that post that many people were also interested in ways of coloring the hand-formed vases. Well, with this and some other cement/concrete projects in mind, I started investigating coloring options.
There are many ways to color cement, including adding specially-made colorants in the batch when mixing the cement, or applying stains after the cement has cured. But the products weren't available in the colors I wanted at my local stores, and the products available online are expensive primarily because they come in quantities for countertops or floors, not little vases, succulent planters, and cast cement legs. So what to do?
I decided to try adding latex paint. This is actually something that people have researched as a way of recycling waste paint. It was worth a try, I thought, since I had a lot of little sample jars of paint around from other projects. I started in a small scale, using little 3 oz disposable cups as molds to test how it worked. Then, after I knew what I was doing, I planned to repeat the hand-formed vases project from the previous post but using colored cement. Well, along the way, I had too much fun with the colored test pots and started making bigger pots, bowls, etc. I developed a few sort of hybrid casting techniques, too, which I'll show you. They combine normal casting in a mold with hand-forming. (I'll get back to creating colored versions of the original hand-formed vases soon.) Okay, enough of the back story and on to the tutorial.
First, get some supplies ready. You will need Quikrete anchoring cement, Rapid Set Cement All, or similar. You can buy latex paint or use some you have around. Most interior wall paints are the kind of paint you will need for this project. Use a dust mask and protective gloves when working with cement.
Get some containers ready to use as molds. I used a lot of disposable cups of different sizes and some little glass bowls. The recipe for a small colored cement batch is: 3 oz (by volume) Quikrete anchoring cement, 1 to 2 Tablespoons water (adjust as needed), and 1 teaspoon latex paint. You can scale up the batch size using these proportions if you want a larger batch.
Put the cement in a mixing bowl. In a separate cup, mix the water and paint.
Then add the water/paint mixture to the cement in the bowl.
I usually mix it with my hand, but a spoon also works good. Mix the batch for about a minute until it looks like crumbly cookie dough. As you can see, this orange color paint did not change the color of the cement very much. Some paint colors tint the cement more than others for some reason....it is a bit of trial and error. But even a hint of color can be pleasing to the eye. After the initial mixing, adjust with water by adding about half a Tablespoon for a thick cement batch and about one Tablespoon for a thinner, pourable batch.
To form a pot or bowl with a thick mix, plop the ball of cement in the mold and shape it with your hands as if it is clay. You have about 5 minutes to work the cement before it sets up.
You can leave the edges rough or smooth them out.
Another type of pot I made used two disposable cups as molds. I often used 5 oz outer cups with 3 oz inner cups for a small pot or 9 oz outer cups with 5 oz inner cups for a larger pot. First, spray the cups with cooking oil. Fill the larger cup about a quarter to half way with layer(s) of cement. You can layer with whatever colors you want or have layers without paint. I usually made three or so pots of this type at the same time and distributed a batch of cement to multiple cups. Let the top layer cure for about half an hour to firm up, then add more thin pourable cement into the larger cup. Place the smaller cup on top of the wet cement, and push the smaller cup into the cement. Weight it to keep it inserted in the cement while it cures. (In the photo below, I weighted it with a bowl filled with cement.)
After several hours, you can pull the inner cup out using pliers and tear off the outer cup. Another technique I used is what I call "feathering" the edges. This was done with a medium-thick cement mix and instead of a straight edge between cement layers, I left a thin uneven edge of cement. If this is done on the last layer, you can get a very thin, somewhat fragile, but elegant edge.
You can make beautiful colored decor using latex paint to tint the cement!
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Go over to my blog at the link below to see more process photos and information, as well as important information about sealing your decor if it will be exposed to water. You will also see more photos of colorful cement decor!

Resources for this project:

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Jen Panguluri
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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3 of 15 questions
  • BakerA BakerA on Jan 28, 2019

    Very interested in trying this out! I see that you have mentioned stains can be used to color comment I have pretty Aqua stain which is the only actual colored type of stain I have LOL but am curious about the question that was a stab of in regards to if a paste type of paint could work?

  • Tessa Tessa on Jun 06, 2019

    The supply list mentions spray oil, but your directions don't; is it needed as a release agent? Thank you!

  • Deb tabilio Deb tabilio on Jun 07, 2019

    Live in a townhouse, my pillbull has destroyed my lawn, nothing but dirt. I have bought 12x12 brick paving stones any ideas on how to give it a pleasant look?

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  • C.B. C.B. on Jul 21, 2019

    Nice idea! I do suggest that if you place a piece of plastic wrap over the larger (bottom) cup containing the cement, that will separate the smaller cup from the cement mix & not destroy it...it will separate easily & can thus be re-used.

  • BeeZee BeeZee on Dec 29, 2019

    I love this idea so much...it's winter now in the North East, but I'm definitely going to work with your idea! Great job!

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