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White Cement Concrete?

by Don Chartier last modified Aug 16, 2005 07:49 AM
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White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Don Chartier at August 07. 2005

I'm thinking of using exposed concrete for the walls, but am a little ambivalent about the typical gray color. I've read about white cement concrete, and think this might be the way to go, because it seems like it would give me a slightly warm white color that would be appropriate for the setting (Wisconsin farmland). For those who aren't familiar with this product, it's Portland cement that doesn't have iron or manganese, and is used with white sand and aggregate to make concrete.

I know it's more expensive (perhaps twice the cost) and that most ready-mix plants don't do this kind of work (it's a pain to keep the white sand and aggregate separated from the regular stuff). It's more common in pre-cast concrete than cast-in-place.

Also, I'm thinking of using Dow's T-Mass system (insulation in the middle of the wall, not on the sides) so that both sides of the concrete are exposed.

Does anyone have experience with this material, or the T-Mass?

Thanks and regards.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Creede Fitch at August 07. 2005

As far as white cement goes, I cast a kitchen table out of it, and it worked good. It came out nice and white. Keeping it white is another topic all together. Are you planning on using it for your interior or exterior walls? Either way don't expect a perfect wall, I don't think that you can get away without a little bit of the forms showing up.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Brandon J. Gore at August 07. 2005

You can also add titanium dioxide pigment to make the concrete absolute pure white, if you so wish. There are literally thousands of sealers on the market, each with their pros and cons. I would recommend casting samples with the sealers you are interested in to see how they affect the color, and or overall look of the concrete. Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Creede Fitch at August 08. 2005

Brandon, Once again, glad you showed up to lend us some tips. So, can you just add titanium dioxide pigment to a bag of quickrete 5000 and have it turn out white, or do you need to pick aggregates and sand and cement yourself? Also, what do you use to seal your counters?
Thanks

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Kirk Washburn at August 08. 2005

I have called most of the hardware stores around here (Boulder, co), but I have not been able to find white cement. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where I should look? Thanks!

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Creede Fitch at August 09. 2005

Kirk,
Just for fun I checked http://www.dexonline.com and I called a few people. Everyone in Boulder thought I was crazy, so I moved on to the big city. It looks like these guys carry white cement:

Rio Grand Company
201 Santa Fe Dr
Denver, 80223 - 1328
(303) 825-2211

They said it was about $19 a bag. Good luck with your project. What are you planning on using for your sand and aggregate?

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Kirk Washburn at August 09. 2005

Wow, thank you so much. I am eventually going to pour a countertop for my kitchen, and possibly my bathroom. Right now, I am just doing test pours to try and get the color and finish correct. I haven't decided what I'll use for sand or aggregate. I imagine I'll get a very white sand, just so that it won't effect the color of the concrete. I will probably just use pea gravel for the aggregate. My impression is that the color of the aggregate doesn't matter so much unless you're planning to grind down the surface of the concrete to expose it. Is that consistent with what you've seen? The colors I'm going to try out first are white and beige. If I don't like either of those, I'll probably go with dark grey. I really appreciate your help, I had almost given up on using white cement.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Creede Fitch at August 09. 2005

Your welcome for the help, thats what forums are for. I am no expert on concrete (thats brandons area) but I have the book concrete countertops by Fu-Tung Cheng and Eric Olsen. It is a must for any DIY concrete project. If you don't have it check [url href=http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2.cgi?PAGE=PRODUCTPROD_ID=138182cid=25608fp=F]here[/url]. Anyway, I poured a white table top using white cement, silica sand (any home depot, lowes should have it) and pea gravel. From what I saw, you are right, as long as you don't grind, the aggregate doesn't really matter. My big mistake was in sealing it. I just used urethane, thinking it would be clear enough, but it yellowed a lot. Now I think I will end up having to grind it down and re-sealing it so it is white again.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Kirk Washburn at August 10. 2005

So, I went to the Rio Grande Company, it was amazing. This was the first place i've been where questions about concrete didn't illicit blank stares. They have bagged their own mixture of concrete, sand, and aggregate in white and grey, specifically for concrete countertops. They have a wide range of pigments to color the concrete. They also have a large selection of hardware for working with concrete. For anyone living in the Denver or Boulder area, this is the place to go for concrete supplies.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Creede Fitch at August 10. 2005

Sounds like you scored, congratulations. Be sure to share some pics of the finished product when you get it done.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Don Chartier at August 13. 2005

Thanks for the tips. I would use the white cement concrete for both exterior and interior (hence the question about the T-Mass insulation, which is in the middle of the wall).

I agree, it won't be perfect, although I'm thinking of using form liners to give it the right texture. All it takes is money, and convincing my architect (a Louis Kahn acolyte), who likes beton brut concrete (which highlights the texture of the forms).

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Michael Ramsey at August 15. 2005

Great, thanks for the tip on the book Creede, I just checked and my local library has one I am going to check out today. I was just thinking I need to make a cap for my block mailbox. I had been searching for a piece of stainless at the local scrapyard, but it was proving elusive in the right size. I think I will try my hand at making a concrete cap.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Brandon J. Gore at August 16. 2005

Hello Creede,

Sorry it has taken me a while to get back in this thread. We have been busy remodeling the studio.

Yes, you can whiten Quikrete with titanium dioxide pigment loaded at 11%. It is not a true white, but it still looks pretty nice. Each 80lb bag of Quikrete 5000 contains approximately 14lbs of portland. Quikrete varies based on location, so you will need to cast some samples to see how the color turns out. Below I have listed a worksheet you can use to figure the ingredients needed:
___________________________________________

Measurements of piece(s):
L ______ inches x W ______ inches x H ______ inches = ______
+ 10% = ______
Total = ______

Total ______ inches ÷ 1728 = ______ Cubic Feet
Quikrete 5000: ______ Cubic Feet ÷ 0.600 = ______ 80 lb Bags of Concrete
*Amount of Concrete Needed: ______ Whole Bags of Concrete + ______ lbs

Quikrete 5000: ______ Bags of Concrete x 14 = ______ lb.’s of Cement

Quikrete 5000: ______ Bags of Concrete x 5 = ______ Quarts of Water

Color Name:_________________
*Color Formulation: (color is calculated based on CEMENT CONTENT!)
Pigment Name: _____________________ Amount: _______% Amount: ________ lb.’s



___________________________________________


Just a few other notes: Home Depot usually carries Type I white portland, at about $17 per 94lb bag. You will have to look around to locate Type II white portland, which works better for countertop applications.

Sand and aggregates do affect the final color of the concrete, especially if you polish or grind the pieces. Try replacing some or all of the aggregate with recycled glass for a cool look. If you use glass, be sure to add Metakaolin, which is commonly used by pool fabricators. It will help to keep the concrete from deteriorating due to ASR.

For sealers we use a special sealer formulated just for concrete. It is mineral based and forms a permanent bond. Most sealers on the market were initially developed for granite or stone and tend to not work as well on concrete. The sealers we buy are extremely costly and come in 55 gallon drums. We may sell this sealer on our website in small quanities for homeowners who are doing it themselves. Otherwise, check out www.bordercorp.com They carry a lot of different sealers, many of which are VOC free. Border also carries water based concrete stains.

And last, but not least, keep an eye out for the launch of our new website. We have developed a line of training seminars aimed at DIY'ers up to seasoned contractors. We have also developed a complete line of unique products to be used in the fabrication of artistic concrete pieces. Integral sink and drain board molds, a line of integral colors, all natural countertop wax, etc. We will be renting out the sink and drainboard molds to homeowners who are building their own pieces. This will allow them to create a cutting edge piece for a fraction of the cost. Feel free to drop me an email at brandon@goredesignco.com with your email address and I will notify you of the launch of our new website.

Re: White Cement Concrete?

Posted by Creede Fitch at August 16. 2005

Wow, thanks for the info again Brandon. Very useful. Can't wait for the new website, sounds like you have some exciting things going.

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