Antiquing goes by many names, including release color, accent color, and highlight color. Simply put, antiquing is an additional color used to accent and highlight textured concrete. It is formed when a secondary color is applied to a textured concrete surface, generally in the deeper areas of the impression.
Antiquing is vital to attractive, realistic looking textured concrete. It enhances the appearance of depth and adds shadow. Some people refer to this effect as making the texture “pop.” When properly applied, antiquing will have random variations in intensity which makes for a more natural or realistic appearance. Antiquing agents can also impart a slight tint to the whole slab which can ease the intensity of the base color. Without antiquing, stamped concrete can appear fake or “plastic.”
Choosing the correct antique or highlight color is also vitally important to the quality of textured concrete. In the vast majority of cases, antique color will be a darker complimentary color to the base. For example medium tan base colors pair well with darker brown antiquing. A brick red base is complimented well by dark gray release. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, which is why the contractor’s skill and design acumen is vital during the planning process. Design tools, such as the Brickform Color Wheel and Brickform StampApp, can help make this decision.
Traditionally, antiquing is performed using a colored release agent. Powdered release agents are pigmented bond breakers used to prevent the texturing and stamping tools sticking to the concrete. During the stamping process, these powdered release agents are generously brushed or broadcast onto the tools and the surface of the concrete prior to stamping. When imprinted, the tool embeds the release agent into the “deeper” parts of the texture profile. When the release is later removed, the embedded release remains. Over time, the remaining release may wash out or wear off as it is exposed to the elements or traffic, especially if left unsealed.
Uncolored liquid release is a common replacement for pigmented powdered release. While it is a cleaner, dust-free release agent, it does not antique. Some applicators will circumvent this by adding powdered release to the liquid release. It is important to remember that this is not generally how the materials are designed to be used. This is why Brickform recommends using a product such as Antique-It after the concrete has cured.
Use multiple antique colors and stains for more advanced appearances. By broadcasting different colors of powdered release, the applicator can create subtle variations and streaks of color. Be careful when using liquid-based antiquing agents because the colors can mix if not allowed to dry when switching color. Stains can also be used to create this variation. Mist or brush water based stains to achieve the desired additional highlight. Embellishments such as this are what separate “basic” stamped concrete from more advanced work.