For the most part, concrete, asphalt, grout and mortar are taken for granted by John Q. Public-that is until his car runs over a colossal pot-hole, his concrete patio or driveway develops a crack or the tiles around his shower start to fall off the wall. While their primary jobs are functional-these products are essential to the residential and commercial building and roadway industries-say goodbye to old black, white and grey. Color is gaining importance in the concrete, asphalt, mortar and grout markets.
The Space Between
Brick is a popular choice for many homeowners who prefer a low maintenance exterior. Although brick itself gets most of the attention, the space between is critical too-not only for bonding purposes, but also aesthetically.
The Freedonia Group reports that grout and mortar demand in the U.S. is expected to rise 4.9% annually between 1999 and 2004 to reach $715 million. According to the Quarry Products Association, London, the UK produces roughly 2.2 million tons of factory-made mortar annually, representing half of the factory-produced mortar marketplace.
According to the Brick Industry Association, Reston, VA, a minor change in mortar composition-which accounts for 20% of a brick wall-can dramatically change the look of a house. Manufacturers are creating products that allow professional installers to coordinate and match mortar to the brick and stone they use on the outside of homes and buildings.
Solomon Colors, Springfield IL, manufactures SGS concentrated mortar colors formulated with pure and natural synthetic iron oxides that can be used with all cementitious materials, masonry cement or portland and lime mixtures. A wide range of stock colors are available, and the company also offers custom coloring to match shades found in brick, stone or colored block.
Much to homeowners chagrin, the traditional white or off-white grout installed with most tile floors gets dirty and discolored quickly.
Bostik Findley offers DIY'ers a way to revive tired grout without the hassle and expense of regrouting. Evo-Stik Colour Fresh grout reviver, which is based on acrylic polymer, comes in a wide range of shades, including ice white, sunshine, vanilla, burnt red, terra cotta, electric blue, forest green, jet black, lavender, peaches and pistachio. Three pastel shades have also been added to the line, according to Karen Thirlwell, product manager, Bostik Findley Ltd. Presently, Colour Fresh is available only in UK retail shops.
For homeowners who take pride in their home's landscaping but aren't thrilled by the "black hole" that can be a paved driveway, SealMaster Industries has a solution. The Sandusky, OH company, which also sells acrylic traffic paint, offers Color Pave, a 100% acrylic sealer product in five colors-brickyard red, mocha grey, forest green and sahara beige and brownstone.
"We had been asked to provide consumers with a colorized driveway sealer. It was just evolution to develop a market for driveway sealers in colors for home owners who want something a little different-a drive of distinction," said Rich Kish, director retail development, SealMaster Industries. ColorPave, with its anti-skid formulation that includes sand, is well suited for the DIY market. "ColorPave is a 100% acrylic product with no coal tar or asphalt emulsion, so harsh odors are eliminated," said Mr. Kish. In addition to ColorPave's low-odor, another DIY-friendly attribute is its easy clean-up with soap and water.
Tarmac Group, a UK-based manufacturer of aggregates, mortar, concrete blocks, asphalt and ready-mixed concrete, offers a way to give roadways a dash of color without traffic coatings. Its Mastertint, a colored asphalt available in golden, red, green and buff, can be used to mark special areas such as bus and bicycle lanes and pedestrian areas.
Bostik Findley's Cementone No. 1 Colours also tint cement, concrete, mortar and flooring compositions. According to the company, the lightfast and durable products are lime resistant and come in brick red, buff, russet brown and black
Solomon Colors makes colors for ready-mix concrete. These high-purity, iron oxide products are sold in a powder and a high solids liquid slurry. According to Rich Solomon, the trend towards colored concrete started in the southwest U.S., and is moving across the nation. At the "World of Concrete" trade show, the number of the contractors and ready-mix product manufacturers who wanted to talk about color was "mind-boggling" compared with a decade ago, he said.
Companies are also spreading the word about the benefits of protecting concrete driveways, walkways and floors.
"People need to be aware that they need to coat and seal their concrete like they would their deck," said Diana Strongosky, product manager for H&C Stains, a product line Sherwin-Williams acquired in 1995.
In addition to a clear sealer, H&C offers Shield Plus, a low-odor, water-based concrete stain that provides a long-lasting, durable and decorative finish on interior and exterior concrete and masonry surfaces, including asphalt and previously painted surfaces. According to Ms. Strongosky, concrete stains-like colored concrete-have regional popularity, particularly in Florida. S-W is working to build awareness on a national level.
United Gilsonite Laboratories offers Drylock concrete protector. This special clear sealer helps guard against acids, alkali, road salt, household cleaners and weathering.
Repair products that address the chipping and cracking that occurs during frequent freeze/thaw cycles are also sold by several companies, including RPM's Bondo and Rock-Tred.
Bondo's Home Solutions line of patch and repair products includes a concrete, brick and stucco repair compound. The company also touts a concrete repair epoxy that creates a watertight coating on garage floors, cracks in basement floors and exterior chimneys.
Rock-Tred, based in Skokie, IL, manufactures Crack N' Patch, a self-contained kit for repairing cracks in concrete floors. Marketed in a five-gallon pail, the 100% solids epoxy formula will wear up to 10 times better than conventional concrete and is available in grey, red and neutral.
Performance Remains a Priority
Adding color is important, however performance remains the major issue in the construction chemicals market.
Formed by the merger of Degussa-Hüls and SKW Trostberg earlier this year, Degussa Construction Chemicals manufactures a wide range of products such as concrete additives, polymer flooring, grout, stucco systems, coatings, insulation and waterproofing membranes through several operating companies. Its commercial construction products division includes ChemRex and well-known Thoro, ThoRoc, Hydrozo, Sonneborn and MBT Protection and Repair products.
R&D teams at Chem-Rex are focusing on reformulation and application issues. Masterflow 678 DP Plus is a deep-pour, low-exotherm, three-component epoxy grout for applications where deep sections of epoxy grout are needed and low heat generation is critical. These include machine baseplates and columns and anchoring bolts, rebar and dowels.
When cement suppliers change their processes and processing locations, characteristics of the cement are sometimes altered, affecting the performance of cementitious grouts. Faced with this situation, MBT created Embeco 636 Plus and Masterflow 713 Plus grouts as replacements for Embeco 636 and Masterflow 713. The new grouts also have "better shelf life characteristics," according to the company. Sonneborn's new Kure-N-Seal 25 LV transparent acrylic curing, sealing and dust-proofing compound is designed for application on freshly placed and finished concrete, aged concrete floors, exposed aggregate, brick floors and terrazzo. It can be used in interior, exterior, horizontal and vertical applications in cooler temperatures. Bostik Findley tackled an application issue for DIY'ers who want to tile over wood. It offers an adhesive and grout that can be used to adhere tiles directly to wooden floorboards without a plywood overlay.