Choosing colors for a project can be very stressful for the client and frustrating for the contractor. Take the pressure off both parties by delaying the final choice of color until after the sample area has been completed. In other words, let’s get the job moving and decide on colors when we have the ultimate color chart done…the sample area!
No matter how accurate a color chart is.…it is difficult for a client to envision the color on the entire project. Many factors influence the look of the color such as lighting, surrounding wall colors, type of sealer to be used and the concrete itself. With all these variables, it is cost effective to spend the time on preparing samples (the correct way).
If the project is new construction (not yet poured concrete), have the concrete contractor pour an extra pad finished the same as the actual concrete. For example, if the area is going to be a heavy broom finish driveway, the sample should also be a heavy broom finish to be an exact representation.
Existing concrete is a bit tougher, you must conduct samples on the slab for an accurate representation. For interior floors, samples sometimes are performed in mechanical rooms, closets, or areas where the floor will be covered, either by cabinetry or other types of flooring.
A successful sample:
For accurate representation, the installer must:
- Prepare the sample area exactly the way as they intend to prep the entire surface.
- Apply the sample stain with the same method as planned for the entire project. For example, do not brush the sample stain when you plan to use a pump sprayer for the rest of the project.
- Try to use the same amount of material per square foot.
- Apply as many colors as possible, you can never tell when a client will have a sudden change of heart regarding color.
- Apply the stain samples large enough to apply different types of sealer.
The ideal sample area:
If possible, apply the stain in stripes 8 inches wide and 18 inches long (or larger). After full reaction, neutralizing, cleaning and drying, apply the sealer(s) in the same size stripes perpendicular to the direction of the stain samples. This will produce a nice cross hatch pattern for your customer to make a great final color decision for their floor. It is ok to leave some of the stained area unsealed. After the first viewing of the samples the client may request an adjustment such as “I like the color but can it be darker”. Having an unsealed section would allow you to easily apply another coat of stain without having to repeat all the previous cleaning steps.
Sometimes it is not possible to conduct an accurate sample area. In this case, we must make sure our client is agreeable to variations in the color versus the color chart. It can be a good idea to have a color disclosure statement in your contract.
Sometimes it is not possible to conduct an accurate sample area. In this case, we must make sure our client is agreeable to variations in the color versus the color chart. It is a good idea to have a color disclosure statement in your contract.
For what it’s worth:
Over many years of installations, I learned when the customer picked color from the sample area I had to be the one to understand the impact of the color on the room. When a client said to me “I like that color but it needs to be darker!” the sample method displayed is perfect. The reason is when you expand that one square foot of color to several thousand square feet of floor, it makes the color seem much darker. When the client said the sample color was perfect…I would lighten (slightly dilute) the stain.