How to Color Concrete + Make a Concrete Vase

By Brittni • Updated on 02/23/2024

Ever wondered how to color concrete? Read this!

Two concrete vases with colorful floral bouquets, sitting on a desk in a loft space

Ever wondered how to color concrete and wanted to share the results. You can use this technique to create any concrete DIY imaginable, even colored concrete, but to make things easy, let’s start with concrete vases!

Which, let’s face it, is just an excuse for me to buy fresh flowers and do a little arranging. 

Click through for the step by step process of making your own concrete vases AND learn how to color concrete ANY custom colors you dream up.

DIY concrete vase with beautiful bouquet sitting on a pink dresser with pink artwork behind it

After figuring out how to dye plaster any color under the sun last year, a bunch of you asked why I didn’t just use regular paint. I explained why I couldn’t do that in that post.

BUT it did get me thinking about concrete projects and how it hypothetically should be able to stand up to paint being added in before pouring.

So, I thought I would give it a try. And it totally worked! The finished product is a color blocked vase with plenty of character, that is fully customized to the color scheme that fits in my home (or studio).

Here’s how to make your own…

Instructions for making DIY concrete vases that are color blocked

Materials

  • rapid setting cement / concrete mix (available on Amazon)
  • acrylic paint
  • large (wide) mailing tube
  • small juice glass (I used these -they’re on sale)
  • cooking spray
  • 2 buckets (that is okay to get messed up)
  • water
  • trowel or spoon for mixing
  • electric sander or sandpaper
  • gloves and mask

Making concrete vases and removing them from the cardboard mailing tubes they were formed in

How to Add Color to Concrete (and DIY Concrete Vase)

1. Cut down a mail tube.

Start by cutting the mailing tube down to size, if necessary.

I used a saw to cut mine down to about 10 inches high and made sure the end was capped off and the top was uncapped (as shown in photo).

2. Spray the inside of the tube.

Spray the inside of a mailing tube with cooking spray and rub it around evenly in the side with a reusable paper towel or rag..

This will prevent the concrete from attaching to the mailing tube when setting.

3. Put on protective gear and mix concrete.

Next, put on a mask and gloves and add the cement mix to a bucket.

Stir in water according to instructions on the packaging.

Typically, you’ll need 4 parts cement to 1 part water. Mix well.

If you want a two-toned look like my vases, start by pouring some of that mixture into the mailing tube straight away, once mixed.

If you want the entire vase to be one color instead though, skip this step and move to step 4, mixing all of the concrete mixture with paint at once.

4. Add paint to concrete.

Quickly add in the paint to the remaining mixture! You have to move quickly for rapid sitting concrete because it sets up fast.

I used acrylic paint, which is a bit thicker so it won’t affect the consistency of the concrete.

It took more paint than I was expecting… 2-4 ounces of paint for 1 concrete vase similar in size to mine.

You can add more or less paint based on the saturation you’re hoping for.

5. Pour mixture into tube.

Then, start pouring the colored concrete mixture into the mailing tube..

Fill a little more than halfway, then place the juice glass inside the mailing tube.

Press down so that the concrete starts to push upwards, surrounding the sides of the glass.

Then, continue adding concrete to the mailing tube, trying to avoid the juice glass opening (but getting in between the sides of the juice glass).

6. Wait for the concrete to dry.

If you’re using a rapid setting concrete, it should be completely dry in a couple of hours (depending on the temperature, etc). 

Once dry, rip the container away to reveal your new vase.

7. Sand the bottom if needed so that the vase sits flat.

You can use an electric sander or do it by hand with sandpaper.

Lastly, make sure the glass vase is free of debris (and dried concrete), then fill with water and add flowers.

Removing cardboard tube from concrete vase mold

Concrete vases with beautiful wildflowers in each vase, sitting on a pink countertop

 Concrete vase with dahlias and wildflower floral arrangement inside     

How to Add Color to Concrete (and DIY Concrete Vase)

Brittni
I cracked the code on how to color concrete and wanted to share the results with you guys! You can use this technique to create any concrete DIY imaginable, but to make things easy, lets start with concrete vases! Which, let's face it, is just an excuse for me to buy fresh flowers and do a little arranging.  Click through for the step by step process of making your own concrete vases AND learn how to color concrete ANY color you can dream up!
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Equipment

  • rapid setting cement mix (available on Amazon)
  • acrylic paint
  • large (wide) mailing tube
  • small juice glass (I used these -they're on sale)
  • cooking spray
  • 2 buckets (that is okay to get messed up)
  • Water
  • trowel or spoon for mixing
  • electric sander or sandpaper
  • gloves and mask

Instructions
 

Cut down a mail tube.

  • Start by cutting the mailing tube down to size, if necessary.
  • I used a saw to cut mine down to about 10 inches high and made sure the end was capped off and the top was uncapped (as shown in photo).

Spray the inside of the tube.

  • Spray the inside of a mailing tube with cooking spray and rub it around evenly in the side with a paper towel or rag.
  • This will prevent the concrete from attaching to the mailing tube when setting.

Put on protective gear and mix concrete.

  • Next, put on a mask and gloves and add the cement mix to a bucket.
  • Stir in water according to instructions on the packaging.
  • Typically, you'll need 4 parts cement to 1 part water. Mix well.
  • If you want a two-toned look like my vases, start by pouring some of that mixture into the mailing tube straight away, once mixed.
  • If you want the entire vase to be one color instead though, skip this step and move to step 4, mixing all of the concrete mixture with paint at once.

Add paint to concrete.

  • Quickly add in the paint to the remaining mixture! You have to move quickly for rapid sitting concrete because it sets up fast.
  • I used acrylic paint, which is a bit thicker so it won't affect the consistency of the concrete.
  • It took more paint than I was expecting... 2-4 ounces of paint for 1 concrete vase similar in size to mine.
  • You can add more or less paint based on the saturation you're hoping for.

Pour mixture into tube.

  • Then, start pouring the colored concrete mixture into the mailing tube.
  • Fill a little more than halfway, then place the juice glass inside the mailing tube.
  • Press down so that the concrete starts to push upwards, surrounding the sides of the glass.
  • Then, continue adding concrete to the mailing tube, trying to avoid the juice glass opening (but getting in between the sides of the juice glass).

Wait for the concrete to dry.

  • If you’re using a rapid setting concrete, it should be completely dry in a couple of hours (depending on the temperature, etc).
  • Once dry, rip the container away to reveal your new vase.

Sand the bottom if needed so that the vase sits flat.

  • You can use an electric sander or do it by hand with sandpaper.
  • Lastly, make sure the glass vase is free of debris (and dried concrete), then fill with water and add flowers.
Did you make this?Mention @paperandstitch or tag #paperandstitch!

Think you’ll be giving this concrete color project a try? I’d love to know what you think..

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30 comments | Click here to reply

Great Piece of content. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Naresh Poonia

It helped when you mentioned that a mask and gloves must be used when dealing with concrete works. My friend wants their house to have a concrete rooftop patio. I should advise her to hire a contractor with years of experience in the field.

Victoria Addington

Hi, so this seems to be a cement vase but not concrete…

Ann

Is this paint toxic? Could I use it to color cement that will have poured candle wax inside?

Nadelia Carrasco

I’ve been doing something similar but I’ve noticed when I add the acrylic paint to part of the mix, the texture changes significantly. It becomes thicker and rough and I need to add more water. I’ve had some issues with that concrete being a different texture after drying. Do you have any advice on that?

Lauren

Hi Premend – If you’re concerned about how quickly it will get up, I’d wouldn’t use Rapidsetting cement. There are other options available at home improvement stores that you could use at an alternative.
-Brittni

Brittni

Nice explanation, but I am curious to know about the setting time of rapid hardening cement because you said it will take a very short time to get hardened because of which we need to move quickly in order to complete the whole procedure, So it created a concern in me that what if I couldn’t make it that quick as it requires. So can you please solve this issue for me Or what if I use any other cement rather than which you mentioned in your article.

Premend

Hi Gwen. Yes! Definitely. You can use those saved up jars or whatever you have on hand.
-Brittni

Brittni

I have a question about the drinking glass. I save empty food jars to repurpose and/or upcycle.
Sauce jars, pickle jars,olive jars. Some I use for storage of food or other items such as buttons etc. They are also a great way to gift candy or cookies. I wash them and soak in hot water to remove label and glue. Any residual glue comes off with a drop of vegetable oil.
I have plenty of jars on hand. Could I use one instead of buying a drinking glass?

Gwen

I haven’t tried making white, Sarah. So I can’t say for sure how difficult it would be. I suspect that you would be able to achieve a pretty light grey, but most likely not a bright white…You could use regular Plaster of Paris instead of concrete if that’s the look you’re going for (and that will be the bright white you’re looking for). And I would recommend using powdered tempera paint over acrylic paint because it won’t change the consistency of the concrete mixture, which is important. Hope that helps.
-Brittni

Brittni

How hard is a bright white concrete to achieve? Any recommendations on acrylic paints that are more pigmented than others? Also, would you recommend the acrylic paint over the powdered tempera paint like you used for the plaster mix?

Sarah

Beautiful tones and work !
Just wanted to mention that if you’d like to use a lot less paint and have more control over your colors use white Portland cement Try it
You can thank me later 😉

Kyle Hansen

Hi Leona. It’s definitely ends up being lighter than the pigment / acrylic paint that you use. Depending on the color (or how dark you need it to be), it could be drastic if you’re trying to color match. I’d recommend mixing up a very small batch as a test first if you can.

Brittni

I was looking for advice on how to color concrete for a floor repair job, and this is super helpful! Could you comment at all on how the color came out vs the color of the acrylic paint you used? Like, was the pigment significantly lighter after the concrete dried?

Leona

So simple but I would never have guessed that it’s handmade. Lovely!

KMP Furniture Blog

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Hi Ann. Yep, it would be half and half if you do it that way. As you can see in the photos of the vases I made, mine are two-toned. If you want the entire vase to be one color though, you can add color to the full amount and not worry about splitting them, as the instructions mention. Hope that helps!
-Brittni

Brittni

love this ! One thing I am confused about. If you pour a bit of the plain concrete mix in first and then the colored one, won’t the bottom be plain and the top portion be dyed?
Can you clarify for me please. Thanks !

Ann

ann

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Thistlekeeping - Thistlewood Farm

This vase is stunning!! What a fabulous ideas and your photos are beautiful.

Ashlyn

Lovely flowers and concrete 🙂

Hein

Let me know it goes, if you give it a try Michelle. 🙂

Brittni

Wow, what a cool technique! I really want to try this for my next concrete project!
https://www.makeandmess.com/

Michelle

I love flowers
New post: http://thepinkpineappleblog.blogspot.com/2017/10/nyfw-ss18-special-recap.html

The pink pineapple

Hi Natalie. Since the vases I created are two colors (one part plain concrete and one part colored concrete), I was explaining how to create that. If you want the entire vase to be one color though, instead of how my vases are, you would skip that part and mix all of the concrete together at once. I just edited the text to further explain that, so hopefully that helps. But let me know. Thanks!
-Brittni

Brittni

Hi Brittni,
I actually am not clear on the same part as Ashley. It sounds from the directions that you put straight concrete in “pour some in the mailing tube”, then add colour and put the coloured concrete in, and then add the regular but that would create a band of coloured concrete between two non-coloured? I am not clear why you would put any concrete in the tube before adding the paint to the concrete.

Natalie

Hi Ashley. It depends on how much of the vase you’d like to have as just a solid concrete color. So if you want it to be half and half, you’d pour half of the plain concrete mixture in before adding color to the rest, etc.

Brittni

That is such a nice simple DIY! I want to make one.
http://sugarcoatedbears.blogspot.com/

Courtney

Step 3 says, “pour some of that mixture into the mailing tube.”. How much is “some”? Should I add half? I’d love to try this but I’m really unclear on that step. Thanks!

Ashley LaMar
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