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Market Insight

The Art of Colour Matching

When it comes to colour matching around your home, individual preferences probably play a large part in the hues and shades you select. Exterior and interior paint, curtains, bedding, and even the flowers you plant might be chosen with your favourite colours front of mind. So, are there any colour matching guidelines you should follow when using decorative concrete, especially coloured concrete? After all, it is probably going to be used in some of the largest and most eye catching features of your home: driveway, floors, pool surrounds, and outdoor entertainment areas. Are there some very general rules of thumb to follow when deciding on what colours to match in areas such as these?

Rules are made to be broken, but colour matching usually revolves around the following schemes:

Complementary – this refers to the use of two colours directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. Complementing colours generally enhance the vibrancy of each other e.g. yellow and purple are often used together for this very reason.

Analogous – analogous colours are next to each other on the colour wheel and are used when a more harmonious design effect is desired. E.g. red & orange, or yellow & green

Monochromatic – the use of the different tints and shades of one colour. Another popular way to achieve harmony when colour matching.

Primary colour matching – red, yellow and blue are the primary colours, and add energy when used together. With the colour range available these days, there’s no reason why concrete cannot be dyed in one of these primary colours.

Pastel – pastel shades are used for a softer, more subtle effect, Pastel colours are generally used with other pastel colours, and this is a very popular match in exterior settings. Decorative concrete is particularly well suited to colour matching along these lines.


You can’t always consult a colour wheel, or be expected to absorb the minute details of colour matching as it applies to exterior design. It can all be a little complicated. However, you can simplify things a little by following broad guidelines based on colour matching theory. Here’s an example: when colour matching, this very general rule can be applied – Conform or Contrast.


There are so many colour options now available when choosing decorative concrete that it is very easy to select a shade that conforms to its surroundings. For example, a concrete driveway and pathway can be dyed to match the colour palette of the front garden or the home’s exterior walls. Similarly, a honed concrete patio can mirror an interior polished concrete floor, in a classic example of indoor outdoor flow.


The other side of this colour matching rule is to contrast. On the surface, aColoured decorative concrete can help to highlight a bold and striking feature, rather than detract or distract from that feature.nd using basic definitions, the words “contrast” and “match” might not seem like a perfect fit. However, if you consider the bigger picture, contrasting can be a very effective part of the colour matching equation. For example, subtly coloured decorative concrete can help to highlight a bold and striking feature in near proximity, rather than detract or distract from that feature. In these circumstances, in the larger scheme of things, a contrasting colour is a great match for its environment.



The art of colour matching, as it applies to decorative concrete, is made easier thanks to the versatility of the product. Contrasts can be as sharp as you desire, and conforming colours can beautifully reflect their surroundings. When coloured concrete can be customised to match your vision, or satisfy your personal preference, or follow widely accepted colour matching guidelines, anything is possible.


Cool Pool Surrounds

Before the sun goes down and the barbecue is fired up, it’s your pool that is usually the centre of attention on a hot summer’s afternoon. It’s perfectly understandable that you want the pool to capture that attention in a very eye-catching way, and cool surrounds can help you make that desired impression.


One of the keys to creating beautiful pool surrounds is integration with the rest of the backyard. There’s nothing wrong with bold, contrasting touches here and there, such as a brightly coloured feature wall, or clever lighting effects, but the overall impression should be one of a pool area that fits in beautifully and naturally with its surroundings.


An intelligent selection of plants can help achieve this sense of integration. Plants similar to the ones already in the garden might strongly emphasise the flow from back yard to pool area. Similarly, furniture that reflects the architecture and age of the home can also help to form a seamless impression. Indoor outdoor flow is seen as a major selling point these days, and creating a similar feeling from back yard to pool area might be seen as just as desirable.


A pool’s immediate surrounds should have the biggest visual impact, so pay extra attention to the surface you choose. Timber decking might once have been the “go to” surface, a staple of many Australian pools. Today, however, decorative concrete seems to be leading the charge as people look for more innovative ways to combine looks with practicality. Decorative concrete can achieve this in many ways:

  • Exposed and honed concrete have slip-resistant properties that many other surfaces lack.
  • Coloured concrete can be used as a border or pattern amongst exposed or honed concrete. It can be customised to complement other features of the back yard and tie everything together.
  • Mosquitoes are less likely to breed under concrete surfaces.
  • Weeds cannot grow through concrete pool surrounds.
  • The raw texture of Australian stone in exposed concrete can create a striking visual effect around water.
  • Concrete is comfortable on bare feet, while honed concrete is smooth and very easy to walk on.
  • Decorative concrete is versatile with a wide range of design options.


For these, and other reasons, decorative concrete is a smart choice as the centrepiece of your cool pool surrounds. In conjunction with the right plants, furniture and accessories, it has the potential to give you a stunning yet easy-care surface.

One final note, the most important thing surrounding your pool should always be the fence. Safety must be a high priority, even as you’re trying to create great looking pool surrounds. By all means, go all out when designing your pool area, but keep in mind the safety of everyone who will use it. A good idea is to go to the Royal Lifesaving Society’s website for their Home Pool Safety Checklist. When you’re creating your cool pool surrounds, refer to this checklist as often as you refer to your wish list.

What Is Thermal Mass?

Basically, thermal mass refers to a material’s ability to absorb and store heat energy. The next question is: what does thermal mass have to do with decorative concrete, and specifically, a polished concrete floor?
Concrete has what is known as high thermal mass. Because it is a dense material, concrete can absorb and store a considerable amount of heat energy. (In comparison, lighter materials like timber can’t absorb and store as much heat. For this reason, timber is known as a material with low thermal mass.) While concrete stores heat energy during the warmer part of the day, it releases this energy when the temperature drops later on. This release can be an efficient way to keep a home warm year round, and polished concrete floors can play a large part in this.

A polished concrete floor, with its high thermal mass, can absorb, store and release heat over a wide area of the home. This should lead to lower heating bills and a more comfortable environment within the home because thermal mass can moderate temperatures, and average out day/night extremes (please ensure you do your research to compare the different products and their performance). But just putting down a polished concrete floor does not guarantee you’ll be able to take maximum advantage of thermal mass. Some key factors should be taken into consideration.

Polished concrete floors must be exposed to capture heat energyGood planning and design will help to make your polished concrete floor an energy efficient feature, as well as an aesthetically pleasing one. For example, when exploiting thermal mass as a source of passive heating during winter, it should have maximum exposure to sunlight. You’ll need the correct ratio of glazing to concrete to help achieve this. Conversely, minimum exposure to sunlight is required during summer to avoid overheating. With this in mind, shading becomes a very important part of the design process.

The orientation and layout of the floor is something else to keep in mind, as is insulation. Adequate insulation is needed to prevent released heat energy from being lost too quickly. Even floor coverings should be looked at. Polished concrete floors must be exposed to capture heat energy; rugs and carpet act as impediments to thermal mass in this regard.

Concrete has what is known as high thermal massThermal mass can also be used to cool a home during summer. It does this by drawing in and storing the heat in the air. As this energy is released later in the day, good ventilation is needed to stop the home from overheating; yet something else to consider. With all these things to think about – and they are worth thinking about for financial and environmental reasons – expert advice should be sought at the planning stages. The Australian government’s Your Home website is a good place to start, and will help to guide you in the right direction should you decide to use the thermal mass of a polished concrete floor as a way to passively heat, and cool, your home.


Images from Australian Government, Your Home

Natural Materials for Your Renovations

Whether you’re an established homeowner or a first-time buyer, chances are that your home is the greatest investment you’ll ever have. Restoring, revamping and rebuilding to give your place a creative facelift, the latest innovative design features and some extra comfort for you and your family is, after all, something most of us dream of. Today’s smart renovator is turning to ideas that will make it easier to adapt, reuse and, if needed, dismantle. Think simpler living, minimal maintenance, pop-out colour and stylish elegance. Bringing the Aussie landscape closer to home doesn’t have to be dull or expensive.

Decorative concrete is hard to beat when it comes to pattern and colour options. A solid bed of exposed aggregate can provide a pleasing showcase setting for natural materials like stones, sand, pebbles and even flecks of ore.


Natural stone is an eye-catching feature in any home, indoors or out, and its aesthetic qualities can really be brought forward with decorative concrete. There is no other medium quite so versatile as decorative concrete when it comes to introducing and showcasing natural materials such as coarse beach sands and pebbles, sea-shells and the natural raw textures of river stones. The concrete industry of today offers an array of attractive, functional and high quality wall and floor solutions that can help any home sparkle. Decorative concrete is the perfect partner for just about any natural material; it enhances and complements. Polished concrete and exposed aggregate applications in which the upper concrete skin is removed to reveal the innate properties of natural aggregates, quartz and igneous rock provide the homeowner with a multitude of ways to bring a dash of Australiana into the home. A large square patio deck of decorative concrete under the surface of which softly glistens a dense bed of polished stone is a stunning focal point and certain conversation starter at any outdoor barbecue. Decorative concrete allows you to bring elements of the Australian landscape into any part of the home. A sprawling polished concrete dining room floor containing quartz is a striking way to combine polished elegance with a hint of the earthy parchedness of the Australian bush.


Natural stone works wonderfully with concrete.Natural stone works wonderfully with concrete, either as part of the mix or a stand-alone feature. It can be used for splashbacks, bathrooms, wall cladding, flooring, vanities and for framing-type impressions. Durable, heat-resistant and long lasting due to their high density, granite and marble are great choices for outdoor kitchen tops. Marble is more porous but if you care for it with a regular coat of sealant it will last a lifetime.

“There’s interest from homeowners who want to add a special unique touch such as a stone surround for a fireplace hearth or to encase a TV unit,” says Martin Wagner from 120-year-old stonemasonry company JH Wagner. “And there’s certainly a greater awareness of natural stone and its use as a designer material. It has textural elements – it’s something we love to touch. People used to think they would have to win Lotto to get the full-stone cottage but now there’s an understanding it can be a lesser but still mightily impressive feature. The important thing is that you understand the best use of the product.”


Beautiful wood is warm, sensuous and nearly always pleasing on the eye. It complements the other materials you partner it with, and provides a distinguished border edging for decorative concrete walls and floors.