How to Get Started Painting Rocks

How to paint rocks #ILovePaintedRocks #Creativegreenliving
Rock painting is the hot new hobby of 2017. Many people who are not crafty or who have never painted before want to get involved. I love that! As new crafters are flocking to rock painting forums everywhere, people are asking How do I get started painting rocks? Or What is the best paint for painting rocks?

As a lifelong crafter, avid rock painter and professional craft tutorial writer I felt pretty well equipped to answer this question! 

This is my ultimate guide to getting started rock painting including a list of my favorite tools and paints for painting rocks.

If you are interested in learning more about the hide-and-seek rock game that people are playing with their painted rocks, check out this article on I Love Painted Rocks: How to Play the Hide and Seek Rock Game.

The Best Paint for Painting Rocks

The best paint for rocks has four key qualities: 
  1. 1) It is highly pigmented so you don't need to add many coats to get coverage.
  2. 2) It has good adhesion to stick to the rock.
  3. 3) It is weather proof.
  4. 4) It is non-toxic
I have years of experience working with all kinds of paint to paint hundreds (or not thousands!) of craft projects and in my experience, these paints are the best:
FolkArt Outdoor Paint for use on painted rocks
This paint is self-sealing meaning projects painted with this paint will not need the additional step of using a spray sealer. Plus it is non-toxic and very well pigmented so you only need one coat.

Buy it: This paint comes in large 8oz bottles (good for large projects like furniture), small bottles (as shown above), or in a small starter kit where you can get 32 colors in small pots for a good price.
FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint for painted rocks #ilovepaintedrocks
FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint
Similar to the Outdoor paint (above), the Multi-Surface paint is also outdoor safe. It's designed to work well on lots of different things including fabric so if you think you might want to paint other things, I would get this one to have a good multi-purpose paint in your stash.

Buy it: This paint comes in the 2 oz bottles as shown and large 8oz bottles.
Martha Stewart Acrylic Paint for painted rocks #ilovepaintedrocks
Martha Stewart Acrylic Paint
Martha Stewart paint is also highly pigmented and has the same multi-surface properties as the FolkArt Multi-surface paint. It also works well with the Martha Stewart Marbling medium so if you want to make marbled rocks, this is another great multi-use paint to keep in your paint stash. It comes in lots of different finishes: Satin, Matte, Gloss, Pearl, Metallic and Glitter - all of them are great for rocks.

Buy it: Buy a starter collection of 2oz bottles on Amazon here. You can also buy it from Consumer Crafts (my favorite online craft store!

Special Effect Paint

If you want a special effect like glitter, shimmer or a raised image, try one of these paints:

Metallic Paint

FolkArt Metallic Paint for painted rocks #ilovepaintedrocks
FolkArt Metallic Paint
The FolkArt Metallic paint has excellent adhesion and comes in a variety of shades. 

Buy it: Get individual bottles on Amazon or Michael's Online. You can also buy a 32 color starter kit on Amazon- which is perfect for painting metallic accents.

Glitter Paint

Glitter is actually surprisingly controversial in the world of rock painting! If you are playing the hide-and-seek game with your rocks it is important that you don't put things on your rocks that could fall off and become litter - so googly eyes, stickers, and loose glitter are advised against. If you are going to do glitter, it's best to use a glitter paint where the glitter is part of the paint and will be permanently adhered to the rock once dry.
FolkArt Extreme Glitter Paint for painted rocks #ilovepaintedrocks
FolkArt Extreme Glitter Paint
This glitter paint comes in lots of pretty colors, is buildable, non-toxic and perfect for rock painting.

Buy it: You can order 2oz bottles of FolkArt Extreme Glitter Paint on Amazon.

Glitter Formula Mod Podge for painted rocks #ILovePaintedRocksGlitter Formula Mod Podge for painted rocks #ILovePaintedRocks
Glitter Formula Mod Podge
To get an all-over sparkle effect on your painted rocks, you can also use Sparkle Formula Mod Podge or Extreme Glitz Formula Mod Podge. The glitter is bound in the Mod Podge so you won't have to worry about it flaking off. It's important to note that most Mod Podge formulas are water soluble so you will need to use a sealer to make a rock painted with Mod Podge weather proof. (see info on sealers below!)

Martha Stewart Decoupage Durable Glitter Finish to use on painted rocks #ILovePaintedRocks
Martha Stewart Decoupage Durable Glitter Finish
Similar to Mod Podge, this Martha Stewart Durable Glitter Decoupage will add sparkle to your project without you needing to worry about the glitter falling off. You will, however, need to give your project a full 3 weeks to cure before it will be outdoor safe if you don't want to use a spray sealer on it.

 3D Paint

FolkArt 3D paint for use on painted rocks #ILovePaintedRocks

FolkArt 3D paint is perfect for both freehand drawing or making mandalas. Use it alone or in combination with other paint types for different cool effects. This paint just came out the summer of 2017 so not all stores carry it. Call your local store to check stock or order it from Amazon here.

Best Paintbrushes and Tools for Painting Rocks

Martha Stewart Crafts Brushes #ILovePaintedRocksMartha Stewart Crafts Brushes #ILovePaintedRocks

Martha Stewart Crafts paint brushes are my absolute favorite paintbrushes to use for nearly any application. The bristles are sturdy and tightly bound (so they won't come off onto your project) and the handles are a durable, ergonomic shape. 
Buy it: Buy them on Amazon here or from Consumer Crafts.
FolkArt Paintbrushes #ILovePaintedRocksFolkArt Paintbrushes #ILovePaintedRocks
If the Martha Stewart paintbrushes aren't in your budget, my second favorite brushes are the FolkArt paint brushes with an ergonomic grip. 
Buy it: To get started, I recommend the detail brush pack and the wider wash brush set.
Ball Stylus Dotting Tools #ILovePaintedRocks
If you are interested in painting mandalas or dot art, I like these dotting tools. The larger balls are less useful for rock painting (I tend to only use the five smallest sizes) but the set is a good price overall. 
Buy it: Shoppy Embossing Dotter Stylus Tool on Amazon

Best Sealer for Rocks

A lot of people are saying that you can use Mod Podge to seal rocks. I do NOT recommend using Mod Podge to seal rocks for hiding outdoors unless it is the Dishwasher Safe formula. This is because most formulas of Mod Podge are water soluble.
Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge #ILovePaintedRocks
Even though most Mod Podge will get cloudy or even sticky if exposed to water, the Dishwasher Safe Formula is very water resistant. I also love that it is non-toxic and can be applied inside. The one downside of using it is that is needs to cure for 30 days before the rock will be ready to face the elements. (but if it's winter time and you are going to squirrel away rocks to go out and hide in the Spring that becomes a non-issue)
Buy it: Order online from Amazon or Consumer Crafts.

Martha Stewart Decoupage Medium for painted rocks #ILovePaintedRocks
Similar to the dishwwasher safe Mod Podge, the Martha Stewart Decoupage Medium needs to cure for 30 days before the rock will be ready to face the elements. But, again, if it's winter time and you are going to squirrel away rocks to go out and hide in the Spring that becomes a non-issue.
Buy it: It's available in glossy, matte or glitter finishes. Order online from Amazon or Consumer Crafts.

I have not yet found any other non-toxic, brush-on sealer that dries truly clear and can stand up to the elements. 

Spray Sealer

I don't generally prefer spray sealers because they need to be applied outdoors between a temperature of 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit - making it hard to use during the winter. Aerosol cans are also not exactly known for being environmentally friendly. 

All that to say, most clear spray sealers that say they are for indoor/outdoor or outdoor use will work to seal rocks if you did not paint your rocks with a self-sealing paint like FolkArt Outdoor (or Multi-Surface) or the Martha Stewart paints.

Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel Spray Sealer to seal painted rocks #ILovePaintedRocks
If I need to use a spray sealer for any reason, this crystal clear enamel sealer from Rust-Oleum is the one I use. It dries quickly if it is the right temperature when applied and is inexpensive.
Buy it: Pick up Rust-Oleum spray sealer from Amazon.

Best Projects for Beginning Rock Painters

Now that you have your basic paints and supplies, get started actually making something with these easy rock painting tutorials! See the article: 20+ Easy Rock Painting Tutorials for Beginners on I Love Painted Rocks.
20 rock painting tutorials for beginners #ILovePaintedRocks

Carissa Bonham

About the Author:

Carissa Bonham is a lifelong crafter and mom of two creative boys. The owner and lead writer at Creative Green Living, she won the Craftys Award for the "Best Craft Blogger" category in 2016 and the ShiftCon award for "Best DIY Blogger" in 2018.

Her goal is to empower families to make easy projects and healthier choices that are beautiful and delicious! She is also the author of the hardcover cookbook, Beautiful Smoothie Bowls (Skyhorse, 2017) and Proven Techniques for Keeping Healthy Chickens (Skyhorse, 2018). 

Her projects have been featured in magazines like Kids Crafts 1-2-3, Capper's Farmer and Urban Farm Magazine. Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter or join the Creative Green Living Tribe.
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1 comment

  1. I have found the best sealer to be Minwax Polycrylic. Wonderful stuff - dries clear, and holds up for years.


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