So you’ve seen all those cute and easy rock painting ideas all over social media, and can’t wait to create and hide some tiny art. But where to begin? If you haven’t painted rocks before, start by having the right rock painting supplies to make the process successful from the beginning.
Paint. Rocks. The end, right?
Well, yes, sort of. But if you want to create painted rock designs that will look great and last a long time, there are definitely some paints that work better than others. You’ll save time and expense by knowing what you need to paint rocks before you begin.
Best Paint for Rocks
Of course when you’re collecting rock painting supplies, you need paint. When you’re deciding on what kind of paint to use for rocks, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. Make sure the paint is highly pigmented so fewer coats are needed to get coverage. It should also have good adhesion to stick to the rock. The best paint for rocks is also weather proof, especially if you are painting rocks for outdoors. After trying many brands and types of acrylic paints over the years, these are my choices for porous materials like stones.
- Outdoor Acrylic Paint. — Water and weather resistant, acrylic paints made especially for outdoor craft projects are ideal paints for rock crafts. Their bright colors are thick, pigmented, and adhere wonderfully to rock surfaces. Plus, they don’t need sealing (though you can). You can’t go wrong with Americana Patio Paint. It’s quick-drying and the colors are saturated.
- Multi-Surface Acrylic Paint. — Designed for use on all surfaces, this satin finish acrylic also doesn’t need finishing sealer. Martha Stewart multi-surface paint is a thick smooth paint that comes in a variety of finishes. It does tend to chip after multiple coats, so I prefer it for dots and designs rather than base coats.
- Special Effect Paint. — Sometimes you just want a little pizzazz! Metallic and glitter finishes add sparkle and shine to your painted rock crafts. You can paint the whole base with them, or just add fancy accents. Since the shine is part of the paint, there are no particles falling into the environment like regular glitter might leave behind. Try Americana Dazzling Metallics for a shimmery shine, and Americana Craft Twinkles (chunky glitter) or Glamour Dust (fine glitter).
- Puffy Paint. — Good for dimension, dots, and comes in shiny, pearlized, glitter, and other happy finishes. Try Scribbles 3D paint or Tulip Dimensional Paint. While the label says fabric paint, it’s good for any surface.
- Craft acrylic paints. Regular craft acrylics will also work just fine as paints for rocks. You may need a few more coats of both paint and sealer to get the design quality you’re looking for, but they’ll get the job done.
Best Paint Pens for Rocks
- Posca Paint Markers are all over the internet right now, and for good reason. They’re pigment paint markers that are non-toxic, water based, and permanent on porous surfaces like rocks. Not only are they my new choice for the best paint pens for rocks, it’s also one of my favorite rock painting supplies overall!
- Sakura Pen-Touch paint markers are a great all-around paint marker for a variety of surfaces, including smooth rocks. My favorites are the metallic bullet point markers, the finish on the metallic pens looks beautiful on painted rocks.
- Sharpie Oil-Based paint pens dry glossy for a fun finish. They come in lots of colors and dry quickly, plus they can be found in most big box stores, which is a convenience over the other listed paint pens for rocks. Sharpie Oil-Based markers also don’t bleed or change colors when sealed like regular sharpies do.
- Pitt Artist Pens are high quality artist pens filled with India Ink, which is permanent and fade proof. The dark colors cover especially well, and the tip is solid enough in both the regular and brush-tip versions that it won’t bend or smush. While pricey, Pitt Artist Pens will last a long time and can be used for a variety of other mixed-media projects. A black and a white pen are great pieces to start, and are a no-brainer to use if you already have them in your art stash.
Other Rock Painting Supplies
Of course, if you’re using bottled paints rather than paint markers, you’ll need brushes to apply it. Additionally, as you’re looking for supplies for rock painting, don’t discount some non-paint products.
- Brushes. — You’ll need a flat brush for base coats or bigger surfaces. 1÷2−3÷4″ are good all-purpose sizes. Small round brushes are perfect for details and writing words. A medium range mixed set of brushes is a good balance between price and quality.
- Dotting Tools. — If you like polka dots or enjoy making mandala designs, a set of dotting tools can be helpful. Just dip and press for perfect circles.
- Sharpie metallic markers. — Sharpies require a little finesse to prevent bleeding when sealing rocks (see below), but are readily available almost anywhere.
- White pen. — Sigma Uniball White Pen is the top-notch choice for smooth writing and opacity. White line art is especially pretty on dark rocks.
- Crayons. — While coloring on rocks won’t work, melted crayon rocks are a fun idea to decorate rocks in a different way.
- Temporary Tattoos. — not comfortable with drawing your own art yet, or need something quick for a crowd? Temporary tattoos are an easy choice and come in all sorts of designs. Apply the same way as on a person, then seal for quick rock art.
Where to Buy Rocks to Paint
With a little hunting in the right places, you may not have to buy them at all. You can find smooth stones for rock painting near streams or rivers, or fun-shaped pebbles just about anywhere. But if you’re in an area where there isn’t a plethora of flat rocks, you can find places to buy rocks to paint locally and online.
I snag mine from my own landscaping. Shh, don’t tell my secret to my husband, he shoveled all those rocks into place.
- Your local landscaping supply stores will have a variety of sizes available from 1″-4″, or even larger. You can buy in bulk by the pound and it’s a great way to get a variety of sizes to experiment with.
- Home improvement stores often have bags of flat river rocks, and craft stores will carry pebble-sized river rocks for crafts.
- Amazon has multiple colors and sizes of flat stones for crafting. Having them arrive on your doorstep is an added bonus.
Sealing Painted Rocks
Most painted rocks will need some kind of sealant if they’re going to be hidden or displayed outside. Sealing painted rocks is as easy as a can of spray in most cases. Use a clear, non-yellowing, spray sealer like Rustoleum 2x Clear or Krylon Crystal Clear, using 1–2 light coats. If you prefer the natural stone look, use a matte spray sealer. For a shiny finish, use a gloss.
Tips for sealing painted rocks:
- Use a spray sealer for paint pens, puffy paint, or special effects paint, or any painted rock that uses more than one type of decoration or mixed paint types.
- Use a spray sealer over temporary tattoos and white Sigma pens.
- A paint-on polyurethane sealer (Americana DuraClear) can be used if desired when working indoors or with children. A water-based product is not recommended for sealing outdoor painted rocks, but may be fine for those remaining indoors.
- Try a thin layer of white glue over dried sharpie marker or metallic decorations before spray sealing to prevent blurring.
Rock painting is an entertaining craft for tweens and teens, but these smooth stones also make wonderful tiny canvases for grown-up art as well. Whether you start with specific rock painting supplies or just use what you have on hand, you’ll have a fantastic time creating something new.
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