Your home’s outdoor space, be it a small garden in the front yard or an expansive backyard oasis, can be a source of great pride and enjoyment. With a little bit of know-how and some elbow grease, you can transform an ordinary patch of dirt into a sanctuary.
Paint landscape rocks by first cleaning the rocks thoroughly with soap and water using a bristle brush on hard to reach areas. Then, prime the rocks for paint by using an outdoor or exterior primer before painting with an exterior acrylic paint.
There are several ways to enhance the aesthetic of an outdoor area. One of the most impactful is the use of landscape rocks, which lend a natural look and structure wherever they are placed. Keep reading to learn how to paint landscape rocks the right way, to create an outdoor décor that reflects your sense of style.
Can You Paint Your Landscaping Rocks?
Not only can landscaping rocks be painted, but doing so will introduce a palette of colors to your outdoor space reflecting your style and personality.
Here’s what painting your landscape rocks can do for your hardscaping scheme:
- Soft earth tones complement your existing greenery and shrubbery, creating Zen-inducing visual texture and structure
- Bold, striking colors allow your landscaping rocks to take center stage, and with a full spectrum of shades at your disposal, the visual possibilities are endless
- By mixing up different rock shapes and sizes, you can position them in ways to elevate your outdoor space in ways you may never have imagined (think arrangements, patterns, or even vertical stacks)
Whether your goal is to create a relaxing, meditative space that soothes the soul, or an area that reflects your bold sense of style with colors that pop, painting your landscaping rocks is a game-changing way to elevate the entire aesthetic of your favorite outdoor spots.
Before you rush out to purchase your painting supplies, it is important to recognize that as a medium, landscaping rocks are different from materials like canvas, paper, or even wood.
With proper preparation and technique, however, you can paint your landscaping rocks with deeply satisfying, and in some cases, stunning, results.
Here’s a video showing how to protect landscaping rocks by sealing them:
What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Landscape Rocks?
When determining what kind of paint to use on landscape rocks, there are two factors in play. First, you must consider the surface of landscaping rocks and how receptive they will be to being painted.
Second, rocks used for landscaping will be outdoors all the time so think about how the paint will hold up to your local climate and weather conditions.
It goes without saying but landscaping rocks have the same basic makeup as the garden variety (no pun intended) stones you encounter hiking through the woods or walking along a riverbed.
Even rocks specifically intended for landscaping or hardscaping purposes have the same attributes as ordinary rocks and masonry.
Because landscaping rocks will be exposed to the elements year-round, the paint you use must be able to withstand harsh conditions like blazing sunshine, bitter cold, extreme temperature fluctuations, and various forms of precipitation depending on where you live.
The best all-around choice for coloring landscaping rocks is acrylic paint formulated for exterior applications.
The advantages of acrylic paint include:
- Outdoor acrylic paint can stand up to harsh weather conditions, whether you live in an arid climate zone with year-round sunshine or an area subjected to bitter, cold winters
- Its unique elasticity enables it to tolerate fluctuating temperatures without cracking or peeling
- Exterior acrylic paint is extremely durable so your newly painted landscaping rocks will provide lasting visual appeal and years of enjoyment
- With its thick viscosity, acrylic paint is easier to work with and it provides good, even coverage on the uneven surfaces of landscape rocks (although it may be necessary to apply multiple coats for optimal results)
With a full spectrum of colors available, outdoor acrylic paint is the perfect medium for applying color to landscape rocks.
As far as artistic themes are concerned, going with a monotone scheme (i.e., painting rocks in a single color) is the simplest strategy.
But acrylic paint also allows for intricate artwork, and acrylic paint pens are the perfect tool for painting fine lines and designs on landscape rocks.
If using paint is not exactly what you’re looking for, consider checking out our articles on Staining Landscape Rocks or Sealing Landscape Rocks to give your rocks a new look without actually painting them.
What Is the Best Way To Prep Rocks for Painting?
Landscape rocks can be highly receptive to painting, provided that they have been prepared properly. If you were to pick up a rock and start painting it without any prep work, chances are, the paint will not adhere to the surface satisfactorily, nor will the color appear the way you intended.
But by taking the time to perform the following two steps, you can prep landscape rocks for painting and achieve wonderful, lasting results.
Clean Landscape Rocks Before Painting
The first, and perhaps most important, step in preparing landscape rocks for painting is cleaning them thoroughly. Any dirt and debris on the rocks will get in between the paint and the surface, preventing good adhesion and coverage.
Follow these steps to clean landscaping rocks prior to painting:
- Fill a bucket with water and add a splash of dishwashing liquid to create a mildly soapy solution
- Because their uneven surfaces can trap dirt, use a small brush with soft bristles to gently scrub the rocks
- Thoroughly rinse the rocks clean
- Before you can paint them, landscape rocks must be completely dry (leaving them out in direct sunlight works well)
- Landscape rocks with irregular surfaces may require longer to dry
Achieving a clean, dry surface is indispensable to the proper preparation of landscape rocks for painting. Bypassing this key step will likely lead to poor and disappointing results.
Apply Primer To Landscape Rocks Before Painting
Rocks, even those used for landscaping, have rough, uneven surfaces that can make painting on them difficult. The natural shades of rocks can also mask or alter the color of paint, leading to unintended, and potentially disappointing, results.
Apply a coat of primer to landscape rocks prior to painting them, to smooth out rough spots and allow the paint to fully adhere to the surface while coating it evenly. Primer will also reduce the wear and tear on your paintbrushes.
Using different shades of primer can also enhance the color of the paint you are applying. For instance, lighter paint colors will often fade or appear discolored when painted over dark stones. But applying a white primer will allow light shades to retain their appearance and achieve the desired effect.
Landscaping rocks are a great way to add a natural element to a garden or backyard area and painting them can enhance your outdoor space with a splash of color that reflects your sense of style.
Clean and prime the rocks before painting with an exterior type durable paint.