Landscape rocks can enhance an outdoor space in more ways than one. In addition to adding a stunning visual element, landscaping rocks also serve functional purposes such as aiding drainage, mulching an area, or paving a walkway. But contrary to what you might think, even rocks, especially those used in landscaping or hardscaping, require care to prolong their life and enhance their performance.
Seal landscape rocks by cleaning them thoroughly with soapy water and a brush, letting them dry completely before applying seal. Then apply either an all-purpose spray seal, a waterproof finish, or a resin based sealant.
Applying sealant to the surface of landscape rocks will protect them from the elements while preserving their natural color and beauty. Sealing is also a great way to create an appealing shine that makes them look wet. Keep reading to learn the top tips to seal landscape rocks the right, not to mention easy, way.
How Do You Seal Landscape Stones?
Landscape stones are a versatile multi-tasker for decorating, elevating, and enhancing your outdoor space.
They can lend a splash of color to the areas that need it and perform a variety of vital functions such as channeling water away from spots suffering from poor drainage, taking on mulching duties, paving walkways, and making areas safer for foot traffic.
But because they are outdoors, landscaping rocks are exposed to the elements year-round.
Depending on the climate zone, landscape stones can be subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations, various forms of precipitation, and other natural conditions that can damage stones or drastically alter their appearance.
For these reasons, you should seal your landscaping rocks to provide a protective barrier that makes them weather-resistant and preserves their natural beauty. Follow these steps to seal your landscape stones and provide years of lasting enjoyment.
Here’s a cool video showing how a wet-look sealer will look:
Clean Landscape Stones Before Sealing
Because a sealant is applied to the exterior of landscape stones, the surface must be completely clean for the sealant to properly adhere.
Any dirt or debris that is trapped between the rock’s surface and the sealant will prevent full coverage and lead to poor weatherproofing and an appearance falling short of expectations.
Cleaning landscape rocks is a straightforward process. Aside from removing all traces of dirt, the most important thing is allowing them to dry completely.
Follow these steps to clean your landscaping stones before sealing:
- The best way to clean landscaping stones is with soapy water (a bucketful of water with a few squirts of dishwashing liquid works well).
- Scrub the rocks with a brush or heavy-duty sponge.
- For hard-to-reach spots, use a toothbrush to get into tiny crevices which can trap dirt and debris.
- After thoroughly rinsing the stones with clean water, pat them dry with a towel and then lay them out in the sun to remove all traces of moisture.
- The drying step is crucial for applying sealant effectively and can take up to 24 hours for stones with very uneven surfaces.
If you encounter difficulty cleaning your landscaping stones, either due to a heavily soiled area that is proving to be extremely stubborn or a surface that is very difficult to work with, try using fine-grit sandpaper.
For large rocks that are too heavy or cumbersome to move, consider using a power washer to blast away dirt and grime with minimal time and effort.
Apply Seal To Landscape Stones
Once your landscaping stones are clean and dry, it is time to apply the sealant to provide a protective layer against the elements. Sealing can also create unique visual effects such as making your rocks look shiny or wet (more on this later).
There are several types of sealants to choose from for applying on landscape stones. Choosing the right one for the job depends on the size, shape, and characteristics of your rocks, as well as their location and arrangement.
Here are the best options for sealing landscaping stones:
- An all-purpose spray sealer can be found in any hardware store, is the easiest to apply (just point and spray), and is available in a variety of finishes including glossy, matte, and satin. The main drawback of this type of sealer is that it typically has low weather resistance.
- For a more durable, waterproof finish that can stand up to the elements, consider using an aerosol polyurethane sealant that provides full, even coverage. With finishes including glossy, glaze, matte, and stain, this type of sealant is a solid all-around choice.
- Resin is another type of sealant that is formulated to produce an eye-catching finish while providing unparalleled protection against harsh conditions. A resin-based sealant hardens to a high-gloss finish that is almost glass-like in smoothness and shine. If you want your landscape rocks to stand out, this is the sealant for you.
- If you have children in the house that enjoy doing crafts, then chances are you have an easy-to-use sealant sitting in your art supply bin. Mod Podge is a multi-purpose paste that is used by crafters to glue and seal items. For landscaping stones, Mod Podge can be applied with a brush and it dries to a moderately weather-resistant finish.
Whether your landscaping stones are painted or in their natural form, applying a coat of sealant will preserve their appearance and protect them against the harmful effects of prolonged exposure to sunlight and harsh weather conditions.
With a handful of readily available options, you can choose the right sealant for your hardscaping needs.
How Do You Make Rocks Look Wet Permanently?
A popular visual effect for landscaping rocks is the wet look. This can be achieved by applying a glossy finish sealant, such as a resin or polyurethane formula.
For best results, using an aerosol or sprayer will ensure an even coat that covers each rock fully. To achieve the desired level of “wetness”, it may be necessary to apply multiple coats.
Can You Seal River Rock?
One of the most popular types of landscaping stones is known as river rock. These smooth, semi-round rocks are commonly found on rocky beaches and riverbeds and can serve decorative and functional purposes.
River rock is susceptible to wear, staining, and algae growth. As such, sealing river rock is a must if you want to preserve its natural color and appearance. Otherwise, river rock can become discolored, faded, and worn over time.
Something as simple as laying down landscaping rocks can elevate the visual impact of your outdoor space. Whether you use landscape stones for a Zen garden or a desert scape, enhance the appearance and prolong the longevity of your rocks with a quality sealant to ensure years of lasting enjoyment.