Painting rocks is easier than it looks and it’s also quite addicting once you get started. It can be difficult to figure out the best supplies and techniques so I thought I’d create a guide based on my experience. For years I sold my painted stones on Etsy, but now I prefer to share what I’ve learned so that others can enjoy painting rocks as much as I do.
THE BEST ROCK PAINTING SUPPLIES (affiliate links are provided for your convenience)
1. Rocks – The number one question I get is “where can I find smooth rocks.” Here are a few different places to find rocks, but first take a little walk around the neighborhood, you may by surprised what you find. Avoid buying rocks that have a wax film over them to make them shiny. This makes it difficult for paint or markers to adhere to the rock.
-Landscaping supply stores, stone yards and stone depots often sell river rock rock in bulk. Make sure to bring a bucket!!
-Home Depot and Lowes garden centers will often have smooth river rocks in the garden section.
-Stores such as Michaels Craft Stores, Walmart and The Dollar Store often have smaller rocks available.
2. Paint – The best paint to use on rocks is acrylic paint. See my recommendation below for my favorite brand.
–Martha Stewart Acrylic paint is by far my favorite acrylic paint to use on rocks. I’ve found that this brand is not only bright but the paints are thicker so they are easier to apply and require less coats. This beginner variety pack of colors is a great place to start and I also love this other pack of bright Martha Stewart acrylic paints.
Brushes – The key to painting details on your rocks is small brush sizes. Below are some of my favorites. You don’t need to spend a fortune on your brushes, the most important factor is keeping the brush size small.
-I love this set of brushes. Even though they say they are for watercolors, I’ve found they are the best brushes for painting rocks with acrylic paint. I also usually have several of the 000 size brushes from the same brand always on hand.
-Here’s another great set of watercolor brushes that has a variety of sizes perfect for painting details on your rocks.
4. Markers and Pens – Another great option for decorating rocks, especially if you struggle with painting are paint pens and markers. Click here for a complete list of markers and pens for doodling on rocks along with tips and techniques. Below are just a few favorites.
–Paint Markers – my absolutely favorite brand of paint markers are Posca Paint pens with extra fine pen tips. These paint markers also come in natural pastel colors as well. They are shown in the pic above.
–Markers – If you want to doodle on your rocks using regular markers these Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens are my favorite. Shown in the pic above. You can see all the different ways I use them in this post. You will need to paint a white acrylic base on your stones if you are using these markers.
-Pens for Outlining – For creating black outline around finished designs, I love these Micron Pens. I like having a variety of sizes for different thicknesses. You just need to be sure the paint is completely dry before using the pen or else you risk ruining the tip of your pen with paint.
–Chalk markers are such a great option for rocks, especially when crafting with kids. Here are two great options Fun Chalk Liquid Chalk Markers and OOLY Chalkables Liquid Chalk Markers. NOTE: For the Fun Chalk markers you will most likely need to paint a white acrylic base on your stone first, unless your rock is already a light color.
–Chalk Crayons – These chalk crayons are another great option when doing rock crafts with kids. You can use them to draw directly onto the rock. See the pic above for reference. 5. Sealant – When it comes to sealing rocks I prefer to keep the matte natural look of the rock as I usually don’t cover the rock completely with paint. I mostly use this favorite spray sealant by Design Masters. This spray sealant will work no matter what you use to decorate rocks. And it will not smear your design as sometimes other sealants might.
I also for a long time used non-toxic Mod Podge sealant but ONLY on rocks that had acrylic paint and ONLY for rocks that would be inside and not outside. If you use it over rocks that have markers on them, it will smear the designs. To apply the Mod Podge you simple paint it onto the rock using a foam brush. I would only use one thin layer and it would always seal nicely. This is a great option if you are crafting with children.
PREPPING ROCKS FOR PAINTING
Before you get started painting rocks you’re probably wondering if you need to do something to your rocks first to prep them. I’ve read lots of different techniques for prepping rocks but I’ve found that you really don’t need to do anything. For the thousands of rocks that I’ve painted I simply wash the rocks outside with a house and let them dry and I’ve never had any problems with decorating them using the supplies I prefer. It’s possible you may need to prep them differently if you are using different supplies. But isn’t it easier to keep it simple if you can!
Are you ready to start painting rocks? Make sure you check out all of my other rocks posts for more ideas. Also I’d love to see what you’re creating. Come find my on Facebook or Instagram and share your beautiful creations.