Painting Rocks – Best Supplies for Painting and Decorating Rocks

Painting Rocks - Supplies, Guide and Best Practices for Painting RockPainting 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.Painting Rocks - Supplies, Guide and Best Practices for Painting 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.

-Amazon has some great options such as these 3″-5″ smooth stones and these 2″-3″ smooth rocks.

2. Paint – The best paint to use on rocks is acrylic paint. See my recommendation below for my favorite brand.Best Supplies for Painting Rocks

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. Best Supplies for Painting RocksBest Supplies for Painting Rocks

Supplies and Guide for Painting Rocks

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.Supplies and Guide for Painting Rocks

-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. Supplies and Guide for Painting Rocks

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. Rock Painting Best Supplies

I also really love these paint markers by Artistro. The fine tips make them wonderful for detailed drawings and doodles.

Paint Markers for RocksAs you can see these Artistro paint markers are extremely vibrant as well!Best supplies for painting on rocks

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.

Best Supplies for Rock Painting
Image via Seriously Daisies. See more of her pretty rocks on her Instagram page.

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.Best Supplies for Rock Painting

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. Best Supplies for Rock Painting5. 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.


You can read more about other supplies I love for painting rocks in this post about doodling on rocks and this post about creative ways to decorate rocks.


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!

Best Supplies for Rock PaintingBest Supplies for Rock PaintingAre 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.

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63 thoughts on “Painting Rocks – Best Supplies for Painting and Decorating Rocks”

      1. I actually wash mine outside with a hose. But such a good point. I adjusted the post to make it clear so no one ruins their pipes :).

  1. I am going to share this to my Rock group – NSW Friendly Rocks on Facebook. I can’t wait to try some of these ideas out! Not sure if we can get hold of the Martha Stewart paints here is Australia, but I will go on the hunt this week. Thanks for posting, Samantha.

    1. So glad you found some inspiration! Hopefully you’ll find the paints. I’m sure if you can’t you’ll find something else that works. You just do t want anything too thin.

    2. Just on line and search for it. You should be able to order it online but really any paint will do. good luck. I would love to see your website. I am in Texas and my rock club is
      belton and with the space or you can search for Belton TX rock club
      good luck

  2. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Do the posca pens come in a set or do you have to buy them individually?

    1. Did you check the links in the post? I have those same exact sets in regular and pastel colors. Are you looking for a larger set?

  3. I love your painted rocks. I am going to paint alot of rocks soon, I never done this before so I will practice to make it look better. What if I make mistake, how can I remove some paint at some spots and not start all over again? Thanks for great tips!

    1. Don’t worry about mistakes. I always tell this to my son as well. You can always turn a mistake into something beautiful. Maybe practice your design first on paper and then try it on the rock. There’s really no way to remove the paint, but if you don’t like the rock you can always search for more :).

    1. I’ve only seen the posca pens online and from what I’ve seen Amazon definitely has the best pricing. They are from Japan.

  4. We are having our whole school
    Paint rocks for a project. With 800 kids painting, can you use tempera paint and then apply a waterproof sealant?

    1. I tried tempura paint at my son’s preschool for a project and honestly it doesn’t cover very well on it’s own. Can you paint the rocks with white acrylic first or even spray paint them white before you give them to the kids? The white base will help the tempura show up better!

  5. You gave me so many different ideas! Thank you..I’m painting rocks for soveniors to take with one for a 100+ Celebration of life party on August 13. I hope I can get that many done. Thanks again. I seen many simple and fastly done but pretty…I got all my rocks at the Dollar store and they are flat and BLACK! Shiny too. I have a spray can of Rust-Oleum 2 times ultra cover. Will this seal my rocks so the paint stays on them.. Would you agree? Please help!!!

    1. Hi Kathy! So glad you’ve found some inspiration. Would love to see a finished pic of your rocks when you’re done. I don’t usually use Rust-Oleum, I use a different sealant but I heard it works well. Test one rock out first before you spray all of them 🙂

    2. Just a heads up on the rocks from the dollar stores… namely Dollar Tree. You might do a test and see if your paints cover. Because most of them are covered with a waxy coating. Very deceiving because you can’t scratch it off, and they are called “Polished”, and they are sorta are, but decor rocks have that finish- at least at the Dollar Tree. They are still a great source for rocks, I’m still working on my batch. 😀 Knowing that- I was able to put a little effort into them- I soaked them in hot water and Dawn and a little baking soda, maybe 30 minutes. Very little elbow grease I was able to use a green scrubby to get the last of the wax out of any divots or rough spots – I would NOT dump the water down the drain since it’s waxy. But I was a little surprised the rocks were not actually black. :/ I bought them because I liked the size and shapes (relatively small, mostly smooth and flat-ish) So for that- knowing what to expect it was mostly worth it . The coating might not cause an issue with the paint itself, but probably when you seal it, if you choose to do so. I went this route because I was new to rocks and felt it was a good option to see if it was worth the hobby. (it was)

  6. Hi I’m knew to painting rocks.
    I’m A elderly lady , that always needs A Hobbie
    And something different to try.
    So what I need now ,is to get my supplies.
    You have given very good instructions.
    Thank you, for sharing!

  7. BIG THANK YOU!!! I used to tole paint with my sister but when she passed away I lost inspiration. I picked up paint brushes again for the ‘kindness rock’ project & your rocks have been a huge inspiration! I just ordered the pens to try. Thank you again!

    1. Aww, I’m so happy that you’ve found your inspiration again. And I’m so sorry for your loss. I have a feeling that the beauty of your sister will live through your art. xo

    1. I don’t use them often but yes they work. Just be sure to seal them first with mod podge and then use a spray sealant. If you don’t use mod podge and then you try to spray them the ink will run.

  8. Thanks for the great post on painting rocks. Haven’t painted any rocks in decades and looking forward to painting some!

    BTW, when I was about 19, I bought some blue engine paint for my 1969 Mustang. I sprayed a few smooth round rocks with the left over paint. Forty years later, those rocks are still blue!

    1. Yay! Glad you found some inspiration and that’s amazing about the rocks that have stayed colorful for so long. Have fun painting 🙂

    1. I usually spray them on cardboard. It might be your sealant. What are you using? The one I like isn’t very sticky. I wait at least a day to spray the reverse side and I always find a clean piece of the card board to spray on again.

  9. I’m not very artistic and I will like to sell some rocks to raise money for our nonprofit organization that raise awareness for veterans suffering from PTSD and MST. Can I used transfer stickers or tatoos or small stencils.

    1. You sure can! Temporary tattoos work wonderfully! You’ll still want to seal them with a spray sealant. And stencils are great too!

  10. Is there a “safe” paint and marker for painti g alphabet rocks that a toddler will play with? I’m so confused with so much research I’ve done!

    Thank you.

    1. When my son was little I used Martha Stewart paint directly on the rock and I just brushed on a very light layer of Mod Podge over the top once it was dry. A lot of people don’t like mod podge because it doesn’t hold up well outside but if you are only using it inside and with children I think it’s the best option because it’s non-toxic. The rocks I made him 6 years ago still look beautiful.

  11. I got a lovely bag of white cobbles from a builders merchants here in the UK. They are powdery to start with, but after washing and drying they are perfect for painting.

    1. Yellow and oranges are the hardest. If you are using them to cover the entire rock, I suggest using a spray primer first. I like Krylon flat white. It’s much easier to paint the light colors over white.

  12. Can you use stamps on flat rocks? I carve my own stamps and would love to use them.

    I would also love to sell some of my finished rocks to help me pay my medical bills. ☺

    1. You absolutely can! Maybe try stamping with acrylic paint to start. And check out Etsy for selling your finished designs. I used to sell lots of rocks on there.

  13. Rock novice, poor eyesight & shaky hands. Not good with the art work but I’ve read a lot of good tips. Discovered rock art through my local f group Bucks Rocks. Hoping to move on from Relocation Specialist to Artist.

  14. I love all these great tips and ideas. I’m planning something for my friend’s 60th birthday to follow up on a rock I gave her for her 40th that was engraved with “at least you’re not as old as this rock”. Your suggestions for supplies is perfect and just what I was looking for. Thank you for sharing!

  15. I want to thank you for taking the time to show others how to have fun while creating beautiful, fun art pieces with rocks! I bought a rock kit to start, and I had a difficult time getting the paint to stick. I was disappointed, as I wanted to do something light and fun with my daughter; hoping it could be an ongoing activity. I came looking for help on the internet, and found your wonderful post immediately! I don’t even have to look for any more instruction! You’ve brightened my day with color, and offered me the silver lining with a smile, after a dark, cold week! Thank you, and God bless you, in Jesus’ name! Nature is the best art!
    The Silver Lining at

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