Freshen up an outdoor concrete area such as a patio with a faux stone finish, emulating the look of flagstone, cobblestone or whatever stone types suit your style. Create the look with several stone shades of paint and homemade stamps.
Clean, Clean, Clean
The concrete must be cleaned thoroughly before painting or faux finishing; grease, oils and stains may otherwise bleed through the paint. Scrub the concrete with an all-in-one degreasing, cleaning and etching product designed for concrete to help prepare the concrete for paint. Use a stiff-bristled broom or brush with the cleaner to thoroughly remove all foreign substances from the concrete surface. Rinse it off with a hose and allow the concrete to dry for at least a full day, or the paint won't adhere properly.
Instructions on concrete cleaners vary by product; follow the specific instructions on the package for optimal results.
Painting the Base Coat
No matter what style of faux stone you wish to create, a base coat of a latex floor and patio enamel provides a backdrop for your handiwork. To create a look of grout or sand between the faux stones, select a base color in the desired grout or gravel shade. Mask off areas you wish to protect from paint by using painter's tape, and trim any vegetation that may get into the paint. Apply the base color with a roller on an extension handle, allowing it to dry for a full day.
Making Stone Stamps
Stamps allow you to create the look of individual stones without having to hand-paint every single stone onto the concrete. Draw a few stone shapes in the desired sizes on scrap corrugated cardboard; then cut out the shapes. For a flagstone-style design, create shapes with angled but slightly softened edges; for river rocks, make the shapes more rounded or oval. Look at images of the actual rocks you wish to re-create in paint form to create realistic stamp shapes. Make the shapes the actual size you wish for the stamps.
Turn the Templates Into Stamps
Turn the cardboard pieces into stamps by tracing the designs onto thick craft foam, shipping foam or upholstery foam, cutting the foam shapes out with a utility knife.
- The cardboard itself can be used as a stamp -- glue on an extra layer or two, cutting each layer to the same size.
- Car-washing sponges may also be used to create the stamps by trimming them into the desired shapes.
- Make a loop of duct tape on the back to create a handle for grabbing cardboard or thin stamps.
Creating the Faux-Stone Design
Step 1: Pour Pools of Paint
Pour several similar stone colors of the latex patio enamel into pools that nearly touch one another atop a plastic tarp or in the lid of a large plastic storage bin.
Step 2: Dip in a Stamp
Dip one of the stone stamps into one or more of the paint colors; then press the paint-coated side onto the concrete in a corner of the project area.
Step 3: Dip Another Stamp
Dip a second stamp into the paints; then stamp it next to the first stamped area, leaving a gap of 1/8 to 1/4 inch between the two, as if the stones are set in sand, gravel or spaced to allow grout.
Step 4: Dip a Third Stamp
Dip yet another stamp into the paints and press it next to the second stamped area. Continue with as many stamps as you've made.
Step 5: Reuse the Stamps
Re-dip one of the wet stamps into one or more pools of paint -- even a different paint shade than you used the first time. The more shades you use, the more natural the stones look. Press the stamp next to the most recently stamped area, keeping the faux stone shapes lined up as you work. Continue the process, alternating stamps.
Step 6: Rotate the Stamps
Flip the stamps around another way to create the look of yet another shape along your faux-stone creation. Continue stamping in rows until the entire concrete area has been stamped. Allow the paint to cure for at least a full day before walking upon it or setting anything on it.
- Feather the paint colors together slightly over the stamped concrete with a dry brush for a more organic look.
- Cut scraps of cardboard or foam to use as smaller faux-stone filler stamps for areas where gaps exist.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.