A swath of dull landscaping rocks can lower the curb appeal of your home, but there are a few easy ways to ramp up the vibrancy of your rocky landscaping. Treating rocks with a waterproofing sealant, adding a coat of exterior paint or including a contrasting shade can change the color of the landscape rocks and significantly improve the look and feel of your outdoor space.
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To change the color of landscape rocks, clean them before applying exterior paint or waterproofing sealant.
Prep and Precautions
With the size of your project in mind, gather a pump sprayer, paintbrush or floor roller, along with a power washer, old towels, nylon scrub brush, a bucket and TSP or vinegar for cleaning. Cover areas that can be damaged if they come in contact with the stain, paint or sealant. Place drop cloths over these areas and secure with painter's tape.
Cleaning Landscape Rocks
Before treating any stone, concrete or rock material, the rocks need to be cleaned. Use a pressure washer and concrete or rock cleaner, such as TSP, and wash down the area well. Vinegar is another option for pre-treatment cleaning. Use a nylon scrub brush to work the cleaner over the rocks or outdoor area and rinse well. Allow the space to dry before applying any stain or sealant.
For small rocks, it may be best to hand-wash each rock in a bucket before placing it in a large bin. Clean and paint each rock individually. Large areas that don't see much foot traffic and that mostly stay untouched can be cleaned and painted in place. Spray the cleaner over the rocks and rinse well. Allow the area to dry thoroughly before applying paint or sealant.
Create Two-Tone Rock
To bring up the contrast of a bland rock color, mix landscape rocks of a darker hue. The two contrasting or complementary colors will easily change the overall look and color of the landscaped area. Add a deep blue crushed granite rock to white rock for a coastal vibe or a darker hue of rosy granite chips to dull sandstone rocks for a shimmer of color in a desert garden.
Painting small rock-filled areas takes patience but can make a significant difference in a home's curb appeal. Each stone will need to be cleaned and painted. If the rock is a dull shade, a coat of latex paint followed by a splatter of color will lend contrast. Coat each stone with exterior paint and allow it to dry. Flick a contrasting color over the dried paint base to create a speckled look.
Darken With Waterproofing Sealant
The paraffin oils in a waterproofing sealant can give the appearance of wet rock by seeping into the pores and giving the rocks a shiny surface and darker hue. It isn't, however, a good idea to apply a waterproofing seal over pavers or concrete pathways. A sealant creates a vapor barrier, which traps water inside the porous bricks. This can lead to cracks and chips when temperatures dip below freezing.
Spray the sealant over the entire rocky area with a pump sprayer. Allow it to dry before adding, if necessary, a second coat. The rocks will darken as they dry.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.