You can make beautiful custom stepping stones for your outdoor space using molds and concrete but you should choose concrete carefully to ensure that your stepping stones will be durable. Most concrete is made of a mixture of sand, gravel, cement and additives that provide strength. You can purchase many types of premixed concrete for stepping stones at most home improvement stores or you can mix your own concrete using cement, gravel, sand and water.
To make stepping stones for a garden, many people simply use the standard premixed concrete that you can find at many hardware stores. Premixed concrete is very easy to use because you just add water to the mix according to manufacturer's directions. You can then pour wet concrete into molds and let it set. Most premixed concrete dries in 24 hours and cures completely in 48 hours. However, stepping stones made with premixed concrete may crack or weather over time.
Many home improvement stores sell a type of concrete called lightweight premixed concrete that produces light but durable concrete. This kind of concrete will spread evenly and will make lighter stepping stones that have a smooth finish. If you plan to move your stepping stones or are making large stepping stones, you might consider using lightweight premixed concrete.
For stepping stones that are going to see a lot of use, you should consider using reinforced concrete so that your stepping stones are more durable. This type of concrete also sells at most hardware stores, often under the names "gravel mix reinforced" or "fiber reinforced premixed concrete." Fiber reinforced concrete has fibers and other materials in the mix which provide a stronger and more durable concrete once it cures.
To create colored stepping stones, you can find concrete in various colors such as terra cotta, dark green or white. There are also powder and liquid colorings to add to premixed concrete to give a desired color. You can also purchase concrete paints specially formulated for outdoor use on concrete that provide a nonslip surface.
Mosaic Stepping Stones
If you are making stepping stones using a mosaic pattern of tiles, glass or porcelain pieces, consider using premixed cement or concrete with a high sand content instead of typical premixed concrete. Cement and high-sand concrete has a finer texture that is more like grout or mortar, so it will provide a better surface for embedding tiles or glass pieces in mosaic stepping stones.
Mixing Your Own
Advanced do-it-yourself experts may want to mix their own concrete. To mix concrete, you will need 1 part Portland cement, 1 part sand, 2 parts gravel and water. Mix the dry ingredients first and then add water until the concrete is at the desired consistency.