How to Paint a Stone-Look Patio

Written by j.e. myers
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How to Paint a Stone-Look Patio
You can paint a faux stone patio surface. (Kopfsteinpflaster als Hintergrund image by Marem from

If you are tired of that flat, boring grey concrete patio surface, you can create a whole new look for an outdoor living space by borrowing faux painting tricks from scenic painters and creating a flagstone look patio. Achieving a convincing "triomphe d'oil" effect that completely fools the eye is possible, but lesser grades of work can be just as satisfying.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Outdoor paints
  • Paint gloss medium
  • Synthetic concrete patching material
  • Roller brush and pole
  • 3/4 inch artist liner brush, rounded bristle
  • 48 inch long bamboo pole, 1/2-inch diameter
  • Duct tape
  • Scrap plywood or drywall sheet
  • 2-inch paint brush, natural bristle
  • Natural sea sponge
  • Hand sprayer or lawn sprayer
  • Ropes, garden hose or wet newspaper ropes
  • Tiny artist liner brush

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  1. 1

    Visit a garden centre and examine real samples of paver stones or flagstones. Take close up digital pictures in a high resolution. Purchase a few stones or ask for castoff fragments so you will have an accurate colour guide.

  2. 2

    Purchase high-quality outdoor paints. Oil-based paints will last longer than latex or water-based products. Choose a range of neutral colours that match all the colours you find in your stone samples. Your colour palette might include various greys, dark browns, slate blues, charcoals, off-whites, tans, terra cotta reds, and veridis greens. Purchase a quart or two of each colour. Purchase as much as a gallon or two of the colour you intend to use for the "grout" between the stones: grey, charcoal, or off-white are typical grout colours. Have these paints drawn or mixed with an "eggshell" or "satin" finish.

  3. 3

    Clean your patio with a hose and shop broom or a power sprayer and let it dry.

  4. 4

    Fill cracks with synthetic concrete. This product comes pre-mixed in tubs much like wood putty. If your patio is now divided by even grid squares, fill these with this patching material. You want to "erase" the grid pattern: no natural stone has perfect squared edges like this. But if your patio has short or long, jagged cracks, leave them as is. You can use these real cracks in your design!

  5. 5

    Base coat the entire patio with your grout line colour and let dry 24 hours.

  6. 6

    Attach an artist's ¾-inch-wide, rounded tip liner brush to a 48 inch long bamboo pole 1/2 inch in diameter. Tape the brush handle firmly to the pole with duct tape. The brush pole should have some flexibility or "play" in it.

  7. 7

    Practice painting stone shapes from a standing position using the painter's pole. Use a dark charcoal-coloured paint. Your drawing should be rather free. Draw rapidly and in a sketchy manner. If there is "wiggle" in your brush handling, that is a good thing: you'll achieve a natural looking edge to your fake stones.

  8. 8

    Draw out a wide variety of stones on top of the base colour. Change alignment of the stones and shapes frequently. Start at the centre of the patio and work out. "Fit" the stones to each other as a real mason would. Leave approximately ¾ inch of grout line space between each stone.

  9. 9

    Fill in each stone, by hand, using a paint brush. No stone is all one solid colour, so use two or three neutral colours in browns and greys. Dip your brush into each paint container without cleaning or wiping your brush. Blend the two or three colours "wet on wet." Let them flow together in some places, or stand out alone in others. You can paint over the dark charcoal outlines somewhat, but leave at least ¼ to 1/8 inch of the dark charcoal exposed so it forms a 3-D outer shadow line.

  10. 10

    Go back and add colour and interior shadows to your stones. Dip a piece of torn natural sea sponge into a contrasting coloured paint, such as blue, green or terra cotta. Dab a little colour onto the stones in a shallow or skinny "S" shaped pattern just to the right of the centre of the stone. Colour each stone in this way, but don't make them look too similar. If you put too much paint on, dab over it with your neutral base tones.

  11. 11

    Add highlights to your stones. Dip your sea sponge into an off-white coloured paint and dab paint on the left handed edge of your skinny "S" shape. Use a dry cloth to soak up and remove some of the paint if the effect is too strong.

  12. 12

    Mix some of the dark charcoal paint with some paint gloss medium. Thin the glaze further with water, latex thinner, or oil based thinner. The liquid should pour out of a glass like water, not a milk shake. Pour the liquid into a hand-held spray bottle or a manual pump lawn sprayer (if in large quantity). Practice spraying a fine mist of tiny dots that don't puddle or streak.

  13. 13

    Spray the stones individually with this glaze. Avoid over-spray onto the "grout" lines: mask these lines with ropes, garden hose, or ropes made of wet, twisted newspaper.

  14. 14

    Use a very small liner brush to add fine hairline cracks on the stones. Use the darkest of your neutral tones for these cracks. Don't go overboard with too many cracks.

Tips and warnings

  • Add "triomphe d'oil" (super-realistic faux painting) touches of humour to your masterpiece if desired: paint in a bit of moss here and there, or a tiny ladybug peeking out from a crack, or a twig nestled in between two stones.

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