How to Making Garden Stepping Stones - DIY
Jan 31,2023 | yoflos.com
Garden stepping stones are a relatively simple DIY craft that can transform the look and feel of your home by adding a charming, natural-looking path in your front or backyard.
You'll use concrete to create garden stones, but you can customize each stepping stone with decorations, concrete-safe colorants, and even children's handprints
For best results, use high-quality concrete and give your stepping stones time to dry and cure. A month later, apply a concrete sealer.
How to Make Stepping Stones
In general, stepping stones are usually made of concrete. Often, DIY stepping stone crafters will add other elements to their concrete mixture or to a just-laid slab of concrete to enhance the visual appeal of the stepping stone. Such add-ons might include assorted garden stones and other decorative, outdoor-friendly craft supplies like sea glass and marbles.
Here's a step-by-step guide to creating your very own DIY garden stepping stones:
1. Gather supplies
First and foremost, you'll need to purchase all the DIY stepping stone supplies you'll need to complete this project. The following items--which are all available at your local home improvement store--should be on your shopping list:
- Concrete mix
- Safety/dust mask, plastic gloves, work gloves
- Vinyl chair strapping or another concrete mold
- Large mixing bin or similar vessel
- Trowel, hoe
- Colorants, if desired
- Blue painter's tape
- Coarse, inch-thick paintbrushes
- Plastic cups or bowls, plastic bags
- Concrete sealant
You may also want to add chicken wire and a drop cloth to your cart.
2. Create your template
Look around your garden, walkway, or yard and determine where you'd like to build a stepping stone path, how you'd like those stones to look, what shape you'd like them to be, and how many stones you'll need to bring your vision to life.
Using your painter's tape, create templates for each stone. Many people creating DIY garden stepping stones prefer a more natural look and feel for their stepping stones. That means they create imperfect templates for their stepping stones that pay homage to the unpredictable, one-of-a-kind nature of rocks, stones, and natural slabs. Of course, other crafters crave sleeker, more geometrical garden stepping stones. If you're going for a more modern, precise look, use stencils or a pie tin to create flawless shapes or circles.
3. Make your mold
Now that you know what you want each garden stepping stone to look like, it's time to prepare molds for your cement stones. Using a long, thin piece of vinyl--like vertical blinds, replacement straps for outdoor lounge chairs, or something similar--you can rapidly create molds for your stepping stones that match the templates you created in the previous step.
4. Prepare the wet concrete
Next, you'll want to correctly prepare the concrete according to the manufacturer's instructions. Keep in mind that you'll want to create a small sample patch of concrete so you can test out dyes. Since no two stones are quite the same color, you may want to create variations in each batch of concrete.
There's no set formula for the perfect, natural stone color. What looks natural in one region may look a bit strange in another. Decide on a range of colors that work for your yard and the area where you live.
Another tip? Concrete always appears darker when it is wet. What you see when you first mix concrete is not the same as what you'll see once the concrete dries. For this reason, you may want to do a few test stones and let the concrete dry before moving on to the remainder of your stones. That way, you'll have time to adjust the dye before you complete your DIY garden stepping stones.
5. Pour the concrete stepping stones
Finally, it's time to start bringing those concrete stepping stones to life. Quickly after preparing your concrete mix, pour the mixture directly into the mold. You can use pebbles, garden stakes, and other weights to help hold the vinyl strap around your still-setting stepping stone.
You may want to do this in two parts--with a 1.5" base layer and then, later on, a top layer you can texturize and color to your liking. You can use a trowel to level the concrete by gently sweeping it back and forth.
Remember that as you finish manipulating the concrete, you'll want to create a texture that matches your desired aesthetic. The same goes for the sides and edges of the stepping stone. Use your hands to push and pull around the mold to ensure you get that natural shape... or that perfect, geometric one.
Next, remove the vinyl straps from around your setting stepping stones. You'll have to use your crafty, DIY intuition a bit to know when each stepping stone is ready to dry on its own.
6. Add more color or decorative elements
Now that your stones are beginning to set, you can add more color to them by mixing colorant and water in a plastic cup or bowl. Once you get a "glaze" you like, you can brush it onto your DIY stepping stones until the accent coloring looks just right. You'll need to blend, dry brush, and play around a bit with color to create a natural variation to your stepping stones.
If you want to add anything else to your stepping stones, do so now while they're still damp. You can add anything from small stones to flat stones to sea glass. There are all sorts of ideas about how to decorate DIY stepping stones, so search Pinterest for inspiration. You can even invite your kids or grandkids to join in on the fun by letting them push marbles and other supplies right into the stepping stones.
Another great idea for children? Invite them to make a mold of their hand print right on the stepping stones. You can even use a stick to add kids' names, birthdates, or anything else that's near and dear to your heart. Suddenly, you've transformed a nice little garden path into a truly sentimental space in your yard.
7. Allow the concrete to cure
Finally, it's time to step back, pour yourself a glass of lemonade, and wait for the concrete to dry. While your concrete might be dry within a day, it truly takes almost a month for concrete to cure--to reach its full, ultra-durable strength.
At the very least, do not allow anybody to walk on your concrete stepping stones for at least a few days. Of course, carefully review the instructions on the bag of your concrete mix for more details about letting your concrete stepping stones cure.
8. Seal the concrete, if desired
While you don't have to seal your new garden stepping stones, you certainly can. Keep in mind that concrete is porous, so if you choose not to seal the stones, they certainly can stain. Sealing your concrete can help protect it from fading, too.
Select a high-quality concrete or stone sealer, and follow all manufacturer's directions. Remember to do a test patch first to ensure the sealant does not change the color of the stepping stone color in a way you do not like.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thinking about creating some garden stepping stones? Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about making stepping stones.
What kind of concrete should I use?
There is no perfect brand of concrete mix to use for this project. You'll want to select a mix that's good quality, dries to your liking, and works well in your climate. If you aren't sure where to begin, chat with an employee at your home improvement store. Whatever sells best for DIY projects is a great place to begin.
How long will it take to make DIY stepping stones?
You can make your cement path in an afternoon--but it will take longer to dry, cure, and seal. Remember not to walk on your concrete stepping stones for at least a few days. A week is even better.
Is making DIY stepping stones a good project for kids?
Kids love helping decorate stepping stones. Let them push their handprints onto the surface of the stone or place marbles, rocks, and other weatherproof items into the still-wet concrete. Do keep in mind that the act of mixing and pouring concretes is best left to adults.