Rock Painting: Everything You Need to know [FAQ’s]

Are you a new rock painter? If so, I have gathered the top rock painting questions from my Facebook group and answered them for all new rock painters. Rock painting is a fun and easy craft activity for all ages.

On this page, you will also learn easy rock painting steps, what supplies are best for painting rocks, the tips for sealing painted rocks.

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  1. Clean the rocks with soapy water to remove dirt and debris before painting. Let it dry in the sun before painting.
  2. Paint and Decorate! Acrylic paint or paint pens are the most popular choice for painting rocks.
  3. Seal your painted rocks with a clear spray sealer or brush on varnish.
kids painting rocks

Where can I find flat River rocks for painting?

Anyone can find rocks to paint, look in your own backyard. But for most rock painters, finding smooth flat-top rocks are most desirable for painting mini masterpieces.

Public areas such as city parks and hiking trails are a great place to find rocks. It’s against the law to remove rocks or even leave painted rocks in State and National parks.

places to find rive rocks

Here are a few places to buy river rocks for painting:

  • Home Improvement Stores i.e. Lowes or Home Depot will sell landscaping rocks in bags. When looking for rocks to paint at these places, look for Gray Mexican Beach Pebbles or White Caribbean Beach Pebbles. I have used both and will have a variety of sizes.
  • Local Garden or Rock Yards businesses. These are great places to find your ideal rocks for painting. It’s best to bring your own bucket, most of these businesses have rocks in bins so you can choose your rocks and amount you want.
  • Last but not least Amazon. Yes, Amazon will literally sell you rocks too. I have actually purchased rocks from this company and the rocks I received were round, smooth with flat tops, perfect for painting. Below is the link to purchase these rocks and my YouTube unboxing video to see what I actually got. I thought it was a great time-saving option.

How can I make a rock smoother for painting?

You can use any wood filler to make rocks smoother for painting.  After the filler is dry, sand the rocks with a light grit sandpaper, then apply a base coat of acrylic paint. 

What’s the best paint for rocks?

Acrylics are the most common paint to use on rocks. It’s water-based and fast drying and is sold almost everywhere. Some the of best paint for rocks are brands like: Apple Barrel, FolkArt, and DecoArt just to name a few.

These acrylic paints for rocks are popular for their wide selection of colors to choose from. Beginner rock painters may be intimidated by color mixing, so craft paint is an easy option for starting out.

Acrylic paint is not the only option to decorate rocks with. Watercolor paints, alcohol inks, crayons, chalk, and oil pastels are just some other ways to decorate rocks. The options are endless. To learn more about using alcohol inks on rocks, read this beginner tutorial, here.

Is applying a base coat really necessary?

No, but I find that using a white base coat on gray rocks, can make the colors more vivid and require fewer coats of paint.

When using alcohol inks on rocks, I will base coat my rocks white. It helps seal the rocks since it’s a porous material. Alcohol inks are meant to be used on non-porous surfaces, so sealing rocks with a base coat will provide a non-porous surface to paint.

What rock painting supplies do I need to get started?

Simply a paint brush and paint. Okay, I know you want more of an answer than that! Painting rocks has become so popular now that, more and more products are being made to meet this demand! Here are a few items that are great for rock painting and all products can be found in our Favorite Art Supplies page.

  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint
  • Paint Pens or Paint Markers
  • Dotting Tools
  • Sealer

How long to should I wait before sealing my painted rocks?

I recommend waiting 24 hours before sealing your painted rocks and 48 hours for paint-pouring rocks. I have sealed my rocks sooner than 24 hours but it really depends, the type of paint and number of paint layers.

24 hours has always been a safe number for me. Sealing your painted rocks too early can cause the paint to bleed. Who wants a beautiful painted rock ruined by sealing too early!

Do I need to seal my rocks?

I highly recommend that you do seal your painted rocks. Sealing will protect your painted rocks from the outdoor elements, creates a moisture barrier, and protects from scratches and nicks.

Rock Sealer: Spray or brush on?

It really depends on your preference. I prefer to use a clear glossy spray sealer. It’s cheap and easy to seal a lot of painted rocks at once. Make sure it’s an outdoor weather resistant and offers UV protection to guard against yellowing.

Safety Tip: Spray your painted rocks outside or in a well-ventilated area. The sealer spray emits strong odors. Spray at least 12 inches away in a sweeping motion to give it an even coat. Begin with a quick light coat and gradually adding another coat or 2.

Then depending on the humidity, wait at least 24 hours before touching the rocks. I live in a humid region so I need to wait a full 24 hours before touching my little creations.

Brush on sealers are fine for rocks that will not be placed outside and in the sun. Mod Podge makes a sealer for acrylic paint, but I don’t recommend it for painted rocks that will go outside.

How do I trace an image on a rock if I’m not a great artist?

Transfer graphite paper is an excellent option for tracing images or words on rocks.  See my Hand-Lettering Tutorial using transfer tracing paper.


I love Mandala Dot art, but is it beginner-friendly?

Yes, anyone can do mandala dot art. I suggest starting with a simple mandala dot pattern. You can use dotting tools to create a variety of dot sizes for your design. Here’s our guide on how to dot paint rocks for beginners.

how to dot paint on rocks

How to choose colors for my Mandala dot art?

I like to get inspiration from Pinterest! I have a color palette board to keep my favorite color combos. Lydia May, Mandala artist said. “I like to think around 4 colors is a safe, happy, medium.”

What’s the best paint consistency for dot painting?

Acrylic paint that has a thick consistency like yogurt. Your artwork may run if the paint is too thin.

Uh-Oh! How do I remove paint from my clothes?

I love this hack! Try using 91% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol to remove dried acrylic paint from clothing. Soak the stained area for 15 minutes and then scrape with a butter knife or old toothbrush. Repeat process until the stain is removed.

how to remove paint from clothes

How do I remove dried paint from my paint brush?

Place 2 tablespoons of hand sanitizer gel in a cup and swirl your old paint brush around to loosen and melt the old paint off your paint brushes. This will make it easier to separate the bristles to remove paint, rinse it well.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Check back soon, more tips being added.