In this article, we outline all the different types of rock painting supplies that are available, as well as the best rock painting kits and where to buy rocks to paint.
We also provide helpful advice for prepping and sealing your painted rocks, once you’ve decided where to buy stones for painting.
But first – what is the difference between a pebble, a stone, and a rock? You probably know what a pebble is – you find them at the beach or in river beds. Pebbles are small, typically between 2-64mm in diameter, and have been rounded by the action of wind or water. Pebbles are derived from rocks. Rocks are much, much bigger than pebbles – they are naturally occurring and contain more than one mineral. Rocks formed under pressure (who remembers igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks from school?). To provide some perspective – boulders are fragments of rocks! Stones, on the other hand, are what you can hold. They can be angular or smooth, and you’ll often see stone as gravel! For the purposes of this article – we refer to “rock painting” as this is the terminology widely used by the craft community.
Do you find yourself dreaming of the seaside? If you love sea glass as much as we do – check out our round-up of the best sea glass projects, there’s something magical about glass that’s been smoothed, and rounded by the waves. If you’re looking for more kid’s crafts, you might also enjoy Craft Ideas for Kids to make at home or our Papercrafts for kids round-up. We’ve also got lots of inspiration for specific ages too, with our favourite collections of craft ideas for toddlers and craft ideas for teenagers.
Preparing your rocks
You’ll want to clean your rocks before you get started – and nothing beats soap and water. If you have a lot of rocks to clean, then using a high-pressure hose outside will do the trick. Leave to dry before moving onto priming.
Priming your rocks
White acrylic paint is an excellent choice – it’s readily available and dries quickly. Apply acrylic paint with a large, flat paintbrush. If you’re painting a lot of rocks, then using a white primer in spray form will cover a lot of surface area quickly. Remember, if you’re spraying primer – do so in a well-ventilated place away from animals and children. A face mask is also recommended.
Sealing your rocks
Once you’ve painted your rock – see the best rock painting ideas for inspiration – you’ll want to protect your rock from the elements (and the effects of time) by using a sealant. There are lots of different types, indoors and outdoors, matt and gloss. If you’re unsure whether your painted rock will be used indoors or outdoors – go for outdoors, as outdoor sealants offer a greater degree of protection. Try to find a sealant that is UV resistant to keep your colours looking fresh and vibrant for as long as possible. Spray sealant is a great option, or you can also get brush-on sealant if you prefer.
What kind of paint should you use on rocks?
It’s amazing what you can create by painting rocks. Differents paints will yield different results, but with a bit of practice, you can create gorgeous mandala designs, gradient sunsets, and garden bugs!
Best paint for rocks
1. Acrylic paints
Buy now: £33.99 Amazon
Acrylic paints are probably the most widely used method to paint rocks. You can pick it up cheaply and it comes in every shade imaginable – you can also get metallic acrylic paint to add a touch of shine to your rocks! We’ve rounded up the best acrylic paints, and put together a beginner’s guide to acrylic paint if you’re learning this medium for the first time (or need a refresher). For rock painting, this author likes these Abeier acrylic paints as you get a lot for your money – and you can squeeze every last drop out of the pouches. Oh, and they’re highly pigmented, professional quality, too.
2. Posca paint markers
£26.99 £21.49, Amazon
If you’re a casual, or beginner rock painter, the Posca paint markers are for you. They’re great for creating Mandalas, you don’t need to buy brushes and palettes to uses them – and you can just pop the lid on when you’re finished. No mess, no fuss. They dry fast and there is minimal clean up time, which is great if you have kids!
3. Arteza paint pens
Buy now: £31.99, Amazon
Arteza paint pens are similar to Posca and come in a rainbow of different colours. They use water-based acrylic paint, so you get a lovely, smooth flow of paint from the nib. But what is really great about these paint pens – you can replace the nibs! So, if you scuff up the nib you don’t need to waste the remaining paint inside the pens – and they even provide the tweezers in the pack to do it. Big thumbs up for Arteza!
4. Gel pens
Buy now: £24.43, Amazon
Gel pens come in a range of beautiful colours, but the pastel shades work really well when painting rocks. Of why not use gel pens in combination with acrylic paint to add words or fine details to your rocks? We really like these Sakura Gelly Roll pens – they are exceptionally high quality and you can use them in plenty of other arts and crafts, too.
5. Metallic markers
Buy now: £2.69, Amazon
Metallic markers are worth having in your stash – especially if you’re painting rocks for Christmas! Again, they are easy to use and easy to clear away. Use metallic markers to create your whole design, or for picking out details. If you’re just testing the waters – opt for a small pack of metallic markers, like these ones from Staedtler to keep the costs down.
6. Puffy paint
Buy now: £11.49, Amazon
If you’ve ever used Puffy Paint, you’ll know how much fun it is to use! Puffy Paint comes in a huge variety of different colours, including glow in the dark (because who doesn’t love spooky glow in the dark rocks for Halloween?), and each bottle is formed with a thin applicator nozzle at the top. Just be sure to leave your painted rocks somewhere safe while it hardens, as drying time can take up to a few days, depending on how thick you make your designs.
7. Nail varnish
Buy now: £14.98, Amazon
If you’re only painting small pebbles, nail varnish is a great option to use. You can create stunning marbled effects using nail varnish or paint abstract designs using the in-built brush. It’s hard-wearing and long-lasting, but not recommended for larger designs (unless you want to get through a lot of nail varnish). If you’re looking to buy nail varnish especially for rock painting – you can pick up big sets, like this 24 piece set from Amazon, relatively inexpensively.
8. Pencil crayons
£16.99 £9.87, Amazon
Yes – you can even use coloured pencils! Highly pigmented pencil crayons are best, like these ones from Crayola. Be sure to use over a white base to get maximum brightness from the colours. Have a look at our round-up of the best pencil crayons to buy! For rock painting, this author loves Crayola – they are hyperpigmented with fairly soft nibs, making drawing on slightly rougher surfaces easier.
Where to buy rocks for painting
What to look for when buying rocks
If you are painting mandala designs, then look for round, symmetrical, flat rocks as these are the most desirable shape and make painting mandala designs easier, especially if you’re using a circular guide to find the centre of the rock.
However, for other designs – sometimes an idea will come to you based on the shape of the rock!
Look for rocks with a smooth face as this will make painting on the rock easier. Painting or drawing on smooth, flat rocks will also help to protect the nibs of your pens if you’re using Posca pens or other acrylic markers.
Rocks and pebbles which have been eroded by water or wind are ideal for painting as they will be smooth with nice, rounded edges.
Coastal protection act 1949
Unfortunately not. Although pebbles from the beach would be ideal for rock painting, the Coastal Protection Act 1949 prohibits the removal of natural beach material, which includes pebbles (and sand). Although seemingly harmless, removal of beach material could have an impact on coastal erosion, natural flood defences and wildlife habitats.
Where to buy rocks and stones for painting
Thankfully, there are lots of places where you can buy rocks to paint. Garden centres are fantastic resources that often have huge bundles of rocks for sale for use in ponds or around the garden, which is ideal if you’re looking to sell your artwork as a side hustle as you get a lot for your money. Similarly, local landscaping companies often offer a wide range of different rocks for sale in large quantities.
Craft shops will often have smaller bags of rocks for sale (which is a good thing if you’re carrying them home!), and the benefit of these is that they will have been chosen especially with the crafter in mind.
Be sure to check out the home decor or bathroom sections of pound shops or dollar stores – you can often pick up bags of smaller pebbles, which are fantastic for creating mini works of art – or even for testing out rock painting techniques!
If you prefer to do your shopping online – take a look at our selection of where to buy rocks to paint.
Buy now: £14.99
Amazon has a good selection of rocks of various sizes, and are a great place to go if you’re just wanting a few. Some of the options vary by weight, so read the description carefully to find out how many you’re getting. But Amazon get thumbs up for ease of purchase – just add to your basket when doing your next Amazon shop!
Buy now: £4.00
Hobbycraft is a popular option for where to buy rocks to paint – as they are very affordable, but you don’t always know what you’re getting. However, with the low price point – you can always buy a couple of bags and you should be covered for whatever design you want to paint. Hobbycraft rocks are great for painting animals or other designs, but if you want perfectly round rocks – Etsy is your best bet.
Buy now: £3.95
Baker Ross is a craft store that stocks rocks to buy for painting. They are smaller – more pebble size – but for little hands, they are a great price and you can get creative with your designs.
Buy now: £14.13
Etsy is the best place to go if you want specially chosen, perfectly round and smooth rocks for painting. The sellers are individuals who put a lot of work into selecting the exact perfect rocks for painting, and although you may pay a little more – you can be confident of what you’re getting.
Buy now: £9.00
Wickes, and other home improvement stores, don’t specifically sell rocks for painting, but they do sell river rocks for ponds, rock gardens or other garden features. You’ll get a lot (a lot!) for your money – and river rocks make the ideal choice for rock painting.
Rock painting kits
Sometimes it’s easier to have someone else do all the hard work for you, so we’ve rounded up some of our favourite rock painting kits that you can buy and get started straight away.
Hide & Seek rock painting kit
Buy now: £19.99, Amazon
This is a fun rock painting kit that includes 10 rocks, waterproof art supplies (so you can hide your rocks outdoors for people to find!) as well as easy to use transfers – which are great if you are new to painting!
Smile rock art kit
£12.65 £11.65, Amazon
This is another simple painting kit from Amazon, it contains eight paints, four metallic paints and four rocks to paint. It also comes with three stands so that you can stand up your mini-masterpieces and admire your work once you’re done.
Koltose rock painting kit
Buy now: £13.72, Amazon
The Koltose rock painting kit is a great kit for your money. It contains 10 rocks, 12 paints, two brushes, glitter, googly eyes, transfer stickers and a sponge to transfer the stickers.
Cactus rock painting kit
Buy now: £9.99, Etsy
If you would like more of a project – then check this rock painting kit out. You can paint your own cactus! The kit comes with a set of 3 round river rocks, especially chosen by the seller so they will fit in the pot, a pot, two brushes, pea gravel, paint and step-by-step instructions. Nice!
Mandala rock painting kit
Buy now: £28.40, Etsy
If you want to try your hand at mandala rock painting, then you need slightly different tools (because you’re creating dots, not brushstrokes). This mandala rock painting kit on Etsy is great and contains 3 round river rocks, five double-ended dotting tools, Q-tips and paint colours of your choice.
Ultimate rock painting kit
Buy now: £9.99, The Range
The Range has some great deals on rock painting kits – this one contains eight rocks, 14 paints (including a glow-in-the-dark paint), three paintbrushes, two dowels (for dotting) and a 48-page book with instructions and rock painting ideas.
Glow in the dark rock painting kit
Buy now: £4.99, The Range
Join author and rock-painting artist Katie Cameron as she guides you step-by-step through the process of making eight different designs, providing tips, tricks and handy hints along the way that will help you paint like a pro. This kit contains four rocks, four acrylic paints, glow-in-the-dark paint, paintbrush, dowel (for dotting) and a 24-page book.
Buy now: £5.99, The Range
This kit contains everything that you need to create gorgeous galaxies, marvellous milky ways and stunning solar systems as well as cosmic dragon eggs, eerie forest scapes and cool galaxy-watercolour cactuses. This rock painting kit contains five river stones, seven tubes of paint, sponge brush, paintbrush, stencils and a 48-page book.
(Another) glow in the dark rock painting kit
Buy now: £21.99, Amazon
This glow-in-the-dark rock painting kit makes an excellent gift, and contains 10 variety of rocks, six colour paints, six metallic paints, three glow-in-the-dark paints (random colour), transfer stickers (black and colourful), googly eyes, sticky gems, two paintbrushes, sponge and instruction poster.
Premium rock painting kit
Buy now: £14.99, Amazon
This is another set that comes with both paint pens and acrylic paints: six coloured acrylic paints, four metallic paint pens, eight rocks and two paintbrushes let you create pretty patterns and delightful designs.