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Painting Rocks—Houses & Cottages

Updated on February 10, 2017
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My interests are varied and include mixed media art, education, blogging, tarot, journaling, Zentangle®, cooking, and more!


Paint Rock Houses - How to Paint Stones

Painting stones is one of my favorite things to do. I was inspired to start last summer by a wonderful Squidoo lens master, HysongDesigns. I'd never tried painting rocks before and my first attempt at a bumblebee was horrible. However, it was fun to do, so I persevered with the help of a book or two.

I spent last summer painting cats on stones (when I wasn't out rock collecting) on the patio with the radio on quietly, the bees humming in the honeysuckle, and sometimes the sun shone :)

I've now painted tons of rocks, well maybe not tons, but a lot. This page is dedicated to showing how I transformed rocks into houses.

Beach rocks
Beach rocks

Where to Find Rocks for Painting

Rocks can be found at rivers, beaches, quarries—you may have to buy them—and garden centers, where you will also have to pay. You may have a supply in your own yard.

If you are in the UK, be careful about collecting rocks on the beach as it is illegal. I have to say that the occasional one just seems to roll into my beach tote.

Look for stones about the size of a man's fish (edit 'fist'... of course I meant fist!). Angular, squarish ones are good for houses. Make sure they will sit flat without undue wobbling on one side - this will be the base of your cottage. It is possible to use wood filler to even out any tendency to wobble.

All stones will need a thorough washing, river rocks, in particular, can be covered in algae so give them a good scrub in a bucket of warm water and dish soap/washing-up liquid.

Swiss Cottage Painted Rock

Stone Painting - Swiss Cottage
Stone Painting - Swiss Cottage

This triangular rock makes a cute Swiss cottage—you can just imagine it nestling in an alpine village.

Stone Painting Materials Acrylic Paint
Stone Painting Materials Acrylic Paint | Source

Materials Required for Painting Stones

Supplies for painting rocks are minimal.

You'll need:

  • Rocks
  • Acrylic paint - any kind will do. The cheaper hobby paints are just as good as the more expensive kinds for rock painting, and they are usually the right consistency being slightly more liquid than regular acrylics.
  • Brushes - plenty of brushes and plenty of old scruffy ones too! Do not use your precious sable brushes on rocks! Purchase some synthetic brushes specifically for acrylics. As you practise, you will know what brushes you need.
  • An old plate - to rest the stone on. You can turn the plate as you are painting, thus avoiding touching the rock itself.
  • Water
  • Wood filler - optional. Useful for adding chimneys and architectural details.
  • Paper towels
  • Spray varnish - to protect your finished stone. With several layers of protective varnish, your stones can live happily in the yard.

Painted Stone Cottage

Painting Stone Cottage. €”An early attempt at painting a rock cottage.
Painting Stone Cottage. €”An early attempt at painting a rock cottage.
Rock Cottage
Rock Cottage

Rock House Instructions

  1. Look at real houses and pictures of houses on the internet. Decide what sort of house you'd like to paint. Tip: start with something simple.
  2. Chose your rock. Look at it carefully; which way up? Which side is the front? Does it need a chimney?
  3. If making a chimney, squeeze out a little wood filler and mold it into a chimney shape on the actual rock. It will stay soft for a while so play with it until you get the right shape. A cylindrical shape is the easiest. Leave the rock for an hour or so until the wood filler has set hard.
  4. Use a pencil to mark out the roof line, windows, doors, and any other features.
  5. Paint the basic house color, avoiding the doors, windows, and roof. It will dry fairly quickly.
  6. Paint in the window frames. Leave the 'glass' unpainted for now. Paint the door/s. When dry, add shadow to window frames and glazing bars. You can add dark lines to the door to simulate planks.
  7. Paint the roof. Use a mid gray. When dry, add lines for tiles, shingles or slates. Don't forget the chimney. Paint the center top of the chimney black.
  8. Decide whether to paint the window glass. Sometimes, I like to leave them the original color of the rock. You can paint the glass yellow, as though there was light inside, or dark with some white diagonal lines as reflections.
  9. Add window boxes and flower pots if desired.
  10. Sign and date the bottom. It's nice to add the place where the rock came from if there's room.
  11. When dry, spray a coat of varnish - I used a polyurethane one, but a water-based one will also be fine. Do it outside where the varnish can't damage plants. I like to give my rocks at least three coats, including underneath.

Painted rocks can live outside, but keep them somewhere fairly protected during harsh weather.

The photo shows my very first cottage. Copied straight out of Lin Wellford's book.

Fisherman cottages

Fishermans' cottages
Fishermans' cottages

Found this unusual shaped rock in a river and thought it would be perfect for row houses. This kind of cottage is common in coastal towns and villages in the South West of England. This painted rock now lives with my Dad in a village called Newton Poppleford, not far from the seaside town of Sidmouth in Devon.

Painting Houses, Cottages and Towns on Rocks - Lin Wellford

I needed a book on the subject. Of course I did. Scoured the internet and it turns out that Lin Wellford is the rock painting diva. At least she is the one with the definitive book.

Painting Houses, Cottages and Towns on Rocks
Painting Houses, Cottages and Towns on Rocks

Lyn shows step-by-step how to paint darling rock houses. Everything you need to know is here and there are plenty of projects to whet your appetite for painting on stones.


Painted Rock Church

Painted stone church
Painted stone church

Lots of Painted Rock Houses

Painted Rock Village
Painted Rock Village

... and some tiles painted by my husband. Oh, and there's a snake in there too!

© 2012 myraggededge

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    • profile image

      Teeli 4 months ago

      Kia Ora from New Zealand!Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your talent and your skills.I am a beginner and I now feel I can tackle stone houses! yay!

    • profile image 6 months ago

      Absolutely love your fantastic creations!!!

      Pleasure looking upon

    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 3 years ago from Montreal

      I can't wait for the snow to melt so I can go rock hunting.

    • Rock Artist profile image

      Rock Artist 3 years ago

      Beautiful painted rocks!!!

    • profile image

      ScentsWithBling 4 years ago

      Great lens! You do amazing work! Thanks for sharing!

    • ionee251 profile image

      ionee251 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this very wonderful idea! I love it!

    • Rachel214 profile image

      Rachel214 5 years ago from Haifa


    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I looked in B&Q too, and you are right, they don't have anything suitable. I got mine from Homebase - hang on, I'll go and see...okay, it's a blue and gold can with Polyurethane Finish in bold white letters. The brand is 'Rust-oleum'. It says, "a hardwearing clear protective finish for wood, metal and painted surfaces." It's clear gloss. You might be able to find a satin finish, if that's preferable. It was about £8.

      So sorry to hear the reason why you need it. Best wishes.

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Not really. After all we quarry rocks to build with and they are often painted or given some kind of coating. A few small painted rocks aren't going to hurt. If you mean taking rocks from rivers and beaches, well, they are constantly renewing and one person isn't going to take that many pebbles. If concerned, you can buy artificially weathered stones from garden centers and stone merchants.

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Tim, I live in the UK so don't know what is available to you, or what your climate is like. I use polyurethane spray varnish and my outdoor rocks seem to do okay despite all the rain we've had, though I notice a slight peeling on a couple of my rock cats. I would suggest three or four coats of spray varnish, then respray with one coat every summer.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hello there. I need to protect a polished stone with writing on so that it can be outside in the sun, wind and rain for several seasons. Can you recommend a particular varnish or spray sealant?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Is that bad for the environment? very cute , however :)

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I love these little houses painted on rocks! They would look so cute in a garden surrounded by fairies and gnomes. :)

    • profile image

      momilp 5 years ago

      Great lens! Rocks painting makes for a great hobby!

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      These are quite charming. Looks like you are a very talented couple!

    • profile image

      klaird 5 years ago

      Super Cute! I featured your lens on my "50 Crafts for Adults" page. Great Job. Love your rocks!

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 5 years ago

      This is fun! Sundae ;-)