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Priming and sealing rocks for rock painting

So the burning question is why do we need to get rocks ready to paint? I’ve got my paint pens so can’t I just get stuck into it? No sorry, I’m as impatient as the next person and I often just paint without a base coat or primer, but later on grow to regret it as the wear and tear on paint pens can quickly take a toll.

The basic order of art for painting rocks is:

1- Clean 

2- Prime 

3- Paint 

4- Seal 

5- Hide, keep or gift!

If you are just starting out and have no idea where do people get their rocks for rock painting, we have good news: our round craft rocks are perfect for rock painting. The box includes 5 round, natural and smooth paintable rocks. Each rock is carefully hand-picked and fits perfectly in your hands so you can paint tiny details with ease and the natural stone ensures your rock will withstand all weather and will last forever.

They work perfectly with our acrylic paint pens, and we recommend our All about rock painting discounted bundle to get started. Save almost $20 while getting 5 round rocks and 2 packs of acrylic paint pens of your choice.

Priming your rocks

Priming basically means to “get ready”. Why and how do you prepare rocks for rock painting?

We emphasise the importance of preparing your rocks before painting and decorating them to allow for the highest level of care and final art products.

Whilst using a base coat is down to personal choice it is beneficial if you are using dark rocks as you will not need to use as many coats of paint in the art to achieve bright and bold colours. Priming is also recommended if you choose to use rougher, less smooth rock surfaces as it will assist to create a better surface to paint upon.

Colours and images tend to “pop” and stand out more if they have a light coloured complimenting background.

Priming evens out the surface of the rock, which helps with the application of the paint and keeping your paint pens nibs healthier for a long time. If your nibs do get damaged, you can buy replacement paint pen tips here.

Some rock painting enthusiasts use Gesso or PVA glue, but these materials are only for indoor purposes; it tends to reactivate with water and paint therefore bubbles up in the elements.

My biggest tip for using primer is not to paint it too thick, too many layers will eventuate in peeling.

Reputable and durable priming brush on paints include:

Dulux all surface primes all surfaces, 

White knightgrip-lock, 

British paints 4 in 1. 

Priming sprays of the same calibre are: 

British paints spray and prime, 

Rust Oleum 2xultra cover paint and prime, 

Dulux duramax terracotta primer and sealer. 

It is beneficial to choose a “matt” or “satin” water based primer to allow for maximum adherence. Always allow sufficient drying time before painting with your life of colour markers and try to do large batches at once to minimise overall waiting times.


Sealing your rocks

Most people ask how to seal painted rocks so they stay beautiful. If you are wondering whether or not your rocks need to be fixed or sealed, the answer is that it really will assist to extend the “shelf life” of your rock especially if you intend on hiding them in the elements to travel around the countryside as many do. I certainly know that in the past few years my painted rocks have traveled much further than I have! 

Life of Colour acrylic paint pens will dry permanently to the rocks surface and don't require sealing for the purposes of keeping inside, at home - but you may want a nice glossy finish regardless!

To place your painted rocks outdoors, we recommend using a spray or brush on gloss varnish. This is a necessary step no matter what you paint your rocks with: posca pens, sharpiea, textas, acrylic paint, etc.

Regular art spray and hairspray are not recommended for sealing your rock paintings, nor is marine spray sealer as we have found both products having problems including to take extended periods of drying time and insufficient coverage. 

There’s a huge compatible range of clear acrylic spray paints available on the market at most hardware stores, here’s just a few of my tried and tested favourite products.

Rust-Oleum clear acrylic Ultra Cover 2X provides twice the coverage in a single pass while delivering a smooth, durable finish. This allows you to complete your project in half the time and at half the cost. This same brand also sells a UV resistant clear spray which assists locking in colours in the harsh sun.

White knight clear acrylic spray paint, provides a nice coverage, quick drying time and comes in both gloss or satin finish.

Dulux duramax clear spray, easy to use , non yellowing with fast drying time, suitable for outdoors and protects most of your art projects.

For use with all sprays please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best and safest results.

Rocks by Kerrie Nadine Finlay, finished with transparent gloss seal.

Rocks by Kerrie Nadine Finlay, finished with transparent gloss seal.

Brush on sealants are also available, however they can be tricky to use because the strokes of the brush can reactivate the paint and cause runny colours. You should search for a clear, non-yellowing finish that is waterproof and weatherproof (as you’d look for in a spray sealer).

We have seen many beautiful rocks sealed with Mod Podge, this popular craft supply includes vinyl acetate, making it somewhat water resistant, but not waterproof.

Shiny rock by Kala Chand

Another option is epoxi resin, for which you'll need special materials and equipment. If you already use epoxi resin for other art forms, go ahead and try it! For beginners, we 100% recommend spray sealants.

Resin makes the rocks look extremely shiny, with a glass-like effect. Sealing your painted rocks with resin protects the paint from the elements and stops the colours from wearing off.

You can buy clear casting resin at Bunnings, Office Warehouse, Spotlight, ebay and lots of other places. This same material can be used for making jewellery and displays involving insects, coins and flowers. It dries crystal clear after 24hs.

Kathy Dore from New Zealand recommended on our group: "I love resin as I want my rocks to be super shiny. I didn't like the sprays as it wasn't glossy enough"

Rocks by Amy @just_another_amy_plans


Get the perfect beginner rock painting kit for 20$ OFF and free shipping in Australia.

Happy rock painting from the team at Life of Colour.

3 Responses

Bonnie Garrett

Bonnie Garrett

February 04, 2023

Thank you so much for your wonderful article. I’ve never done any rock painting before but have been invited to do so by friends and never had the opportunity to do so. But now that I’ve read the story behind rock painting I am very excited to enjoy this craft this spring with my I can hardly wait to bring them on the walk after we have painted our rocks to hide them knowing that someday they’ll each bring joy to someone’s heart. What a wonderful lesson to teach the grandchildren, thank you so very much. Bonnie Garrett

Kirra Hampson

Kirra Hampson

December 06, 2022

Great tips and article . Thank you

Tris Smith

Tris Smith

August 19, 2022

Are these paint pens available in shops please..


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