How To Mosaic Stepping Stones for a Garden
A wonderful easy lesson in making personalized stepping stones. Easy for even the beginner with a material list and lots of photos. This is the second of three tutorials on how to craft decorative stepping stones. The first tutorial detailed the steps of the "topper method", an easy quick way to make simple stones including "hand print" designs. This tutorial introduces you to the "glue n' grout method", a technique for crafting a more detailed stepping stone in four easy to follow steps. With this method you can create beautiful stones that can be used throughout your yard as eyecatching outdoor art.
Making Stepping Stones Using a Mold
Step 1.Choose your mold.
There are numerous commercial stepping stone molds available in various sizes and shapes. If you are wanting to make a garden stone for decorative purposes only than a small mold (8") will be fine. If you are going to use it as a "stepping stone" than choose a 12" or larger mold.
Step 2. Set Up Your Work-Space.
Cement is very dusty and dried cement can be very difficult to remove from clothing and floors so choose a place (outside or a ventilated workspace such as your garage) to do your pouring. Lay down newspaper or plastic tarps on a level work table (an old shower curtain works great) . Make sure to set up your mold with all of your tools and water close by in easy reach.
Step 3. Preparing Your Mold
To keep the cement mortar from sticking to your mold lightly spray or wipe on vegetable oil. Depending on the size of your mold will determine how much cement and water you will use. To help determine your needs read below the section entitled "How Much Dry Cement Mortar Do I Use?"
Step 4. Mixing your cement mortar.
First, put on your dusk mask, gloves and safety glasses. Measure out your dry mortar into a large bucket. Add half of your measured water, saving the rest for adding as needed. Using a trowel, thoroughly mix the dry mortar with the water until it is like thick peanut butter. If the mix is too dry add a small amount of water until it is of the desired consistency. If is too runny add dry mortar. Make sure the slurry is thoroughly mixed before pouring. See mixing hints for additional instructions.
Step 5.Make it Smooth.
Scoop the mortar into your mold using your trowel. Using the back of your trowel spread the wet mortar evenly across the base stone and as level and smooth as possible. The total time you spend on mixing, pouring and smoothing should be no more than 5 minutes. Gently tap the sides of the filled mold with the handle of your screwdriver for at least 30 seconds to help burp the cement slurry of any air bubbles. This will also help level out the wet cement. Let it sit undisturbed overnight. Once the stone has hardened invert the mold and gently press on the back of the mold to release the stone.
Step 6. Drying Tips
Elevate the stone on wood dowels or pencils to maximize air circulation for even drying. For the first 24 hours after making your stone let it sit undisturbed. This is when it is the weakest. The following day you can move it indoors where it will need to fully cure for a couple more weeks before it can go outside.
Glue 'n Grout Direct Method
Use this easy 4 part method to create a beautiful mosaic stepping stone.
This is a fun and a bit messy way to create gorgeous stepping stones. If you love playing with clay you will enjoy crafting stones with this method.
The first part will instruct you in how to make a base stepping stone that you will use to adhere your tesserae (the decorative items used to create the mosaic design). If you prefer, you can skip this step and instead purchase and use a commercial precast stepping stone, your choice of size, shape, and color.
The next three parts are easy to follow videos to teach you;
Part 2. How to adhere your tesserae (the decorative items used to create the mosaic design).
Part 3. How to apply grout the fun messy way.
Part 4. And our most loved step (I am joking) how to clean your stepping stone of all the excess grout.
Photo Gallery: How to Make Stepping Stone
How Much Water Do I Need?
The Rule of Thumb is for every cup of dry mortar you will need 2 ounces of water.
Glue 'n Grout Video Tutorial - Part 2 Gluing Your Tesserae
This tutorial gives the viewer easy to understand directions on how to adhere your tesserae (the decorative items used to create the mosaic design) to a pre-cast stepping stone.
Expert: Cooie Grey-Lavin
Bio: Cooie Grey-Lavin has been a mosaic artist for over twenty five years. She has a degree in horticulture. Currently, she teaches mosaic classes at her studio.
Filmmaker: Owen Roth
Glue 'n Grout Video - How to Grout Part 3
This is the "gooey" part of making mosaics....but fun!
Glue 'n Grout Video - Removing Extra Grout Part 4
Cleaning your mosaic is not an option! This is a great video showing the process.
For Making Your Own Stepping Stone Base You Will Need:
1 Stepping Stone Mold
Vegetable Oil to use as Mold Release, spray or liquid
Measuring cups (dry and liquid)
Screwdriver (this is to use for burping the cement)
Paper Towels for clean up
Wood Pencils or Dowels for Drying
For the Glue 'n Grouting You Will Need:
Thin Set Mortar
Plastic Mixing Bowl
Old Butter Knife
Sanded Grout (your choice of color)
Latex Gloves, Protective Mask, Protective Eyewear
Old Cloth (such as a t-shirt)
Just the Molds You Need on Amazon
How Much Dry Cement Mortar Do I Use?
A Suggested Guide to Estimating Cement Amounts
Following is a list of available commercial mold sizes available for stepping stones with a suggested amount of cement mortar needed to fill each. This may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. I have found some molds will state that they are say 12" in diameter but in reality they are only 11 1/2". If you want an exact size mold make sure you have a tape measure when you go to buy it!
Mold Size - Qty of Cement Mortar
8" Square - 7 cups
12" Square - 18 cups
16" Square - 25 cups
8" Round - 5 cups
12" Round - 12 cups
14" Round - 14 cups
18" Round - 25 cups
12" Hexagon - 10 cups
16" Hexagon - 24 cups
9" Heart - 7 cups
9" Butterfly - 8 cups
If you have a mold size that is not listed and you want to get an estimate for how much cement you will need do the following:
Fill your mold up with water to the level you would pour your stone. Measure the number of cups of water you used and multiply it by 1.25. This will give you an estimated amount of cement you will need. It is always better to make a little extra. If you don't have enough cement slurry to fill your mold you can always make up an additional batch and add it to your poured slurry. You have to make it immediately so as not to allow the first pour to set up.
For Your Information
A 10lb bag of Mortar has approximately 12 cups.
A 25lb bag of Mortar has approximately 30 cups.
A 60lb bag of Mortar has approximately 72 cups.
For Best Results Read This Before Starting Your Project
Mixing Cement and Other Tips
Click to go to the first tutorial to read.
I would love to hear from you....
maryseena on March 04, 2013:
Beautiful lens on practical projects. Thanks for sharing.
lindarose92 on February 10, 2013:
Great lens, thank you for the instructions!
pyngthyngs on February 04, 2013:
Using the Pam is a great idea. I would have never thought about doing that.
Laura Hofman from Naperville, IL on January 01, 2013:
Another great lens! I've always wanted to make stepping stones for my garden. Thank you for sharing!
Pumpurelis on December 30, 2012:
Jeri Baker on November 18, 2012:
These are always great fun. Also a super project to do with the kids:)
Stephanie Tietjen from Albuquerque, New Mexico on May 24, 2012:
I've wanted to do something like this for a long time. I'm bookmarking and pinning it. Thanks!
BestRatedStuff on May 08, 2012:
So cool, looking forward to my first project.
bbsoulful2 on April 20, 2012:
This is so helpful! I love the videos. I have JUST the items to use as part of a mosaic, too!
Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on January 11, 2012:
I'd love to give this a try. So pretty!
klaird on January 06, 2012:
This is a great idea. I love mosaics, but I've never thought of making a mosaic garden stepping stone before. Thanks for sharing. I've featured your lens on my "50 Craft Ideas for Adults". Great Job!
seanjennin on June 28, 2011:
Love it, awesome mosaic art work!
neptunesdreams_Tarot_Card_Readin on June 03, 2011:
Hi RitaK. I have been toying with the idea of trying mosaics for a long time. Your lens, with its interesting video tutorials is inspiring me. Good work!
csgeek on June 01, 2011:
that is soooo .. cool .. will have to get the girls to try this.. we have a path that can definitely use some touch ups that these stepping stones would look great in. great lens thaks
MySnellvilleBlog on May 29, 2011:
Very cool! You have everything anybody should want on this page if they want to make stepping stones!
whirlwind on May 29, 2011:
Hello RitaK. I like your "Mosaic: Stepping Garden Stones" lens; You present an easy to follow tutorial, supplementing your text instructions nicely with a well seasoned blend of supporting graphics and videos. I'm giving you a a thumbs up!
AbigailsCrafts LM on May 29, 2011:
They're beautifuul - can't wait to have a proper garden so I can try this out! Thanks for the tutorial.
Jeannieinabottl1 on May 28, 2011:
This is a very helpful lens. I live in an apartment, but if I had a yard, I would give this a try. I also like how you designed the lens itself. This is really thorough and with plenty of helpful hints.
TWOnline2 on December 15, 2010:
Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO on October 26, 2010:
SO glad to have found this, made some stepping stones once upon a time...fun but mostly by trial and error. Never knew the items one uses to decorate are called tesserae...like that word. At that time I had piles of old costume junk jewelry, fun tesserae. Made a heart-shaped stone as a wedding gift and 'engraved' their names and date with old beads. The butterfly shape is my favorite.
julieannbrady on October 19, 2010:
I love this crafty idea -- and will most likely be TRYING it myself real soon ... I will keep in touch!
MirandaBrooks LM on October 11, 2010:
This is such a good idea and sounds really fun! I think I will make one for my mom!
KimGiancaterino on October 06, 2010:
This is great. My stepson made me one of these and now we want to design a path for our garden. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions.
WhiteOak50 on October 03, 2010:
I just cannot wait to see more of your lens. Be sure to send me the links so I can take a look.
Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on September 15, 2010:
A lovely tutorial! We live in an apartment, so we have no yard to make stepping stones for, but I still love this practical and pretty craft idea.
Delia on September 06, 2010:
wow, another great stepping stone instructional!
Gamganny on September 04, 2010:
very informative lens on making step stones.