What do you use to seal painted rocks?

boy holding a painted rock with a black heart on it - how to seal painted rocks for hiding outdoors

It's been decided: your new favorite thing is painting rocks! 

You got your paint, you painted your rocks, but now how do you seal your painted rocks in a way that preserves the artwork and keeps it weatherproof? 

Lucky for you I have been painting rocks for years and I've got some great tips for you to help you keep your pretty painted stones in tip-top shape and standing up to the weather.

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What is the best way to seal painted rocks?

That really depends on what you used to paint it! I have common rock painting techniques divided up by section to make it easy to find. Just scroll down and find the section related to what you used to paint your rock and I'll make sure you have all the info you need to help you properly seal your rock.

Throughout this guide, I may use referral links to link to supplies you can purchase online.

What is the best way to seal rocks painted with acrylic paint?

Martha stewart multi purpose craft paint in a variety of colors

In general the best way to seal rocks painted with acrylic paint is going to be with a spray sealer. 

Some acrylic paints are self-sealing, though, and won't need any sealer at all! Self-sealing paints include FolkArt Outdoor paint and FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint. If your paint bottle has a label, look it over and look for the words "self-sealing" and "outdoor safe" on it. 

Don't see the words "self-sealing"? Not sure what kind of paint it is? Did you use a mix of self-sealing and non-self sealing paints? 

When in doubt, use spray sealer! It won't hurt your self-sealing rocks if they get an extra coat of spray sealer.
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What is the best way to seal rocks painted with Uni-Posca Paint Pens?

Uni-Posca ultra fine tip paint pens are the best pens for painting rocks

If you have painted rocks with Uni Posca paint pens, you will love how easy it is to turn your ideas into awesome designs. 

I've painted with lots of paint pens and these are by far my favorite. They dry quickly to a matte finish but how should you seal rocks painted with uni-Posca pens? 

For rocks painted with Uni Posca Paint Pens, use spray sealer.

Some people (including myself!) have reported that using brush-on sealers with Posca pens causes them to smear and run. 

Nothing is more disheartening than seeing your beautiful work ruined by using the wrong type of sealer! If you want to use a brush on sealer (perhaps to add glitter?) like I did in this tutorial for how to paint a unicorn rock, spray with spray sealer FIRST - THEN once the spray sealer is dry, go back and add your Mod Podge or decoupage medium over the top.
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What is the best way to seal rocks painted with temporary tattoos?

Sealing rocks painted with temporary tattoos

One of my favorite ways to get impressive looking art onto painted rocks easily is with temporary tattoos. 

Paint the rock (or not), apply a temporary tattoo and BOOM! You have elevated your rock from homely to magical (Learn how to apply temporary tattoos to rocks here!). Because tattoos are usually water soluble, it's important to seal them properly!
painted rock ideas with metallic feather designs

If your tattoo has a metallic finish (see above), applying spray sealer directly to the tattoo might make the metallic paint runny. So the safest option is to apply a coat of Mod Podge (I like the Super Gloss formula) - get it on Amazon. Once the Mod Podge is dry, apply your favorite spray sealer over the top.

If your tattoo is not metallic, you should be able to skip the Mod Podge and just spray seal. Just like any other spray sealer application, take your rock outside or to a ventilated area where is is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 centigrade), place it on a piece of scrap cardboard to protect surrounding surfaces and apply the spray sealer following the directions on the can.

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What is the best way to seal rocks painted with Sharpies?

colorful fine tip sharpie markers

While the best way to seal rocks most of the time is by using spray sealer, if you have ever drawn on a rock with a Sharpie and then spray sealed it, you may know the heartbreak of watching your art melt away! The chemical composition of most Sharpies is incompatible with most spray sealers.

To avoid having your Sharpie artwork ruined, you should seal rocks painted with Sharpies with at least two coats of Mod Podge or Mod Podge Waterbase Sealer before using spray sealer. 

The Mod Podge or decoupage medium provide a protective barrier between your artwork and the spray sealer, while the spray sealer is what will make your rock weatherproof and outdoor safe.

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What is the best way to seal rocks painted with 3D Paint?

FolkArt 3D Paint for painted rocks

Even though some paints say they are safe for indoor and outdoor use (like the FolkArt 3D Paint pictured above), they still need sealer in order to have their best performance when placed outside. 

I have had the best success with using a couple coats of spray sealer to seal my rocks painted with 3D paints. Using sealer helps keep the colors vibrant when exposed to the weather, prevents the paint from becoming tacky if warm and helps keep the paint well attached to the rock so it doesn't peel off and become litter.
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I love painted rocks

About the Author:

Carissa is a lifelong crafter and mom of two creative boys. 

The owner and lead writer of both I Love Painted Rocks and Creative Green Living, she has won multiple awards for her craft writing including the Craftys Award for the "Best Craft Blogger" category in 2016 and the ShiftCon award for "Best DIY blogger" in 2018. 

Her projects have been featured in magazines like Kids Crafts 1-2-3, Country Sampler Farmhouse Style and more.

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