Step-by-Step: Father’s Day DIY Concrete Stepping Stones
Concrete Mold – We bought ours but you can create one with just about anything (try wood forms with screws or an old pot)
DCI Concrete Countertop Form Release – DirectColors.com – For easy release from the mold. You can reuse your mold if you use this.
Assorted Stones for Decoration – Anything can be used to decorate your stepping stone
DCI Concrete Overlay – DirectColors.com – This stuff is super strong and holds together well
The curing time on this stuff is super fast too! (48-72 hours)
Concrete Acid Stain Sample Kit – DirectColors.com – This kit includes ten 4oz. bottles of acid stain and one 4oz. bottle of water-based sealer. We used three colors: one for a base coat and two for accents.
Small Foam Brushes
Baking Soda to neutralize the Concrete Acid Stain
*Note, we did not use gloves during this project and I sincerely regret it. I’m sure our plumbing won’t be too happy about us washing our concrete covered hands in the sink either.
Step 1: Mix Your Concrete
Wear gloves. Mix your concrete with water. We added water and mixed our concrete until we achieved a pancake- batter like consistency. Make sure you mix your concrete thoroughly. Any dry lumps can create weak spots and voids in your concrete.
Step 2: Prepare Your Mold
Spray DCI Concrete Countertop Form Release in your mold. Be sure to coat the bottom and the edges of the mold for easy concrete removal. DCI Concrete Countertop Form Release will ensure that your concrete will come out cleanly and you’ll be able to reuse your mold.
Step 3: Pour Your Concrete
Pour your concrete mix in your prepared mold. Smooth out any rough edges or peaks with a trowel or the stir stick (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Tap the mold to get most of the air pockets out of the mix.
-DCI Concrete Overlay can be poured pretty thin and still hold together well. We poured our stepping stone about 1.5 inch thick.
-Ready mix concrete from home improvement stores will need to completely fill the mold (about 2.5-3 inches thick) so they don’t crack when removed from the mold. This can make the finished product really heavy (another reason why we used DCI Concrete Overlay).
*Note: pour your concrete wherever you can allow the mold to sit for a few days. If the concrete is moved prior to 48-72 hours, it could crack.
Step 4: Decorate Your Stepping Stone
Have the kids press their hands in the wet concrete. Decorate your stepping stone with found items (buttons, stones, acorns, etc.). Make sure the kiddos wash their hands when they’re done.
Don’t forget to add the date!
Step 5: Allow the Concrete to Cure
Let your concrete sit for at least 48-72 hours if using DCI Concrete Overlay. Ready mix concrete from home improvement stores must sit for at least one week before they can be removed from the mold.
Step 6: Color Your Stepping Stone with Acid Stain
When you’re ready, remove your stepping stone from the mold and get ready to make magic!
Concrete Acid Stain is a water-based liquid bearing minerals and acid. The acid stain penetrates the pores of the concrete forcing a chemical reaction between the muriatic acid and the available lime in the surface. Once acid stained, the color of the concrete is permanently altered.
We used three colors for our stepping stone: Azure Blue for the hand prints, Coffee Brown for the edges and Malayan Buff for the background.
Apply each color with a different foam brush to avoid color contamination. The concrete surface will fizz when it comes in contact with the acid stain. Allow the acid stain to sit on the surface for the recommended amount of time so it can activate completely. Our colors needed to sit on the surface for 8 hours so we applied them the night before.
Step 7: Neutralize Your Concrete
Neutralize your concrete with one tablespoon of baking soda mixed with one gallon of water. Pour the baking soda solution on the entire surface to neutralize the acid. Scrub the surface with a soft brush or wash cloth to remove residue. Once neutralized, the acid becomes inert and non-toxic (but still, always wash your hands after messing with this stuff). Wash the surface with clear water and let dry (about 24 hours).
Step 8: Seal Your Stepping Stone
After the surface is completely dry, apply a thin layer of the water-based sealer in even strokes with a foam brush. A second coat should be applied but don’t glob it on. It won’t dry properly or look nice if you put down thick coats.
If bubbles show up in your sealer, gently work them out with your foam brush. Don’t overwork your sealer or streaks will occur.
Allow your stepping stone 48 hours to dry.
Step 9: Admire Your Work! Dad Will Be Proud!
Now go place your stepping stone in your garden!