1. Create the layout of the stepping-stones. Make the layout a meandering path with stones of varying shape and size, to give them a more natural, less uniform layout.
Tip #1: Spray the layout with marking paint before creating the stones. This way, you can literally walk the stones before you pour, while providing a guideline for a quick installation.
2. Mix the concrete. A rich mix (more cement) and small gravel (1/4” minus aggregate) is a good consistency for stamping. More cement with small gravel will provide a stampable consistency with greater strength.
Tip #2: Adding RockMolds Integral Color into the mix is a good idea for the base color. In general, 4 scoops of cement to 16 scoops of sand with 1 cup of integral color is a great mix for stepping-stones.
3. Start to deposit the concrete into the spray painted outlines of the stepping-stones. For beginners, prep 4 to 5 stones at a time, so you can focus on making a few stones well. After depositing the concrete with a shovel, smooth the piles into 3-4″ thick “pancakes” with a RockMolds Pool Trowel. These should now look like smooth stepping-stones ready for texturing, within the painted outlines of the pathway.
4. Let the “pancakes” sit until they are firm enough to take an impression from a stamp. This will take a varying amount of time based upon outdoor temperature and sun exposure.
Tip #3: Do the thumb test to determine if the stones are ready to stamp. Press your thumb onto the “pancakes; if they are firm enough to keep your thumb from breaking the surface, but soft enough to take your thumb’s impression, they are ready to stamp.
5. Dust a RockMolds Stone Accent Release Powder onto the surface of the “pancakes”, to allow the stamps to leave an impression, without sticking to the concrete. Choose a colored releasing agent, which will compliment the integral base color, such as a brown with a gray, a black with a brown, etc.
Tip #4: Make sure the releasing agent is shaken up and powdery before grabbing a small handful. Then apply it like you are skipping a rock across the water.
6. Firmly press a RockMolds.com stamps onto the surface and sides of concrete, transferring the natural rock impression into the concrete. For stones larger than your stamp, overlap as necessary, while feathering onto the previous impression. Using multiple stamps in different patterns is preferable to avoid repetition of texture on the stones.
Tip #5: LS201F, LS202F, LS203F, LS204F, and LS205F are the best selling stamps we use on our own projects.
7. Let the stones cure 24 hours. Then hose off the entire residue from the powdered releasing agent, and allow the stones to completely dry.
8. Color the stones using RockMolds Stone Color water based stains on the dried stones for additional coloring and highlights. With the integral color, release agent color, and now the highlights of the water-based stains, your stones will have a multitude of colors, as natural stone would.
Tip #6: Start with a light color of the RockMolds Stone Color water base stains, and then go darker. Think of this process of painting with watercolors, only on concrete.
10. Use RockMolds Stone Sealer, our water based penetrating sealant to preserve the color of your stones. It will enhance the color, without a sheen.