Acrylic Painting On Flagstone – Sure Can And It’s Easy

painting on flagstone

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If you were ever wondering can flagstone be painted then you will be happy to know that painting on flagstone is a great way to add visual interest and update the look of any outdoor space. Whether you want to give your garden or patio a facelift, painting on flagstone can help achieve the desired effect without having to spend much money.

While painting on flagstone can be easy, it can also be tricky to make sure it lasts, as it requires more preparation than painting other surfaces such as wood. So what paint works best on flagstone? You can use acrylic paint when painting on flagstone but I prefer something a little more longer lasting such as epoxy paint paint designed for exterior walls and floors as they are more resistant to extreme weather as they not only have a resin but also a hardening agent in the paint.

My first step in painting flagstone is to determine whether the stone can actually be painted. Most types of flagstone are porous, meaning they will absorb any paint that is applied to them. However, some types of flagstone have been sealed with a sealant which makes them impermeable and therefore not suitable for painting. I found this out the hard way after spending an entire weekend painting a flagstone pathway in the back yard only to see it peel and fade away after a few harsh seasons of sun and then rain. So before proceeding with painting flagstone, make sure you know if it is sealed or not.

How do you know if flagstone is sealed?

The best way is to use a simple water test. Simply take a spray bottle and fill it with water, then spray the flagstone you are planning on painting. If the stone absorbs the water, then it has not been sealed and painting should be possible if done correctly. However, if the water beads off the stone surface, indicating that the sealant has been applied, painting right away is not recommended as the paint will likely not adhere to the sealant. So you will need to remove the sealant from the flagstone.

How do you remove sealant from flagstone?

There are a few methods for removing sealant from flagstone, the most common being sandblasting, sanding, scraping the surface or applying a chemical sealant stripper (also known as muriatic etching solution or a generic sealer and coating remover). Sandblasting is an effective way to remove sealant from the flagstone if you have access to sandblaster equipment, but can be very messy, so it is best to wear protective clothing while doing this.

Scraping works well but can be labor intensive, and may also damage the surface of the flagstone. Chemical sealant strippers are another option for removing sealant from flagstone, though these should be used with caution as they contain strong chemicals that could cause harm to you or to the environment.

I went down the chemical path because I am lazy and it was low effort but I do realize that there can be some environmental issues depending on where you live.

Removing paint from flagstone using a chemical stripper was very easy, you apply the sealant stripper (purchased at a hardware store or paint store) and while wearing a face mask and gloves, you scrub away at the flagstone and hopefully the sealant has been removed. Give the flagstone a good wash with soap and water and scrub away any excess chemicals.

Once the flagstone is dry, try the water test again. If it absorbs the water then you got most of the sealant. Don’t worry if you don’t remove 100% of the sealant, any small amount will not cause most of the paint to peel.

If the flagstone had already been painted prior you can also tell if it has been stripped as it will have also removed any color that was on the flagstone revealing a natural stone color.

I also was a little scared to use muriatic etching solution as it contains hydrochloric acid and that stuff gives me the heebie-jeebies.

What paint works best on flagstone?

The next step is to choose the right paint for painting flagstone. Generally, oil-based paints and external epoxy paint work best on flagstone because they offer greater durability and protection against weathering. However, if you prefer a more natural look, or are worried about permanence then water-based latex paint such as acrylic paints are also an affordable and easy to paint option. Both types of paint can be found in various colors to suit your desired aesthetic.

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When painting flagstone, it’s important to prepare the surface properly before painting. This includes cleaning the stone with a mild cleaner and gently scrubbing away any dirt or debris which may have accumulated over time. You will also need to prime the stone before painting; this helps ensure that the paint adheres properly and lasts longer on the surface. You can use a primer that is designed for painting masonry or stone.

Some people swear by Benjamin Moore paints and stains but I am ok with most brands.

I also applied an anti slip sealant regardless of the final finish – whether it is acrylic or epoxy I like my flagstone to be anti slip.

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How do you prepare flagstone for painting?

Flagstone can been cleaned with water or you can also clean flagstone with vinegar, white vinegar to be exact and a brush. You can lightly sand the surface using a medium-grit sandpaper (optional). This will help create a rougher texture to ensure that the paint adheres properly to the stone. If painting on an uneven or textured surface, it’s recommended that you use a foam brush for painting instead of a regular paintbrush or roller brush; this will help ensure even coverage and prevent any drips from occurring.

Do you have to prime stone before painting? Yes, you should apply a primer or undercoat of masonry paint. This is a paint primer designed specifically for stone applications that will find its way into all the pores of the stone and stick to the grainy gritty bits of stone surface and ensure the outer coats of paint will stick.

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Once your painting surface is prepared, it’s time to start painting. Start with a base coat of paint and let it dry. Then, you may use a brush or roller to apply the topcoat. If painting in layers, allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next layer. Make sure to clean any excess paint off the flagstone with a damp cloth after painting so that it looks neat and professional.

Painting on flagstone

When painting on flagstone, it’s important to use the right type of paint that will stick to stone. While latex and acrylic paints are can be used, you should be aware that in the elements of rain and sun, they can peel off or age prematurely; instead, opt for an epoxy-based or oil-based paint.

Oil-based paints and epoxy paints are more durable and water-resistant than latex so they will hold up better over time. Make sure to read the instructions on the paint container before applying to get best results.

Do not use interior paint!

Remember if you do use acrylic paint for painting on flagstone then also apply a fresh coat of sealer (not the acrylic sealer used for artworks but the stuff used for outdoor floors or concrete). Stuff like Golden GAC 100 or Golden GAC 200 won’t last the distance outside.

In addition to painting your flagstone, you can also stain flagstone using a concrete stain solution to create unique designs or patterns in different colors but this isn’t nearly as fun as painting flagstone and turning it into art.

flagstone paint
Painting on flagstone with acrylic

Why paint flagstone anyway?

My little project started as a way to freshen up the old stone that had been painted way back in the early 1990’s and with my kids growing up I thought it would be cute to immortalise some of their artwork onto stone and I let them both paint a flagstone each. While my daughter did her usual fanart my son oddly enough wanted to paint a Minecraft rock surface of all things! I let them use acrylic paint for their own stone and paint over the top of the epoxy surface.

I even toyed with the idea of making a flagstone painting mural against my wall, extending the real   painted flagstone into a 3D trompe l’oeil but my wife was against the idea… oh well! 

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Joe Colella - Chief Wasted Talent
Joe Colella – Chief Wasted Talent

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