How To Paint Cinder Block To Look Like Stone

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart
Cinder blocks are not always the most visually appealing, that is unless you paint them to look like stone. The best way to achieve a stone look is to use multiple swatches of paint to create a natural look. Between the types of paint you choose and the painting method, let’s take a look at how you can make cinder blocks look like stone.

If there’s one building material that’s become known as an eyesore, it’s cinder block. These poured concrete blocks are often seen as a sign of something that’s cheaply made, and if left on their own, could even tick off a homeowner’s association. If you have a home that has cinderblocks as part of the building’s make, don’t worry. There are ways to paint cinder blocks to look more like stone.

The trick to getting your cinder block to look like stone is to choose multiple paint swatches, and then loosely mix them together to give them the natural swirl you’d see in stone. Then, just stick to “painting inside” each cinder block. This gives you a stone brick wall look, without the actual bricks.

People who are tired of seeing their dreary and drab cinder block walls are going to love this project. It’s so easy, even teenagers can do it and see some awesome results. Let’s start learning about this process, shall we?

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What To Expect From This Project

This project is not going to give you a look that is 100 percent stone-like. The end result is going to look more like a stone brick wall, with just a hint of whimsy added into the mix. Sure, there may be ways to layer on adobo and stucco for a more stone-like look, but this project is meant to be fairly simple. A little bit goes a long way with paint.

How To Paint Cinder Block To Look Like Stone

This project is fairly easy to do, but you are going to need to make sure you have a lot of supplies on hand. To make things easier, we decided to chop things down into the shopping portion of your project and the actual painting portion.

What You Will Need

  • 3 or 4 Shoeboxes. These need to be lined with plastic. You will be using them as larger palettes while you paint.
  • Four Paints. We suggest getting the same type of paint that you used to paint your cinder block wall, or to get no-primer paint for a quicker project. Choose paint hues that are close to a stone color. Greys, beiges, browns, and even pinks can work well here.
  • Primer. If your paint type doesn’t require primer, then you can go without this and skip the steps discussing it.
  • A 3-inch Paint Brush. This is (obviously) what you’re going to use to paint the cinderblocks.

How To Paint Your Cinder Block Walls

Once you have gotten all your supplies ready, it’s time to step into action. Here’s what you’re going to need to do:

  • Clean your walls first. Like with any regular painting project, you need to have a clean canvas to work with. Just clean off any mess you see with a sponge and some water. If you feel the need to do so and your surface is outdoors, power washing the surface will be even better. Let the walls dry for a day.
  • Grab a shoe box and line it with plastic. Trash bags work, if you haven’t lined them already.
  • Tape the spaces between the cinder blocks using painter’s tape. You don’t want the paint to get stuck there!
  • If you are using a paint that requires primer, prime your walls. Allow the primer to dry for at least six to eight hours before you proceed…if it’s a standard type of primer. Your specific primer may need longer, so if you aren’t sure of your primer’s drying times, check the back of the can.
  • Add a dollop of each paint color to your box. Each paint color should have a “home” in its own corner to start with.
  • Using your paint brush, dip your brush in a couple of colors, then paint your cinder block. Your goal here is to have each cinder block painted with a different mix of the four colors that you bought. The swirls that happen from dipping your paint into the palette help add a stone look to your wall.
  • When painting the wall, don’t paint the space between the blocks. Let the original paint color of the blocks act as the “faux grout” in this project. In other words, don’t remove the painter’s tape unless you have to.
  • Once you’re done painting, remove the painter’s tape and let the paint dry. From here, you’re pretty much done if you want to be. It will have a noticeably stone-like facade to it. Some people choose to top it off with a glossy finish, though.

Creating a Faux Finish

With just a couple cans of paint, some applicators, and artistic technique, you can make your cinder block wall appear just like a fitted stone or brick exterior. Achieving the cut stone look is relatively simple, as you just need to follow existing grout lines.

Whereas, for the brick texture, you need to create some smaller grout lines to mimic the size of bricks. Adding highlights and shadows to the painted-on bricks will help trick depth and dimensions, making the fake grout appear real.

Regardless of the look you decide to go with, practice your technique on scrap pieces of cardboard before you work on the final piece.

Cool Painting Tips

If you like the idea of having cinder blocks that are painted to look a little more stone-like, but want something a little more realistic, you may want to keep working on your project.

These ideas below can help you get an even better look:

  • If you want to add extra texture, ball up a rag and press it against the stone painting after lightly dipping it in slightly different shades of paint. This technique can add a grainy or textured appearance to your paint job. It was a popular way of adding a stone-like texture in the 90s.
  • A sponge glued to plywood can make a great stamp. If you’ve been wanting to get a stamp that could give your wall a more brick-like appearance, this can work well. Just make sure to layer the paint by having a solid base coat underneath, followed up with a slightly different brick hue pressed on via the stamp.
  • Consider buying a textured paint. If you want to splurge and get a real stone-like texture, it’s good to know that there are specialty paints that come with a tactile bonus. Most major paint companies make textured paints, with the three most common textures being stone, suede, and sand. These kinds of paints need to be applied with a paint roller, but trust us, they’re worth it. If you need to use a roller, just throw paint on different sections of your rolling tray to get a unique mix for each stone.
  • Don’t be afraid to spot test new ideas. Want to try drywall mud on your cinderblocks? Want to add sand to your paints to see if it gives you a more stony look? Spot test new techniques in a corner to see if it works. You’d be surprised at how many ways you can add texture to your paint.

Other Methods for Disguising Cinder Block

Aside from creating a faux stone appearance, there are other ways to hide that unsightly cinder block wall, without spending too much money.

  • Create a wall collage. You can both disguise the cinder blocks and create an appealing art installation by turning the whole wall into a collage. Collect photographs, postcards, magazine clippings, old book pages, sheet music, and the like. Overlap the pieces on the wall to create the most interesting look.
  • Hang oversized art panels. In some cases, redirection is the best form of disguise. You can effectively redirect the eye away from the cinder block by hanging or propping oversized art panels in front of it. They will cover most of the wall and, if they’re interesting enough, most won’t even notice the cinder block wall behind.
  • Use fabric panels. For a very cost-effective solution, scourer discount stores and clearance bins for inexpensive pieces of fabric. Depending on the size of the wall, you may need quite a bit of fabric to cover it all. Sew the pieces together and tape them in place.

Whether you decide to paint faux stone, create a collage, or hang some sort of artistic installation, there is more than one way to hide cinder block.

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Our Final Take

If you were wondering how to give cinder blocks a more stone-y look, we’ve got some news for you. There’s more than one way to make it happen.

The easiest way is to just mix paint and paint over the actual blocks to create a stone brick effect. However, there’s no reason to limit yourself to the simple if you want to go a little crazy with it.

People who want to go beyond the basics should take a look into textured paints, using stamps, or just creating their own unique method. Spot testing or even trying it out on a spare cinderblock can help you figure out which method works well for you.

After all, no two stone walls are alike. Why try to make your “stone” wall just like everyone else’s?

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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