Cinder blocks have long been seen as an ugly, cheap building material. However, if you have a home with cinder blocks as part of the build, there’s no need to worry.
You can paint them to make them look more like stone or a brick wall by following a simple trick of mixing multiple paint swatches and using the colors to give your cinder blocks the natural swirls you will most likely see in stones.
When done right, this will surely give your gloomy outdoor cinder blocks a beautiful and luxurious stone brick wall effect without using actual bricks.
Below in this short step-by-step tutorial, I will explain how you can paint your cinder blocks in a very easy way. So, let’s get started…
Making Cinder Block Walls Look Like Stone
Before we proceed, let me remind you – the final product of this project will not be an exact replica of a stone wall, but rather it will have elements of fantasy while still giving the look and feel of a stone brick wall.
Of course, if you want to go the extra mile with adding adobe or stucco, you could create something much closer to reality – but that’s not very feasible for all.
This project is rather easier as the paint, with some patience, is all you need.
Things you will need:
- 3-inch paint brush
- Latex acrylic-based primer
- 3-4 Shoeboxes lined with plastic
- Four paint swatches in hues that closely match the stone colors
The type of paint you need for concrete cinder blocks is generally acrylic-latex. You can pick them in colors like brown, tan, gray, beige, cream, and even pink.
These colors are mostly seen on stones, so that they will work best for this project.
After gathering all the supplies, follow these instructions for painting cinder blocks:
Step 1. Clean the Cinder Blocks
Begin by preparing the surface you’re working with, which means cleaning the cinder blocks with a sponge or a brush and water to remove any dirt or dust that could affect the painting process.
If your outdoor cinder block wall is too dirty, power washing it can be a better solution to clean up the stubborn mess.
Step 2. Tape the Grout Lines
Grout lines are the spaces between the cinder blocks filled with grout.
These should be masked using painter’s tape, as you don’t want the primer and paint to get stuck there and affect the overall appearance.
I used the tape as I desired to leave the original color of the block that looked like a “faux grout.” But if you want to cover it completely, that’s fine to do so as well.
Step 3. Prime the Cinder Blocks
After cleaning and taping, use an acrylic-latex primer to cover all of the cinder blocks.
Make sure to go over the areas twice and in a single direction to ensure even coverage of the primer.
If you’d like, you can also use a roller for the primer to ensure even coverage.
After priming the complete wall, allow six to eight hours for the primer to dry.
Step 4. Prepare the Paint Pallet/Tray
I used four shoe boxes to make my paint tray (a large pallet).
You can use a cardboard box containing 24 soda cans if you want – it would work the same way.
First, cover the box with a plastic trash bag. Then, pour four paint colors into four different spaces – which regular paint trays lack and don’t do well.
Step 5. Paint the Cinder Block Wall
To start, dip your brush in two colors, then paint your cinder block. The objective is to have every cinderblock a different combination of the four bought colors.
Adding swirls with your brush as you dip it into the palette will give the wall more of a natural stone-like facade appearance.
After the paint is dry to the touch, remove the painter’s tape and allow the paint to dry for 24 hours.
Once your cinder blocks have been painted, you can apply a coat of glossy sealant to block moisture and the elements.
A Few Other Outdoor Cinder Block Wall Paint Ideas
If you want to cover up an unsightly cinder block wall without spending a lot of money, there are other ways to do it.
After all, no two stone walls are alike, so why try to make your wall just like everyone else’s?
- Get creative and paint the wall a bright color, like yellow or orange. This can be especially effective if you want to brighten up a dark corner in your backyard.
- Use a faux stone paint technique with sponges or rags for a more grainy, textured, and realistic look
- Adding shadows and highlights to the painted bricks will help create an optical illusion of depth and dimension, making the fake grout look more realistic.
a) Textured paint
Many companies are now offering paints that are textured using materials like suede, mud, and sand.
You can apply these paints on the cinder block wall using a roller to create a stone-like finish.
b) Stenciled designs
Create your own artwork by stenciling intricate shapes and patterns on the cinder blocks for a truly unique design.
You could also make a stamp using a sponge that is glued to a plywood piece which works just as well.
c) Natural stones and fabrics
Glue natural stones to the surface of the cinder blocks for a more rustic look.
You can also use sewed pieces of colored fabrics to create a layered effect on the wall and disguise the cinder blocks.
d) Hide cinder blocks with art panels
Another way to disguise cinder blocks is by hanging or propping oversized art panels in front of them.
This will cover most of the wall, and if they’re interesting enough, nobody will even notice the cinder block wall behind.
e) Turn the whole wall into an interesting collage
Above all, if you’re not a fan of cinder blocks, don’t worry – there are ways to make them work for your space.
By collecting some old photographs, postcards, magazine clippings, or sheet music and overlapping the pieces on the wall to create an interesting look.
The bottom line
Painting the blocks and experimenting with different techniques can produce a unique stone look that will last for years to come.
So why not go ahead, get creative, and have some fun with your cinder block wall with endless possibilities? It’s definitely a cost-effective way to update and re-energize the look of your home.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.