Concrete garden leaves are works of art even if left unfinished to age naturally. However, they can be more dramatic and eye-catching if you paint and stain them. You can use just about any type of stain or paint, other than enamel or oil paint because those will eventually chip, peel and crack in the weather. Apply a thin coat of paint and stain to allow the concrete to absorb the colors. Keep in mind, you can paint over stain, but you can't stain over paint. Brushes wear out fast when coloring concrete leaves, so consider sponging on color or using rags to apply paint and stain.
Things You'll Need
Sponge or rags
Concrete patch (optional)
Chisel or power rotary tool (optional)
Sand your concrete leaf lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper. Rinse clean with a garden hose. Allow to dry.
Brush concrete stain over the entire concrete leaf. Apply contrasting colors for variety. Allow to dry between coats. Use a hairdryer to speed up the drying between coats.
Paint fine details on the leaf with an acrylic paint. Have a variety of paint colors on your pallet. Dip your artist's paintbrush in water to thin acrylics if they're too thick.
Blend or add special effects with a stencil brush. Allow to dry overnight before applying sealer.
Brush or wipe on a thin coat of concrete sealer. Allow to dry. Apply a second coat. Concrete sealer alters the color of the leaf slightly, but it will protect the finish from the effects of weather.
Prior to painting, bond any broken leaf tips with epoxy, and smooth blemishes or cracks with a concrete patch made from ready-mixed fine-texture cement. Define and shape your concrete leaves with a chisel or a power rotary tool. If you are coloring your leaves to blend naturally into your garden, take a real leaf to a paint store for a custom-mixed stain or paint color for your concrete leaves.