Painting Hypertufa Tips

How Do I Paint My Hypertufa Sphere?

Korenv posted and asked me:

Hello, I’ve just completed my hypertufa sphere project, as per your hollow sphere instructions on The-Artistic-Garden website.

It’s in the process of curing. I made one before this using a liquid cement colorant, which was alright, but a little drab. On my current sphere, I’d like to use paint to give it a “rustic” finish. What should I use? I’m hoping I can use ordinary acrylic paints. Can I also use a water based sealer?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! Korenv

My reply:

Hi Korenv:
Gee that’s great! You’ve got a successful sphere project in the works!

About what to use — have you read over the Hypertufa & Concrete Stains & Colorant Guides yet?

Scroll about half-way down that page and you’ll see the PDF icon — click on that and the guides will open up. BTW, feel free to print out a copy for future reference.

Maybe you know this, but I’ll mention it just in case … if you used grey portland, well that does tend to make colorants that you add into the recipe look drab. But if you can find white portland, that will allow any colorant added into the hypertufa (or concrete) recipe to be “truer” in color. Of course you still have the dark peat moss if using a ‘tufa recipe, but white portland sure can make a difference!

As far as a topical paint or stain … sure, water based acrylic or latex paint is quite alright, along with a water based sealant. **Just make sure your sphere is good and cured (dry) before you paint the surface.

Hmmmmm … to get a “rustic” look … do you mean sort of like rusted metal? Sorry, when you say rustic that’s what comes to my mind. I’m not sure if you’re also asking for ideas on paint colors/colorations to use??

Let me know what else you might need clarified and I’ll be happy to try and help. Thanks for stopping by.

Chinarabbit then asked a lot of good questions:

Hey, I’d like to know a little more about “water-based sealant” ….. sounds pretty high-tech. Are there any more primitive alternatives? something more basic? anything else that might work? such as a clear laquer? or will any can of clear spray finish do the trick, such as car finish or something ?

I think I have white portland cement I intend to dye, but I would like to add finishing touches with an airbrush, to get a realistic effect. And it needs to be water-proof. Any water-based acrylic or latex-based paint will work equally well because the sealant will seal the paint under a “clear-coat” with the sealant, is that right? So airbrushing would be fine as long as you use a sealant over the top?

Will the sealant give it a glossy look? i would prefer a flat non-glossy sealant that is really quite invisible, just kind of weatherproofs the paint … is that the best for surfaces that maybe be submerged in water, such as under waterfalls? or would it really better to have the color mixed in to withstand the constant flow of water?

I see now that you recommend 2 coats of clear acrylic or urethane finish from a spray can, is that right? And will it be fine for protecting delicate airbrush designs under water? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

My reply:

hey, I’d like to know a little more about “water-based sealant” ….. sounds pretty high-tech.

No, nothing fancy, just means you can clean up your brushes and such with water and soap. As opposed to oil-based paints and sealants.

You can buy low-gloss on up to high gloss clear coats/sealants. Just depends what brand you are looking at. And some (like Krylon) come in spray cans, and other brands you paint on. Any brand should work, as long as it is meant for outdoor use AND is compatible with the paint you are using for air-brushing or top coating with. I guess just read all the info on the can labels, or pick the brains of the folks in the paint department!

About something “more primitive” … you’ve got me on that one? I guess a matte finish as opposed to a gloss finish would be more primitive … in other words, not noticieable that you’d used a sealant.

And I’d suggest at least 2 coats. You say it will be under water … again, double check the specific uses for all the paints and sealants you’ll be using to make sure they can withstand 24/7 contact with water.

Hope this information helps!


  1. how does applying lacquer hold up in south east temperatures? Using the tufa as an art medium. How to apply paint with (acrylic) washes?

  2. proper application of paint-wash to hypertufa leaf. can lacquer w/ protective sealant hold-up in the cold without cracking?

Speak Your Mind


What is 17 + 33 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)