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Concrete & Cement DIY Projects | Garden Crafts, Sculptures & Fun Makes

Updated on March 9, 2015
Concrete and mosaic pieces go very well together.
Concrete and mosaic pieces go very well together. | Source

Tutorials for Many Indoor & Outdoor Creations

Concrete and cement are strong materials that are easy to cast and are ideal for making your own small home décor or large garden craft projects, such as benches, sculptures, bookends and paperweights. It's a brilliant medium to use to express your creativity because any shape is possible - and it can also be dyed, painted, carved and drilled. Just remember to wear a mask to protect yourself from dust.

Different materials like sand and gravel can be mixed with concrete to alter the texture, so there is scope for experimentation in this area, and there many project ideas below which make full use of the versatility, durability and weight of it.

I hope you find this page inspires you to have a go :)

Concrete Planters

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About Concrete & Cement

Concrete and cement are great materials for building sturdy and durable projects - especially in the garden as sculptures, bird baths and more. You can make your own custom shapes by using existing objects or by making your own moulds in wood, cardboard, plastic, or Styrofoam.

Difference between concrete and cement?

Concrete and cement are often thought to be the same material, however they have important differences.

Concrete is a mixture of water, Portland cement (not a brand name but by far the most popular type of cement) and aggregates (sand and gravel). Cement is therefore an ingredient of concrete and is the 'glue'/'binder' that holds the other parts of concrete together. Concrete is more 'rock-like', stronger and tougher than cement on its own. Large items or load-bearing items are made using concrete. Cement is usually used on its own for smaller crafts.

Cement is a powdery substance made from limestone, sand and clay - which contain the 4 vital ingredients; calcium, silicon, aluminium and iron. Cement comes in a powder, and you mix it with water in order to use it. It then sets and hardens on its own.

What is Hypertufa?

Hypertufa is basically artificial stone and is made with varying combinations of Portland cement, peat moss, sand, perlite and water. It's very versatile and can be used for all kinds of garden art such as planters, stepping stones, decorative columns etc. It can be sculpted free form by hand i.e. it's not necessary to use a mould to cast it into a shape unlike with cement. Hypertufa is also freeze-proof and quite lightweight compared to concrete.

Cement Rhubarb Leaf Casting

A cement casting of a rhubarb leaf, stained with acrylic paints.
A cement casting of a rhubarb leaf, stained with acrylic paints. | Source

Best Amazon Books On This Subject

Concrete is an easy material to use; the main challenge is thinking of a good project. These 5 books offer a large range of ideas for things to make from bowls and planters to mosaics and countertops.

Concrete Crafts: Making Modern Accessories for the Home and Garden
Concrete Crafts: Making Modern Accessories for the Home and Garden

Learn how to sculpt concrete into a series of inexpensive modern & decorative items for the home and garden.

 
Concrete Garden Projects: Easy & Inexpensive Containers, Furniture, Water Features & More
Concrete Garden Projects: Easy & Inexpensive Containers, Furniture, Water Features & More

Easy DIY projects for your outdoor space, including planters, benches, a birdbath and a firepit.

 
Creative Concrete Ornaments for the Garden: Making Pots, Planters, Birdbaths, Sculpture & More
Creative Concrete Ornaments for the Garden: Making Pots, Planters, Birdbaths, Sculpture & More

Craft concrete ornaments for your garden by choosing from the 30 ideas presented in this book - perfect for a fun weekend project.

 
Creating Concrete Art Furniture
Creating Concrete Art Furniture

Inspiration for creating concrete furniture by hand and step-by-step photos showing the process of making fabulous pieces from start to finish.

 
Easy Concrete: 43 DIY Projects for Home & Garden
Easy Concrete: 43 DIY Projects for Home & Garden

Creative and informative book which has instructions for 43 projects, including advice on how to make molds from cardboard, metal and wood.

 

Inspiring Instructional Videos - Various Impressive Project Ideas

Giant Concrete Heads

How cool are these?!
How cool are these?! | Source

3 Surface Textures or Finishes You Can Try

Idea One:

Things You Will Need:

* A rubber doormat with an open pattern; ornate scroll work is a good choice

* A mold; buy one or DIY a mold (wood or strong cardboard works)

* Concrete; with a bucket and trowel for mixing the concrete

* Wide paintbrush

* Oil lubricant/mold release/cooking oil/light vegetable oil

* Rubber gloves & mask

* Steel wire mesh (optional)

* Saw or large utility knife (optional)


- Prepare your mold for use and brush a light coating of oil on the surfaces that will be contact with the concrete (this step is not essential but is recommended).

- If you are only using a small portion of the doormat for the molding process, then cut out the shape you would like - using a saw or a utility knife. In the diagram I have shown a circle shape being used, and an equal-size circle mold. Cardboard tubing is the easiest way to make a circular mold yourself, whereas shapes with straight sides can be easier to make with wood or by reusing cardboard packaging.

- Mix up the concrete mix, whilst wearing your rubber protective gloves.

- Pour the concrete into the mold. If you are making a large shape that you think may need extra strength, you can pour half the concrete in, add a layer of wire mesh, then pour in the rest of the concrete. This is optional.

- Brush a light coating of oil onto the rubber doormat, then press it down onto the top of the concrete so that it is embedded as far as you want it to be.

- Leave the concrete to harden and then remove the doormat. There will now be a decorative pattern visible on the concrete surface.

- Remove the concrete from the mold and clean off any oil residue with lightly soaped water.

- Finished!


Idea Two:

Things You Will Need:

* Leaves with texture; thick leaves with lots of large veins work best.

* A mold with a (separate or removable) base.

* Spray adhesive

* Concrete; with a bucket and trowel for mixing the concrete

* Wide paintbrush

* Oil lubricant/mold release/cooking oil/light vegetable oil

* Rubber gloves & mask


- Prepare your mold.

- Spray adhesive on the non-textured side of the leaves and stick them in place on the base of the mold.

- Lightly coat the interior surfaces of the mold with oil.

- Put your rubber gloves on and mix up your concrete (or cement or hypertufa).

- Pour the mix into the mold and tap the sides to level the mixture and get rid of air bubbles.

- Leave the concrete to set (following instructions on the packet)

- Remove the concrete from the mold, gently take the leaves off the surface, and wash off any oil residue.

- Finished!


Idea Three:

Things You Will Need:

* Lace; use either lace trim or a sheet of lace fabric depending on how much area you want to cover.

* Spray paint

* Tape


- An easy way to add a pattern to the surface of concrete is to tape lace over the surface and then simply spray a (light) coating of spray paint over the top.


Tips:

- Lie the concrete flat so that the paint doesn't drip down the surface.

- Only use a light coating and don't spray too close to the surface otherwise the finer details will be lost.

- Remember that anywhere you add tape will not get any paint pattern on, so only tape areas where you don't want the pattern.

Concrete, Cement & Project Supplies

The following products include a bag of cement, a bag of concrete, and a few supplies if you decide to make the above projects:

Cement Handprints

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Mosaic Covered Sculpture

This mosaic garden sculpture has a base of cement and is then covered with lots of pieces of old vintage plates, china tea cups and assorted colored glass - and plenty of adhesive and grout.
This mosaic garden sculpture has a base of cement and is then covered with lots of pieces of old vintage plates, china tea cups and assorted colored glass - and plenty of adhesive and grout. | Source

Concrete Hearts

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Concrete Stepping Stone

Concrete base with hand-painted glass and mirror mosaic pieces.
Concrete base with hand-painted glass and mirror mosaic pieces. | Source

DIY Hypertufa Plant Pots

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CLICK HERE for instructions on making your own hypertufa planters. Hypertufa is basically artificial stone and is made with varying combinations of Portland cement, peat moss, sand, perlite and water. It's very versatile and can be used for all kinds of garden art.

Concrete Table Base

This wire mesh is what the concrete will cling to, allowing you to build up concrete shapes such as a table.
This wire mesh is what the concrete will cling to, allowing you to build up concrete shapes such as a table. | Source

DIY Cement Letter

Photo and tile by Jenny Markley.

Click here for the tutorial.

Cement Plant Pots

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    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      You have some very good idea, I have been pouring concrete mold for my garden for the past couple of weeks. I found some great Valspar spray paint in outdoor colors like terra cotta it looks so good. I think I will try to use some of my broken pottery in some of my new projects. Thanks for the info.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 2 years ago from Vermont

      I love concrete sand casting and hypertufa garden crafts. I'm prepping to make more leaf castings this summer and to build some large aggregate planters for my garden.

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