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It’s been some really weird times lately, hasn’t it? I suppose that I’ve started to get used to the way things are now. Constant face masks, happy dancing at the grocery store when I find hand sanitizer, and very rarely leaving my house are becoming the new normal. And I kind of hate it.
There’s something weird about being stuck at home, isn’t there? I mean even if you rarely left the house before, being sort of forced into staying home still feels like a punishment. In all honesty, I didn’t realize just how much running around town I did until I wasn’t allowed to anymore.
You’d think that spending so much at time I’d get loads of work done, don’t you? But that’s hardly the case. Even though I’m stuck in my little world I’m still all over the place! I have a bunch of projects that are almost but not quite done. And I have even more that I just need to photograph and write up. Some of these projects are MONTHS old at this point but I’m getting used to my new normal. It’s only taken like 5 months, but whatever :)
Being stuck at home I’m spending a lot more time in the backyard.
One day I sat on the back porch lamenting that the lawn guy hadn’t visited in some time and my grass was totally out of control. And that’s when I noticed just how bad the dogs’ paths were in the yard. With grass up mid-shin their path was crazy looking!
Grass trimmed, the dog path in the yard is still super visible… Since I’ve been working so hard on the yard I HATE seeing the paths but this one right off of the patio is about to drive me nuts. Since I had 2 bags of cement in the garage and some stepping stone molds that I used to make embossed stepping stones I decided to do something about it.
These stepping stones are being used to try and encourage grass to grow back in and around my dog’s backyard path.
So far I’ve only made 7 terrazzo stepping stones and I haven’t properly dug them into the ground, but I’m already seeing some grass growing back and it’s super satisfying. And all of that chippy terrazzo-style colorful fun in each stone is SO PRETTY both walking the path and from a distance. In fact, though I love my embossed stepping stones, I gave those to my mom and THESE colorful beauties are where it’s at in my yard these days.
Want to see how to make them? It’s super easy!
Supplies Needed for DIY Terrazzo Stepping Stones:
- Sand/Topping Mix (Cement)
- Stained Glass
- Glass Tile Nippers
- Safety Glasses
- Adhesive Shelf Liner
- Reusable Plastic Stepping Stone Mold (more info below)
- Plastic Mixing Bucket
I looked at a lot of different materials to act as the terrazzo bits in the stepping stones and I was happiest with stained glass for this project. Because they’re going to be outside in the grass I wanted to have some pretty large pieces in the design so that they would stand out. And I couldn’t find tile large enough. But, luckily, I ran across sets of stained glass that are already color coordinated. I fell in love with the orange, pink, blue, and teal glass offered and snapped a package up. What you get is a bunch of odds and ends from what was cut away making perfect sheets of glass.
Because of the nature of terrazzo we don’t want anything that is any perfect shape so they work pretty well. And if you don’t dig bright colors, they also have a pretty set of blue stained glass I really strongly considered. Using quite a bit of stained glass per terrazzo stepping stone, I’m able to get 9 small round stepping stones per box of this stained glass.
Now, as it just so happens the other day I was at Hobby Lobby and, lo and behold, they carry stained glass sheets. Right now with the epidemic I don’t go running around quite like I used to. But if things were normal I’d probably buy a sheet of glass with a 40% off coupon a few times over so that I could pick the exact colors of glass.
Glass Tile Nippers
There are 2 kinds of tile nippers out there. To cut stained glass you need glass nippers that feature a pair of wheels. (Like my nippers above) The tile nippers that do not have wheels are not meant for glass and should be used for ceramic tile.
Stepping Stone Molds
Since I’m putting these stones inside of a narrow path in the grass, I decided to make only smaller 7.5-inch stepping stones. I purchased the molds from Hobby Lobby when I made these embossed stepping stones a few weeks back. These molds are from Hobby Lobby and cost $2.99 without a coupon.
You can use other items, like cake pans. But I’ve found that sometimes removing your project from something that isn’t flexible is a pain in the neck. Plastic molds are inexpensive and reusable, in fact so far I’ve made 14 small stones with 2 molds and they are still perfectly usable.
*Note – If there is anything stuck inside of the mold be sure to remove it before casting your stones to achieve a smooth top.
Cement, Concrete, Sand/Topping Mix?
For these DIY terrazzo stepping stones I strongly recommend using a sand/topping mix. Portland cement (a fine powder) and sand are mixed together to make sand topping mix. It shouldn’t be used at any thicker than 2″ but it works especially well with embeds. And without any chunks, rocks, or pebbles inside you don’t accidentally get rocks mixed in with your pretty and planned out terrazzo design.
A lot of people (including myself) use the terms cement and concrete interchangeably but they aren’t the same thing. Portland cement is a very common building material. It is a fine powder that you add water to to form a paste that hardens like a rock. Adding pebbles or stones to Portland cement makes concrete that is very strong. Sand added to Portland cement makes sand/topping mix that is often used for concrete repair and shouldn’t be used any thicker than 2″.
Note * There are about 100 cups of cement in a 60 pound bag (found at hardware stores). If using the molds from Hobby Lobby, a large round stone uses 10.5 cups and a small round stone uses 6 cups. From one bag of sand/topping mix, at a cost of cement around $6.50 the cost for one stepping stone (cement only) is about 41 cents. Not bad, right?
How to Make DIY Terrazzo Stepping Stones:
If there is a paper insert inside of your stepping stone use it and trace the shape onto the paper side of shelf adhesive. Cut it out with scissors. Peel the paper backing away from the liner and place it sticky side up inside of your stepping stone mold.
Put on your safety glasses and grab your glass tile nippers and a piece of stained glass. Nip random shapes, some smaller and some larger. Watch out for sharp edges and glass dust.
Be sure to position the nippers like in the photo. Like this, the cut piece of glass will come out on your work top rather than fly up at you.
Decide which side is the smoothest and has the least imperfections. Place that piece pretty side down onto the shelf liner. Press firmly in place to prevent cement from covering the glass.
Continue cutting and placing pieces until you’re happy with the design.
Adding the Cement
In a plastic container mix together your sand/topping mix and water. To prevent bubbles appearing on the surface you need a consistency that is somewhat thin. However, you don’t want your cement to be too runny or it will seep under the glass and ruin the terrazzo effect.
In the photo above the mix is what I’d typically use for a stepping stone, however, it’s too thick for this particular project. What you want is something similar to a slightly melted milkshake. Before you go with gusto, I’d suggest casting a few stones to find the sweet spot for yours. Be sure to write down your cement to water ratio so you can make all of your future stones the same way…
Gently spoon your cement into the mold taking care not to shift the shelf liner and glass below. When your mold is about half full take it and carefully strike the bottom of the mold on your work top. This will help pop any bubbles that have formed around your glass pieces.
Fill all of the way to the lip of the stepping stone mold and place somewhere flat to cure. Let the stepping stone dry at least 24 hours.
Troubleshooting Your Terrazzo Stepping Stones
While a pretty easy project, you might find yourself experiencing a few issues with imperfect stepping stones. Don’t worry! We can fix that up no problem!
Patching Holes on the Surface
If you find that your stepping stone has holes on the surface from bubbles you can easily patch them up. Mix together about a tablespoon of sand/topping mix with a drizzle of water. Add water as needed to make a thick, paste-like cement. Using a plastic scraper, popsicle stick, or a gloved hand, rub the cement across the entire stepping stone. Make several passes over the surface to fill any holes or cracks.
Use a paper towel to wipe the excess cement off of the face of the stone. Allow the stone several hours to dry. Repeat the process if necessary for any remaining holes.
If Your Glass Is Hidden Below the Cement
If you find that your glass is hidden beneath some cement that seeped beneath it, no worries… As soon as you remove the stone from the mold grab a plastic paint scraper. Gently scratch away at the cement where it covers your stone to remove it. If you don’t have a plastic scraper use something else that is sturdy but dull, like a popsicle stick. Don’t use anything sharp as it might scratch your glass in a very visible way.
If Your Stones Are Breaking When Removed from the Mold
This one is easy… if you find that your stones aren’t staying together you just need to allow more than the 24 hours dry time. Try placing your molds in a warm place (I put mine in the garage in summer time) to ensure a quick and thorough cure.
If you can see that the cement is still dark in areas, that’s a spot where it hasn’t dried yet. Try peeking through the bottom of the mold for any of these spots before removing.
Allow your stepping stones several days to fully cure and harden prior to use to prevent breakage.
DIY Terrazzo Stepping Stones
I do love the embossed stepping stones I’ve made several times over in the last few years. BUT withe fun pops of color I spy out in the grass I LOVE my new terrazzo stepping stones so much. From a distance, they almost remind me of little flowers in the grass!
Do you love these stones, too? What colors will you make?
DIY Terrazzo Stepping Stones
- Reusable Plastic Stepping Stone Mold
- Stained Glass Pieces
- Sand/Topping Mix
- Adhesive Shelf Liner
- Remove the paper insert from your stepping stone use it and trace the shape onto the paper side of shelf adhesive. Cut the shape out with scissors.
- Grab your glass tile nippers and a piece of stained glass. With the nippers positioned like in the photo, nip random shapes, some smaller and some larger.
- Continue cutting and placing pieces until you're happy with the design.
- In a plastic container mix together your sand/topping mix and water. To prevent bubbles appearing on the surface you need a consistency that is somewhat thin. However, you don't want your cement to be too runny or it will seep under the glass and ruin the terrazzo effect.
- Gently spoon your cement into the mold taking care not to shift the shelf liner and glass below. When your mold is about half full take it and carefully strike the bottom of the mold on your work top. This will help pop any bubbles that have formed around your glass pieces.Fill all of the way to the lip of the stepping stone mold and place somewhere flat to cure. Let the stepping stone dry at least 24 hours.
- Remove stone from mold and clean up as necessary. Allow several days to fully cure before use.