In this post I’ll show you how to make colorful paint-tinted cement tealight candle holders, an easy afternoon project.
Hello again! Fall is by far my favorite season. Something narrows in my mind, and I feel cozy and secure as the weather starts changing. There is a different smell in the air, a chill at night, and glorious but increasingly fleeting warmth by day. Campfires. Frost. Coffee. Ahhhh Autumn!
I’m so happy I figured out how to tint cement with paint. It’s not often that I’m truly surprised that things turn out better than expected. I think you will have this experience with your paint-tinted decor projects, too! I decided to make colorful tealight candle holders this time. I used paint colors loosely inspired by the fall season to add some autumn ambience to our home. Of course you can choose any colors you want. Let’s get started.
Okay, before we get started, I just want to add that colored handmade decor, like these tealight holders or other colored cement decor, are great gifts, and with holidays coming up, I just thought I’d throw that out there. I made these 12 tealight holders in an afternoon, and each one costs about 50 cents.
- containers to use as molds (I used 9 oz clear plastic tumblers from Dollar Tree)
- measuring spoons (1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon)
- dust mask
- protective gloves (tight-fitting)
- mixing bowl
- Quikcrete anchoring cement, Rapid Set Cement All, or similar
- 3 oz disposable cups
- latex paint (for instance, most interior wall paint)
- spray oil
- sandpaper (optional)
- pliers/scissors/mallet/hammer (optional)
ABOUT THE PAINT
The type of paint to use for coloring cement (and concrete) is latex paint. Most interior wall paints are this type of paint. Leftover paint and sample-size jars are ideal for this project because you don’t need much. I used several brands (Behr, Pittsburgh Paints, Glidden) and didn’t notice any difference as to brand. The paint tints the cement when added in the mixing process, giving a muted version of the color.
MIXING THE CEMENT
For this project, I mixed the paint and cement using a method that differed somewhat from my first paint-tinted cement project. In the first paint-tinted project, I mixed the paint and water in a cup, then added the liquid mixture to the dry cement and mixed thoroughly. If you want to use the first method go here: Using Latex Paint To Tint DIY Cement Decor. The first method tends to produce smoother cement, with fewer pockets and other “defects,” and more even distribution of color.
In this project, I did not premix the paint and water. Instead, I put the paint, cement, and water in the mixing bowl and then mixed, but not thoroughly, leaving the mixture somewhat lumpy and the paint not completely mixed in. I’m calling this mixing method “Chunky Cement Paint Mix.” This method produces a more rustic look, with more holes, “defects,” and uneven distribution of color. You can use either or both methods, or play around with the mix and see what you come up with.
Chunky Cement Paint Mix Method for Mixing Latex Paint with Anchoring Cement
Use the following general proportions:
- 3 oz Quikrete anchoring cement, Cement All, or similar (dry)
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 to 2 teaspoons latex paint* (optional)
*Note that you can use 2 teaspoons of paint in a batch of cement this size, but the cement cures much slower, and the strength of the cured concrete may be decreased. I haven’t had any problems with decor items, though.
I use a 3 oz plastic disposable cup to measure the anchoring cement. If you want to make a larger cement batch, you can use the proportions given in the recipe above to scale up the batch size.
First add paint to the mixing bowl, then add 3 oz (by volume) of anchoring cement to the bowl.
Add the water to the anchoring cement and paint in the mixing bowl. If you are not adding paint to the batch, you can add more water. Keep in mind that you have about 5 minutes before the batch sets up, so get your molds ready before you start to mix the cement/paint. If you have added paint to the batch, it slows down the curing process, and you have a bit more time. Also, thinner (more water) batches take more time to cure than thick batches.
The photo on the left below shows a “chunky” batch after mixing, and the photo on the right shows the batch in the plastic cup mold. I didn’t mix this batch much at all. You can mix it more thoroughly for a different look.
I usually make several tealight holders at the same time, distributing a batch of cement mix to several molds and creating multicolored layers. In the photo below, you can see tealight holders in progress. Fill the molds with layers of cement to about 1/2 inch to 1 inch from the top of the mold. Let this cure about 1/2 hour or more. After adding more cement, insert a 3 oz plastic disposable cup in the center of each casting and push it into the cement. Weight it by placing something on top so that the cup stays in the cement. I often use small glass bowls to weight the cups (as in the candle in the bottom right of the photo below). Let the tealight holders cure for about 6 hours or more, then take out the center cups by collapsing them and pulling them out. Turn the cast over and tap the bottom to dislodge the larger bowl. You might need to tap with a hammer or the handle end of a screwdriver to loosen it. Sometimes I need to cut the cup to get it out.
Next I’ll show you a few variations.
For this effect, add the cement for a layer, then tip the cup mold so the cement goes up onto the side of the mold. The center candle in the photo above is this type of variation in progress. Here is how that turned out.
I wanted more vivid orange to go with the fall theme, and the orange paint when mixed in the cement was quite muted. So I painted the inside of some of the molds with orange, then put the cement in. In the cured candle holder, the paint sits on the surface and is more intense than when mixed in.
This variation was inspired by this vase that I made previously. (See this project here.)
When I made this vase, I was near the end of a bucket of Quikcete anchoring cement, and there were little pebbles of hardened cement in the dry mix. I almost didn’t use it, but then decided to. The white circular spots in the middle are those hardened cement pebbles (I think). To try to replicate this effect but with color, I made a batch of green cement and as it was drying I broke it up into pebbles.
In the candle holder below, I put the green pebbles in the topmost layer. They don’t appear green really, but I can tell there is something darker there. This is something I’ll experiment with more.
That’s it for the making colored cement tealight holders. Here are some more photos!
In case you are interested in the stump table (photo above) go to the tutorial here: Tree Stump Side Table with Mix and Match DIY Leg Options.
Until next time,
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