Thursday, July 13, 2017

DIY Cement Planter Tutorial

DIY Tutorial - concrete planters / candle holders for $5!

I was introduced to my obsession with concrete planters on one of my Pinterest-ing cruises for new ideas. (follow us on Pinterest for more cool pins).  They seemed so simple to make.  All I really needed to buy was a bag of cement from the hardware store.  
But I must admit, hardware stores still overwhelmed me at the time.
Anyways,  off I go to Lowes on my lunch break.  I find the cement isle and wonder...  "What on earth is the difference between them all?  Is it that big of a deal if I choose any bag?"
Well, as I usually create through MUCH trial and error, I found it sometimes does makes a difference, but in general any kind would suffice really.  It's all about preference, project, and budget!  

I would actually prefer to try Finishing cement but that is double the cost (~$12).  For my gifting projects, this one works just fine...I chose this Quickrete. 
 I have used it before and it was within my $5 budget.  These items are being gifted to my family and experimenting for new ETSY SHOP items so they don't need to be perfect, I am not selling them.  Maybe next time. 
Ok. Now lets get started.

What you will need:

  • Quikrete concrete
  • Mixing bowl or bucket
  • Paint stirrer or mixer (paint sticks are free so I chose this route)
  • Vegetable oil OR cooking spray
  • Paper towel (optional - helps spread if you're using vegetable oil)
  • Cement molds
Additional supplies for added design:
  • Ribbon / lace
  • Spray adhesive
  • Scissors


  1.  I usually like to make a few cement items at a time (since I just had to drag out all of these supplies).  So, I figure out my outer cement mold(s) and my inner mold(s). (below are two molds - outer and inner - I use to make concrete bowls - and of course, my little "helper"). 
  2. Cover the inside of your base container (or 'outer mold') with the vegetable  oil or cooking spray.
    (The white rim is where I chose to add some lace accent to my cement object. If you chose to go this route, check out the Additional  Accents section at the end of this post)
  3. Now cover the outside of your inner mold with a coat of vegetable oil or cooking spray too.  This is what will make the hole in your cement planter/candle holder.
  4. Add a few cups of the Quickrete into your mixing bucket depending on how many projects you are making (you do NOT need the whole bag!) and follow directions on the bag for mixing (this is where my paint stick comes in handy). It's typically 1/2 gallon of water for an entire 60 lb. bag of cement so you can either do the math for the portion in your bucket or just kind of wing it.  I prefer the latter.
  5.  TIP: If you add too much water it may lessen the strength of the concrete but I have never had any issues with it.  I'm not building a road.  I actually prefer a more runny mixture because the finished product comes out smoother.  However, a thinner mix takes MUCH LONGER to dry and cure.  If you have the patience, go for it, but the thicker mixture works just as good in half the time).Your mix should end up looking somewhat like the image above, with a similar consistency of cake batter.
  6. Pour the mix into your outer mold but ONLY FILL it a 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full.
    (TIP:  During this stage it's important to remove the air bubbles.  If I don't have my electric sander with me to vibrate the outer sides of my mold, I'll just tap the outer container on the ground a few times to remove as many air bubbles as possible.  The sander is your best bet though).
  7. Now press your inner mold into the concrete and try your best to center it. 
    Add some weights to this inner mold or the cement will push it upwards.

    (For the picture above I used heavy rocks but I suggest using something more evenly weighted.  I had to get these to sit just right otherwise my inner circle was not coming out very circular 😩)
  8. Place in a cool dry place for at least 24 hours.  Remove the inner mold slowly.  Patience is key here (something I am completely lacking in!)  At times it may seem like it's never going to budge, but TRUST ME, it will.
     (Side note: this is where the cooking spray/vegetable oil works.  If you didn't lather up your molds you may have to break them off). 

    ($Thrifting TIP: Get your molds from the thrift store or dollar store in case you have to break them to get your piece out.  Save your money!  They also clean off pretty good and can be used again for your next DIY cement project - double bonus)

  9. Now it's time to completely remove the cement planter/candle holder from your outer mold.
    (TIP:  If you removed the inner mold and your cement project still seemed pretty wet, leave it in the outer mold for another 12-24 hours to avoid chipping)
    They can't all be gems. -As evidence, I took this one out too early and it crumbled on me.  Don't give up if you mess up, we ALL do.  No one sells or advertises their mishaps.  Keep going thrifty sister, you still have a huge bag of cement left!

    This is where you really want to be careful (as evident from above if your not).  I try to tap on the outside of the mold to loosen it up a bit and will try to tip it upside down on a soft surface.   The good thing about cement and rustic décor though is that it's not supposed to be perfect!  And you learned a new lesson to save time on your next project.

  10. Once your concrete design is free, allow to cure for another 24-48 hours outside of your molds.  Once it's dry and cured you have an 'expensive' piece to display and a wonderful only took you about $5 to make it.  
 Great Job on your DIY cement décor!


  1. Choose a lace ribbon or ornamental accent to place within your cement mold.
    I find the thicker ribbons work better and leave deeper impressions.
  2. Cut the ribbon to size so it sits in your mold with no overlaps
    If you want your impressions/accents visible on the OUTSIDE of your cement décor, place the ribbon on the INSIDE of your OUTER mold.
    If you want the impressions/accents visible on the INSIDE of your cement décor, place the ribbon on the OUTSIDE of your INNER mold.
  3. Lightly spray one side of your ribbon with spray adhesive and apply to your chosen cement mold (I chose to have my impressions visible on the outside of my décor)
  4. Continue with Steps 3-9 above to complete your cement décor.
  5. Once your mold has cured, remove the ribbon/ornamental accent from your décor with a pointed object (I used tweezers I had on hand).  Pull gently and remove.
  6.  Admire your finished product...and your patience!

Want your own cement décor but don't have the time this week to make it?
We recommend you check out these really cute, and reasonably priced items from Amazon:


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