Here’s the quick play by play on how I made this rock covered bucket!
Basic ingredients for a rock covered bucket: strong (not flimsy!) metal can or bucket that holds its shape when moved (I chose this trash can); 2 sheets 12” x 12” river rock mesh tile; thin set mortar; grout (sanded or nonsanded); putty knife, large sponge.
If you want to make it a planter, punch a few holes in the bottom with a hammer and a thick nail first for drainage. To adhere the river rocks to the metal bucket, I followed the same basic steps as I did with this mosaic planter, first applying a thick layer of thin set mortar then cutting the mesh tile with a box cutter and layering the tile on the outside of the bucket.
I found it helped to turn the bucket upside down using the top rim as the base to hold the mesh tile to the bucket and allow the thin set mortar to dry. You need to work in sections, mixing small amounts of thin set at a time and allowing each section to dry for about an hour, then allowing all of the thin set to dry for a full day.
I was a little skeptical at first (since in most circumstances thin set mortar isn’t designed for metal) but then delightfully surprised just how well the thin set and mesh river rock pebbles clung to the sturdy metal bucket once the thin set was dry. I’m not convinced this idea would work with thin set if using individual pebbles or small river rocks – in that circumstance I’d choose an epoxy adhesive instead of thin set. And if you use a flimsy container, the project just won’t work – it definitely needs to be a bucket that holds its shape or you risk cracking mortar and grout.
The next evening I mixed up some grout, added it with a putty knife, then removed excess with a sponge.
I was nervous about the thin set not clinging to the metal, so I’ve been testing its durability for the last few weeks by moving it around a lot and getting water on it daily, and it’s all stayed completely intact so I’m feeling confident it will last.
It’s a great focal point in the yard that always sparks up a conversation – it would also make a great indoor accent, perhaps for storing bathroom towels or toiletries!
Material I used for this project:
- Bucket (Home Depot)
- 2 sheets 12” x 12” river rock mesh tile (Home Depot)
- Thin set mortar (Home Depot)
- Grout (Home Depot)