Stone birdhouses are easy to make and, with the right materials, can be kept in the garden year-round. The trick is to use a sturdy wood birdhouse as the base, and attach stones with the right adhesive (see below) for a lasting bond.
I’ll walk you through everything you need to make these beautiful garden art decorations.
Before You Start
One thing that people often overlook is the difference between a birdhouse and a nesting box.
- Birdhouses like you see here are intended as decorations and are not built to house actual birds.
- If you wish to make a proper nesting box that it is safe for birds, please refer to these guidelines at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
When decorating a stone birdhouse, there are lots of possible design choices: consider the colour, texture and placement of the stones, and whether you also want to add little touches like window boxes, door frames, and so on. It’s best to establish the structures first, and then proceed with the decorating.
To ensure the stone birdhouse lasts a good long time, take time to prime the wood before adding the stones and protect your work of art afterwards with exterior polyurethane (or another similar product).
These instructions plus 17 more garden art projects are all available in my eBook, Empress of Dirt Garden Art & Ideas.
How much will it cost to make?
The cost of your project will depend entirely on whether you have a free birdhouse to work with or you need to buy one and how much you want to spend. I’ve linked to suggested supplies below so you can see the retail prices.
If you’re thrifty like me, ask around first. It’s amazing how many unwanted items people have tucked away in their homes and sheds.
Do I need to grout the finished birdhouse?
No, with the method I show here, there is no grout required. In fact, the adhesive used will not adhere with grout. If you want that look, you should find instructions for a mosaic birdhouse.
Begin at The End
Before you start, decide how you’d like the birdhouse to look. A search on Pinterest for ‘stone birdhouses’ will provide lots of ideas.
Where Will You Display It?
Next, think about where you going to put the birdhouse and how it will be mounted. It’s much easier to prepare for this before you apply the stones than after.
For example, if you intend to place the stone birdhouse on a post, add a base for mounting it and any hardware needed before you get crafty with the stones. Again, structures first, then décor.
Read Everything First
Do yourself a favour and read the entire instructions before starting in case some fabulous brain wave comes by to make your project even better. The adhesive forms a really strong bond so it’s next to impossible to change things later.
Supplies and Tools
- One wooden birdhouse [you can see options here at Amazon.com]
This is your most important choice. Do you want the birdhouse to last a really long time or just a season or two?
If you want a long-lasting one, start with a really well-made, sturdy birdhouse. It should have nice thick wood and solid construction.
If you’re not in it for the long haul, you can use the cheaper prefab birdhouses you commonly see at shops like Michaels. They come in a variety of options including stores, churches, lighthouses, sheds, and more. But they are pretty flimsy. At minimum, be sure the birdhouse can hold the weight of the stones.
You could also use a wooden bird feeder, large coffee can, or anything else with the right shape.
Either way, pick a fairly simple design. Be sure you could actually place small stones everywhere you’d want them and that there isn’t anything blocking the way (like window frames or other design details).
- Exterior wood primer (before you add the stones) [see them here]
If you want your stone birdhouse to last for years and years, you can’t use leave the wood untreated. Either prime and paint all of the wood first or use an outdoor wood protection product (available in any paint store). You probably have some leftover paint in storage that would do the trick.
- Exterior grade Polyurethane (after you’ve added the stones) [see it here on Amazon.com]
The finished bird house should be protected with outdoor polyurethane. You can use a brush-on or spray-on product such as Zar Ultra Fast Drying Polyurethane Spray. This is essential if you’re going to keep the stone birdhouse outside in wet weather.
My top pick is GE Silicone II Silicone Sealant (clear drying).
My second choices are Weldbond Universal Adhesive or E6000.
These products have improved considerably in recent years and work really well. Some are sold as ‘sealants’ but they do adhere as well. Decide whether you want to use a caulking gun or squeeze tube product. I choose the caulking gun because the adhesives are much less expensive in that format.
If you’re lucky you have access to free, small stones. Really smooth ones would look really snazzy. The trick is to find stone with at least one flat side for easy adhesion to the birdhouse. I get mine in small bags at the dollar store. The ones I used were about the size of a nickel or thumb nail. I can’t really suggest a quantity to buy because it completely depends on how big your birdhouse is and how much surface you will cover.
You could use:
- Twine glued onto the existing roof surface.
- A metal funnel with a round, wooden drawer pull in the top.
- Cedar shingles for dollhouses.
- Cedar twigs.
- Copper leaf.
- Lightweight sheet metal for crafting cut to size.
- Pine cone leaf parts.
- Or simply paint the existing roof.
- Protective gloves, rags, clean, well-ventilated work space (outside recommended while using the adhesive).
- Acrylic Paint or Stain (optional-for roof)
I’ve made a few with twine roofs and painted the twine with copper-coloured acrylic paint and then sealed it with exterior grade polyurethane.
- Mesh screen, bubble wrap, or poultry net (scraps, optional)
As mentioned, most commercial birdhouses are decorative and not intended (or safe) for birds to nest in them. Because of this, I suggest you block off the doors and windows with fine mesh screen. This way the wasps and bees won’t nest in there either.
How to Make Decorative Stone Birdhouses
Let’s get this party started.
1 Seal (or prime and paint) all of the wood surfaces.
As mentioned, you could use exterior polyurethane, Weldbond or some other type of wood sealer (e.g. leftover deck sealant). This will keep the wood from expanding and contracting in temperature changes and therefore prevent the stones from popping off. I didn’t bother sealing the inside of the house, just the outside. Just remember, the more anal you are with this part of the project, probably the longer your house will last. Allow to dry.
2 Adhere the stones with sealant or Weldbond.
This is the adhesive I use: it’s actually silicone sealant and works very well: garden art adhesive.
Layout all of your stones on a flat surface and sort by colour if you intend to form any patterns with the colours. For example, you might want darker stones over windows or doors or around the base of the house to form an accent.
I apply the stones from the bottom up so that each new row of stones would rest on the one below while the adhesive is drying. I placed the stones really close together because I didn’t want to use grout to fill any gaps. If you end up with little weird gaps, just smash some stones to get smaller pieces to work with. (Smashing advice: place a few stones in a plastic bag and whack the bag with a hammer — do this on a hard surface outside somewhere and wear safety goggles if you are born under a bad sign. It doesn’t hurt to release any pent up angry thoughts while you’re at it.)
3 Complete the Roof.
There’s lot so of options (depending on the design of your house) including funnels, small cedar shingles, twine, copper leaf, twigs….
4 Apply final weather protection.
Apply 3 coats of exterior grade polyurethane exterior grade polyurethane—following the instructions on the can. Usually it says to wait a few hours between coats, and to lightly sand before applying each coat but sanding stones and twine is not really feasible, so ignore that part. Dry between coats and allow final coat to dry throughly before setting up your birdhouse outdoors.
You’re donesville! Set it up, baby! There’s a zillion fun things you can do to make the stone birdhouse even more enchanting: you could use doll-size furniture or accessories to create a little scene around the house, add window boxes (just make them and glue them on), fake birds, weather resistant dolls in the same scale—anything!
You could also plant some grass seed or other low-growing plants around the base of the house. I did this for mine and it became a favourite resting spot for the mourning doves.
If you make one, I’d love to see a photo of it!
Also see the Birdhouse Idea Gallery