Use these step-by-step instructions to make a decorative stone birdhouse for your garden. With the right adhesive these little houses can last outdoors for years to come.
To make nesting boxes suitable for wild birds, see Free Nesting Box Plans here.
Build a Stone Birdhouse
I first saw a stone birdhouse on a garden tour many years ago and it was so beautifully made I decided to buy one for my yard. The gardener kindly told me which local shop she purchased hers from and I went straight over to pick one out.
And then I saw the price tag.
Granted, it was gorgeous, but…
So, instead, I went into frugal mode and started thinking about how they are made. Once I realized the stones were simply glued on a wooden birdhouse base, the rest was easy.
On my way home I bought an inexpensive plain birdhouse, gathered stones, options for a roof, and adhesive and by the next day I had my very own stone birdhouse.
Bird Safety Note
Before we get started, one thing that people often overlook is the difference between a birdhouse and a nesting box.
- Birdhouses like you see here (left) are intended as decorations and are not built to house actual birds. For bird safety, block the entry door from use. It is not uncommon for adult birds to lay their eggs inside and then find their young have no way of climbing out.
- If you wish to make a proper nesting box that it is safe for birds, there are free plans here. Proper nesting boxes are designed to be safe for specific species and keep predators out.
Frequently Asked Questions & Tips
These are some of the top questions I have been asked about making stone birdhouses.
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.
No, with the method I show here, there is no grout required. This is not a mosaic project. In fact, grout will not adhere to the adhesive I recommend. If you want a grouted look, I would find instructions for a mosaic birdhouse. They can be just as nice, but that is not this project.
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 favor 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.
Empress of Dirt
DIY Stone Birdhouse
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Supplies and Tools
When decorating a stone birdhouse, there are lots of possible design choices: consider the color, 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 sand and prime the wood before adding the stones and protect your work of art afterwards with exterior polyurethane (or another similar product).
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)
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)
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.
There is no perfect adhesive. None of these are waterproof when submerged in water. Each one has different traits.
See my complete Glue Resource Guide for Outdoor Projects for more details. Keep in mind, a project like this kept outdoors in 4-season weather is not going to last forever.
My top pick for an adhesive for this project is GE II Silicone Sealant (clear drying). Don’t be confused by the word ‘sealant’: the GE Silicone II acts as a glue but is marketed as a sealant.
Decide whether you want to use a caulking dispenser or squeeze tube product. I choose the caulking dispenser because the adhesives are much less expensive in that format. Some readers use Weldbond Universal Adhesive or E6800. I prefer the GE Silicone II.
Adhesives have improved considerably in recent years, but, as mentioned, each has shortcomings.
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 thumbnail. 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-colored 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.
Let’s get this party started.
1 Seal (or prime and paint) all of the wood surfaces
As mentioned, you could use exterior polyurethane, 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 adhesive
This is the adhesive I use: it’s actually silicone sealant and works very well: garden art adhesive (amazon.com).
Layout all of your stones on a flat surface and sort by color if you intend to form any patterns with the colors. 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.)
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 thoroughly before setting up your birdhouse outdoors.
More Stone Birdhouse Ideas
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 favorite resting spot for the mourning doves.
If you make one, I’d love to see a photo of it!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
How to Make a Stone Birdhouse
Supplies & Materials
- 1 Wood birdhouse to use as base
- 1 Silicone sealant outdoor, clear drying
- 600 Stones enough to cover surface
- 1 Funnel for roof (paint if desired)
- 1 Wood primer
- 1 Exterior polyurethane
- 1 Scrap wood for mounting birdhouse
- Make a wood base for mounting birdhouse (optional) and attach wood birdhouse.
- Sand and prime wood birdhouse and base. Also apply exterior polyurethane for a longer-lasting birdhouse.
- Block off any openings. Decorative birdhouses are not safe for live birds.
- Plan any color or design details first and then apply stones with thick dabs of silicone sealant, working around all edges, openings, and odd shapes first. Fill in rest after this.
- Attach roof using silicone sealant as an adhesive.
- Coat entire finished birdhouse with 2-3 layers of exterior polyurethane (optional).