Learn how to make this lightweight stone-like substance
Use the links below to jump to a specific section.
- What is Hypertufa?
- How to mix Hypertufa
- Hypertufa Recipes
- Additional Notes and Tips
- Giving Your Projects an Aged Look
- How to Grow Moss on Your Projects
Hypertufa is a mixture of Portland cement and other ingredients such as peat moss, sand, perlite, or vermiculite and water. Hypertufa is used to make fake rock containers and other items. Once fully cured, it is weatherproof and should not crack during freezing temperatures. People like it because it can be lighter in weight as compared to concrete or stone, but it has a similar look. It will break if dropped, so take care in moving the containers around once finished.
There are probably dozens of recipes for hypertufa and the recipe depends on the end result you are looking for. Troughs or plant containers will need to be denser to withstand cold climates. If you live in a milder climate, you can usually get away with a lighter weight recipe that contains less Portland cement and more peat moss and perlite. Large projects may require a different mix or may require reinforcing fibers or mesh.
On this page, I will list the most commonly used recipes and also the recipes that I use most often. There really isn't a right or wrong way to do it, and you will probably find many different methods as you research further.
When mixing hypertufa, always mix the dry ingredients well before adding your water, and always wear a dust mask to prevent breathing in the dust of the Portland cement and other ingredients. Once the mix is wet, the mask can be removed. If you have any chunks in the dry ingredients, break them up so that they will mix well with the water. Large pieces of peat or other organic matter can be removed if it won't break up easily. It's OK to mix the dry ingredients with a hoe or spade, but once you start adding the water, you really need to mix it with your hands. I wear rubber gloves to mix hypertufa. Never mix with your bare hands as the Portland cement is caustic and very irritating to the skin. Check the safety precautions on the bag for more info.
You may also want to wear latex gloves underneath so that you can quickly remove the rubber gloves when it comes time to press the mixture into your forms. If you do that, you may need to buy a rubber glove one size larger than what you usually use. The latex gloves just give you a better feel when it comes time to do the detail work. The rubber gloves can be a little clumsy, plus there is a slight texture on the palm and fingers that you may not want translated to the surface of the hypertufa. If you are allergic to latex, there are gloves on the market now that do not contain latex.
For the most part, your mix should be the consistency of cookie dough. When you squeeze it in your hand, it should form a ball and very little water should drip from it. If it won't hold together, than you need to add a little more water. If it becomes too soupy, add equal parts of the dry ingredients until it is the right consistency. Too wet of a mix will be weak, but there are some occasions, you may want a wetter mixture, especially if you want a very smooth finish to a piece, but the bulk of your mixture should be on the drier side.
Mixing hypertufa can be a messy business, so wear old clothes or an apron while mixing.
After combining all the ingredients and the water has been mixed in well, let the hypertufa mix sit for 5-10 minutes before pressing it into the mold. This is very important because the peat moss needs more time to absorb the water than the Portland cement. You can mist it with a water bottle if the mix starts to dry out too fast.
Continue to page 2 for hypertufa recipes and more.