Whether you’ve got an old concrete statue that needs a bit of touching up or a brand-new item that doesn’t help the Feng Shui of your garden, cleaning and painting outdoor statues could be just the trick you need.
As you’ll find out, servicing these statues is easier than you may think! In this guide, we’ll go over all the steps you’ll need to take to make sure your statue has that desired look.
With this in mind, keep reading to find out the best ways to clean and paint outdoor concrete statues!
And what are the best paints you can use for painting over your outdoor concrete statues or garden gnomes…
How to Clean Concrete Statues for Painting?
My wife and I have been making cement as well as concrete statues in our backyard for a very long.
The last we have made was of a rabbit that “looks just awesome” (our neighbors complimented).
Believe me, it’s a great proud feel to make these statues and paint them on your own…
Well, when it comes to statue painting in a garden you’ll definitely want to clean your garden ornaments before you paint them for all the obvious reasons.
For starters, leaving debris on your statue before painting it can lead to an uneven (and unattractive) paint job that certainly won’t be turning heads on your patio.
Not cleaning your gnome statue could also increase the chances that your paint job becomes damaged, meaning you’ll have to spend more time and money repainting your statue than you expected.
If you’re looking for a long-term fix that will have your lawn looking its best for years to come, you’ll want to follow the upcoming cleaning tips:
Step 1- Remove Debris
You’ll want to start cleaning your outdoor lawn ornaments by using a small, soft-bristled brush that can remove external debris such as dirt and cobwebs throughout damaging the concrete.
Many first-time cleaners make the mistake of using harsh brushes such as grill brushes, which have been known to strip the concrete and leave an overall patchy finish.
Avoid doing this and instead opt for paintbrushes and toothbrushes, which are gentle and versatile enough to enable widespread cleaning of your statue.
For larger areas, consider using a paintbrush to remove large swaths of debris.
To get into smaller nooks and crannies, a soft-bristled toothbrush is excellent at restoring detail to your statue.
Step 2- Use a Garden Hose
Never pressure wash your outside statues and garden gnomes.
Instead, opt for a gentler approach by going with a standard garden hose.
Going with the most powerful setting, you can spray down your concrete statue without having to worry about damage.
Make sure you do so on a stable, man-made surface, as splash-back from the ground can actually make your statue look worse.
As you spray with the garden hose, you’ll want to be sure to attack the statue from a variety of angles.
The pressure of the water should be sufficient to remove much of the debris that’s caked around your statue.
Step 3- Apply Household Cleaners
For a more intimate clean, you may also consider applying organic household cleaners.
You’ll first want to verify that the type of cleaner you are using isn’t harmful to the environment.
If you’re not careful, you may very well kill your garden in the process.
Standard household cleaners are great at getting the job done but must be applied to wet statues.
If you feel inclined after hosing off your statue, you may scrub down the concrete with a safe household cleaner using a small brush.
You can also mix the cleaner into a solution of hot water and brush off the statue instead of using the hose.
Tip: Avoid Cleaning in Cold Weather
Expecting a sudden temperature drop? Then you don’t want to clean your statue.
In general, it’s best to avoid cleaning your outdoor concrete statue in cold weather.
That’s because concrete absorbs moisture, which can freeze, expand, and bust your statue if the weather gets too cold.
For this reason, you want to make sure that you’re doing your cleaning in warm weather or at least in a temperature-controlled setting such as your garage.
Taking care of these conditions can help you keep your birdbath statue safe and looking brand new.
How to Paint The Concrete Statues Perfectly?
Now that we’ve gone over how to clean concrete statues, it’s time to take an in-depth look at how to paint them.
Use the following information to get your concrete statue to match your desired look!
Step 1- Wash
If you haven’t already, you’ll want to wash your statue with the steps provided above.
Again, be sure not to use any harsh chemicals that can damage the ground or damage the statue.
Remember that some chemicals can cause your statue to change colors, which will pose problems later on when painting.
As the final step of the washing process, make sure that you give your statue time to dry completely, which can take up to a day.
Blow any leftover debris away if necessary.
Step 2- Apply Primer
Once your statue is good and clean, it’s time to apply your primer.
For concrete statues, it’s best to apply an epoxy exterior primer that can withstand harsh weather conditions.
Make sure that you are doing so in a well-ventilated area.
For best results, you’ll also want to wear a mask that will help you avoid breathing in any harmful fumes.
Start by setting your statue on a towel, tarp, or other surfaces.
If you wish to paint the base, set the statue on its side and start with a paintbrush on the bottom.
Make sure the base has time to dry, then work your way up the statue until it has been completely coated in primer.
Step 3- Paint the Base
Setting the statue back on its side, apply a twenty-percent diluted exterior latex concrete paint to the base of your statue.
When this has dried, move upward until the entire statue has been coated.
As before, you can complete this process with a paintbrush.
If you do not wish to paint the base, simply leave it untouched and focus on the other sides of your statue.
Step 4- Paint the Surface
Using the same paintbrush (or paint sprayer, if you choose), coat the remaining sides of your statue with the diluted paint solution.
Make sure that every inch of your statue is covered evenly. This could be difficult if you skipped any of the cleaning steps before.
Give your first coat time to dry, and apply a second coat of paint when you are ready.
Step 5- Apply a Topcoat
Unlike your base coat, your topcoat should be full-strength.
You’ll want to apply this coat everywhere you apply the base coat, including the base of the statue if applicable.
You may choose to do so in full or rather use a stencil to create a design for your statue.
Some individuals find it nice to apply the topcoat and then rub it gently to reveal bits of the base coat.
This can create a more weathered pattern that fits nicely with certain gardens or patios.
Step 6- Add a Waterproof Seal
Once your paint has completely dried, you’ll want to add a waterproof seal.
This will help the statue stay safe in the rain and in storms, giving you that extra protection you need for a better-looking statue.
Make sure to do this after a period of around twenty-four hours so that your statue is completely dry.
When applied, the seal will help lock in your colors and drive off any unwanted moisture.
Step 7- Dry the Statue
Your statue should be completely dry within another twenty-four-hour period.
But you’ll want to keep it out of moist areas for a period of about two days to allow the paint and sealer to set.
Once done, you’ll have a statue that will make the neighbors jealous!
What Kind of Spray Paint Should I Use for Statues?
Choosing the best paint for outdoor concrete statues is highly important so that you can get the job done right.
Standard aerosol can spray paints can be used both for full-on painting and accents.
Whether you’re looking for a solid color or would like a concrete statue that has a bit of a personal touch, you can use standard spray paints.
A pro tip is to use a standard can for your base paint and a glossier paint on top so that you can have a statue that pops.
Acrylic Latex Paint that’s meant for exteriors can also do the job pretty well if you want something more traditional and cheaper in your backyard.
In fact, it’s a good option to choose from as it can last for years when you do it right.
Plus, it will not be going to harm your backyard friends!
One good paint that I highly recommend is ARTEZA Outdoor Acrylic Paint. I use this all the time for painting my client’s garden statues (outdoor sculptures, concrete flower pots, birdbaths, gnomes, and many more decorations made of stone in the backyard).
What Do You Need To Know?
With all the paints in mind, it’s time to look at some information you should know before painting your backyard statue:
- You Can Use Regular Paint
Both standard acrylic latex spray paints and regular paint that have been watered down work well for concrete statues.
These paints are thin enough to adhere to the concrete and strong enough to form tight bonds on the surface of the statue.
What’s more, these paints are versatile enough for accenting, detailing, and shadowing, depending on how far you want to go with your paint job.
- Concrete Stains
Exterior concrete stains are also a great way to get the job done.
These stains come in aerosol cans and act like spray paint to cover your statue.
Of course, the finished look is slightly different, with concrete stains providing a more acid-washed effect for your finish.
- Don’t Paint a New Statue
You’ll want to wait at least a month before you paint a brand-new statue.
That’s because it takes time for the statue to set and be ready to hold the paint molecules.
Likewise, if your statue has already been painted or sealed before, you’ll want to take special precautions so as not to end up with a bad paint job.
Consider sanding the material and following the manufacturer’s directions for painting and sealing.
- Don’t Dry the Statue on the Ground
For best results, make sure to set your statue on a pedestal when drying.
This will help keep moisture from soaking up into your statue during the drying process.
You may also consider leaving your base unpainted so that your statue has room to breathe and moisture does not get trapped on the inside.
- Protect the Painted Statues and Gnomes
Once you have repainted your garden gnomes and have ensured that it’s completely dry, consider applying a UV-protectant sealer like a Rust-Oleum protective clear coat.
You simply need to spray this on the painted statue as you would spray the paint or primer.
This awesome product will help protect all your hard painting work from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Plus, it also adds a bit of gloss finish to the gnome’s surface.
Here are a few Additional Ideas for Painting Outdoor Garden Rabbit Statues
You may have rabbits passing through your garden from time to time, but you can honor these little creatures with small statues that populate the area.
Believe me; there are few things that can really liven up a garden more than little statues of rabbits, pelicans, or garden gnomes.
These ornaments for your garden come either finished or in their raw concrete form, which is perfect for painting.
From highly detailed, realistic representations to simple, colorful designs that make the statues truly stand out, you can choose whatever pattern you want for your statues.
What follows are a few tips on how to paint your concrete rabbit statues, so you can get what you want to enhance the appearance of your garden.
If you do not want to paint the figurines and statues, providing them with a weathered look can be quite attractive.
Simply wash the statues and let them air dry. Then, use a clear sealer and let it dry.
Afterward, cover the statue in stain or latex concrete paint using dark colors such as brown, green, or black.
Leave the paint on for about 10 seconds, then wipe it once with a wet cloth, then again with a dry one.
Allow it to set completely for at least 24 hours, and then add another layer of sealer.
Keep It Simple
In other words, you can quickly spray paint the statues a single color quickly and easily.
Be sure to wash the statue first with clean water and let it air dry under the sun if possible.
Once fully dry, you can start by adding a base coat of latex if the statue is outside.
Then, you can simply spray paint the statue with the color that you desire.
After 24 hours, apply a clear sealer, and it will last for many years.
Rabbits have distinctive patterns in their fur and a bit of cuteness in their eyes which can be mimicked when hand-painting the statues with a brush.
You can get the required paint from hardware or craft stores and follow the pattern typical for certain breeds of rabbits;
- Lop Ears: Mix brown and white colors to match the popular Holland Lop rabbit
- Upright Ears: A spotted black and white pattern similar to the English Spot rabbit works
- Harlequin Rabbit: This is a rabbit with a brown and orange coat, so make sure to paint it like that
Be sure to use a sealer about 24 hours after completing the paint job. Once completed, you can move the statue to the garden.
If you have selected a metal statue and not a concrete one, then you will need to clean the statue first of all rust.
Then use a metal primer to keep rust from forming on the statue again.
Once completed, you will need to use a rubber or oil-based paint.
You can stick with tradition and go with natural colors and patterns or go for a more exotic look using bright pastels.
The bottom line
Putting a few rabbit statues (Santa, birds, couples, or any other you like) in your garden will add to the natural atmosphere and help create a world that you’ll look forward to visiting again and again.
The good thing is you can repaint these outdoor statues the way you want and can refresh them whenever you need to get a fresher look.
Instead of painting the old ones, you can also find concrete statues at your local retail or home improvement store that offers gardening implements. They are rather inexpensive to buy, and you will love adding them.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.