The following tips are for exterior cement statuary.
Contrary to my website name, I’m not a doctor. My real occupation consists of sitting behind a computer in cubical for eight hours a day!
The tips I’m providing to you here may not be the best way to refinish statuary. These tips are a result of my own limited research, trial and error. As a disclaimer, I am not responsible for the results caused by you following these tips, including personal injuring or damage to the statue.
There are no shortcuts to refinishing a statue. Take your time and enjoy the experience. Obtain help from your friends, family, or a new acquaintance and enjoy nice summer evenings working on the statue together. It makes for a great opportunity for conversation.
If you would like to share your thoughts or if you have questions, I can be reached at the following email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Step by Step
Course sand paper, paint scrapper, paint brush, small sharp object such as an awl or thin nail, paint, small and medium size paint brushes, safety glasses and dust mask. If you need to repair cracks or blemishes in the cement, use crack filler such as bondo, (a dent filler used for automobiles).
Some of these items below may or may not be needed depending on the condition of the statue and how serious you are about refinishing statues. For the more expensive items, such as air compressors and air guns, I recommend finding a friend who will let you bower theirs.
A drop cloth, (or some type of covering should be used if you need to protect surrounding objects from dust and paint), a fine metal file, drumel, epoxy, air brush, air compressor
Air brush. An air brush can also be used but not necessary. The benefit of an air brush is the smooth layers of paint. The air brush also blends the lines of colors and which provides a more realistic look. If you use an air brush, you will need compressed air. I haven’t experimented with compressed air in an arousal can. See more information below for the air compressor I use.
For spraying paint for wide areas, i.e., for spraying the entire statue with the initial first coat of white paint, use an air sprayer such as one used for painting automobiles.
For fine spraying, I began using a dual action siphon feed model 1102 airbrush from Airbrush City Inc. The airbrush clogged a lot, (not due to a malfunction of the airbrush. Ornamental paint from Smith Paints dries very fast). The Airbrush AB105 seemed to worked better. The AB105 is a gravity feed air gun.
Air compressor. I purchased a Husky model H1506F 1.5 6 Gallon air compressor. I didn’t know a whole lot about air compressors. I just knew I wanted something with a tank, an air gauge and a handle to make it easy to carry. I’ve used the air compressor quite a bit with satisfaction.
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Safety is number one. Always wear safety glasses. When sanding, wear a dust mask. If you are working on a ladder, follow the manufacturer’s directions. For example, don’t use the top step to step on. Always have someone available to hold the ladder and to hand you things such as tools and materials. Always use common sense.-Back to List of Topics-
Determine the condition of the statue will help you determine the materials you will need. The paint may be in good enough shape where hand sanding may be used in order to avoid having to use a paint stripper. After scrapping you may find that the use of a paint stripper is necessary due to undulations, (unsmooth surface). I highly recommend avoiding the use of a paint stripper if at all possible. Strippers are messy and in the end – exposes the cement underneath which is not as smooth as hand sanding.
If repairing cracks is necessary, you will need a crack filler. If there are broken items such as fingers, hands, you will need to determine the type of material the hands are made of. I’ve seen cement hands, metal hands and plastic hands. Knowing this will help determine the type of epoxy to use.-Back to List of Topics-
For a crack filler, purchase car bondo body filler. You can purchase bondo at an automotive parts store. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Bondo dries very quickly so use small quantities at a time.
To fix broken fingers, use a quick setting Epoxy Putty. I have been successful with the Loctite brand. You can use Loctite Expoxy Putty on iron, steel, concrete and even wood. This epoxy is sandable, and paintable.
Try to avoid using a paint stripper. Strippers are messy and in the end they expose the cement underneath which is not as smooth as paint that has been sanded down. If using a stripper is necessary, I found a product that claims to be environmentally friendly. There are different strippers for different kind of paints. Cathedral Stone has a water based paint remover labeled as biodegradable, non-toxic, and environmentally safe.
I experimented with 3 different Cathedral Stone stripper products. Cathedral was kind enough to send me samples of the 3 different types. The S-303 performed well for the type of the common used for your common lawn statuary.
Be sure to remove the paint completely once it has been exposed to the stripper. To accomplish this, work on removing paint in small areas at a time. Otherwise, if you let the stripper dry before removing the paint, the paint will solidify into what appears to be hard plaster. And subsequent attempts to remove the paint with additional applications of stripper will be futile. The manufacturer’s instructions do indicate not to let the stripper dry. The same results will occur even if you wash the stripper off with water, (if the stripper had a chance to set for at least a half hour or so).
Statue.com was very nice to recommend Smith Paints,
The first statue I completed 2.5 years ago still looks great. Smith Paints was very attentive to me. They have wonderful customer support. They even sent me free samples since this work was for community service. You can purchase their paint by the gallon, by the quart or by 4 oz. bottles.
The paint to use by Smiths Paint is called “Ornamental Art”. It is water based paint. This allows for thinning with water should you use an air gun. To clean your tools and air brushes, just use water. Order the amount needed based on the size of the statue. Here are the color codes to use when ordering Ornamental Art paint: white (OA-100 or 103) and blue (OA-170). You can mix the white and blue to get a light blue. You can order 4 OZ bottles as well for black for eye pupils and eye lashes (OA-140), Red (OA-305) for her lips, Deer Brown for her hair (OA-385). The flesh color is OA-340. For the blessed Mary Statues with a snake under her heal, mix yellow, (OA-240) and blue to produce green paint.
Cathedral Stone Products has a Silin AZ paint that I would like to experiment with.
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Step By Step
Keep it simple. I finished my first statue with a paint scrapper sand paper, crack filler, a paint brush and paint especially formulated for cement. Well okay, I did get a little technical by using a drumel tool. But that was to smooth out bumpy cement caused by a previous repair. For keep sake, take photos of before and after. As a suggestion… if your doing this for someone else, give them a little photo album as a gift after the project is complete.
- Scrape the statue of loose paint.
- Sand the statue with course sandpaper. This process takes patience.
- If necessary, fill cracks, blemishes or make repairs. For cracks and blemishes, use automobile bondo. Tip: mix the bondo in small batches. Shape, file and sand the bondo as it is drying. Otherwise, it is difficult to work with after it dries as after it completely dries, it’s like cement. Tip: for broken plastic fingers, snap the smooth part of a drill bit off with a pair of pliers. Gently and slowly drill the drill bit into the plastic, (plastic is very brittle and snap apart). Remove the drill bit from the drill leaving the drill bit in the plastic. The drill bit provides something for the epoxy to cling to. Apply the epoxy over the drill bit and shape the epoxy into a finger. Once the expoxy dries, use fine sandpaper to further smooth and shape the finger.
- Wash the statue with water to remove dust.
- Paint the statue: I paint the entire statue with a base white coat of paint. After the paint dries, paint the statue with the necessary paint colors.
If you are using an airbrush, dilute the paint following the manufacturer’s instructions. Spray darker colors first. Don’t be concerned about spraying so precisely along other colors. A slight over lap of paint color actually smoothes the lines and makes the statue appear more realistic. Apply more than one coat of paint. Tip: To help unclog an air brush, place your finger over the nozzle, for 1 or 2 seconds, of the air gun while you are spraying. This will create bubbles in the airbrush paint bottle.
- Paint the face: Use flesh color paint to paint the face. Leave the eyes white, (painted white from a previous step).
- Paint the eyes: Paint the iris and let dry. Tip: look at a picture of an eye. For most eyes, a portion of the iris is covered by the top eye lid. Paint the pupil and let dry. To paint the eye lashes, yank a bristle from the paint brush, outline the eye lids with a very thin line of black paint. With the bristle, add tiny eye lashes. To complete the eyes, dab a small white dot of paint inside the pupil to give the look of a reflection. Repeat the same for the other eye. -Back to List of Topics-