completed varnished painted garden ornament

How to Transform Your Garden Ornaments with Simple Painting Techniques

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Have you ever thought of painting your garden ornaments but been worried how it might turn out? Or, like me, do you have painted garden ornaments that have seen better days? If so, then you are in the right place. I am going to walk you through everything you need to think about as you paint (or re-paint) your garden ornaments.

If you’re looking for a way to add a pop of color and personality to your garden, painting your garden ornaments can be a fun and easy DIY project. Whether you have a collection of gnomes, birdhouses, or other decorative items, painting them can give them new life and make them stand out in your outdoor space. You could even paint an old bike!

bike painted as a garden ornament
Painted Bike in the Garden
Credit: Photo by

Before you get started, it’s important to choose the right type of paint for your ornaments. Look for a paint that is specifically designed for outdoor use and can withstand the elements. You’ll also want to make sure that the paint is safe for any plants or animals that may come into contact with your ornaments. We will look at this in this article.

I am going to be re-painting a concrete dragon that we have had for over 25 years. How do I know it has been that long? Well, my mother-in-law bought it for us at a car boot sale before I had my first son so that dates it for me. So, let’s get started.

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What you will need

How to Clean your Garden Ornament

Before you start painting your garden ornaments, you need to prepare them properly. This will ensure that the paint adheres well and lasts for a long time. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the ornament using a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth.
  • If the ornament has any rust or flaking paint, use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove it. This will help the new paint adhere better.
  • If the ornament is made of concrete, use a concrete cleaner to remove any stains or discoloration. Rinse it thoroughly and let it dry completely before painting.
  • If the ornament is made of metal, use a metal primer to create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. Apply the primer in thin, even coats and let it dry completely before painting.
  • If the ornament is made of plastic, use a plastic primer to help the paint stick. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your garden ornaments are properly prepared for painting. This will not only make the paint job look better, but it will also help it last longer.

Whether you have a new ornament or an old one you must make sure it is clean before you even think about painting. If you do not want to wet your statue then you can brush it all over with a soft bristled brush to remove any loose dirt.

I recommend actually using some soap and water. By soap I am referring to washing up liquid or similar – nothing too harsh as you do not want to damage your statue. I used a soft brush and soap and water. This removed all the loose paint and the garden debris.

garden ornament being cleaned

Remember that concrete is porous and will soak up some of the water. As a result do not do this in freezing conditions and allow plenty of time for your ornament to dry. I left mine for a couple of days and it was summer!

Once your garden ornament is clean and dry you can think about painting it.

What Paints to Use

There is no one answer here. There are lots of different options. I choose to use acrylic paint as it is freely available and inexpensive. Then, I seal it using a varnish that I spray on. You could just as easily apply varnish with a brush.

When it comes to painting garden ornaments, choosing the right paint can make all the difference in the final result. There are several factors to consider when selecting a paint for your garden ornaments, including:

  • Material: Different materials require different types of paint. For example, if your garden ornament is made of metal, you’ll need a paint that is specifically formulated for metal surfaces. If your ornament is made of wood, you’ll need a paint that works well on wood.
  • Colour: Consider the colour of the paint you want to use. Do you want a bright, bold colour or a more subtle shade? Keep in mind that certain colours may fade more quickly in direct sunlight.
  • Finish: The finish of the paint can also affect the final look of your garden ornament. Do you want a glossy finish or a matte finish? A high-gloss finish can be more durable, but it may also show imperfections more easily.

Another important factor to consider is the weather resistance of the paint. Since your garden ornaments will be exposed to the elements, it’s important to choose a paint that can withstand rain, wind, and sunlight. Look for paints that are specifically labeled as weather-resistant or outdoor paints. Or, like me, accept it will not last as long and may need some weather protection.

When choosing a paint, it’s also important to consider any safety concerns. Some paints may contain harmful chemicals or fumes, so be sure to read the label carefully and follow all safety precautions.

Overall, taking the time to choose the right paint for your garden ornaments can help ensure that they look beautiful and last for years to come.

Base Coat of Paint for your Garden Ornament?

Do you need a base coat of paint for your garden ornament? The simple answer is yes so that your selected colours will sit nicely on the surface and look their best.

if you are painting your garden ornament for the first time I definitely recommend a base coat. A light coloured paint is best as it is easy to cover but if all your paints are dark colours then obviously a dark base coat would work really well.

You can simply use the same type of paint as you are using for your colours. As I have painted mine before and it still had some colour there I decided not o use a base paint.

Painting your Garden Ornament

Once you have prepared it is time to paint your garden ornament – the fun part! If you are painting it all one colour you may find it quicker and easier to spray paint it. But, remember to work in a well ventilated area and protect your work surfaces.

I painted my dragon outside using different colour acrylic paints and quite small brushes. The advantage of this is that you can add more detail.

I recommend painting the light areas first and then move onto darker colours. In my case I painted the white first, then the orange, then the green and finally the brown. This allowed me to make sure my green paint slightly overlapped the orange paint and there were no gaps.

painting garden ornament

I finished off by adding his pupils.

Drying and Finishing

Once you have finished painting your garden ornaments, it is important to allow them to dry completely before handling or placing them in your garden. Depending on the type of paint you used, drying times may vary, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In general, it is best to allow at least 24 hours for the paint to dry completely.

After the paint has dried, you may want to apply a clear coat or sealant to protect the paint and give your garden ornaments a glossy finish. Again, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the particular product you are using. Some sealants may require multiple coats or several hours of drying time between coats.

If you plan to display your garden ornaments outdoors, it is important to choose a sealant that is specifically designed for outdoor use and can withstand exposure to the elements. You may also want to consider applying a UV-resistant spray to help prevent fading from the sun.

When you are finished with the drying and finishing process, your garden ornaments will be ready to display in your yard or garden. Be sure to handle them carefully to avoid scratching or chipping the paint, and enjoy the beautiful addition to your outdoor space!

In my case, I choose to bring my garden ornaments in for the winter. I store them in my garden shed. It just keeps them looking fresh and vibrant for more years.

And then?

Painting garden ornaments is a fun and rewarding activity that can add beauty and character to any outdoor space. I absolutely love painting mine in the summer on a warm patio under a parasol! Whether you are a seasoned painter or a beginner, there are many techniques and tips you can use to create stunning and long-lasting finishes on your ornaments.

Remember to always prepare your ornaments properly before painting, by cleaning them thoroughly, sanding any rough areas, and applying a primer if necessary. Use high-quality paints and brushes, and consider using sealants or varnishes to protect your ornaments from the elements.

Experiment with different colors, patterns, and textures to create unique and eye-catching designs. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, such as stenciling or decoupage, to add extra interest to your ornaments.

With a little time and effort, you can transform your garden ornaments into beautiful works of art that will enhance your outdoor space for years to come. Good luck with yours!

If you are looking for some more ways to improve your outdoor space then check out some more great ideas on this site. What about some gazing globes or gazing balls?

Or perhaps you are searching for an easy way to add a water feature. I have made a solar water feature for my patio that I love!

In fact, if you want any gardening advice the check out the gardening section for loads of great tutorials and hints and tips.

painting garden ornaments pin

If you have any great hints or tips please share them in the comments section below to help us all.

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