Revitalize Old Cement Planters and Statues

Do you have old, beat up planters or statues lurking in the corner of your garage? Do you run across them at flea markets and wonder what it would take to make them pretty again? Are you itching to do a DIY garden project that won’t take you all summer? Would you like to get them out of hiding and enjoy them in your garden once again? Let’s look at how to revitalize old cement planters and statues.

old cement planters from Revitalize Old Cement Planters and Statues post
Old cement planters
cement statue needs revitalization

If you answered yes to any of these, this might just be the project for you!

Durability and Aesthetics

No doubt about it, Concrete planters are durable and environmentally friendly investments. You can find concrete planters that are modern and sleek or traditional and classy. Concrete is heavy and able to withstand elements such as wind, rain, and even low temps. You won’t have to worry about your plants being ruined by a planter blowing over, saving you time and money avoiding replacing them. Sometimes an old planter can be a treasure, as any blemishes only add character, in my opinion.

Insulation

Because concrete is dense and thick, this can provide better insulation for your plants. This will help them last longer into the fall, extending your flower enjoying season.  

Weight

Yes, concrete planters can be heavy to move, but this can allow you to grow bulkier or stalkier plants. If you are working with a deep planter, and live in a mild climate, you could plant small trees allowing for root space.

Step 1 – cleaning the planter

Items you will need – A nylon scrub brush or wire brush. Eye protection & respiratory mask.

Pick a day with low humidity if that is an option in your area.

I like to work on projects on an elevated surface, but you can do it on the ground if that is what is available to you.

planter that needs cleaning from Revitalize Old Cement Planters and Statues post
Ready to clean

Empty the pot if there is any dirt in it. Start scrubbing the surface (dry) using wire or nylon brush. Make your way around until you have scrubbed the entire surface. Don’t forget the inside and bottom.

Step 2 – Fixing any cracks

Items you will need – exterior adhesive or crack filler, throw away brush and possibly (heavy grit) sandpaper.

Take a little extra time and care to scrub the cracked area.Be sure to remove any loose material or dirt that has found its way into the cracks.

Apply just enough exterior adhesive or filler to fill the void or cracks. I like to use Loctite brand Stik ‘n Seal outdoor adhesive.

Allow to cure and dry.

Sand any dried filler with heavy grit sandpaper until the finish closely resembles the untouched areas. 

After repairing cracks… looks good!

Step 3 – Priming

There are a couple of schools of thought on this. Those who advocate priming and those who think it will be OK since the top coat will be masonry paint and take a couple of coats anyway. Prime and paint in a well ventilated area. Outside worked great for me. If you choose, before painting the concrete planter, you may apply a latex primer to the surface of the pots. Ask at the hardware store for a primer to use with concrete or masonry. The latex primer may help the top coat stick better and also help seal the surface that touches the dirt to prevent any leaching from the concrete. You may apply spray primer or brush primer on with a paintbrush, allow the primer to dry fully before applying the top coat.

Step 4 – Painting the Top Coat

Items you will need – masonry paint – spray can or brush on- brush

painting the top coat from our Revitalize Old Cement Planters and Statues post
Painting the top coat

We already had masonry paint that we used on our foundation. It matches our house and is masonry paint. Win-win. Plan on two coats because cement is porous. Apply a thin, even coat all around. Remember to paint a lip down into the planter as planters are rarely filled to the tippy top with dirt and you will see the inside lip.  Let the first coat dry thoroughly. Apply a second thin, even coat. Let dry thoroughly before planting.

Finishes

I wanted a minimalist look for our planters, but the sky’s the limit in making your planter uniquely your own!

I painted ours just plain blue and let the design appear as the sun and shadows fall on it.

Swedish Theme

You could go with a Swedish theme. Paint the planter a dark blue, then paint the fleur-de-lis using red, yellow and/or green. The leaves could be one color and the flower another. Use masonry paint. Plan on applying 2-3 coats to cover.

Antique Finish

You can antique or white-wash your planters. Apply the 2 body coats as directed above.

There are (at least) two methods you could use to antique your planters.

One is to take a wide brush and dip your brush in the paint. Try to dip minimally. Have some paper or cardboard handy. Tap the brush on the cardboard and make brisk back and forth motions. This will shed some of the paint and make the paint cling to the brush in clumpy strands. Start in the air, not yet touching your planter, making wide back and forth motions with the brush. Try to go the length of the planter. (This method will be difficult for a round or cylindrical planter) Ease down lightly towards the planter, still keeping your arm moving in a back and forth motion. Lightly graze the planter trying to hit the raised design, but avoiding the background. Repeat this process for as light or as heavy a layer as you desire.

Whitewashing

Make a batch of whitewash. Whitewash is a common term, but you need not be confined to just using white. You can use a lighter color of the same color as the base. You can use a dark tobacco or mahogany brown to make it look old. You could use a contrasting color for a Boho look.   Generally this is a 50/50 mix of water and (masonry) paint. The paint must be latex to use water. Wear rubber gloves and have several rags cut up the size of wash cloths. Approximately 10 inches by 10 inches. I suggest having several rags cut up because once a rag becomes overly saturated, it seems to be harder to control and easy to apply too much paint. Switch a saturated one for a dry one if you start having trouble controlling the application. Mix your paint 50/50 with water and have a stir stick handy. Stir before every time you are going to make a new dip. Keep the pigment suspended, so your wash remains consistent throughout the project.

Rub on and wipe off as much wash until you get the desired look you are after. Let wash dry completely in an area protected from rain.

completed planters
All done!

Finish Application – Optional

Because you used exterior masonry paint, a finish application is not necessary, but you may want to lengthen the life of your masterpiece by applying one last finish. There are finishes in a spray can such as Krylon™ 1305 Gallery Series Artist and Clear Coatings which will help protect your garden art from UV and moisture. You can get these types of products in glossy or matte finish. ** Be careful not to get runs! This is easy to do. Work in a sweeping back and forth motion with your arm and have a light touch. You can always apply a second coat, but runs are dreadful to try and correct.

There are also brush-on applications such as a coat of polyurethane topcoat. There are many brands and sheens to choose from, your hardware salesperson should be able to direct you if you need help.

When you’re done doing all that click here for more ideas.