Carefully chosen yard ornaments complement the plants in your garden until fading or peeling paint makes them look shabby. Breathe new life into your tired, old ornaments by applying a fresh coat of paint. Paint doesn't just improve the appearance of the decorations, it also helps protect them from weathering so they last longer in harsh outdoor conditions.
Resin and Plastic
Faded resin or plastic ornaments tend to peel if you try painting them, but taking some time to prepare them first may improve your chances for success. Most resin ornaments were infused with dye during casting so the paint wasn't applied to the surface. Scrub the ornament with a cleaner containing trisodium phosphate to remove stains, dirt and mildew, which prepares the surface for painting. An oil-based spray paint formulated for outdoor use on plastic and resins works best. Apply the paint in two or three thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. If you are using multiple colors, tape off areas you don't want to paint first. Resin and plastic ornaments often need repainting every two to three years.
A thorough cleaning with clean water prepares concrete ornaments and statues for painting. You can use a bristle brush to scrub off flaking paint first, but avoid scrubbing too hard because you might damage or etch the concrete. After the concrete dries completely, paint it with two thin base coats of a latex exterior paint. Latex paints formulated for concrete or masonry adhere well and last the longest. Add details with a smaller brush, allowing each coat to dry completely before adding the next. A clear, non-yellowing concrete sealer applied 24 hours after the last coat of paint increases the longevity of the new paint job.
Iron and Metal
Scrubbing with a wire brush can remove the old, flaking paint from wrought iron and metal ornaments, but professional sandblasting may be necessary if the piece is covered with several layers of old paint. If the ornament is rusted, clean it with a rust remover solution before priming and use a primer made to minimize rust. Paint metal pieces first with the primer coat, using an outdoor primer made for use or iron or metal. After the primer dries, apply two to three coats of fresh paint made for outdoor metal. For a more permanent finish, consider a professional powder coating treatment which uses heat to permanently set the special paint.
Weathering is enemy of any painted yard ornament. Bringing your ornaments indoors in fall as you put the garden to bed for winter slows weathering. Alternatively, cover ornaments with tarps during winter if you don't mind the look in the dormant garden. Placing ornaments where they won't get a daily spray from a sprinkler system further prevents weathering issues. Direct sunlight can also speed paint fading, especially for plastic and resin ornaments. If you use a sealer on your repainted pieces, reapply it every two years to keep the paint beneath looking its best.