A birdbath makes for a lively garden and provides a respite for thirsty birds. They are a key element to creating a bird-friendly garden. Concrete birdbaths, however, are prone to staining, pitting, and cracking from algae, mildew, bird droppings, and the freeze-thaw cycle over the winter. Sealing a concrete birdbath will prevent those problems.
Be careful what concrete birdbath sealer you apply, though, as many popular products could be harmful to birds. Use a nontoxic penetrating sealer for porous concrete surfaces or if your birdbath is painted or has been sealed before, use a nontoxic polyurethane sealer. This straightforward project does not take very long, but you will need a few days for ample drying time.
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How to Seal a Concrete Birdbath
Step 1: Clean the Birdbath
For a newer birdbath, clean it well with a nontoxic all-purpose cleaner (such as a citrus or vinegar cleaner) and a scrub brush. If you need a more powerful stain remover, use a nontoxic concrete cleaner and follow the product instructions. Rinse the birdbath several times with a garden hose to remove all of the cleaner.
Step 2: Dry the Birdbath
Allow the birdbath to dry in the sun all day or bring it into a covered work space for drying. Make sure that all moisture has evaporated out of the concrete before applying the sealer.
Step 3: Paint the Birdbath
Take the birdbath into a space that is dry and warm enough for paint application (generally at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit but check the sealer can for instructions). Place the birdbath on a drop cloth or a large piece of cardboard. Shake or mix the sealer per the instructions. Paint on the first coat of sealer and then allow it to dry before applying the second coat. The drying time for different products can be anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, so make sure to check the instructions.
Step 4: Allow the Birdbath to Dry Completely
Allow the sealant to dry for at least 48 hours before filling the birdbath with water. Check the surface to make sure it is not tacky and then sprinkle it with water to make sure it is beading. If the concrete is still absorbing water, you can wait for it to dry and then apply a third coat of sealer. After it has fully cured, set your birdbath back in the garden for the birds to enjoy.