How to repair broken concrete statues


A broken heron statue. (Reader Submitted Photo)
May 15, 2013

QI have a statue of a blue heron, but the neck is broken. The statue is about four feet tall, and I think it is made of concrete or a composite of concrete and another material. I would like to have it repaired, but I have contacted a few lawn and garden centers that carry statues and also a memorial headstone company to no avail. Do you know who can do this? I would be willing to travel to other parts of Virginia, Maryland or West Virginia.

Herndon

AYou’re right: Many lawn and garden stores that carry concrete statues don’t do repairs. One that does is Harper’s Statuary & Water Gardens in Harrisonburg, Va. (540-434-8978;www.harperslawnornaments.com). But it’s a two-hour drive from your home. Owner Doug Harper said the repair would cost about $100. That’s probably more than it would cost to replace the piece.

To save you the drive and possibly cut the repair bill, Harper suggested taking the statue to a local auto repair shop and asking them to straighten the metal reinforcing in the neck and patch around it with Bondo Body Filler.

Bondo is also among the recommendations from Lisa Puentes, a representative for Massarelli’s (609-567-9700; www.massarelli.com), a manufacturer in New Jersey that supplies concrete statuary and garden ornaments (including four-foot-tall heron statues) to the Meadows Farms Nurseries stores in the Washington area. Puentes suggested Bondo especially for clean breaks. For small cracks, she recommends using a concrete crack sealant that comes in a tube. For breaks where chunks are missing, as in your statue, she suggests InstaCrete, an epoxy made by Polymeric Systems (www.polymericsystems.com). “It’s almost like a putty, but it dries hard like concrete,” she said. “Break off however much you need and mold it to fit in around the neck.” Once the patch hardens, you can sand it and then paint the whole statue with an exterior latex acrylic paint to give it a uniform appearance.

Charles Sthreshley, who makes concrete garden ornaments at Sthreshley Studio in Ashland, Va., (804-752-7888; www.concrete-art.com) but repairs only pieces he’s made, said you might need to add some reinforcing, such as quarter-inch metal mesh (sold as “hardware cloth” at hardware stores) before you add the patch material. Be sure to clean away any loose material first. He suggests using a concrete patching product without gravel, such as Quikrete Concrete Resurfacer or Quikrete Quick-Setting Cement).

If you take that approach, seal the existing concrete edges first with a concrete primer, available at building supply companies. Then prepare the concrete patch material, mixing in as little water as possible. Wear rubber gloves so you can press the material into place and smooth it with your hands. You might also want a small trowel or an old kitchen knife or spoon for adding surface details. Products that contain Portland cement gain strength if they stay damp while the concrete is curing. So mist the area periodically over the next six hours or so, and keep the statue covered with plastic for several days. Wait a month for the concrete to cure thoroughly before you seal or paint.

YOUR TURN

Three readers offer their own solutions to the problem of having garage doors stained by birds that perch there to see their reflection in the door’s windows (How To, April 11).

One reader in Haymarket uses scare tactics. “I thought all your solutions were good, but my solution . . . is a $1 rubber snake purchased at a dollar store. No joke, the snake has worked at our front door, small basement window and near the outdoor AC unit. Of course it startled the UPS guy the first time he saw it on the front step and the home inspector made mention of it last week in his report, but the birds stopped immediately pecking at their reflection. First sign of robins in the spring, the snake comes out, remaining on duty until winter.”

Another reader in Haymarket recommends wiping the outside of the windows with a bar of soap. “This dulls the reflective surface of the glass and prevents the birds from seeing what they think is a rival bird invading their territory. Birds are usually territorial during their nesting season. Once it’s over, they stop chasing rivals away. This won’t help with the staining problem, but should help them lose interest in the ‘invaders,’ ”

And a third idea comes from Fairfax Station, where a reader suggested following the Audubon Society’s advice of putting decals of bird shapes on the glass. One neighbor had good results with a simple bird image downloaded online.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

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