How to Repair and Refurbish an Old Concrete Garden Fountain

My garden coach recently told me that one of the best ways to attract birds to the garden is with a fountain. Birds need fresh water more than they need seed, and they absolutely go bonkers for moving water.

I saw this fountain at Covington’s Nursery in Rowlett and really loved it, but it cost around $350:

Inspiration Fountain

I came across this one on Craigslist for $25. I asked the woman if she’d take $20 but she said no.

fountain

As you can see it was sort of a bluish black and had lots of white mineral deposits. Upon close inspection I discovered artists tags that said it originally came from Al’s Garden Art. To my surprise and delight it appears that it was once quite expensive. Isn’t Craigslist GREAT!?!?

als.jpg

From AlsGardenArt.com.

I used a weak vinegar solution to clean the scale. Unfortunately the top part of the fountain with the lily pad broke in half when I was doing this. I could see it had a crack in it beforehand.

I had some concrete crack filler in the garage and used that to stick it back together. It appears to be fine now.

IMG_1401

Given that I didn’t like the original color and that the top part now had an obvious seam, I decided to paint the fountain. I used some extra primer and paint in the garage that I had leftover from another project. Benjamin Moore oil primer and oil outdoor gloss. Not the easiest or the most appropriate here probably, but free.

Here’s how it looked after painting.

Fountain Painted before Glazing

Since the piece had such cool sculptural detail, I decided to antique the finish using a gloss product to highlight its variations. I found out about Gem Glo gloss during a lecture by a local faux finisher Michael Graves. He teaches classes. Sometime I’d like to take one. You can read more about him here. Generally I think faux finishes are cheesy but his work is so good I had to change my mind.

Using a disposable sponge brush I applied the glaze. Then I removed some with cheesecloth bunched into a ball. I sprayed the finished product with a clear matte finishing coat.

Voila! Turned out pretty well. I am going to buy a fountain pump later today and get it going for the birds.

IMG_1549

If you’ve fixed a fountain or even just have a photo of a fountain you like I’d love to see it! Please comment.

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12 responses to “How to Repair and Refurbish an Old Concrete Garden Fountain

  1. It turned out beautifully! The birds are going to love it!

  2. Pingback: How to Antique Brass, Concrete, Wood, and Other Surfaces « erin covert * hands on

  3. Sabrina Charity

    We have a lovely fountain that is breaking year after year from the elements. The piece is called “Maiden by the Village Wall” – popular I think but priced really high on the internet – 800.00’s. The bowl around the base has cracked off. We used some sort of silicone – it has shrunken this year and we are back at square one. What are your thoughts on the concrete stuff you used?

  4. The basic concrete adhesive’s worked well so far. No further breakage.

    • Hi,

      I’m sick … the largest bowl of my 3 tier concrete fountain (very expensive) cracked and broke in half from frozen water. Is there really a kind of concrete adhesive that is strong enough to hold the weight of the two halves together? I mean, this thing is so heavy it takes 2 guys to comfortably pick it up. Any advice would be so much appreciated…I can’t afford another fountain like this.

      Thanks!

      • Hi Liliane. Sorry to read about your fountain. I don’t know with certainty if the adhesive I used would work for such a heavy bowl, but I think it’s worth a shot. You might check with the manufacturer to find out if they have a product suggestion.

  5. Use bondo from the auto parts store. It will say for concrete. How to use it I described on ebay guides. I sell fountains for a living

    • please help!i have and old concete fountain that i love and water has gotten in to a large section of the internal shelf and freezing has caused a large portion of it to collaspe..i would like your advise on how to restore the shelf so that it will once again support the verticle fountain that sits atop the bowl..thanks..milton

  6. Thanks! Just bought a 3 tiered concrete fountain at a yard sale for $10. But it has really garish colors on it. Any suggestion as to how to take them off?

  7. I heard liquid nail works well on concrete .

  8. Beautiful fountain! What a find! You did a wonderful job.

  9. Howland Kinsley

    builds a new concrete water trough and then she does natural stone tiling, ceramic tiling and glass tiling inside of the fountain trough with along with broken marble tile border and then she finishes with some Irvine fountain repair as she assembles the two tier water fountain in this do it yourself home improvements project how to video blog.

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