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Thread: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

  1. #1
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    Default Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    Im working on a large sculpture, Spanish cedar, 14x4 x4. Im gluing up the carving blank for the sculptor using West Systems. It will be hollow with a wall thickness specified by the structural engineers. This will be outdoors in full sun and weather forever. The sculptor asked me for advice for painting. I suggested a marine topside paint, and that it would be worth considering a CPES primer, inside and out. I suggested calling Gougeon Bros. And asking their advice as well. I wonder what the panel suggests?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Hyannis, MA, USA
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    45,673

    Default Re: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    CPES is a wonderful primer and, while not sold as a preservative, is so toxic that the chance of the sculpture sporting mold, rot or bugs anywhere inside are much reduced. Depending on the colors and design complexity, it might be well to chat with someone who does outdoor wooden signs. Paint for signage has considerably more solids than even the best marine paint and will keep its color through sun, snow and rain. It's expensive but worth it. It's also hard to find due to environmental and safety issues. Not a good paint for the unskilled.

    Edited to add - Getting CPES over the interior surfaces is straight forward. I'd not even think of CPES on the outside till all carving, shaping, and sanding is done.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2017
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    Default Re: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    Thanks Ian, the sculptor has done a lot of sign carving as well, I’ll pass that along. He had mentioned a two part epoxy paint (it will be all white), but I think that was based on the assumption that epoxy “seems” better than a poly paint.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Portland, Oregon
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    Default Re: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    Yes... I'd talk to West first. My own first thought is maybe this assemblage will be stable enough to allow the use of a 2-part polyurethane? If so... that's the route I'd go. At that size, I'd be tempted to have it sprayed, but brushing might work, depending upon the look you're after. But first - I'd make the call to West. Then I'd find an industrial coatings supplier to work with.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  5. #5
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    Mar 2017
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    Default Re: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    Thanks David. I will do some research on 2 part PU. I don’t know the ins and outs of marine finishes. I assume that there aren’t idiosyncrasies with Spanish cedar taking paint or epoxy adhesion. I will be using 403 microfibers as an adhesive admix.

  6. #6
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    Madison Wisconsin
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    Default Re: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    I think I would consider the hull of my 1960 Star boat a hollow, glued planks and deck, cedar sculpture which was kept outside. It tended to check like a mother. Paint, CPES, and even epoxy coating is not at all likely to stop that. There are some cedar outdoor sculptures which have held up pretty decently over the years, but weathering is to be expected to some extent. If you can accept it as part of the item's attraction, that's fine. On the other hand, completely preventing it, hollow or solid, coated or painted, is likely to be a losing proposition.

    Outdoor cedar sculptures. If I wanted to paint something like that to limit the effects of weather on it and I didn't need some sort of a gloss finish, I'd use an opaque deck stain. It's made specifically for that purpose and is easily renewable.




  7. #7
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    Mar 2017
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    Default Re: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    I wish I could haul one of those logs out of the Chilcat instead of laminating a board mile of rainforest wood. I spent some time in Haines, AK and the wood lining the rivers there, deadfall that ends up jackstrawed all along the river bank, is enough to sustain any builder for a lifetime.

    A solid stain is a great idea, I think that a high gloss finish might not be desirable. The statue being replaced was of ponderosa pine, laminated solid of 2” planks. It had checks and was rotting at the base. It will get regular maintainance.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2008
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    Lake Champlain, Vermont
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    Default Re: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    I this for the Statehouse?

  9. #9
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    Mar 2017
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    Waterbury Center, Vermont
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    Default Re: Best practice for a painted wooden sculpture

    Yup

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