Garden Gnome-After Makeover

Garden Gnome-How to Fix

Garden gnomes are the cute little guardian angels that watch over our homes. And sometimes they get a bit neglected.

In our case the poor fella was beaten up a bit by string trimming and the sun.

So today I’m going to share how you can fix any small holes or cracks and repaint your gnome so that it looks like new. These tips will also work with other garden decor that you’d like to repair.

Here are the supplies you need

  • Hydraulic cement
  • Bucket
  • Margin trowel
  • Gloves
  • Great stuff
  • Old towel
  • Rust-Oleum Primer (spray)
  • Hobby paint brushes
  • Valspar paint samples
  • Rust-Oleum Clear Coat (spray)

This is a pretty fun project and the kids can participate, too.

Let’s get to it 🙂

Before we get started let me introduce you to Hanz, he’s our garden gnome. Unfortunately, the turtle he’s riding is missing it’s right knee cap. Ouch!!

Garden Gnome-Before Makeover

But this is an easy fix. If your gnome is hollow, fill in the hole with Great Stuff insulation foam. Make sure to wear gloves so that your hands don’t get sticky and place a towel on any surface you’d like to protect.

Allow the Great Stuff to completely dry and harden. This usually takes a good hour and it helps to keep the gnome out of the sun. You can trim the foam with a utility knife if it expanded too much. This is what I did with the foam that filled in the Turtle’s knee.

Garden Gnome-Fill holes with Great Stuff

You can then mold hydraulic water stop cement with your hands to re-create missing pieces or fix cracks (again, wear gloves because the cement gets warm and could burn bare skin). This step takes a little artistic touch but you can do it. Hydraulic cement sets up within 5 minutes, which means you’ll have to work quickly.

Garden Gnome-Hydraulic Cement

Quikrete makes hydraulic cement in small buckets which you can find at Lowe’s or other home stores. This type of cement also comes in handy for fixing all sorts of things around the house, (e.g. where the hot water tank vents to your chimney or water lines that protrude through cinder block walls.)

After the cement has dried, prime your gnome with Rust-Oleum spray primer. Two coats are a good idea since there are many fine details to fill in. The primer will allow the top coat of paint to stick. Depending on the weather conditions your primer should be dry within 30 minutes.

Garden Gnome-Apply 2 Primer Coats

While shopping at Lowe’s I found these great Valspar paint samples. They were only a few bucks each and a great fit for this project because of the wide selection of colors.The hobby brushes by Blue Hawk were in the same section as the paint samples — talk about convenience.

Garden Gnome-Valspar Paint

Here’s a PAINTING TIP: start painting at the top and work your way down. This helps with unwanted paint drips. In my case we painted the hat first. Next we painted the hair, face, and body, etc. You can paint the details like the eyes, mustache & beard, and buttons after all the major areas finish drying.

Once you’re done painting your gnome let it dry for a few hours. Then apply the Rust-Oleum protective clear coat. This stuff is awesome because it will protect your hard work from the harmful UV rays of the sun and add a gloss finish that makes the paint job pop. It’s an absolute must if you’re using indoor latex paint like I did. Hanz has been tanning in the sun for over 6 months and his skin tone still looks like new (eat your heart out Joan Rivers).

Garden Gnome-Clear Coat

Oh, and remember how I said this was a kid friendly project? Well, if your kids don’t want to participate bribe them with a sleepover or trip to the movies. It worked for me. I do have some funny before and after photos of my daughter which crack me up.

Here’s a picture of the final product.

Garden Gnome-After Makeover

Hanz and his turtle (which we haven’t named yet, so I’m all ears) look pretty darn good. He went from looking tired and worn out to being rejuvenated in one day. Now that I think about it, Hanz got a gnome spa treatment. What kind of things need to be fixed in your garden? Let me know in the comment section and I’ll try to assist you with repair ideas. 🙂

Have a great day!

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38 replies
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  1. Alice Carroll
    Alice Carroll says:

    Thanks for the tip that the proper use of the right kind of cement will help in fixing sculptures that might have gotten damaged in my garden. I plan to buy some geometric stone sculptures in order to have a bit more color in my garden aside from green. I hope that I can find a good spot for them that will minimize the likelihood of corrosion.

  2. VPJ
    VPJ says:

    I have an oldish gnome who was originally glazed.
    A lot of the glaze is damaged & missing.
    If I took off all the glaze (Don’t want to) there is plaster underneath.
    Is it possible to lightly sand the glazed portion and then repaint the gnome?
    What would you use to fill in missing pieces?
    I have done a couple of acrylic gnomes
    With great results. This one is a little intimidating.
    Thank you for reading!

  3. Julie
    Julie says:

    Hi Jeff, I have 2 new “cement” looking turtles & already see cracks. Should I use primer and then the protective clear coat? I don’t want to paint them, just want to stop the cracks and I’m worried the primer will make the turtles look a different color, lIke ghostly white. Please advise.

  4. Ken Fincham
    Ken Fincham says:

    Can I just brush and spray new paint on garden statues to renew the color? They are starting to flake the current white/cream color and need to be spruced up.

  5. Carol
    Carol says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I inherited a number of very old garden ornaments (some antiques) from my mom who is downsizing. Some have cracks and chips and some just are clay and have no paint left on them. I’m having trouble finding the right eyes to paint. Any ideas?
    In your piece about the cement it would be helpful to do a video because you lost me here.
    I’m in Alberta Canada and I’m sure I can find the products required.
    Thank you so much!

  6. Gail
    Gail says:

    This was great, but did you spray the primer over already painted surface? I have a dutch boy and girl that the paint is peeling and your site gave me plenty of info on repainting but nothing or the removal of chipping paint. Thank you.

  7. Penny
    Penny says:

    I have an old vintage cement boy. His head was hit and is a clean cut. He’s been the yard sitting with head just sitting in place. Head has to 🙂 george 10 lbs. Think I can use this to attach head to body. Super write up here. Thanks

  8. Irma
    Irma says:

    Need to fix a pond that is beginning to crack on the top. Water still holds, but fear that it will split wide open. Help!


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