A sculptural work of art displayed outdoors can transform an enhance any exterior space. Unfortunately, constant exposure to the elements and potential damage from living creatures makes outdoor sculptures far more challenging to preserve than artwork displayed indoors. It is important to recognize that a sculpture displayed outdoors needs regular inspections and maintenance to ensure its long-term preservation. KC Restoration has a few ideas and basic practices for consideration to maintain an outdoor sculpture and keep it looking its best.

Records and Details

It is important to collect and maintain written records that contain details about the sculpture. Materials used to produce it, the foundry or manufacturer, and information about surface coatings and their intended appearance are important. These details can help determine if the sculpture can be repainted if necessary and if the materials can withstand the stress of being outside.


Sculptures should be periodically inspected and it is helpful to keep a photographic record, with photos taken on the same day of the year and at the same time of day. Note spalling concrete, overgrown plants around the base, or settlement cracks. If you observe damage to the sculpture, be sure to note its location and extent. Watch for anything unusual and do not hesitate to seek advice from professionals.

Professional Maintenance Services

Regular maintenance does not require an extensive investment of time, but is of great benefit for outdoor sculptures. A deep professional cleaning performed annually can mitigate issues and help detect damage in its early stages. This allows for early action that can prevent catastrophic deterioration.

Routine Rinsing and Cleaning

To help keep statues and sculptures clean throughout the year, simply rinse off soil, industrial particles, bird droppings and other pollutants with water. This simple action can help prevent significant damage. If you notice scratching on your stainless-steel sculpture, it is best to consult a professional. The abraded surface can become electrically active and susceptible to rusting.

Structures constructed of core-ten steel will continue to oxidize over time, and should be allowed to do so. They should not be painted, sealed, scrubbed with brushes, or otherwise manipulated. It is important to keep these sculptures clean so that oxidation develops evenly across the surface. Bird droppings, animal activity, and plant materials can aggravate the surface to react more quickly to the environment causing splotchy surfaces.

Ceramic, stone, concrete, and masonry sculptures are primarily subject to damage through freezing and thawing cycles, vandalism, and the efflorescence of soluble salts. Keep them clean by regularly rinsing with water. Stubborn soil and algae films can be reduced with a soft brush and a weak solution of clear, unscented detergent rinsed thoroughly with water. A final rinse of distilled water applied using a garden sprayer can be used on ceramic sculptures. Avoid using distilled or deionized water on materials such as stone, marble, or concrete, as it may result in etching of the surface. In order to avoid damage from roots, biofilms, and suckering growth, keep nearby plant materials clipped back.

Bronze sculptures should be washed using a clear, unscented dish detergent. The detergent must be carefully and completely rinsed away with water to avoid spotting. Cleaning will also include the removal or reduction of biological materials, graffiti, staining, efflorescence, and the clearing of weep holes. Weep holes are placed at various places on many outdoor sculptures to allow small pools of water to drain away. They often become clogged with leaves and dirt and need to be reopened so the water can drain again.

If you are unsure about the state of your sculpture please consult KC Restoration today. We can help you determine whether additional treatment needs to be performed to prevent further damage from occurring.