A wooden statue requires a little bit of maintenance to keep its sustainable beauty. Whether it is large or small, for decoration indoor or outdoor use, varnished, waxed or raw wood, we will guide you step by step on the best practices to follow so that your statue has a long-lasting and as beautiful as the first day.

Why are the statues in wood degrade with time ?

There are 3 main causes to the deterioration of the wood :


1 – The variation of humidity and temperature

Wood is a hygroscopic material, which means that it absorbs moisture. This phenomenon causing it to inflate and can cause it to rot, if it stores permanently a large amount of moisture. The wood resist rot, like teak, have the particularity of not rotting when in contact with moisture, which is a considerable asset in a statue exposed at the outside.

If the wood absorbs moisture and swells on contact, to the opposite, it shrinks gradually when it is exposed or stored in dry environment, as moisture evaporates, which forces the fibres to tighten. These intrinsic movements of the wood, often called "wood work" can lead to splits, cracks, or deformations.

When several pieces of wood are assembled, the work can produce the detachment of the assembly. This is why a sculpture made from a single piece of wood continues to resist better in time. When it comes to a statue covered with paint or gilding, for example, the phenomenon of movement in the wood can cause cracking and delamination of the finish coat.

Finally, note that the wood is also sensitive to temperature and light, which alter its color and appearance. These changes are not necessarily harmful and can contribute to its "patina". This is part of the borrows dt time, and contributes to the inimitable style of the old parts.

2 – The proliferation of insects and small rodents

Outside, the insects are numerous, and some of which are xylophagous, which means that they feed on wood. so these are enemies to our statues. Pay also Attention to small rodents that may be tempted to maintain their own teeth by attacking the wood !

Inside, a damp location, dark or dirty, can also promote the proliferation of insects that will take the wet wood for food.

This is why we recommend that you make regular checks of your statue. The back and the bottom are particularly prone to infestations, so you will need to inspect them more carefully. Sometimes, unwanted insects do not detect it at first glance : a sculpture may seem healthy, but being attacked from the inside. The presence of insects, wood-boring will be determined thanks to the small holes they leave on the surface of the wood. A dozen of these small holes only should alert you and prompt you to take action before the insects do too much damage. We will see how then.

3 – The poor maintenance of the wood

A statue is poorly maintained will have its appearance and its durability to degrade more quickly.

The wood is not a material demanding, it is even rather easy to care for, as you will discover reading our tips below.

However, if no maintenance is done, the wood takes on an appearance more dull over the years, which can ruin the aesthetics of your statue. The inner structure of the material is weakened, and in the event of a fall, the risk that the statue is broken into several pieces is higher if the wood has never been cleaned and fed.

On the contrary, a wood which is properly maintained will enhance with the temps. The natural patina of time, as has been mentioned previously, will slowly but surely a touch of charm and authenticity for your statue. You've almost certainly already seen an ancient wooden statue in a person of your entourage, or in a museum, and you would know without a doubt distinguish it from a sculpture much more recent. This difference, it is precisely the patina : the embellishment of the natural wood with the time.

You also can ensure that your wooden statue features the stylish patina ! To do this, simply follow the advice of the interviews below (clean and nourish regularly the wood), and of course waiting for the time to do his work.

How to preserve the beauty of your wooden statue ?

Let us summarize : in order to keep a wood carving in perfect condition, it is thus necessary to protect against the 3 main causes of wood degradation seen previously : the changes in humidity and temperature, attack of insects and rodents, and finally the lack of maintenance.

Good news : you will see that it is actually very easy !

First, let's see how to protect your statue of the variations of temperature and humidity.

The most obvious solution is to expose your statue indoors, in a room where the temperature and humidity are maintained at a level fairly constant. If you expose your statue outside, see the end of this article, special tips are waiting for you.

Inside, the parts to be preferred to expose a wooden statue are parts of life such as the living room, the entry, the kitchen, the room... Finally, only the cellar, the attic and the bathrooms are to be avoided...

The main precaution to take is to not place your statue in the woods near a heat source (radiator, fireplace, fireplace, pellet stove...), because it may encourage the appearance of cracks.

You have found the perfect location for your statue ? Excellent ! Think however to control it periodically (once or twice a year) to verify that no degradation occurs.

If you think that your statue is the prey of wood-boring insects, it is necessary to act quickly. There are products that are both repellent and curative. That is to say that they are exterminating the insects and prevent a new infestation. Apply without waiting for a comparable product on your statue, in accordance with the instructions and precautions provided by the manufacturer.

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Your statue is now protected from the main sources of degradation that threaten it. It only remains for you then to offer him a regular maintenance (once or twice a year) to ensure you preserve its original beauty.

Don't miss out our maintenance tips below.


How to maintain a wood carving ?

We have seen that the lack of maintenance of the wood is one of the 3 causes that can lead to the degradation of its appearance. But fortunately, the maintenance of the wood is not a difficult task nor difficult.

Note that, for a successful interview, the most important is touse the right tools and the right products ! An interview carried out with inappropriate tools or products that are harmful to the wood may have the opposite effect to that sought, and therefore degrade your statue.

In summary, the maintenance of a wooden statue is limited to 3 operations to perform on a regular basis :

  • The dust
  • The cleaning
  • And finally feed the wood

In conclusion, we will see how to repair a wooden statue that has been damaged, then what to do if you want to expose a wooden statue in your garden.

Dust off a wooden statue of the good way

To blow the dust off a wooden statue, we recommend that you use a brush with soft bristles, rather than a cloth whose fibers are likely to cling to the rough edges.

Swipe gently across the surface of the statue with your brush until elimination of all traces of dust. Perform this operation when you think it is necessary, but not require too often ! The dust does not degrade the wood as if they form a thick opaque layer on its surface, depriving it of any natural light during a very long period of time.

Clean and nourish the wood, only when it is needed, and with the right products !

To clean or nourish the wood of your statue, you should never use water or household or industrial products that may be harmful to the beauty of the wood. Many cleaning products of the wood, usually sold in supermarkets in the form of sprays, pore-clogging and compromise the strength and the beauty of the wood in the long term.

Our advice here is always to proceed in two distinct stages : first the cleaning, and then, only if necessary the application of a product nourishing to the wood.

First step : the cleaning of the wood.

Over time, dust and various air pollution deposits on the surface of the wood and can interfere with his breathing. This is why we recommend that you clean your wooden statue 2 times per year approximately.

For cleaning wood, always prefer natural products, such as theturpentine. It is an essential oil is a colourless that rids the wood of the dirt that is encrusted on its surface.

Apply the turpentine to the brush (soft bristle, in very small quantities, and spread over the entire surface of the statue. Then, blot the excess with a soft cloth, being careful not to snag a surface roughness of the wood.

Second step : feeding the wood.

When the wood takes on a dull appearance and shades of tones fade, it is that it needs to be fed. This is typically necessary only once per year at most, and mainly for sculptures already quite old. Do not feed too often the wood because it is useless, or even counter-productive.

To feed the wood to revive its natural color and give it brilliance, we recommend that you use a natural wax such as beeswax.

Waxes tend to offer a beautiful satin finish to the wood. They are also sometimes a supplement of tint (with the exception of the wax-clear). So select the hue closest to that of your statue to retain its original appearance.

Attention : if you apply a wax over a wooden statue gross, you will change its appearance. The color of the wood darkens significantly after application of wax, and its appearance becomes more satin. If this is not the desired effect, you should keep in cleaning with turpentine only, or make sure that the wax you use makes a finish that is colorless and dull.

As for the dusting and the cleaning, it is best to use a brush with soft bristles to apply the natural wax, preferably in very thin layers. When you have finished applying the wax, let set for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, Polish your statue by rubbing it with a clean soft cloth (being careful not to snag the edge of the wood) to remove the excess wax. This gesture reveals the brilliance and beauty of the wood of the immediate and quite spectacular !

Repair a sculpture damaged by the time

To repair and conceal the deterioration of the wood, it is usually necessary to call in a restoration professional who will be able to do a specific job, without deteriorating the appearance of the sculpture.

But if you're a tinkerer, you can make the repairs more simple for yourself, such as :

  • Fill the small holes created by insects or small cracks in the surface of the wood. For this you can use wood filler tinted or even tinted wax.
  • Sand a area where the wood is raised, or cracked, then apply a finish identical to the rest of the statue (wax, varnish...).

Another way to repair a wooden statue damaged is giving it a complete makeover.

For example, you can decide whether to sand or strip a statue that you find too dark, to give it a lighter color. Attention, this work is long and difficult because your tools will probably not be able to access all the nooks and crannies of the statue... so You'll need to exercise precision and patience to get a satisfactory result.

On the contrary, you may prefer tinting or waxing a statue made of rough wood to give it more shine, or a pretty dress mahogany. This operation is quite easy and quick to conduct. But to go back, you will need to perform the dangerous operation of sanding / stripping as described above ! So be sure of your choice before you begin.

Finally, more radical solution, you can choose to cover a wooden statue with an acrylic paint or a gloss varnish, to bring him more modern, with a lacquered finish, for example. Caution, because it is irreversible. So be sure not to deprive your statue of its natural charm.

Protect the wooden statues for outdoor

We have seen above : moisture and wood-boring insects are the worst enemies of wood.

If you want to use a wooden statue for outdoor decoration, it is necessary to observe the following instructions under penalty of to see it deteriorate very quickly :

  • Unless your statue has been sculpted in a rot-proof wood such as teak, it is strictly necessary to apply a stain of good quality, on the entire surface. The stain form a polyurethane film transparent and waterproof which protects the statue of the humidity and the rays of the sun, without preventing the wood from breathing. This protection prevents the rotting of the wood, as well as the discoloration produced by the sun. The stain must be renewed every 2 to 3 years approximately.
  • If your statue is of teak or any other wood rot-proof, the stain is not necessary as these woods do not rot by the action of moisture. They are, however, sensitive to the rays of the sun and the temperature variations, which are gradually grisailler the wood and cause the appearance of small cracks. We therefore recommend that in this case the annual application of an oil for exotic wood or teak oil which will be effective to slow down these processes of aging natural outdoors.
  • A strong wind can drop your statue and thus cause significant damage. Therefore, please seal your statue in order to avert this risk. An easy solution to implement is to drill the underside of the sculpture to insert a metal rod such as iron and concrete. The protrusion of the iron to concrete constitutes a line practice to seal easily the statue in the ground or a base.
  • If you want to expose a wooden statue in the garden, directly on the grass, in the ground or even on a gravel path, it is then necessary to guard against the rising damp by capillarity. This phenomenon is dangerous and the stain alone is not enough to deal with it. We recommend that you make a base that will isolate the statue from the ground. This base can be a big flat stone, a book made of cement or concrete, or, more simply, a thick plank of wood that you have previously lasurée. If you opt for the last solution, regularly check your cradle made in-house to ensure that it plays its role of insulation between the ground and the statue !

Sources :
Centre de conservation Québec

But also : the artisan wood carvers partners of Coconut Papaya.