August 26, 2021

How to Clean Outdoor Wood Carving | Tips for Preserving Carvings

How to clean wood carvings kept outdoors

The process of wood carving is often considered a work of art. This may be true, but it is also true that it is a process that requires cleaning. It is also true that there are many ways to clean wood. It’s also true that there are ways to clean wood that do not require pressure washers. Let us take a look at how to clean outdoor wood carvings.

Wear work gloves that will protect your hands

When cleaning outdoor wood carving, protect your hands by wearing gloves. As you choose the gloves, consider durability and waterproof gloves, which protect your hands from cracking skin, dryness, and burns. 

Burns do not come from only hot water and chemicals also cause burns. Using dish soap may affect your outer skin, and solvents in all-purpose cleaners that you think are safe. Even when working with homemade detergents, you know what they are off; you cannot expose your skin to chemicals such as detergents and solvents. 

Vinegar, ammonia, and bleach cause burns that take time to heal and leave permanent marks. They also remove your skin’s oil barrier as they remove the grime, leading to medical conditions such as skin rashes and burns. That is why you need gloves when cleaning your wood carving. 

Cleaning the carving

Take a soft cloth and dust away from the whole furniture. You can use furniture polish and a soft-bristled brush on the carved areas. Remove grease or stubborn grime using a cloth and mineral spirits. 

Clean your carving using a lint-free cloth. Avoid using water since it creates spots and absorbs water and the peeling of the top surface of the carving. Do not use all-purpose cleaning sprays used for tables unless your wood carving has a plastic coating. 

Sticky spots require soap and water but ensure you dry the surface as soon as possible. Dip a lint-free, clean cloth in water, and add mild soap or a detergent dissolved in water. Do not use the dripping wet. Dry the surface using a dry, clean and soft cloth. Wring the cloth as it becomes almost dry and wipe the dirt off the area. 

Use a garden hose to wash away dirt and grime

A garden hose comes with pressure that gets rid of dirt and sometimes stubborn grime. Add a few drops of dish soap mixed with water. The water has to be non-toxic so that you keep safe and the surrounding plants. 

Soap and water work just fine for your carving, and chemical cleansers damage your carving and the environment. Rinse off the soap using the hose and if not satisfied, scrub the surface with a brush to get rid of the remaining dirt. Check the weather since the carving needs to dry after being hit with so much water from the hose. 

When done rinsing, wipe dry the carving using a soft cloth. You are allowed to let the air dry the carving. Wash with the wood grain and raise the carving, so it dries completely. A thin w layer of wax is ideal on the surface and buffs it. When the wood wax is dried, it becomes shiny.  

Use a pressure washer to clean deeply

What makes dirt and grime pile up on your wood carving is not carelessness but exposure to elements. Use a pressure washer to remove the dirt, and use it carefully since it damages your wood.

There are two types of pressure washers, and these are gas and electric pressure washers. Gas pressure washers have higher pounds of pressure per square inch and gallons of water than electric ones. 

A gas-powered washer is ideal for large carvings. It is fast and efficient and does not come with a cord. It needs maintenance, and it makes more noise than the electric one.  The electric pressure washer is convenient to use and requires high maintenance. 

Use a regular sponge and soap to clean 

Pay attention to the type of wood that makes up your carving before using the wrong tools and materials for the project. Clean the wood surface in stages, starting with a mild cleanser that does not affect the outcome. 

Try a more robust solution if the mild cleanser fails to remove dirt and work. Take mineral spirits and follow instructions. Add a drop of liquid soap to the water and let the sponge take the water. Brush the sponge lightly over the surface; don’t let the liquid linger for long. Dry thoroughly.

Dry the carving with a towel

Whatever process you are taking as you clean the carving, dry the carving with a towel. The towel should absorb the remaining water on the surfaces, so it does not get damaged. Some wood types quickly absorb water, and that results in creating fag parts on the surface. Wipe off the water and let the towel dry the carving. Allow air to get rid of the remaining. 

Filling the missing wood

Failure to maintain and repair your carving when you notice damages will not keep your wood carving in good shape. Fill cracks using a small piece of wood. That makes the patch less visible. Using a piece of wood with a similar color brings out a perfect finish. A combination of a patch of the same color and spray paint results in a flawless finish.  

Finishing the carvings

Choose the best finish that complements your wood. It has to last for years and is beautiful. Sanding, staining, and sealing are some of the finishes you must compare. A rotary tool is ideal for sanding carvings, and the carving should be of hardwood. If the wood is soft, the rotary school becomes too aggressive to give positive results. 

The chances of distorting the shape of the carving are high, and the overall quality of the carving is disturbed. However, that does not mean you should abandon softwood. 

Use folded-up sandpaper as an alternative. A detail sander is less aggressive and has fast sanding. Rubber grips are for curved edges, and the converted oscillating toothbrush is less aggressive and for tight spaces. 

Wax the carving

Wax comes with advantages and disadvantages on outdoor wood furniture. It gives a beautiful finish to your wood carvings and is easy to apply, and it protects your carvings from scratches. 

Wax makes your items look new. Wax penetrator through multiple layers of wood, giving additional protection to your carvings. Depending on the type of wax, some are non-toxic—research more on toxic-free waxes. 

However, they make your carvings look dull as the layers increase. It is difficult to remove since it penetrates through wood layers, is affected by heat, and stains wood. More maintenance is on wax, and re-applications are needed. 

Use a weatherproof sealant

Sealing wood carvings increases the life of your items. It is ideal for outdoor furniture since it is more exposed to natural elements. There will not be a need to replace the carving in a short period since that is avoidable. 

There are water-based wood and oil-based sealers, and they have disadvantages. Match your wood type with the ideal sealer. You should also see our post on How to repair cracked wood carving.

David D. Hughes

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