What's A Good Sealant For A Bird Bath?

How to Seal & Protect Painted Colors
On A Concrete or Resin Bird Bath

I received an email yesterday from Jan asking me:

I have a couple of questions.

1. I want to seal a resin decorative bird bath & protect the colors from the sun exposure. I need a sealer that is safe and non toxic for birds and would prefer a spray. Do you have any recommendations that come to mind?

2. I have several outdoor decorative pieces, such as and old reel mower, wood chair with birdhouse, old wooden wagon, etc, and I want to protect the wood from exposure to the outdoors. What is a good sealer for wood & metal? I agree with one of your previous answers about sealing things and that Thompson’s is not a very good sealer.

Thank you, Jan

My reply:

Choose the right sealant for use in a birdbath. Hi Jan:
Thank you for contacting me and I hope I can help steer you towards the right products.

Whether the bird bath (or any other garden art or outdoor item) is made from resin or concrete; and whether the colors are inherent in the resin, or painted onto the surface of the resin or concrete, my recommendations for a product remain the same.

#1) To be honest, I don’t *think* (notice I say “think” – I’m NOT 100% sure) the toxicity level of a clear coat sealant such as Krylon spray clear coat paint is going to be toxic enough to kill any birds that stop by to bathe or take a drink in your bird bath.

I mean … if your experience is like mine with my bird bath, the water in the basin is normally almost completely splashed out by mid-afternoon or early evening. Plus it’s almost always kind of yucky with a few bird droppings, and other little pieces of vegetation, thusly I’ve got to swish it out and completely refresh the water on a daily basis (or sometimes even twice a day in hot weather). So it’s not like the water is in contact for a terribly long period, soaking up toxic ingredients from the sealer.

So, how much toxic build-up could there be? I’ve no clue, but I really don’t think I’d be jeopardizing the health of my feathered friends by using Krylon, or a polyurethane or clear acrylic brush-on product. Weed killers used on lawns are probably WAAAAAAY more toxic to our little bird friends.

On a side note … I lost a whole brood of newly hatched baby Bluebirds a few years back. I found their poor tiny dead bodies scattered on my lawn in different spots, but all rather close to the bird house. I couldn’t understand why (no blow flies in the nest, etc.) and then the 💡 went on … a neighbor a few doors up from my house had sprayed his yard and whatever he used, man! We could smell it all the way to our house.

Momma and Daddy Bluebird had been very busy all morning and afternoon bringing little grubs and bugs back to feed the babies. And I will bet the babies were fed bugs from the neighbor’s lawn. I am convinced the chemical that neighbor used was deadly to those babies. Just my own “motherly” hunch. However I digress here … back to sealants and toxicity.

I have read that DecoArt Patio Paints makes a non-toxic brush-on clear coat that does work for sealing items to be used outdoors. I will *assume* (again I’m not 100% sure) that it can hold up to exposure to water 24/7, as will happen in a birdbath basin. This product will however be more expensive to use versus a product like Krylon.

But of course it’s your call! And if you can educate me otherwise as to the toxicity level in Krylon or a polyurethane clear coat as it concerns birdbaths, please do tell me.

#2) As far as what is a good sealant for wood or metal – I’d go and ask the sales reps in the paint department at your local paint store or big-box store. (Though I do understand “sometimes” the sales reps do NOT have a clue about any of the products that are in their department … been there and experienced that personally too often! Maybe ask a couple different people at the paint counter just to be safe! 🙂  )

However, I know Krylon spray will do a good job on metal. As far as wooden items – I’ve never personally sealed any wooden outdoor furniture, so can’t recommend a product that worked really well for me, but I do know you want to buy a product that is considered a “water sealant”. And yes, do not use the Thompson’s product!

But whether your item is metal or wood, make sure to clean/wash off any dirt or grime, and then lightly sand it before you apply your clear coats. I’d apply at least 2, if not 3 good coats, allowing each coat to dry well before you apply the next one.

As far as the bird bath is concerned, make sure to let your clear coats dry really well (a day or two at least – depends upon temperature and humidity level) before you add water to the basin.

Best of luck with all your projects and do not hesitate to contact me again if the need arises.


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  1. Hai Curson says:

    Can you know of any related information sites like yours which i can come across out more info?…

  2. Use Google or Bing to easily find what you’re looking for. 😉

  3. I went to the DecoArt Patio Paints link like you suggested and it says not to use in birdbaths. I’m guessing it may be okay to use in the birdbaths if a sealant is used over it???

  4. Hi Judy:

    Yes, I will *assume* that using a sealant over the Patio Paints would be fine – aren’t they acrylic? Perhaps the issue is more having to do with constant moisture, and the manufacturer is being cautious.

    Why don’t you give them a call and double check on their disclaimer. But people paint concrete birdbaths all the time without problems. However, like with anything painted and left outdoors, especially one that will have constant moisture, do not expect your paint job to last forever. 😉

    Good luck!

  5. The fact that the babies were all out of the nest and scattered around the lawn means it was more than likely an aggressive, territorial species like a wren, pulling the babies out of the nest.

  6. Krylon is non toxic when it is dry according to there web site.

  7. That’s right – thanks Ryan!

  8. I just read this on the DecoArt Web Site, “Do not use Patio Paint inside birdbaths or fountains”

  9. Madelyn Caro says:

    Tthanks claudia – just the info I was looking for so I can mend a leaking bird bath before it gets too cold to fix it. Don’t want to wait until next spring. Off I go to buy my supplies.

  10. PATIO PAINT OUTDOOR™ specifically says “Do not use inside birdbaths, pools, or fountains.” I have no idea why, since it also says It provides excellent adhesion to exterior surfaces such as concrete, terra cotta, masonry, and wood. When painting on terra cotta pots that will be used for plants, make sure you paint both the inside and outside of the pot. The inside should be painted solid to prevent moisture from wicking through the pot and making the paint on the outside bubble up.” However, since it is water-based, perhaps long-term constant immersion in water would dissolve it eventually.

    No sealer required for a durable, long-lasting finish
    Satin finish
    Superior coverage
    Will not crack or peel
    Water-based and non-toxic

  11. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Hi MJ: I will wager the disclaimer they give is exactly that – to protect themselves from demands for refunds, reimbursement of “ruined” items, etc. because the individual didn’t prep the item correctly before applying the Patio Paint, or as you’ve mentioned … yes, perhaps prolonged contact with water “could” cause bubbling and such on-up-the-road. But I’ve used similar paints in many different outdoor applications with great results. It all comes down to what you’re painting, what it’ll be used for, how well you prepped it, etc. etc.

    Trial and error, and sometimes just saying “what the heck – I’ll give it a try and just see what happens” is all you can do. You win some, and then, well … sometimes you have a disaster or two.

  12. I came to this question because I have a plastic birdbath that has cracked because I left it out and it froze (lesson learned) so it leaks. What I’m looking for is something to put on the crack to stop the leak. Maybe I’m looking for glue instead of sealer? Any advice on this?

  13. Just talked with someone at DecoArt about the Patio Paint Outdoor product. She said it’s probably 80% the fact that anything water-based is going to break down over time with exposure to water and more quickly if it is in constant contact with it. Beyond that, as it breaks down, of course the animals will be affected by the breakdown. She said it won’t happen immediately, but it will happen eventually.

  14. What I meant by animals being affected, is that the animals would be affected the same way we would if we were eating off a painted plate and the paint started to degrade or chip off. Not that it is toxic, but who wants to ingest paint?

  15. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Thais: There are different types of plastic, as I’m sure you’re aware. But why don’t you try an epoxy glue that is meant for plastic (there are different types of epoxies, such as some are for concrete – read the information on the packages to choose the right one). Then I would try using a strip of mesh or strong fabric cloth, cut a little wider and longer than the crack, to act as a type of mending tape. Next, spread the epoxy on the cracked area, then lay on the mesh/fabric strip making sure it is adhering well, and then spread more epoxy over the top of the mesh/fabric.

    **Please note: I have never tried this myself, so am trying to coe up with a creative solution for you that “might” work. Also know that you don’t want the epoxy to get on your fingers or hands, so using protective gloves, wooden sticks or tongue-depressors or similar spreader should be used. Once the epoxy dries, you won’t get it off the tools you used to assist you in your project.

    This is just a brief explanation, but perhaps will get you thinking in a new way on how to fix your birdbath. Good luck!

  16. Claudia Brownlie says:

    I disagree a bit on the statement “… the animals will be affected by the breakdown …” Latex or acrylic paint used in the manner most of us would in small craft project, is not dangerous, if at all, to animals, birds or wildlife UNLESS they drink a large amount of pure paint. Even if it “breaks down” over time, what are you dealing with? Some small chips or flakes? And if we’re talking about Patio Paint being used for a birdbath or other small water features, again, I personally would have no qualms whatsoever to use an acrylic or latex paint for the project.

    I am a HUGE animal lover; I practice healthy habits (non-GMO foods, no sugar, no refined foods or junk foods, lots of veggies & fruits, whole grains, etc. etc.); I recycle everything I can; I repurpose what I can instead of throwing away or recycling an item … the point I’m attempting to make here is I believe I would be the last one to use a paint product that would, in any way, ultimately adversely affect or kill an animal, bird, fish, etc.

    Everyone is different I respect that fact, but for anyone reading this and stressing out over using the above mentioned paint types for an outdoor water feature (unless we’re talkking a huge outdoor pond or swimming pool!) … go ahead and use water-based craft paints for your project.

    **Just remember to use at least 3 coats of a water-based clear sealer over the craft paint. This assures a longer lasting painted surface.


    Why not leave the inside as is and just paint the outside?

  18. Marilyn says:

    To Jan – I live on a salt water bay. I use a marine varnish made by Rust-oleum. It leaves a thick clear finish after drying. I removed all rusted bolts and screws first then replace with stainless. Make sure you put any items you want to protect with the varnish in a dry area for several days to dry out any moisture(a garage)BEFORE using this product.
    To Thais – Use an aquarium patching sealant. They are non toxic after drying(48 hours). Will hold up well with constant water contact.

  19. lyndsey ratto says:

    I just did a mosaic bottom to an old fire pit. I sanded and then sprayed Rustoleum on the fire pit. Did thin set and then my ceramic tile and glass pieces, then I grouted it.
    Do I need to seal the grout with something before I fill it with water? Im worried about poisoning the birds. I just want to make sure that water doesn’t get underneath the tile or into the grout and then lift itself off of the fire pit.
    Any help is appreciated.
    Thank you!

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