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I am thinking of using LEGO to make some outside yard art, (large minifig scale castle) and wondered what I should do to prepare them for being outside in variable weather conditions (in the Seattle area).

I am aware that Legoland glues their displays, but have not found any other details on their technique.

Discoloring in the sun is not a big concern of mine, other than I will probably avoid too many white elements which tend to discolor more noticeably.

As it's ABS plastic I imagine water wouldn't be a problem, and I should just be able to wash them down if they get dirty. What about snow/ice freezing temperatures?

Does anyone have any experience with outdoor displays?

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Check out another post here: bricks.stackexchange.com/questions/1037/… that asks a specific question about glue. –  Grandpappy Aug 25 at 15:07

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I once talked with a Lego Builder at the Florida park. He told me they use a glue that actually melts the Lego blocks together. With that in mind, I searched and found this article (on Facebook). It says Lego Park Model Makers

use a solvent based plastic weld. It heats the bricks up so the edges bind together. Obviously it has to be very strong to withstand weather conditions.

A quick search on that found this from Google shopping.

The article also talks about color fading and model life time (about 5 to 7 years), after which the model can either be rebuilt or cleaned:

We clean them using a shot blasting technique. They are sprayed with a fine salt spray, which takes a very thin layer off the bricks, and then they are lacquered with a UV coating. This gives them another 3 years or so.

I hope the project goes well.

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good link, I've seen more info on how the LEGO parks glue their models, here but this one mentioned they spray models with a clear UV coating, and gave some outside display lifetime estimates (5-7 years) also mentions salt water shot blast refurbishment method. Thanks –  Josh King Aug 22 at 13:47

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