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-   -   don't buy styrofoam! Get it for free! (

thelub 01-12-2013 10:18 PM

don't buy styrofoam! Get it for free!
I've posted this on other forums, but I thought I'd pass along the resource here as well:

I have worked in the retail furniture industry for the last 5+ years and one thing we have always had in excess is STYROFOAM. LOTS AND LOTS. I hate seeing literally hundreds to thousands of cubic yards of the stuff get thrown into a landfill every year (some call me a tree hugger :icon_roll). I've always wanted to find a useful way to recycle the stuff and it just occurred to me this could be a small way to do that. We handle all kinds of sizes and densities. EVERY retail furniture store will have this stuff coming out their ears (I've actually coughed the stuff out of my lungs before) and would be more than happy to give it away for free.

I think its absolutely ridiculous that people have to pay for the stuff when its so readily available for free. If you want some, just go to your nearest furniture retailer (Ashley, Macys, Furniture Row, mom and pop shops, etc) and ask them where their warehouse is located. A lot of stores will warehouse in-house or have one close by that you could visit and take some off their hands. I regularly handle sheets as large as 4' square and up to 1" thick as well as bricks and oddball shapes. Some is quite dense too.

So if you're looking for a place to find free background material (that's why we DIY right?) ask your local furniture store and I'm sure they would gladly fill your car up with the stuff.

If anybody is in Eastern WA (Tri-cities, Spokane or even NE Oregon) I could personally hook you up. Just PM me and I can arrange to get pretty much whatever you'd need.

sejoy 01-13-2013 12:45 AM

Excellent idea! I hope many people are able to take advantage of this, I also hate the idea of the stuff floating around the earth for the foreseeable future!

driftwoodhunter 01-13-2013 01:03 AM

This is where I learned to make 3D backgrounds, on their DIY forum. I bet they would love to read this tidbit too! Do you mind if I copy & paste it there?

thelub 01-13-2013 01:36 AM

Go for it. Spread the word! I hate to see this stuff going to landfills and I see this as my tiny contribution to help recycle. You can even point them to me to contact if anybody in my area wants some.

driftwoodhunter 01-13-2013 01:52 AM

Thanks! I'll spread the word!

Acro 01-13-2013 03:36 AM

Thank you for posting this! I would have never thought of that and I have been looking to buy some, now I don't have to! It's so good to reuse and recycle!
Thanks! :D

Sookielee 01-15-2013 01:51 PM

I so wish this had been posted the first weekend of January, it would have saved us a bundle I bet. Thanks for posting this information. When I get around to doing the background for the 45 I will definitely be taking a ride to one of the furniture stores. Thanks!

acitydweller 01-15-2013 01:57 PM

i have been using foam that video cards and other electronic devices are shipped in for my planted deliveries. i think they are great for cushioning packages as well as reinforcing the insullation inside the boxes.

shift 01-15-2013 04:23 PM

does the Styrofoam release any chemicals into the water or do you guys seal it some how?

thelub 01-15-2013 07:03 PM

you have to coat the styrofoam background in some form of sealant. Most guys create the BG they want then cover it in quickcrete cement then coat the cement in an aquarium safe sealer. There are a couple sites that specialize in DIY backgrounds using various forms of styrofoam.

GraphicGr8s 01-15-2013 07:31 PM


Originally Posted by thelub (Post 2250994)
you have to coat the styrofoam background in some form of sealant. Most guys create the BG they want then cover it in quickcrete cement then coat the cement in an aquarium safe sealer. There are a couple sites that specialize in DIY backgrounds using various forms of styrofoam.

I know people cover it in kwikcrete as a background but is that to seal the styrofoam or just for the look? What if they styrofoam were to be used just to build up rockwork. In a 55 I have empty I am doing a river biotope. There will be a rock waterfall leading into a pool area. For weight consideration and that I want to hide the piping for the filter I want to build up behind and under the rock with styrofoam. Will that need to be sealed or not?

hydrophyte 01-15-2013 08:14 PM

I understand that styrofoam can release endocrine-disrupting chemicals, so it is probably not a very good idea to keep it in an enclosure with livestock intended for breeding.

GraphicGr8s 01-15-2013 08:16 PM

If you were using it this way what would you coat it with other than crete?

lochaber 01-15-2013 09:15 PM

I've personally used and had decent results with sand mixed into epoxy resin.

You can usually find small kits of pour-on type epoxy resin at big hardware stores in the paint section, or craft stores in the sculpting/mold section.

just mix up a bit in a disposable container, and then add in some sand. application can be a bit messy, since you can't really brush it on, just glop it on and smear it around.
I usually would put a dusting of dry sand over top of it, and then rinse this off after it was cured, just to cut down on the gloss (wouldn't be an issue for an underwater background, but I was building a paludarium)

You could try brushing it on, and then just sprinkling sand over it, but it wouldn't be quite as durable, and would eventual get rubbed off - especially if you have any sort of rasping fish.

Acro 01-16-2013 01:51 AM

Once coated (in either way) does it sink or stay floating?

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