3d background mediums n paint - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-09-2015, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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3d background mediums n paint

Im trying my hand at making DIY 3d backgrounds, specifically Im making a sand waterfall. Currently I tried using polystyrene....and it works so far I guess, the trouble is those little tiny white balls go and get EVERYWHERE. What huge PITA to clean up. I know there are other types of stuff out there. Is it just called "foamboard" or does it have a different name? Im thinking of that blue-ish colored stuff?
Also, Im wondering what kind of paints are people using after they seal the backgrounds to make them look life like? Im planning on using a cement sealer I bought at home depot if that matters. All the videos I saw on youtube made it look easy. turns out----Not that easy for a first timer. Most of the video I saw (if not all) were for large tanks at least 55g mines just a little 29, but I feel like this will work and look really cool once Im done.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-09-2015, 03:37 PM
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The stuff lots of people are using is the pink or blue colored polystyrene insulation. It doesn't come off in little balls. Most people are using cement color additives for the color. I used an epoxy resin to seal mine but some people aren't sealing it at all. They just pre soak it for weeks to leach out the chemicals.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-09-2015, 10:24 PM
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Hey blick. I just finished my 75 gallon background. Thread is in the aquascaping section.
I used styrofoam. And yes its a messy affair. The blue stuff is just closed cell foam. I tried both but prefer the regular styrofoam because its easier to carve and makes a more natural shape ( once sanded a little)
Most people use drylock masonry weatherproofer for paint. You mix the drylock with pigements to get the color you want. I used cement pigment thinking it would last longer than acrylic.
You put a base coat ( un-pigmented) drylock on your finished foam. Wait 24 hours. Mix up your pigments into several small containers with the drylock. Start by painting your darkest colors first. Then paint lighter colors on top of that. Trust me on this. Even if it looks goofy, paint the whole thing your darkest color. I tried it other ways and it didnt look right.
Then use GE silicone 1... not 2 or 3... ONE to secure your foam in place.

PM me for more questions since i dont stroll into this forum often
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-09-2015, 10:52 PM
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Stryofoam can be a bit messy to work with, and having a vacuum cleaner on hand might help keep things from getting too out of control.

I've used sheet expanded polystyrene, (the type made from the little balls), and also a couple other types as well. There is stuff that is more like filter foam in structure, that you can find in floral stores, but it's fairly expensive. The cheapest is probably found in home centers for house insulation, I've seen fine grained yellow and blue foams, as well as the typical white made from little balls.

When I've done mine, I just went with epoxy mixed up with some sand. Pretty easy, gives a texture/color similar to sandstone, and it's ready to go in a day or two.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-10-2015, 02:04 AM
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I didn't put a sealer on mine. Its just dyed mortar. I let it cure for a month before putting it in the tank, I've read that you need to let it cure for a week, and then soak it for a week and then its safe? Not sure.

The most common sealer people use is DryLock that is available at Home Depot, and is pretty pricey. Not sure if that's what you bought or not.

Sand waterfall sounds tricky. Good luck.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-10-2015, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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The cement sealer Im using is a brand called Sakrete. Thanks Fish Jihad. Im going to try that method. The biggest issue Im having is making this whole thing fit into a corner. I think Im going to start over with something more solid instead of cutting up layer after layer and trying to make that work.....maybe measure how much space I have to use as well....lol.

I get paid on Friday so, Im going to go look at that other "closed cell" colored stuff. Never again with the little white balls! Im *STILL* sweeping that stuff up!
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