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Want to build a stand for a new 55 gallon tank. I have the skills and tools to do it and tend to overdo it when adding structural support on my projects馃槄. What I need help with is what material to wrap the frame with so that it makes cleanly finished under tank cabinet. For you DIYers out there, what have you used that you like? Is it just plywood? Or can I use another material that is less expensive?
 

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Working on one now. Built an inner frame of 2x4s, wrapping in oak plywood and finishing with oak trim. Building a pair of raised panel doors as well. Used tongue and groove bead board to wrap the stand for my 20gL tank.
 

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I find it very hard to find anything that is more cost effective as well as long lasting as plywood. Ease of working also comes into the thought. One could possibly make a stand with particle board overlaid with some form of laminate but that is not handy for me to work and feel good about having the particle board for long term durable work around water. Attachments tend to not hold well in the particle board and my stands are expected to be strong enough to move around when needed, so plywood on a 2X4 frame is the cheaper, long lasting and simple way for me.
 

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Want to build a stand for a new 55 gallon tank. I have the skills and tools to do it and tend to overdo it when adding structural support on my projects馃槄. What I need help with is what material to wrap the frame with so that it makes cleanly finished under tank cabinet. For you DIYers out there, what have you used that you like? Is it just plywood? Or can I use another material that is less expensive?

Ever look at what commercial 55gal stands are made of?
My "retail" stand is nothing but 3/4plywwod pieces on 3 sides w/ a 3/4 x 3" stringer on the 4th side..
Point is all your structure will be in 2x4's

so skinning with anything is possible.
If one wanted to go really cheap-ish any cheap paneling, wainscotting cardboard/paper (sarcastic) will do.
Just silicone the edges a bit..if using "paper products"

It will depend on the look you want and how good your seaming covering ability is.

I've always wondered about "floating panel" faces using laminated flooring planks.
Then there is laminate/wood veneer on hardboard panels.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Hardboa...0-115-in-x-47-7-in-x-95-7-in-832777/202189720

https://www.homedepot.com/b/Lumber-Composites-Plywood-Hardwood-Plywood/N-5yc1vZc7r1
4x8 1/8" white hardboard is like $10..

Really more depends on what you want it to look like will determine the skin.

Or how much you want it to weigh.Like using concrete board and tile.. ;)



Now this assumes you will not rely on the panels for structure, at all.
 

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I just recently finished building a stand and I used 3/4" cabinet grade plywood and stained it. Just pick out a color stain you like and send it!
 

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We need to keep the thought in mind that the question involved something cheaper than plywood.
That as the primary thought leaves me thinking it hard to bet a lower totally price and still be nice looking and durable!
One of the thing I have found when stands are built from really thin material is that noise can become a problem as the really thin items like paneling can "drum" with any filter noise and they also need more support to stop bowing. Plywood is so common because it does have lots of advantages, so I never go into reinventing that wheel! Nothing more expensive than going so cheap you have to buy a second time.
 

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I just finished building a 36" ada style tank using 3/4" plywood and I don't know what else would be cheaper. I know some people have used Formica before to finish the stand which might let you get away with a cheaper base wrap around a 2x4 structure but I'm guessing the Formica would be more expensive that just going with plywood and a nice paint/stain finish.
 

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With a laterally braced 2x4 frame you can choose sheet material thinner than 3/4" plywood. 1/2" - 1/4" - The hard part is attaching it to the frame without showing all of your fasteners. If I were skinning a cabinet on the cheap...I would use 1/4" Luan, Luvaun, Luvan (regional spelling may vary). It's usually available at home depot/lowes. 4x8 sheets and sometimes 5x9. Luan is basically an A/C plywood product, laminated layers but it's intended as a finish surface rather than a structural surface. It's a bit soft but it will take stain really nice. It's lightweight, easy to sand with a nice even grain pattern. Downside, it's relatively easy to dent, brads and staples will blow through the material if you set pneumatic tools too high.
 

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Laminate plus hardboard plus contact cement..,$80 for 32 sq ft.
Of course that is like 2x the sq ft you would need if you don't do the back
 

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Luan.. yea nice stuff. Bit splintery and as noted soft.
A soft hardwood.
Phillipine Mahogany.
 

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I have built a few stands and always use plywood . In fact the stand for my 15 gal long is just 3/4 plywood and is more strong than needed . My last one was for my 75 gal acrylic tank . It is 2 x 4 frame with 1/2 plywood skin and 3/4 plywood doors . I used the thicker for the doors to stop warping which the 1/2 inch is inclined to do . Following is a pic . I use off the shelf moulding and exterior semi-gloss latex paint .
 

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If you live in a metro area, there can be value in looking at the recycle places for some nice cabinet doors. Makes it easy to find some to just do the plywood front, cut an opening with framing along the sides and add the doors, rather than building each door. Sometimes the plywood is not the major expense as much as the trim!
Another way to cut a bit off the expense as well as make a better stand is to not use a full cover top as it does allow for some air flow around and under the edge of the tank where so many spills run down and you can't get it out from under the tank edge so that it tends to rot after a few years.
It takes a bit of careful planning but I like to leave the 2X frame exposed at the top and set the tank directly on it so that it is covered without needing a second appearance layer.
 

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MDF painted + sealed to protect from accidental water / swelling?

1/2" would do and it takes paint beautifully, $25 for a 4x8 sheet... Could make it out to an ADA style pretty easily without bulking up the stand with something 3/4" or larger.
 

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What it gets down to is often what we each might like and how much we want to spend to get it.
For a really cheap cover for the stand frame, some like recycled cedar fencing. I think it's kind of the "Texas" thing but some do like it and it is easy to find for free on the local Craigslist.
 

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Wood is definitely gone way up.
I rarely ever use 2x4 for my racks. 2 x 3 is cheaper and will work fine. Only rack I have that is 2x4 is simply because the span is 8'.

If you do build the structure out of 2x material what about using pallet wood as a skin?

3/4" plywood with correct joinery will take the weight of a tank with no problem. No need for 2x material at all. Key is correct joinery and the right glue. I use screws sparingly and only when I can't wait for glue-ups to dry in clamps. If I do have to use screws I try to use pocket holes.
If you have doubts about the plywood holding up then use 1x4 to build a skeleton and glue it into the plywood stand.
 

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I just built a stand for my 55 gallon and 40 gallon tanks to sit side by side, I used cinder blocks painted white, and wood boards stained dark brown.
Cost about $80 from home depot (wood is expensive due to covid) it worked really well, and will be a cheaper solution for you since you only need it for a 55
 

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I'm a big fan of 2x4 frame for structural support, and skin it with 1/4" plywood for cosmetic (& some structural support).

I wouldn't go thicker on the plywood (if already overbuilding with 2x4's), it will just add to the weight and cost.
 
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