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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been wanting to paint styrofoam packing that are found in VCR,TV
and other items to use as buildings for a diorama.

What I need is to know what kind of paint to use that will make it look smooth, so you do not have that pattern that is the characteristic of that kind of styrofoam. Also is their a primer that will work that will not melt it.

Any help would be appreciated.

Lloyd :wave:
 

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I have used latex or other water based paints to paint styrofoam scenery and rocks for train layouts. Foam is pourous so it will take several coats. I also have applied lychen (for small bushes etc), gravel, or dried coffee grounds to simulate dirt. Applying while the base coat paint is still wet is an effective way to get the stuff to adhere to the surface. Model train stores have all kinds of lanscaping material to simulate grass, bushes, trees and gravel. Don't use aerosol spray or oil based paint -- it will melt the foam.
 

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You might want to use something like Foam Finish before you paint. It's a paste that's sold at the major hobby stores. You coat the styrofoam and it dries solid. It's also sandable. I used it on a base for my Enterprise. I cut a styrofoam ball in half and placed a brass rod through the top. I painted it to look like Mars. Turned out pretty good too!

Rob
 

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Lloyd Collins said:
What I need is to know what kind of paint to use that will make it look smooth, so you do not have that pattern that is the characteristic of that kind of styrofoam. Also is their a primer that will work that will not melt it.
If you want something smooth, I'd go with some sort of acrylic primer to attempt to fill in the pattern. If you're going to very large scale (1/1 for example) dioramas, decoration, or props, I wouldn't use anything that requires sanding.

If you're going for a 1/1 scale TOS type wall thingie, I wouldn't sweat it if it's not quite up to specs close up since most of the stuff on TV looked like crap up close, anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I thank you for your help. I will test out what has been suggested.

I look at some of the packing materials and some remind me of buildings from Space:1999's Moonbase Alpha. My mind is always looking at anything that I can use in SCI-FI. Recently I found some styrofoam boxes used to transport grapes. I saw then and thought SW or ST shipping containers. Paint and make labels. I should look good just for fun.

So thanks for the help.

Lloyd
 

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In theatre, we use a lot of bead and other foams. There are several products sold specifically to treat foam to give it a hard, smooth surface, including one called Foamcoat. However, I usually go the cheap route and mix regular old white glue (or better yet, SOBO fabric glue) with leftover latex paint.

The result, after a few coats, is a soft shell that can be worked a bit. Keep piling on the coats, especially after it has soaked in as much as it is going to, and it will get stronger and stronger.

Sobo glue dries similar to white glue, except it remains flexible, so your finish could take more abuse without flaking off.
 

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Lloyd - one Halloween when my wife was teaching I made a "robot" out of styrofoam packing for a "haunted classroom"- used a grey primer and some shots of silver spray paint, added wiring and red led eyes. In a semi-darkened room it looked pretty impressive!
 

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You might look on Cult's site... there's an article on making models from foam covered with lightweight spackle and or other things... I suspect the theater people are paying specialty prices for cheap spackle. When I started typing this I knew the name of the author, too-- but I didn't name myself Pygar because I had a reliable memory... sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone for your help. I knew I could count on help here. All of you are glad to help each other, and I enjoy helping when I can. I will take the suggestions,and see what works best for me.

Lloyd
 

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At Estes, we have a few options.

For large foam shapes, lay a layer of fiberglass cloth.

For simple sealing, you can use tissue paper and white glue (yep, paper mache')

Most poly foams (EPP or EPS) will take well to any water based paint. On denser foams, you can use Testor's enamels. Very dense blue insulating foam takes Testor's primer very well, and the high density of the foam allows it to sand very smooth.

Under no circumstances should you EVER use Krylon -- unless you want a handful of sticky slimy glop where your model used to be.

Watch out -- there are types of packing foam that are basically expanded starch -- they dissolve in water (you can eat them, too. Taste like cheese puffs without the cheese.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Roguepink,

I am willing to try any way once to see what works best. I found Minwax water-based Polycrylic clear gloss spray. I thought being water-based it would be right. It did not work. the foam soaked it up. At about $8.00 a can it would have been expensive to use on a big foam pieces. So I will try the paper mache" way first, then go from there.

Lloyd
 
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