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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a couple of questions.

1. I'm making a fake buttress root stump out of that purple/pink insulation styrofoam that's commonly used for this kind of thing. My question is this... I am going to seal the front of it for sure with either grout or drylok, but I'm wondering if I need to seal the inside/back of it too. There is a cavity for a computer fan inside, and I'm wondering if the bare foam is frog-safe, or if I need to seal every inch of the foam to make it safe? Here's a photo to show what I'm trying to explain. This shows the back of the stump. It will be pressed up against the back of the tank and siliconed in place, but on the inside where the fan is, there will be bare foam. Is that okay, or do I need to seal it to make it safe? The frogs will not actually be coming into contact with it, just the air passing through the air circulation system.


You can see the build thread here:
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/members-frogs-vivariums/77716-simple-buttress-roots-build.html

2. From my searches, it seems like people use either Drylok or grout to cover their foam trees and rocks. Can somebody list the pros and cons of both methods and which would be better? I'm going for as realistic a look as possible. But I've never worked with either drylok or grout, so whichever is easier to work with might be good for me.

Thanks!
 

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the bare foam is safe for exposure. I prefer covering the entire thing for a more professional look.

Grout is durable, textured, and has a nice finish but it is also harder to apply, complex curing, and expensive in the long run.

Drylok is a latex base tint-able water sealer. It is easy to apply, cheap, easy to color, easy to cure. Multiple layers would be required for a good finish but it is still my recommendation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the input! So, is it correct that you can just use regular acrylic paints to tint the Drylok?
 

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That's what I did.

Worked out very well and allows you a wide pallet of colors.
 
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Why do you consider a cement background to be expensive? Grout and acrylic additive can actually be cheaper than a gallon of drylok.
 

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I haven't used drylok but I imagine it goes a lot farther than grout. I tried making some grout rocks and the grout was very expensive. I think drylok can go on a little thinner and so you need less per coat. Keep in mind grout can require a month or more to cure, or you need to take the extra steps to seal it or it will release toxins.
 

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I feel I have to play devil's advocate a bit, so forgive me if I'm getting irritating.

There are many types of grout of varying costs which can vary based on color, any additives already mixed in, etc. I typically use a non-sanded "basic" grout that is pretty inexpensive (something like 10-15 bucks for 5 pounds? I can't remember for sure).

Also, the biggest risk of uncured cement products is the shift in pH. More specifically, it's very alkaline. There's a member on this board (VivariumWorks I think,) who knows much more of the science behind it than I do, so maybe he'll chime in. A thorough sealing with something completely impermeable such as epoxy can eliminate the need for curing. But once it's cured, there's 0 risk associated with cement products that I know of.
 

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I haven't used drylok but I imagine it goes a lot farther than grout. I tried making some grout rocks and the grout was very expensive.
It depends on what you mean by "grout". Tile grout can be a bit pricey, masonry grout less so. Then there are 100 other products that are cement based that people use and just refer to as "grout". Some of those are pretty cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have a follow-up question on this topic. I ended up using drylok and non-toxic acrylic paints for my tree stump, and I'm very happy with the results! However, (and maybe I'm just being paranoid) it's been about a month since I finished all the painting, and I can still smell a slight drylok/acrylic paint odor coming from the tree stump. It is siliconed it in place in my tank. I plan to run the misting system for a while before adding any soil, plants, frogs, etc, so will the smell wash away and dissipate if I mist it and drain the mist water for a week or two?
 
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