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Thread: Waterproofing cardboard

  1. #1
    Workshop Elf dirknerkle's Avatar
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    Waterproofing cardboard

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    So..... I've got some cardboard boxes that will be covered (mostly) with a vinyl tablecloth to simulate bales of hay. This is an experiment I'm trying this year for my manger scene because (1) actual bales of hay aren't inexpensive or easy to move in bulk and (2) when I don't need them for the display anymore, where do I store them???

    But I'm a bit concerned that should it rain, the boxes' integrity might be adversely affected, so.... I bought a gallon of this water-based acrylic concrete sealer, thinking that if this is to seal porous concrete, it ought to work for cardboard, too. I used a roller to paint the uncovered sides of the boxes. The sealer is about $16/gallon.

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    The sealer is a milky-white color and a runny consistency, not unlike milk that's been watered down a bit. It dries quickly and wow, was I ever impressed how well it sealed the cardboard!!! Water just runs off it -- just as if it were coroplast!

    I gave the boxes a 2nd coat in case I missed anything the first time around, and at the present time, I don't plan to paint the insides of the boxes, too. That may be a big mistake, but even if the boxes collapse a little, the boxes make up the backdrop of the manger scene and that might actually add to the effect.

    I'll post more after I set up the display this year, but I'm excited about the potential of this inexpensive waterproofing sealer. I'm not sure what else I'll use it for, but now that I've seen what it can do to cardboard, it may open the door for more uses of cardboard in the future. Stay tuned!
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  2. #2
    Old Man Winter member TazChaLet's Avatar
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    kwel idea

  3. #3
    Santa's Helpers Jchuchla's Avatar
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    Just curious what the price of real hay bales are in your area. I get them for $5 each around here. I use a few for Halloween and thanksgiving and then I just burn them with the yard waste at the end of the season.


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  4. #4
    Workshop Elf dirknerkle's Avatar
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    They're about $12 each here, and no burning is allowed. I'm cheap and didn't want to spend $70+ on something I knew I'd have to take to recycling. These boxes were <$5 apiece, I hope to reuse them in the future and because they can be broken down, they won't take much room to store.
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  5. #5
    Frosty member TomL8345's Avatar
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    Dave,

    Will this change the color of the painted props? I have a Grinch that is painted on some type of fiberboard. I want to put it out on the side of my house pulling down lights, but I have not been able to figure out how to seal it.

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    2012 - 1st year 64 Channels - 7500 LED lights - 5 sequences
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  6. #6
    Workshop Elf dirknerkle's Avatar
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    This stuff is, after all, intended to be a "concrete sealer for driveways, patios, sidewalks, pool decks, concrete floors, quarry tiles, paver bricks, bricks and masonry." The instructions state that it's "designed to seal and protect both interior and exterior concrete surfaces." There's no mention about using it on cardboard, wood, or painted materials. I'm most definitely using it out-of-spec!

    This stuff dries clear, so I don't believe it would change a color much but the bigger question is whether it would stick to a painted surface. The cardboard I painted was originally untreated and is now a bit darker than it was before; I'd attribute that to the sealer soaking into the cardboard. It's supposed to be applied to porous materials but the instructions say that you can apply multiple coats and each one should make it shinier than before when it dries, but that was in reference to concrete.

    The first coat covered great because the cardboard was untreated. But when I gave the cardboard the 2nd coat, the first coat was dry and it protected the cardboard so it didn't appear to be a universally smooth coating like the first one was. It dried smooth though -- I would assume that's what might happen to a painted surface.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful. BTW, it does not have a strong odor at all and while it's milky-white to begin with, it dries clear. It is definitely not a paint like a latex paint -- it's much too thin.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomL8345 View Post
    Dave,

    Will this change the color of the painted props? I have a Grinch that is painted on some type of fiberboard. I want to put it out on the side of my house pulling down lights, but I have not been able to figure out how to seal it.

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    I think polyurethane is generally the first choice for painted wood. But generally, paint is waterproof so if it is well painted, put it out as is.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomL8345 View Post
    Dave,

    Will this change the color of the painted props? I have a Grinch that is painted on some type of fiberboard. I want to put it out on the side of my house pulling down lights, but I have not been able to figure out how to seal it.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Spar Varnish can be used to protect, and it doesn't crack during wood expansion and shrinking from the heat and cold in an outdoor setting. I use it on signs that spend their entire time outside. Personally, I like Minwax's Helmsman product. I use spray can's, but it also comes in quarts and such to brush on.

  9. #9
    Old Man Winter member
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    There are "cardboard boat" races around the country. I would think that they would have some sort of "secret sauce" to help keep them dry - in the water. Perhaps you could look there for the best solution.

  10. #10
    Senior Elf member
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    Why not just make the box out of coroplast? Plenty of election signs will be available in about a week.

    Of course cardboard is plentiful... It is a great idea. Even better if reusable and less clean up worry.

    I think you all mean straw bales though - it's yellow. That's my previous life as a farm boy chiming in....

    Jason

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