Ground Cover Application?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by max348, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. max348

    max348 New Member

    Hello all,

    This is my first post here & have a few questions regarding the application of ground cover.

    Right now I am applying some grassy areas by using a blended turf as the base & following up with various colors & textures of ground foam in an "attempt" to achieve a more realistic look...

    The first coat goes on by painting an earth-tone color with latex paint, followed by applying the blended turf.

    The next applications have been applied by adding more turf & using generous soakings of wet-water & diluted white glue.

    The results are ok - however, up close the grass doesn't look very grassy. ( does that make any sense? ) Everything seems to be extremely matted down from the 3-4 drenching's of water & glue.

    Does anyone have any techniques that will keep the foam looking more like it looks when it's first applied ( before saturating with the glue ) or is this just the way it is, when using this particular product?

    I am also experiencing problems on the more vertical surfaces where the foam seems to be sliding down in areas, allowing the painted areas to show through.



    This is my first attempt at doing ANY kind of scenery & any advice would be greatly welcomed.

    Thanks in advance...
  2. max348

    max348 New Member

    Nevermind - I think I was just SOAKING everything a little to much.

    I tried diluting the glue a little more to where I was able to mist it out of a hairspray container ( the wifes, lol! ) & that seemed to help out alot...
  3. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    A heavy solution of white glue or matte medium, whether applied in one application, or several applications as you layer on subsequent ground foam, has a tendency to give the scenery a "glued-on" look.

    I've diluted my matte medium to as low as a 10% solution which makes it easy to mist on the glue with a spray bottle. (Hint - your building supply dealer sells nice spray bottles with an adjustable nozzle). The trick is to wet the ground foam before applying the diluted glue so that the glue will "wick" into the ground foam. In my case, I wet the ground foam with alcohol because it evaporates within 24 hours and I can apply the next layers.

    If you find that you haven't applied enough glue, it's always easy to wet down the scenery again, and spray on some more glue, rather than trying to apply all the glue at the first session.

    Hope this helps.

    Bob M.
  4. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Hi max348, and :welcome1: to the Gauge.

    I don't think that it's possible to soak scenery work too much. It sounds to me as if you're not soaking it enough, and the glue mixture is sitting on top of the foam, rather than soaking in.
    In my opinion, the key step to applying ground foam or ballast is the application of "wet" water. The glue mixture will only extend as far into the scenic material as the "wet" water has prepared the way. I like to apply all of the scenic foam in one step, if possible, although you can always come back and add more as required. My scenic landforms are done with plaster over screen, except in areas where bare plywood is needed, such as yards, so all of these areas are painted first - I used flat latex house paint, applied as a wash as soon as the plaster was fully hardened. Thinning it to a "wash" consistency made it easier to apply over the plaster, but of course wouldn't work if your scenery base is foam. In either case, I like to let the paint dry berfore going on to apply ground cover.
    I start with the finest textures of ground foam first, to represent the dirt and small plants that are everywhere, the gradually work up to the coarser materials. Woodland Scenics "Clump Foliage" is good for bushes, as is lichen, although the latter will benefit from an application of fine or medium foam.
    When you have all of the scenic material arranged to your satisfaction, wet the area with "wet" water, made by adding of few drops of liquid dish detergent to your sprayer of tap water. You need a sprayer that gives the finest mist possible, and direct the first few spritzes upwards, allowing the water to fall onto the scenery like a gentle rain. After the foam has been dampened enough, you can spray directly at it without fear of dislodging it. Soak the area thoroughly, to the point that water begins to "pool" in the low spots.
    If you have some fairly steep hillsides, it's a good idea to coat the terrain with undiluted white glue, straight from the jug and applied with a suitable brush - a cheap, disposable 1" brush works well, and you can even rinse the brush out for re-use, if you do so before the glue hardens. Obviously, you have to make this application before applying the foam. :rolleyes: When you mist this area with the "wet" water, the glue will "wick-up" into the foam, although I also like to apply the diluted glue to these areas, too.
    After the area has been thoroughly wetted, it's time to apply the diluted white glue mixture. I find that white glue works as well as matte medium, but is a whole lot cheaper, especially when you buy it in the gallon jugs. I mix it with hot tap water, as it seems to mix more readily than with cold water. A 50/50 mix is good, but 40/60 or 60/40 will work fine, too. Don't use a sprayer for applying this - it will gum up the sprayer, and put glue in places that you don't want it (think track, structures, and other lineside details). Instead, use a plastic applicator bottle that applies drops when inverted, and will do so even faster when squeezed slightly. You want the same effect as an eye-dropper, but with a bigger reservoir - I've seen suggestions that mention the container for contact lense solutions, and a good-quality turkey baster might even work well, if you can control the flow sufficiently. Soak the area completely with the glue mixture, and try to apply it so that you're always aware of the areas that you've done, and those yet to be covered. You'll see how easily the mixture spreads through the pre-wetted scenic materials, and be able to adjust the spacing of your applications appropriately. Don't be afraid if the glue starts to "pool" in low areas, either: when the glue mixture has been applied to every area, sift a little more ground foam into those "lakes" of glue, then give it a quick misting of "wet" water.
    Now, clean your tools, and go find something else to do for a day or two. ;):-D And don't touch anything as it's drying, or you'll make a real mess. :p:-D

    The ballasting was done in a separate operation before the ground cover, all of which was done in a single application. The background trees were added later.

    In this scene, the ballasting, sub-roadbed, and rock fill, along with a narrow strip of foliage (in the glue-filled ditches :p ) was all applied at once, then the field at a later date, along with the background trees.

    Same techniques here, with ballast, fill, and all ground cover done in a single application. The trees and bushes were added later.

    Finally, this area, which is bare plywood, with no roadbed or plaster relief. All ballast and ground cover applied at the same time.

    Some of these areas took several days to dry, and while the foam looks loose, it's secure enough to withstand direct vacuuming. Using an applicator for the glue mixture, rather than a sprayer, allows you to fill those gaps around structures that make otherwise good scenes look unfinished:

  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Note that the "wet water" mentioned by Wayne and the alcohol mentioned by Bob both serve the same purpose: to "pre-wet" the area with a low-surface tension liquid that penetrates the foam, ballast, or whatever so that the thinned glue (Wayne) or matte medium (Bob) will get into all the little spaces and secure everything.

  6. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Max, if you still have problems with the ground cover sliding downhill when it's wet, brush on Aleenes tacky glue on the hill side then sprinkle the ground foam and then spray your wetter. Aleenes is a lot thicker and does not flow like the regular white glue.

  7. max348

    max348 New Member

    Thank you everyone for the advice.

    I had no idea that you could apply ALL your ground cover at one time. I've been applying it all in seperate stages - this will help out allot, both in time & glue!

    BTW - Nice job Wayne on the scenery. If mine turns half that nice I'll be happy...
  8. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Wayne, that scenery looks beautiful!!

    Bob M.
  9. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Thanks, guys. :-D:-D One of the nice things about scenery is that if you don't like your first results, you can, in most cases, try again right over the old stuff. :thumb:


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