Linoleum backdrop, pros & cons

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ocalicreek, Jun 26, 2005.

  1. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Hello All,

    I'm in the late (hopefully) planning stages of my next layout and considering linoleum or vinyl flooring for my backdrop. One of my local Home Improvement stores has a great deal on remnants that would more than cover my requirements, so I'm leaning that way already but want to know more before I commit time and money.

    The layout is to be built in sections strictly for the purpose of being able to disassemble and transport easily for a move which may be sooner rather than later. So whatever backdrop material I use will be attached to a frame that is semi-permanantly attached to the layout sections. This might be a factor for rigidity of whatever material I use.

    So here are the questions:

    Those of you who have used or are using linoleum for your backdrop - how do you like it?

    What are the pros and cons - ease of construction, durability, paintability, cost, etc.

    On other forum topics some folks mention that the linoleum sags and did you mount it and was that a factor that could have corrected (or not) the sagging?

    I'd like more than "It's great, I love it!:thumb: " or "I'll ever use that stuff ever again!:curse: " please.

    Thanks for whatever help you can offer.

  2. CalFlash

    CalFlash Member

    From what I've heard there is eventual problems of sag. Used on a protable or moveable layout, I would think that would be even more likely. I'd avoid it's use esp for this application. Rolled aluminum might be a better choice but it might be susibtible to "dings" when moved.
  3. zedob

    zedob Member

    I'd like to comment about that. I used alum flashing for my back drop. I used the white side and painted the top half light blue and feathered it to white to about halfway. It came out alright, but I'd use an even lighter blue on future BD's.

    The alum is nice, but you are correct about the "ding thing". Plus, it's not quite stiff enough. It creates a wavy effect if viewed lengthwise, but not as noticable for straight on viewing.

    AS for using it for a module, I'd say no. Masonite hardboard would be my choice because of it's rigidity and self standing ability.
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    i'd second the hardboard the linoleum now days is a lot softer then the old stuff and it sags bad.
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I might add to what the others are saying in that I think the vinyl flooring is going to have a tendency to tear easily, not good in a move. I just finished putting up a backdrop and used a sheet of 1/8" lauan plywood. I cut it in half and to 16' of 24" backdrop. I wanted a radius in the corner, and had problems with it trying to split until I soaked it with a hose for a minute or so and it bent just fine while it was wet. Home Depot sells the lauan for about $11.
  6. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Tell me more about masonite

    OK, great answers so far, thanks again for all the input.:)

    Next question: How tight can the radius be for 1/8" masonite?

    Also, any info about styrene sheet and/or canvas.

    I had read somewhere that window shade material made a good surface for a backdrop and could be purchased without the mounting and spring loaded reel hardware...anybody else heard of this?

    I should have mentioned before that the layout is on a closed-in porch that's mostly windows all the way around 3 sides so whatever I use will be attached to a frame, attached to the layout, and not to the walls in any way.

    Thanks again,

  7. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    ...and 1/8" lauan too...

    I guess the radius question applies to the lauan as well.

    I currently have 2 sheets of 1/4" lauan that will become the layout framework. The whole thing will rest on a 4'x4' table and 18"x4' shelving unit (gotta love gorilla rack!) This is a bit of an experiment in lightweight and simple construction without using dimensional lumber.

    I've done the whole "layout you can climb around-on" benchwork, a mix of dimensional frame and 1/4" ply top, and now am going the completely lauan route. I'd love to try a lauan/eps foam sheet combo, but it's near impossible to find the big pink or blue sheets of foam out here in sunny CA.

    perhaps a more inherently rigid material will be better structurally.

  8. zedob

    zedob Member

    I'm not sure what you mean by "gorilla", name brand?, but I used the double slotted modular shelf brackets from HD and have mixed feelings about them.

    The pros: They are strong, as long as you hit the stud and are fairly stable laterally as long as you buy the double slot and not the single slot style.
    They are adjustable and you can have multiple shelves up quickly and easily (This came in handy as I was trying to go over my computer and under an already existing TV shelf). They also allowed me to install a facia and a valance to hid my lighting without much of a hassle.
    Plus, you don't have to paint them if your walls are brown or eggshell colored.

    The con: Don't expect the bracket to be perfectly square with the wall track. I had to shim up about a 1/4" at the connection. I don't know if they are designed like that purposely to compensate for the weight ( seems like you'd pull the shelf out of the wall long before any deflection is encountered), or if the amount of paint has anything to do with it, but that is my peev.

    Actually, shimming is necessary even if you use a laser and go off of the slots (Not the top or the bottom of the vertical rails, they are too inconsistant and not relative to the slots anyways) for vertical alignment between the wall tracks.

    I mounted 1x3's on each brackets then layed the layout's frame on top and shimmed to level. For shims, I purchased a bag of cedar shingles and cut them into 1-1/2" in strips and they worked fine. Once the leveling was completed I ran screws up from the 1x3's on the brackets and into the framework, then adjusted for level again and adjusted and adjusted...

    I'll use them again, the pros DO out weight the cons, but will probably make some changes to framework design and install procedure.

    I've often contemplated the fabricated luan framework, but I'd prefer to have a tablesaw to do the ripping.

    Just my $.02 for those wanting to try them.
  9. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    gorilla rack info

    Here's the info on the gorilla rack shelving:

    I'm using GR 2461, only broken down into a 36-3/8" high unit (and 48-3/8" unit elsewhere, not related to the upcoming layout...actually serving as a base for my timesaver). Goes together easily with a rubber mallet.

    I will be seeking out a table saw to rip one of the lauan sheets. The other will serve as subroadbed and risers, cookie cutter style over open grid. Some pressed paper board which came as a packing box for a plexiglass/aluminum display case, about 1/2" thick, will serve as roadbed, glued down and primed to avoid warp/shrinkage.

    Before I take this too far off topic I may start another topic on lauan frame construction. I should check the archives first and see what's already been written.

    Tell me more about backdrops!:D (and thanks for all the great ideas so far)

  10. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I was able to get about a 10" radius on the 1/8" lauan without any problems. I probably could have gotten a little tighter radius, but I didn't think it would look as good so I stopped there. Once it was wet enough to bend without cracking, I had to work fairly fast since things have a tendency to dry out really quick in the Arizona sun:cool: and my wife frowned upon my hosing it down inside the house. :eek::eek:

    As far as finding the blue or pink foam, make a few phone calls to some building material suppliers and ask them if they carry "extruded foam" sheets. That's what I did, and sure enough, I found someone that did. But much to my surprise, I was in a Loew's store buying something else, and they also had some and it was closer and cheaper. Other Loew's in the area didn't though. Now our local Home Depot carries the blue stuff..:thumb:
  11. belg

    belg Member

    what are the prices like on this product,gorilla rack shelving, and is the web the only place its available? Haven't seen it at the depot. Pat
  12. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Got one at Sam's Club about a year ago for just under $100, but as recently as a month ago picked up two more for $60 each. For the benefit of having a more organized, clutter free area in which to model, I'd say it's well worth it.

    [Most Californian's don't have basements (there are a few notable exceptions - 9 Cielo Vista Terrace springs to mind) so the garage becomes the storage space/catch-all/layout space. We don't even have that, so this porch area is our overflow room. When we move I want to be able to set this layout up in the corner of a garage - where the storage racks will be placed. Hopefully this means room to expand, as the design allows for that. OR, even better, in a dedicated indoor space. Bob Smaus wrote a great article back in the late 80's in MR about the challenges of modeling in a Southern California garage. I wasn't living in CA then so I really couldn't fully appreciate it, but I sure do now!]

    Didn't find much on lauan framework construction in the archives so I'm starting a new thread to discuss that topic/get some feedback.

  13. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    On the subject of linoleum, What about using it in a permenant (at least as any layout is permenant :D ) setting, attached to the walls, braces, bracketing etc? I am at the point of starting construction and one of the first things to go up will be the backdrop. I need something that is flexable, cheap (relativaly) and can be painted. I'd rather stay away from masonary board or anything with any thickness as space is at a premium. One of the things I had originally considered was poster board, but linoleum would do away with those unatractive seams. Thoughts anyone?
  14. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member


    I'm looking into primed canvas. Art supply stores (even Michael's) sell it in rolls, usually the shortest length is 6 yards and width (height for us) around 52" seems to be common.

    It is a bit pricey, but a whole heck of a lot lighter than masonite or even linoleum. And perhaps a framing store might have seconds for cheap that fit my backdrop dimensions. Now warpage...that's another issue, but hopefully the priming will take care of that.

    I have seen it used in theatre backdrops and stage sets, but have not personally worked with it (on either side of it, however, yes).

    Anybody work with canvas as a backdrop (layout, photo, or otherwise) who can comment?


  15. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Nope, but I'd think it would be a bit too rough to paint on for a backdrop. Unless, of course, you're looking to have some texture. The other negative I see is that you will need a frame to hold it in place. Using 1/8" lauan or hardboard you won't need that.
  16. seanm

    seanm Member

    You can take non tempered masonite into a really tight bend with a little effort.... Spray the back of it with water and tie it around something like a large pipe with string and let it dry. I have seen some amazingly tight bends.
  17. CalFlash

    CalFlash Member

  18. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Masonite is great for backdrops and is fairly inexpensive as well. You can indeed get some tight corners using that method. I did basically the same using the lauan plywood. I soaked the center with a hose and just shoved it into the corner until I got the radius I wanted, then put a few screws in to hold it in place until it dried. Here are the results before I painted it.

    Attached Files:

  19. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    I'm got to agree with Don, I don't think there's anything thinner, stiffer, smoother, or cheaper than 1/8 masonite. IMHO About $9 for a 4'x8' last time I looked.
  20. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Yep, it beats lauan by about $3 a sheet too. One other nice advantage is there's no splinters.:D The only advantage I can see using the lauan is that it is about half the weight of hardboard, but for a backdrop, I doubt that weight is that important. Rigidity and flexability are.

    Oh, why did I use lauan? Well to see if I could..:D

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