Scenery Tile

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Bob Collins, Jan 30, 2003.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    In almost every RR magazine you pick up there is at least one article where using ceiling tile for scenery work is mentioned.

    They replaced a section of ceiling tile at our church, so I quickly asked if I could have the old stuff, most of which was broken. So far so good. I get it home and start checking this stuff out and discover it is about the same consistency as thin sheets (1/2 in) of concrete, not the soft fibrous type of material I thought I had lucked into.

    Does anyone use the stuff like I have? I'm thinking that to use it I will have to score it and literally break it rather than cut it with a box cutter or exacto blade. You would almost have to crush the facing to get the texture you would want to be visible on your layout, I think.

    Comments, suggestions, including trashing it and looking for another ceiling be replaced:D :D

  2. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi Bob:
    It's probably gypsum. Several ceiling tile manufacturers use gypsum as the core material for tiles that need to be abuse resistant. The facing is usually a vinyl "plastic" type of material. The "usual" type of ceiling tile is like a "felted' paperboard.
  3. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks Ted.

    I guess I still wonder which of these materials are used for scenery? The paper like one might be easier to "shape", but I think the gypsum ones might be longer lasting and more durable. I guess how they interface with the other materials used in making the completed scene would be the question needing to be answered. For instance, I think you could just paint this gypsum any color you wish and it would not deteriorate. I don't know if you could say the same for the paper tiles.

  4. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    I don't know how you would make scenery with the paper-felted tiles. I do imagine you could use them like homasote as a base upon which to lay your track. They'd definitely act as a sound dampener and i expect their consistency would hold track nails.

  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I had some of this material years ago that was being sold as scenery material -- it was the paper type.
    The product was about 2" wide strips and at least one edge was broken, rather than cut, to give a kind of rocky face. This was to be built up in layers to give a kind of strata appearance. I never painted mine, but it was discarded in one of our house moves.
    You need a material that will give a rough edge when broken, and it should break fairly easily.
  6. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Bob, Long time ago we used to use the "felted" kind to make rock strata by scoring it with a knife and then breaking it. The pieces would then be stacked one on top of another to achieve the "rock" effect. We'd color it with grey, brown and back spray paints.

    Don't know what you could do with that Gypsum tile.....Perhaps a midnight trip to a dumpster might be in order:D

    Ted, IMHO I don't think that ceiling tile would work like Homasote...its not dense enough to hold spikes or nails... full of air pockets...Homasote is made from ground up recycled newspaper and other papers....its molded and pressed under great pressure with a bonding agent...its very dense and will hold nails and spikes.....Might be good for building bases though.
  7. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    In the situation I am looking to use it I would not need to be able to drive spikes or nails into it. I am thinking about making cuts that make the choo choo look to be coming through a cut in the rocks. The idea would be to roughen the exposed edge to look like a rock clift. What may turn out to be really interesting to work this gypsum material is what to use to adhere the layers of it together. I'm sure I'll find something.

    Many thanks to all of you. I ALWAYS learn something of value when I post a question on The Gauge, ALWAYS :D :D

  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Word of Caution

    If you are salvaging old tiles, you run a risk that they may contain asbestos, not paper. Not a good thing to attack with a wire brush to roughen it up.

    Check with your local building supply (Home Depot or others). They may have broken tiles (the paper kind) that they would be willing to give to you since they can't sell them.

    Even if you have to buy new, the tiles are not expensive, you get a whole mountain out of one standard tile, and your lungs will thank you.


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