Brain storm or fart?

Zandoz Nov 24, 2007

  1. Zandoz

    Zandoz TrainBoard Member

    Hopefully after a trip to Lowe's tomorrow, I'll be restarting my layout construction. An idea came to me while sitting on the vitreous china throne (second only to the shower for generating "AH HA!" moments of insight).

    The idea has to do with prepainting my foam before laying my N scale Unitrack. I remember from a past trip to the paint department that there is some kind of fine texturing agent that can be added to paint to create a surface texture similar to a fine grit sand paper. I was thinking of having that texturing agent added to some gravel-gray paint for the areas where I'll be laying track (also alleys and gravel parking lots)...and to some kind of dirt color paint for covering the rest of the pink prairie. Good idea or bad? Am I likely to have problems adhesive caulking my track down to this textured paint?
  2. firechief

    firechief TrainBoard Member

    I don't know about adding a texturing agent to paint, but I do know that there is a paint sold with it already added.
    I don't know who makes it (probably most manufacturers). It's called non-skid paint, comes in gray (not sure about other colors), and is generally used on stairs and other areas where wet feet could slip on regular paint.
    It's probably cheaper and easier to buy that than having to buy paint, texturing agent, and having to get it mixed properly and evenly.

  3. BedfordRob

    BedfordRob TrainBoard Supporter

    In the UK we certainly have this thought it's primarily sold for exterior finishes and comes in a reasonably wide range of colours. I've been wondering exactly the same thing about whether it would be a good option for for painting trackbed. The texture isn't enough to create unevenness but should be enough to provide that extra bit of friction/key for other surface dressings to be applied later.

    Will be interested to hear how you get on if you go down this route, I'm a little way away from getting to this stage.

  4. Phil Olmsted

    Phil Olmsted TrainBoard Member

    Although I haven't heard of this method before, it sounds like it could work. Pre-treating the foam differently in different places makes sense. If you later paint over the textured areas (to get a darker color, for example) the texture would probably still be there. Like painting over those %$*& popcorn ceilings, but that's another story. The caulk should keep your Unitrack in place, since the foam isn't exactly as smooth as glass in the first place.

    The only drawback I can think of right now is that if you decided that a textured area should no longer be textured, you would probably have to sand the texture down to smooth before repainting. Again, like those #$%@ popcorn ceilings.

    Let us know how it works.

    (You can probably tell I have popcorn ceilings.)
  5. onegreenturtle

    onegreenturtle E-Mail Bounces

    the product is called aggregate. it is used in industrial paint applications. we used it on schools in the wall paint. there are several different sizes from fine to course.
  6. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    Definitely painting before hand is a great idea.

    I'd suggest a light tan color and then paint streets etc over that. I could be wrong though.
  7. dgwinup

    dgwinup TrainBoard Member

    I'll be the first person to admit to entertaining certain prejudices, and one of those prejudices is "sanded" paint. I hate them! Let me re-state that: I hate, loath and despise them! The guy who invented sanded paint is probably dead by now, but if he weren't, I'd kill him!

    Oh, sure. It looks nice when you first apply it. Nice texture and all. Eventually, though, it begins to grate on you (pun intended). There is a reason why sandpaper is called sandpaper, and there is a reason why it's used for abrading different materials. With enough sandpaper, you can turn baseball bats into toothpicks.

    And you want a layout COVERED in this stuff???? Doesn't this fall into the category of "What was I thinking?"

    Okay, rant over. Let's look this over rationally. The idea has merit. Putting texture on a layout adds to the realism of the layout.

    Well, that's the only good thing I could think of for using sanded paint. After that, it's all downhill. Using the same texture on a layout makes for a dull layout. Sure, there's lots of "texture" in the real world, but it's not all sand texture. Gravel roads have "texture"; concrete and blacktop roads have "texture". But the texture is different between them.

    It is difficult to do anything on a surface with sand texture. If you glue something to it, the glue layer has to be thick enough to cover the sand texture. Even then, the glue might not stick to the surface. When you place an object on the layout, it will look like it's sitting on tiny little stilts with an airspace underneath it. Even the finest sand textures are huge in N scale. And I won't even mention what bits of loose sand might do to locomotive guts.

    But I did say the idea had merit. Judicious use of sand texturing might add some interest to any layout. "Judicious" is the key word here. Use the sand in areas where that kind of surface is appropriate.

    Buy your paint and sand texture separately and mix it yourself in small quantities. Pre-mixed sanded paint won't have enough sand in it to make a roadway look like a gravel road. It'll have enough sand to make the road look like a flat road with tiny bumps on it. To get the effect you want for a gravel road, just mix a large amount of sand with a small amount of paint. If you want the side of the road to have some texture, mix a lesser amount of sand into the paint. Otherwise, the ground alongside your road will look like the roadway itself.

    And colors! Roads and the ground alongside them aren't the same color, any more than they are the same texture. Buying paint and sand texture separately will allow you to control the colors and textures in a scene.

    Used appropriately, sanded paint can add to a layout. I wouldn't do it, but I'm prejudiced!

    Sorry for the long rant.

    Darrell, quiet...for now
  8. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    Don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel. :tb-biggrin: (kidding)

    I perhaps don't have as strong of an opinion, though I would personally be wary of introducing excess grit to my layout, especially grit that may come off and end up in loco gears. I also agree that scenery is best when varied, but what I took from the original posting was that this was going to form the basis for the modeling efforts but that it would be built up from there.

    I think that, much as in the prototype with nature and humans changing landscapes over time, that the richest landscapes are those that are built up incrementally over time.

    If you do the sanded paint, I would recommend going over it with a shop vac of some sort with pretty good suction and, say, a brush attachment and get all the loose grit you can get before you start running trains.

    Have you considered laying the Unitrack before painting and then just mask off the tops so that you don't screw up your rails? It might help make a transition between the pink foam plains and the gray plastic ballast of Unitrack.

  9. Zandoz

    Zandoz TrainBoard Member

    I am familiar with the stair tread stuff....I've used it a few times...but this is a lot finer and less abrasive to the touch. Mixing myself is one of the things I'm trying to avoid...when it comes to that kind of thing I'm the poster boy for Murphy's Law...I won't even do the two part glues...LOL.

    I'm not talking about this being the final top coat for the whole layout including streets and roads....I'm talking a base coat to build on. The grit I'm talking about is far to fine to be noticeably raising up any buildings and such. The stuff I saw came out more along the lines of a Wet-n-Dry finishing sandpaper than anything with a coarser more chunky grit. Probably about the same feel to the touch as the Unitrack plastic ballast. The idea is to hopefully give a slightly more realistic dirt-n-gravel look for the time being, than a base coat of regular paint alone. Plus there will in the end be a lot of areas intended to look like gravel, and I thought this could give those areas a head start.

    Part of the reason I liked this idea initially was that the grit would be encapsulated in the paint, rather than some added on the top texture. <shrug>

    That's the plan...starting with a base of this and building from there.

    Even if I don't do this, the shop vac is on the agenda....and according to my contractor friend, the one I've got is strong enough that I could attach it to the exaust of his Harley and suck-start it....LOL

    This idea was part of a plan to minimize the masking. I'm hoping to eventually use Kato's supposedly matching ballast to blend out into this texured grey around the track.
  10. StrasburgNut

    StrasburgNut TrainBoard Member


    In reference to the title of this thread, maybe it was a little bit of both. :tb-biggrin:

    I was wondering that myself in terms of the textured paint as I want to eliminate as many unecessary steps myself. Good thread, glad I read it. It will give me something to think about.

  11. bnsf_mp_30

    bnsf_mp_30 TrainBoard Member

    I've mixed sifted beach sand with acrylic paint with no problem. The other option is to sprinkle sand on the wet base coat, but it might not all adhere and you'll have to paint again (probably) unless you want the sand to stand out.

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