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Reading Lines GP35 #3647

JL&T Railroad - Plaster/Drywall Backdrops...

Hi,

Well today I'd thought I would share how we have utilised plaster/drywall for our backdrops on the JL&T.  I was looking at all the different type of materials that have been used for backdrops on layouts, and all of then seemed to inherent problems that I didn't want to deal with.

I wanted something that was easy to install, that didn't require great lengths to purchase and or find, that was light, and also cheap...

Well to start with it was hard to narrow down what I was going to use, hardboard, linoleum flooring, I really wasn't taken by any of them.  And then it dawned on me, being in the building industry previously as a plumber I thought what about plaster/drywall?

It everything that I was after, and more importantly I'd had experience hanging it, mudding it, and sanding it.  Mind you at the start as a plaster I made and absolute master plumber!  But after installing quite a few metres of it now I have got it down to a fairly fine art.

All the materials required to get started...



The plaster/drywall is 10mm standard building plaster commonly found here in Australia, the sheets are usually 1200mm x 3600mm (4' x 11'), the jointing compound is a pre-mixed type that can be used for jointing/mudding and finishing coats.  I prefer to use a fibreglass based joint tape, I have not had one joint to date show any signs of cracks.







The jointing/finishing compound...









The backdrop is 500mm (19") high around the entire layout, so cutting each section was fairly easy.  The only thing that had to be done was ensuring that every joint was either near a stud or back blocking was built in.  The back-blocking of every joint, along with the fibre glass tape has ensured no of the joints have cracked.






This photo shows the recessed edges on the sheets, also behind these there has been timber back-blocking to strengthen the joint.  This stops any flexing or movement within the joint, with the addition of the fibreglass tape each of theses joints ends up being very strong.  This joint is still to be screwed off to the blocking behind it...


The first section of plaster/drywall backdrop that was installed on the JL&T, ready for the first filler coat of mud.  The process for cutting and hanging the sheets is fairly quick, you can hang several metres of backdrop in around two hours.  The jointing takes about the same time, although I usually do two coats of filling the joints.  An initial thin coat to cover the tape and part fill the recess joint, then a finishing final coat with a sand in between and at the end.








Troweling off the joint, this is a fine art that takes awhile to master so that it only takes one or two passes to get a smooth finish!  Ask me how I know that...




And the finished first coat on the joint, there will be one more finish coat after this followed by a sand, and one final sound after the finish coat...















And finally the finished backdrop after a coat of undercoat & sealer, the left hand corner has been done utilising a curved 6mm plaster/drywall sheet.  The 45 degree corner to the left was also done with the same plaster.  I'll post another page on how we achieved this...


Jas...