Halloween Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
436 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I need opinions please. Good, bad or indifferent. I would like them all. I am replacing my old cemetery columns this year due to them becoming structurally unstable. The columns I am replacing were constructed primarily out of foam. That is to say the frame was made out of 1 x 2's and the facade was constructed entirely out of foam. They are extremely light weight (which I intended), probably weighing about 10 lbs each. The winds, children and curious adults have taken their toll over the past several years and now is the time to replace them. And why not replace them?? It's not like I have a million other projects I would like to complete as well (note the hint of sarcasm). So, I have already constructed new column frames. This time I used 2 x 4's for the base and cap and 1 x 3's for the vertical posts. They measure 18 inches wide & deep by 7 feet tall. I want them to be heavier than the old columns (which they already are), but not so heavy that they will be difficult to move by myself. I have already incorporated a few charges / improvements into the new columns. Anyway, I am rambling. My questions are "What material would you use???". "Foam or Wood or a combination of both???" I was thinking about skinning them with 1/4 inch Underlayment plywood and then using foam on top of that for details?? But, I keep floundering between just using foam without the plywood Underlayment and using the Underlayment with foam details. Obviously the benefit to only using foam would be cost savings and a lighter weight column. The weight issue is not really that important at this point since they are already heavier than the old columns and I have incorporated a better anchoring system. I particularly would like opinions from those who have built columns. What would you have done differently?? I will post pics later of both sets of columns. I am on my iPad and can't figure out how to post pics from my iPad gallery. I have to email the pics to myself and download them to my desktop and post them from there. Here I go rambling again...sorry. Thanks for your input.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
436 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I would use just 3/4 high density foam, with out the 1/4 underlayment. for stability i would use 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 for the base
I forgot to inform everyone that I only have 1/2 inch pink / blue foam available in my area. The home improvement stores do not carry anything thicker here in Florida.
 

·
Mad Monster Maker
Joined
·
2,673 Posts
I just finished building my fence sections (except for painting), and I'll finish the gates today. I'll start on my columns in the next few days. My plan is a 1/2" thick plywood base with a frame built with 1" x 3"s, skinned with underlayment, and individually carved foam stones glued onto the underlayment. I'm installing two removable, antique-style coach lanterns (with LED flicker candles inside them) on the front of the pillars. I'm using rebar to anchor them to the ground.

I plan on gluing, then nailing and clamping the underlayment to the frame. This will give the whole structure additional strength, and reduce the weight by eliminating the need for internal bracing.

I'd also like to incorporate some sort of access door on the back sides of the pillars. This would serve several purposes; anchoring the columns, adding wiring or components for lights or sound for future applications, and for storage (fence hardware, the anchor rebar, the lanterns) in the off-season.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
436 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I just finished building my fence sections (except for painting), and I'll finish the gates today. I'll start on my columns in the next few days. My plan is a 1/2" thick plywood base with a frame built with 1" x 3"s, skinned with underlayment, and individually carved foam stones glued onto the underlayment. I'm installing two removable, antique-style coach lanterns (with LED flicker candles inside them) on the front of the pillars. I'm using rebar to anchor them to the ground.


I plan on gluing, then nailing and clamping the underlayment to the frame. This will give the whole structure additional strength, and reduce the weight by eliminating the need for internal bracing.

I'd also like to incorporate some sort of access door on the back sides of the pillars. This would serve several purposes; anchoring the columns, adding wiring
or components for lights or sound for future applications, and for storage (fence hardware, the anchor rebar, the lanterns) in the off-season.
Pumpkinhead it sounds like you and I are building essentially the same columns. I am pretty much doing everything the same as you or at least I am strongly considering it. Definately doing the access door for the same purposes as well as concealing projectors and DVD players. Strongly considering lanterns but I haven't found any I like yet. Well, that's not true. I did find a set of coach lights that had a gargole on the top. But they cost $232.00 each.

http://www.lampsplus.com/products/gargoyle-energy-efficient-20-inch-high-outdoor-wall-light__12038.html
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
330 Posts
I did mine all from wood a few years ago. The advantage to all wood is durability which was important to me. I also hang my fence from my columns so I needed to be able to attach to it which I think would be more difficult with a foam skin. I have had little kids stand on the fence - to my horror - and it held. I have repainted them 3 times so far trying to get the look I want and this year I think I finally got it.

It really depends on what you want though you can make either one work. Mine are made from 1x3 covered with 1/4" plywood.

Here is a picture of mine from last year before the new paint job - i don't have new pictures yet. The cap on each one is foam. They are heavy but not so heavy i cannot move them by myself.

Columns.jpg
 

·
Mad Monster Maker
Joined
·
2,673 Posts
I got a set of these a couple of years ago on ebay for $18.00 each (and free shipping):

$T2eC16ZHJGYE9noojd!TBSK1T,V1Nw~~60_3.jpg

They weren't exactly the ones I wanted (the ones I saw that were exactly what I wanted were $129.00 each :confused:). These are a bit ornate for me. I wanted a more rustic look. I'll probably make some modifications and remove some of the excess scrollwork, and then weather them to look old and rusty.

If you do a search for "coach lanterns", you'll find a lot to choose from. Many (most?) are pretty expensive, and some are actual antiques, but I'm sure you'll find a few reasonably priced.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
436 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I was in the same boat with only 1/2" available in south GA too. Luckily, one of my friends found some 3" boards while helping his father in-law clean out an old building. I would go with foam on top of 1/4 plywood. It was what I was going to do if I hadn't found the thicker foam.
Actually, today I found 3/4 inch pink foam at Home Depot. I found it right after I bought 4 sheets of 1/2 inch blue foam from the Lowe's across the street. So, I returned the 1/2 inch foam and went and bought the 3/4 inch foam. They actually have 1 inch pink foam at Home Depot but it is only in 2 foot X 2 foot square sections and it cost $5 a square. That works out to be $40 for what would equal a 4 x 8 sheet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
623 Posts
Here's what I'm doing. It's a work in progress.


The top section fits like a cork in a bottle so that items can be stored in them off season. The columns will be coated with some one-coat stucco with a latex modifier for adhesion and water resistance.

The lamps are standard oil lamps that I've converted for electric flicker bulbs. The aging is authentic. It was easy, just buy some cheap oil lamps and leave them outside exposed to the elements for 20 years.

The 'hook' is one of the resin skeleton hands from Michael's.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
135 Posts
I did mine all from wood a few years ago. The advantage to all wood is durability which was important to me. I also hang my fence from my columns so I needed to be able to attach to it which I think would be more difficult with a foam skin. I have had little kids stand on the fence - to my horror - and it held. I have repainted them 3 times so far trying to get the look I want and this year I think I finally got it.

It really depends on what you want though you can make either one work. Mine are made from 1x3 covered with 1/4" plywood.

Here is a picture of mine from last year before the new paint job - i don't have new pictures yet. The cap on each one is foam. They are heavy but not so heavy i cannot move them by myself.

View attachment 171279
These look great! How did you age them? I built columns last year and I couldnt get that right aged look no matter how hard I tried.
 

·
Imitation Imagineer
Joined
·
1,114 Posts
From my perspective, wood is the way to go.

Foam offers a great deal of flexibility with respect to carving/shaping, but you can achieve a lot of the same effect by applying a skim coat of joint compound over luan (or many other variations on that theme).

To me, durability, and flexibility with the wood construction gives it the edge. We were able to completely re-skin ours with a new joint compound treatment this year, attach new tops, and new prop elements primarily because we had so much that could easily be drilled into, and through.

These images are of the new joint compound application for this year, and a new motorized violinist that I just don't think I could have done with a foam application....neither is completely finished, but I think the idea is conveyed.

Opinions will likely vary. ;)


Aging (Cropped).jpg Violinist 2.JPG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
199 Posts
habitat for humanity has a store in most states that sell old lanterns, light fixtures, chandeliers, etc..for dirt cheap..try your local store..I pick them clean each halloween!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
696 Posts
I would use 1x2 faced with Lauan Plywood with a fake stucco finish. Since it is a column and the center is hollow, I would place a sand bag or two at the bottom of each column. That should take care of the wind. If you are going for a more stone like face, then ditch the stucco and glue the 1/2 foam to the Lauan and carve as needed.
 

·
Goats EAT Great Pumpkins
Joined
·
877 Posts
My $0.02 - Use plywood! Okay, I would also suggest covering with foam, however!!! If you create the base out of the plywood you can restyle it every few years without having to fully rebuild it (I've already gone through 3 base "styles") with my OSB-over-frame columns. If you built the frames strong enough, the plywood probably won't do much structurally, but it adds durability and versatility.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top