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After our crypt build in 2014, we took off 2015 to recover- and boy, did we hear about it! DH took our son out ToT'ing and got stopped by almost everyone they encountered, lamenting the lack of Halloween decorations...so this year, we're trying to really go all out, covering the entire front of the house with painted panels.

We plan to make 8x8 foot hinged panels (so they'll store easily) out of 1x2 strips and cloth coated in monster mud; we'll paint the stone textures for our 'castle' onto the panels, staining/weathering appropriately. As this will cover almost 200 sqft (go big!) we're looking to simplify and speed things up wherever possible- as well as keeping the costs down.

Last time we used MM, we sealed with Drylok before painting- but is that an absolute? Are there other sealants we could use? Or topcoat with more exterior latex? Would we have to paint both sides, or just the sides exposed to the elements?
 

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Drylok is not mandatory to weatherproof. The main thing about that product is it has the sand finish. Any good exterior latex should work for your needs. If you can score some mis-mix and get it re tinted throw a cup of sand into the paint if you want that texture. A good spar varnish will also work.

However, on a 1x2 cloth coated frame I'm not sure you will be happy with monster mud. I'm not trying to rain on your idea but for exterior use there are some ideas you may want to consider. The finished panel will be quite heavy and sag the fabric (even burlap or canvas) , the fabric even stretched tight will collect wind and flex likely causing cracks in the wall. As you are in the PNW wind/rain are always an issue. You will also be using a lot of mud/paint on this with a lot of labor. I have found MM to be quite heavy as you are making a plaster piece and it will be fragile. Stacking/storing the MM panels on top of each other may be tricky season to season. Finally, MM is great but it is rain resistant not rain proof. Every MM prop I have made at the end of a season has gotten soft from moisture intrusion. No big deal but it does cause wear/tear and maintenance.

Have you considered a thin foam panel? Yes foam is getting expensive but compared to the cost of the MM and paint a 1/2" pink foam panel on a 1x2 frame may be in the same ballpark. All my props are made this way. You can router stone lines and then go over the entire facade with heat from a heat gun or blow torch. The melting effect will give you a very quick and convincing stone effect. Quick paint job and you will have a very lightweight, strong, waterproof and hard/convincing wall panel that is under 2" thick and will stack beautifully. I can make a 4x8 wall panel in about 20 min plus painting.

Paint cost is a lot less since you only need to give it one coat of gray latex, brush in your grout lines (if you want them) and then spray down with watered down black to age it or dry brush.

If you go with the MM I'd put cross pieces within your frame every 1 foot to mitigate the flex.
 

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Possible time saver if you still want to go with MM.
I used drylok, instead of latex paint, to make my MM last year, for added weatherproof, (over kill maybe) It worked well, very nice texture as well.
I used this on columns, which did add a lot of weight, good or bad, depends if you're carrying them :)
 

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Good suggestions...SpiderWitch and I would love to use foam, but it's about $12 per 4x8 panel vs $2 for 3x5 piece of fabric- at that price, even with the recommended 1-foot cross beams, we're still way ahead. We plan to make an 8x8 panel with 2 4x8 rectangles of wood on the back, letting it fold in the middle for easier storage, with the fabric on the inside of the fold and the framing to the outside for easier stacking. That's the theory anyway...we'll see what we end up with.
 

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If you are going to go with fabric I'd look into a faux paint finish and skip the monster mud treatment. From a distance a good paint job would look just as good and not have near the issues or expense. Look into canvas drop cloths at Home Depot/Lowes/Harbor freight. They are inexpensive and very robust in exterior weather, they also hold paint well. I have used them as back drops and even projection screens that were up all month in the PNW.
 

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I didn't Drylok or seal my reaper and its doing just fine. I keep it in my garage year round and its an old falling apart garage with holes in it so moisture gets in there and its holding up.
 
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