Monday, January 19, 2015

Wethersfield Lumber Co. - Weathered Walls

It's one thing to try and make styrene look like wood when it's mostly hidden - but what about when it's right there up front for everybody to see? Yup, it's finally time to figure out what I can do with the exterior walls for Wethersfield Lumber. I decided to try the technique outlined in this article. Follow along as I try it out. . .

First step is to distress the styrene to give it some "wood grain." I used MicroMark's "distressing tool" - but I've used a small Dremel brush too. The article gives you some additional options to try as well. You can see how the wall on the right side was dulled by the wire brush. That's the "wood grain" - supposedly.

After I added the grain and dusted/brushed off any resulting fuzz, I brush-painted Kilz2 Latex Primer, thinned down to a milk-like consistency. I just put some primer in an empty jar, added distilled water, and shook it to mix. It brushes on ok, but I discovered quickly that I should have cleaned the parts first - things weren't covering evenly at all on the first part I primed - just beading up. So I scrubbed the remaining parts with 91% alcohol and things went a bit better. That is, until . . .

I realized that I hadn't painted the inside of the walls - they were still bare dark brown styrene(!) So, once the primer dried I flipped over the walls and shot the backs with my rattlecan of Rustoleum Camoflage paint.

After letting things dry overnight, I did the next step - adding a couple drops of black fabric dye to some water and brushing it on as a wash over the parts. You can see the effect in the top wall - the bottom wall has yet to be darkened.

You can vary the effect - if you want to lighten, brush on some more water. If you want to darken, brush on some more dye. While the top wall came out ok, I decided to experiment on the wall that will face the backdrop. You can see the effect of adding more dye on the bottom wall. This is how it looked right after applying - it'll dry much more subdued. I hope.
So far, this technique appears to work pretty well, but I wonder if it would have been better to spray on the primer to make things more even. I don't think so, since brushing on gives the finish some variety. It also doesn't look like any of my "wood grain" shows through - seems the primer filled it all in. The next step will be to add some raw umber and burnt sienna, as the article suggests, to suggest different levels of aging.

And here's the kicker: I'm considering sealing this "weathered" look with Dullcote and then brushing on some rubber cement, then airbrushing some gray paint, then "erasuring" some areas for a peeled paint look. This weathering will then show in spots.

Though it does seem a shame to hide most of it. What do you think?


  1. I say try out the rubber cement trick on the backdrop wall, can't hurt.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Chris! That's just what I'm going to do - very low risk. And I just got some rubber cement today!

  2. I have used this technique on a Campbell kit - first Campbell, and first time trying this technique - scary! But it worked out really well. Because the wood walls were, well, wood, I was able to accentuate the existing wood grain.

    But the real reason I tried this technique was two-fold. One, I wanted to be able to color match the plastic window castings to the wood, and two, I wanted to hide the macro-grain of the wood. These large patterns in wood sheet can destroy the illusion of individual boards, especially when a nice stain brings out the contrast! Oops!

    Happy to say that I used the Kilz at full strength with no trouble. I don't do nail holes, but I did cut board ends and splits into a few pieces. I washed over the Kilz with a blend of black and dark, dark brown acrylic paint. I am pleased with the results obtained using this method.

    1. Hi again Galen! Always great to hear from you. Boy, you're much more of a risk-taker than I am, but it sounds like your Campbell kit came out well. Any chance you could post some pics? I'm surprised you were able to use the Kilz full strength and that it didn't fill in all the wood grain detail. I'm afraid all that time I took making grain detail in the styrene walls will be wasted - between the Kilz, the washes, and now the rubber cement, any grain there was is long since filled in. And I haven't even sprayed the top coat yet(!)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.