DIY terrarium - materials questions

evut

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I would like to construct a new terrarium for my A. opacum pair (ok, it won't be me doing the actual constructing...but I need to prepare everything :happy:
I would like a "wood" terrarium with sliding glass doors in the front a mesh ceiling.

I am wondering about water proofing the inside - I imagine chipboard or furniture boards (both seem to be recommended and they're cheap) wouldn't last long with even low humidity. Some people seem to be using floor or yacht varnish on top of cheap materials or Contiboard (melamine coated furniture board), which doesn't seem to need coating but is more expensive.

I would like to ask people what they've used and what in their experience works best. My main worry is durability materials and toxicity of the varnishes. I have found some information around the internet and also looked at the vivarium construction threads on this forum but am asking here as well because I want to be 100% sure to chose the right materials.

Also, if there is anything else to do or to avoid with this type of enclosure, please let me know. Many thanks!
 

spiro666

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This is for marbled salamanders right? i am assuming you have adults and possibly several males so the bigger the enclosure the better. I know what you are talking about with your terrarium design. You basically want a snake enclosure that is water proof on the inside. This is actually quite tricky, especially as a DIY project. I wouldn't know exactly how to go about this but a boat coating sounds right, but now you are dealing with a lot of different chemicals and it just takes one hole or thin spot to start leaking. I have done this a few times in the past with frog tanks where someone wanted the tank to look like furniture. Just buy a front access terrarium. like the ones made by zoomed and then build a oak, cherry, or teak casing that the tank fits snugly inside. the wood will just have an opening in the front and will be a little larger on top to leave room for a mounted light. drill the wood in the corresponding spot that the glass is drilling for drainage.

Hope this helps at all. I think in the end, the simpler the design, the better. good luck
 

grius

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Hi evut.

I dont know where you guys can buy formplywood, or if you even have that where you live? but if so that is the best alternative as it allready is moisture-treated. I mean those dark purple/orange plates 12mm as I have been using for some of my terrariums.

http://img.alibaba.com/photo/51189971/Decorative_MDF_Board_8mm_18mm_.jpg

Also I use Epotex aquarium seling for my latest terrarium, but what i can se that is only sold in sweden, or I`m i wrong maybe? I actually have no idea here hehe. sorry.
 

SludgeMunkey

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The chip boards work well as they are completely resin sealed as part of the manufacturing process. Do not use any "pressure treated" type lumber. The chemicals introduced to resist rot and insects will kill your pets.

As for sealing the surface, I highly recommend High gloss DTM Epoxy mastics rated for potable water use.
 

SludgeMunkey

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Hi evut.

I dont know where you guys can buy formplywood, or if you even have that where you live? but if so that is the best alternative as it allready is moisture-treated. I mean those dark purple/orange plates 12mm as I have been using for some of my terrariums.

http://img.alibaba.com/photo/51189971/Decorative_MDF_Board_8mm_18mm_.jpg

Also I use Epotex aquarium seling for my latest terrarium, but what i can se that is only sold in sweden, or I`m i wrong maybe? I actually have no idea here hehe. sorry.

Not sure about elsewhere, but stateside formplywood is often called laminate or laminated plywood. I agree with grius, it is the most durable, moisture resistant stuff out there. It is superior to just about any other wood product for this application.
 

grius

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Not sure about elsewhere, but stateside formplywood is often called laminate or laminated plywood. I agree with grius, it is the most durable, moisture resistant stuff out there. It is superior to just about any other wood product for this application.
I though that it had another name, here it`s called formplywood or formplyfa. You only need some silicone then it's ready for a wet environment.
 

SludgeMunkey

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Aye, it is excellent to work with too. Just make sure you have the right blades for this type of wood for your saws, or you can get splintering along the edges.
 

evut

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Thanks for your answers. I can't find anything like moisture resistant or laminated plywood for sale in the UK, at least not in DIY stores. I am not sure if Conti board would be any good - B&Q Conti board - it says it's Melamine Faced Chipboard but nothing about water resistance.
Another option I read about is coating the boards with sticky back plastic (DC Fix, just used it on something today and it seems like a good idea..?).
 

grius

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Another option I read about is coating the boards with sticky back plastic (DC Fix, just used it on something today and it seems like a good idea..?).
I have had the same idea and can`t se why it would not work. The only iissue I can think of is toxic release from the glue side. But if done carefully,and siliconed everywhere it should work..hmm

Hyllplan | Careco

That's the boards you're talking about? it was hard to see on that link.
 

froggy

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How will you make sure that it stays cool and light enough inside?

C
 

evut

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Chris, I am planning to a have a mesh ceiling, which would make it very similar to what they have now (aquarium with mesh lid). The glass doors would cover most of the front so I think that would let enough light in. I have no plants in the vivarium, just moss.

Grius, that's the same stuff. I'm going to have a look at it in the shop today.

If I used just basic furniture board with the sticky plastic coating, it could be done so it goes over the edges of all of the pieces and I would silicone the corners as well.

I should have also said that I want this to be really simple with no false bottom so it will never be really wet - just moist soil.
 

Aaran

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The product you linked is like the vaneer, but its plastic, now i dont know how and if it is toxic, but i would presume its pretty water tight,

Another tip for the tank temps, could be to start with the white board, white reflects heat compared to darker colours that seem to store heat. <--- yeah that sounds so daft but im sure you know what i mean.


:)
 

evut

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I've had a look at Conti board in B&Q and it is very similar to a basic furniture board, the description "Melamine faced chipboard" is actually same, too. A sticker on the Conti board also says it is not waterproof. So I ended up getting a basic furniture board from a shop down the road and will coat it with a see-through sticker. This should also allow me to put some sort of a forest photo as background inside to make it look nice.
I don't think there will an issue with heat - as I said, there will be no artificial light to heat it up and the top of the vivarium will be made from mesh.
 

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Shall be interesting to follow this construction, and to see how it works whith DC Fix.
 

evut

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I will definitely post pictures of the vivarium when some progress is made. It will be a while because we're quite busy with other stuff around the house at the moment...for example setting up a 200l tank for our T.marmoratus.
 
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grius

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Take your time!

Btw. What is the dimensions on this vivarium?
 

Pop Alexandra

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Not sure about elsewhere, but stateside formplywood is often called laminate or laminated plywood. I agree with grius, it is the most durable, moisture resistant stuff out there. It is superior to just about any other wood product for this application.
Indeed. It's by far the most reliable option.
 
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