Help Me Cover an Ugly Barrel
May 5, 2011 12:03 PM   Subscribe

What material is about as thick as a notebook cover, made of plastic (or something as durable and flexible), available in sizes about 3'X6', and available very cheaply or free?

I'm decorating an ugly cardboard barrel and need to cover it with a smooth, waterproof material I can paint on. I know I can buy 2-mil sheets of plastic/PVC or the like at sign supply stores, but that's a little pricey for what I'm doing. I looked at plexiglass and the laminate used for countertops too, but it's not very flexible and pretty expensive for my purposes too.

I'm fine with (and would actually prefer) repurposing something that's not typically used for this kind of application. I can paint over or cover any marks or existing graphics on it, and cut it to size-- cost and availability are the main factors here. I suppose any material would work, as long as it's a single piece and doesn't add a lot of weight to the finished product.
posted by Rykey to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How smooth and/or un-ugly or professional-looking does this need to be? Could you smooth out the cardboard of the barrel itself with something like papier-mache or joint compound, paint it and then cover the whole thing with a coat of polyurethane or some other sort of waterproof protection?
posted by Madamina at 12:11 PM on May 5, 2011

How about a coupla yards of cheap vinyl from Joann Fabrics? Not sure what paint would work, though.
posted by Glinn at 12:15 PM on May 5, 2011

Can you go to a sign printer and see if they'll give you any castoffs or misprints?
posted by dolface at 12:17 PM on May 5, 2011

Madamina: It's gotta look pretty smooth har har.

Glinn: I've seen that vinyl at Joann's, and it's a little too soft and yeah, tough to paint on. But your suggestion did give me an idea-- smooth linoleum off of a roll!

Still happy to hear any other ideas, though...
posted by Rykey at 12:20 PM on May 5, 2011

Coroplast (what yard signs are often made of) is available in 4'x8' panels (that's standard panel size). It's pretty tough and fairly cheap. The thinner grades should be flexible enough for your purposes, I think. At any rate, if there's a plastics supply shop in your area, they should have this and might have some other interesting options.

Sintra is a PVC product that's kind of floppy in its thinner grades—about the same as cardstock. It has a smooth surface that should be just about perfect.
posted by adamrice at 12:23 PM on May 5, 2011

It's not stiff (TWSS), but what about something like self-adhesive contact paper? I always used it to cover my books back in school, and it holds up pretty well. If you put down more than one layer, I think it would be extremely durable.
posted by phunniemee at 12:49 PM on May 5, 2011

posted by FauxScot at 1:20 PM on May 5, 2011

Thinking a bit backwards here, but couldn't you paint it first (or cover it with a painted non-waterproof layer), then apply a see-through waterproof coating? Depending on the durability and the detail required in the artwork, that commercial sized clingfilm (pallet wrap? stretch film?) would probably be good if you can get hold of some for free, with ordinary kitchen plastic wrap (never buy the cheapest kind, it doesn't stick to anything) as a second choice, Fablon or other sticky-back plastic as a more expensive option, and, if you live in a place that has Winter, apparently there's some kind of stuff you stick over windows and wave a hairdryer at that might work.
posted by Lebannen at 1:53 PM on May 5, 2011

For a different application, I bought cheap card stock at Staples, got it laminated, and cut it to size. The cards I made are pretty durable. Laminating was free at work, but I think it wouldn't have been too expensive.
posted by Ozarkian at 2:40 PM on May 5, 2011

We sometimes receive palleted product at work and it comes with a thin, stiff black sheet of plastic between the layers. Does anybody know what this is called and where the OP could get it?
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:06 PM on May 5, 2011

This looks fairly flexible, and it's on sale right now too!
posted by dogmom at 4:47 PM on May 5, 2011

Could you collect plastic milk cartons and cut them up?
posted by bendy at 6:54 PM on May 5, 2011

There used to be such a thing as a leaf-bag-hole-open-er in the form of a plastic sheet that you could roll into a cylinder, insert into a lawn and leaf bag, and let it spring open so it kept the bag open and upright. Can't find by googling now; might not be thinking of right terms. But I think it would be what you need.
posted by lakeroon at 7:33 PM on May 5, 2011

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