Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"To cove or not to cove?... That is the question."

Decisions, decisions! We all have our Shakespearean quandaries from time to time in building our layouts. My first real one involved the corners of my carefully sheet-rocked room. Should I leave them be? Several respected modelers of note don't cove. One has claimed that it is a waste of time and effort, yielding little bang for the buck. Who am I to argue?
But while I was anxious to move on at this point, I did realize that it really was now or never, and I did not want to regret omitting this step later on. It was imperative however, that I design a system that was easy and reversible, but stable and seamless. While I had studied what others had done, I knew that I wanted some variation of all that I had seen. Hmmmm. I had some ideas.

I began the process by using a cardboard template to find a radius that looked good to the eye and marked it accordingly on the wall. In this photo it is coincidental that the ends line up at wall studs and is not germane to the system. It is crucial however, that the last 2" of coving lay flat against the wall. The existing 90 degree corner is evident in back, obviously.
My material of choice was .040 styrene. For each corner I used a 22" x 24" piece with 2" x 24" tab glued to the underside of each end. The tabs protrude by 1/2" to serve as a stapling surface.

Heavy duty 3/8" staples were used to anchor the styrene tab into the sheetrock, holding it firmly, while sitting below the finished layer so that a series of spackle applications could blend the styrene with the sheet rock.

Three 'mud' applications with 3", 4" and 6" trowels and light sanding in-between each application covered the stapled tabs and anchored the coving further. The corner surface was now ready for priming.
A good latex primer was applied with a 4" roller over the dried spackle and styrene sheet.

Two coats of my backdrop paint were rolled on, allowed to dry thoroughly and, "Voila!"... top, bottom and most importantly the sides blend nicely and evenly. 

This was completed almost two years ago and I was very pleased with the results. Now, after several seasonal cycles I am actually pleasantly surprised to report that the coved corners have remained exactly the same as on day one... smooth and seamless. So for me, the noblest of answers is, "To cove."

All is well in railroad land. What could possibly go wrong? We'll see tomorrow!

Which accomplished modeler does not cove corners on his layout?
A)  Lance Mindheim          B)  Paul Dolkos          C)  Mike Hamer             D) All of the above  

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