Bruce Smith


No offense, but have you been sniffing too much solvent-based paint? ūüôā! ¬†Wood and plastic are (obviously) very different materials and so require different approaches.¬†

Plastic looks like plastic. To change its color requires paint. The first step with plastic is to make it look like wood. Then of course you need to weather it.

Laser-cut wood looks like... wait for it... wood! So there is no need to make it look like wood. Wood, being porous, requires stains, instead of paint. Note that paints can be used as stains, but it is a fundamentally different process. 

When working with flat car (and gondola) decks, the first thing needed is to understand the base color. Different railroads used different wood (pine, oak, etc...) and different treatments (none, creosote, etc...) and then, of course, there is the question of how long the deck has been on the car as well. 

I tend to start my wood decks with a mix of brown and black leather dye as a stain. Paint it on, let it sit a few seconds, and then wipe it off. Once the base color is down, I come back with washes of acrylic paint, diluted in alcohol (note, for plastic decks I use more water in the mix for washes) to weather. I will often dump some isopropyl alcohol on the deck to blend it a bit, if I think it is too stark. From there, it is really just a matter of adding layers, mostly randomly. Remember that layers of weather add depth.

Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL

From: <> on behalf of WILLIAM PARDIE <PARDIEW001@...>
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2021 12:20 PM
To: <>
CAUTION: Email Originated Outside of Auburn.
There have been many great articles and posts on distressing and finishing plastic flat cat decks.  I would think that the same techniques would apply to finishing laser cut wood decking.
I did not, however, enjoy the same success in working with these.  Does anyone have a special technique for finishing these?

Bill :Pardie

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