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Terrain board woes

August 3, 2016
The finished product

The board pictured is related to the case

Remember back when I showcased my pirate terrain board? Little did I know back then, that it would cause me a bit of a headache!

The reason for my woes is the tackiness of the board. No, I’m not talking about bad style choices, but rather the caulk not drying properly and remaining a little sticky – either because I painted it before it was completely dry, the paint reacting with the caulk or this simply being a feature of the caulk. I noticed this early on in the process, but figured that time would take care of it. Indeed, that’s what seemed to be happening, as the table was getting less and less tacky, making me breathe a sigh of relief. Imagine my surprised disappointment when I went to move my buildings and miniatures around on the board after they’d been sitting there for quite some time, and noticed that they were firmly stuck to the board! I didn’t break any pieces when pulling them loose, nor was the table’s surface broken, but it was enough to get me firmly thinking I need to do something to the table. While it is a completely playble surface as long as you don’t leave stuff on it for days, it’s things like this that just…bug me. I don’t like to call it perfectionism, but rather a super low tolerance for mildly annoying stuff.

So far I’ve tried one thing: painting a small section of the board with matt varnish, with the idea that it might form a non-tacky layer. This didn’t work. I’ve now done the same with watered-down PVA, and I’m currently waiting for it to dry. If this doesn’t work either, I’m left with a few options:

  1. Resort to flock and static grass. This isn’t such a bad idea! I’ve been thinking I should give the board more greenery anyway, and this would be a fairly straightforward operation. The only downside is the money and effort required for getting suitable styles of flock and static grass.
  2. Get a printed gaming mat. Quick, easy and simple. Downsides are price (50-70€ vs. materials I mostly own already) and my preference for textured surfaces compared to flat ones.
  3. Repaint my Zuzzy mat. Not an impossible idea. A bit of work, and would rid me of my usefully generic gray gaming surface…then again, it rarely gets used these days and it’s really nice. I actually hadn’t thought of this before I started writing this post!
  4. Start work on a new board. This is always an option, although it might be somewhat time consuming. I’d do it without the caulk this time, so basically a simple paintjob on the foam sheet and then see 1, above.

Of course, all of this will leave me with the question of what to do with my current board – unless I manage to fix it or end up flocking it. Binning it completely would hurt my soul, so I might perhaps find a new home for it somewhere where the slight tackiness isn’t a huge issue. Another option, as suggested by Paul of sho3box, is to cut up the board and use it as hills. This isn’t a bad idea either, and would mean that not a lot of my work would be wasted. Decisions, decisions…

Feedback, sympathy and ideas welcome!

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11 comments

  1. To be fair, it does look rather nice. It would be a shame to have to cut it up.

    But if you cant trust it not to damage terrain and/or figures (shudder) then you will need to do something. Unfortunately, im not sure what. I dont know if its possible to force caulk to cure, and if heat is involved then the foam base is at risk.

    Its a tricky one.


    • It is, indeed! The thinned-down PVA helped a little, but I’m not completely convinced. Luckily I don’t think there’s a risk of damaging figures, unless I leave them lying on their side on the table for days. Still, it’s more than a little annoying and getting more so by the day, so something definitely needs to be done.


  2. Hairdryer? A coating of watered-down greenstuff then re-paint?


    • Thanks for the comment mcdwarf! I’m sceptical of using a hairdryer – if it was a heat thing I assume it would’ve been dry by now. Full coating and re-painting is an option, but might as well make a new board if it comes to that, I think.


  3. You could try a layer of matte medium. Just use a spray bottle and thin it enough so it can be sprayed. I never had a tackiness problem with caulking when covered with paint, static grass and sand.


    • Matte medium might work, may give that a go if I get my hands on some. I’m fairly certain the tackiness problems come from not letting the caulking cure properly. Of course, if I cover most of the board with flock and static grass, that should fix it. Small, somewhat tacky spots aren’t too bad.


      • That said, caulking has a cold feel too it, even when cured. The underside of my flexible terrain piece is slightly tacky, but it is not that stuff actually adheres to it. It could well be, that this is just how the material behaves?


        • This might definitely be the case. There are many varietis of caulking available, so might have just picked the wrong kind. On a more positive note, I gave a section a spraydown of Army Painter anti-shine varnish, which is super matte. This seems to work so far, so might be the solution to my problem!


  4. […] time (quite accurately a year) back, I had problems with my gaming boards. I eventually got around those, but I’m now faced with another. While I quite like the look […]


  5. This bloke (Luke)

    Has a video on making your own flock for an affordable price. Normally I’d err on the side of ease (and buy it) but to cover an entire gaming board, this might be a solution for you?


    • I’ve been thinking of doing that for a while now, will definitely give that a think. Thanks!



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