VFI Styrofoam Hard Coating to Protect Against Elements

Volatile Free, Inc. has been manufacturing styrofoam hard coatings since the start of the company almost 30 years ago. We manufacture these products on site at our Brookfield, Wisconsin facility, and distribute them to theming professionals across the United States.

These sprayable plastic coatings form durable “shells” on various surfaces, but most popularly over lightweight foams. Other than providing a durable surface, they are fast curing, so you’ll be able to sand and paint over them shortly after application. Depending on the formula, they can be applied by brush, quick spray, or high pressure spray.

Brushable Hard Coats for Smaller Projects

A hard coat that can be applied with paint brushes or trowels, like VFI-2519 75 D Brushable Hard Coat, is a go-to when working on small custom projects or repairs. Unlike spray coatings, this polyurethane material cures slower, so you have more time to work with it. Due to its thixotropic nature, it can hang vertically in up to 40 mil passes. The further into the working time you get, the better it is able to hang without sagging as well.

The best way to use this product is in small batches to extend the material’s pot life. A full mix of the material will yield a pot life of about 8 minutes, but if you mix 200 g batches, the pot life can be extended to 15-20 minutes. It’s also crucial that you use exact proportions; otherwise, the material may not set up correctly.

Using the brushable coating can be more time-consuming than spray materials since it’s more labor-intensive. Because it’s slower, it’s also not immediately ready for post-work after application. Depending on coating thickness, temperature, and other factors, it may not be ready for sanding or painting until the next day.

Convenient Qwik Spray Cartridges for Hard Coating

If working with a brushable hard coat is not your forte but you don’t want to invest in high pressure spray equipment, VFI has just the alternative. We manufacture a urethane styrofoam hard coating for convenient spraying in a cartridge format known as VFI-6171 70 D Qwik Spray Hard Coat.

The Qwik Spray System allows for hassle-free setup and is desirable for its low startup cost and portability. It utilizes 750 mL dual cartridges of the material with the VFI-7500 Qwik Spray Gun to make spray coatings more accessible to smaller companies and applicators. To run the equipment, it requires 10 CFM of dry air at 100 psi of constant pressure. The gun comes with all the other accessories needed to spray, including static mix tips. The standard tip size for this product is GS-15, but other spray tips are available upon request.

Another benefit of the Qwik Spray System is how easy it is to clean up after using it. The cartridges and static mix tips can be thrown away once you have finished spraying for a completely disposable process without additional cleanup.

High Pressure for Big Jobs

For those who spray larger pieces and/or at a higher frequency, the quick spray hard coat also comes in a high pressure formula, VFI-6170 70 D Spray Hard Coat. The coating is sprayed using a high pressure, plural component spray rig at a recommended pressure of 2,500 psi.

However, the difference in application methods does not change the physical properties of either material. Both have consistent tensile, tear, and elongation. The only property that differs between the two is that the cartridge version sets a bit slower in comparison.

Applications for Styrofoam Hard Coating

There’s not much of a limit to what kind of projects can benefit from a hard coating. Foam is the main surface these coatings are applied to because it applies rigidity to an otherwise fragile surface making the foam itself more versatile. Due to their high versatility, we’ve seen creatives use them for:

  • Prop making & set design – A low-cost way to make realistic props and set pieces for theater, movie, and television productions is using a lightweight foam that is then hard coated. Hard coats not only make these creations durable but they can be painted to help increase the realism of the prop or set. You can protect handheld objects all the way to large set pieces.
  • Custom signs – An effective alternative to plastic, wood, and stone signs is EPS foam with a hard coat. These signs will be just as durable but are much easier to transport to final destinations because of their lightweight nature. Regardless of where they will be placed, they are able to endure both indoor and outdoor conditions.
  • EPS theming hardcoats – Just like how they can be utilized for set design, museums, art shows, and amusement park rides can benefit from using these coatings to protect displays, models, and themed environments. They are especially helpful if the piece will be within the reach of people and children who may touch, step on, or sit on them. As fire tested formulas, they can be used in indoor and outdoor environments without deteriorating.
  • Architectural shapes – While many outdoor architectural pieces tend to be made of stone, there’s a cost-effective alternative way to make them. Foam is shaped to look like faux window shutters, columns, arches, crown molding, etc., and then hard coated for protection. Because the hard coat is durable, it can withstand outdoor conditions similar to stone materials.
  • Hard coat repairs – Hard coat is incredibly durable, but wear and tear can happen over time or in production. The best solution for fixing damaged areas is to use a brushable hard coat. You save money on material, and it should easily blend in with the rest of the coating that is intact so you can sand and paint over it.

Why Choose VFI Hard Coatings?

There are several benefits to choosing VFI hard coat products. The main objective of these coatings is to harden styrofoam because it requires added strength for protection against various variables. As it encapsulates the piece, it protects against moisture, impact, and other environmental factors.

Because some of the pieces that theming professionals create are placed indoors, the coatings must pass certain fire regulations. We have several sprayable hard coat options that are capable of passing the ASTM E84 Class A test or have passed it for fire retardance. Having this certification allows the coated material to be placed indoors and outdoors where strict fire safety is essential.

Because these coatings are typically painted over, they are protected from UV rays. This protection then allows them to be used indoors and outdoors without worry of yellowing or color change. They also boast good weathering characteristics, which also makes them desirable for outdoor placement.

Contact VFI if you need assistance figuring out which styrofoam hard coating would work best for your project.