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Need advise on masonite as stage surface

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by j1514, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. j1514

    j1514 Member

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    Hi all,

    I would like to add a top layer of Masonite to our existing (plywood) stage floor, which consists of cement,neoprene pad & 3 layers of ply. The problem is that the 1/4 masonite we've tried in the test area, warps and buckles even after it's screwed down to the existing deck. Any advice?

    James
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    1. Consider 1/4" MDF instead of 1/4" or 1/8", Tempered or Untempered, Masonite.
    2. Rip the sheets into 4'-0" x 3'-11 15/16" squares.
    3. Pre-paint/seal both sides before installation. Be prepared that the material will suck up more paint than you can imagine.
    4. Leave 1/8" gap around all sheets.
    5. Sixteen screws per 4'x4' sheets is not enough! Space screws no greater than 8" centers, and countersink first, of course.
    6. Use a high-quality screw, not a run-of-the-mill brittle drywall screw. Consider a square-drive or six-lobe screwhead.
     
  3. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    We just finished re-decking one of our stages. It had masonite previously and that buckled pretty bad. My boss called around to some other venues, and I guess the masonite was a pretty standard thing. I guess the main reason is that if a sheet get to badly warped or damaged it's easy to replace. The end result was that we ended up going with new masonite.
    We got the Masonite locally, and let it sit in the venue for a couple days to acclimate. (the venue is rather humid) We laid it down in full sheets and left the thickness of a quarter between sheets. The masonite was attached to the subfloor with staples. We came in the next day and discovered that a quarters thickness wasn't enough, all the sheets had expanded, and closed up the all the gaps. A couple sheets had even buckled. A campus carpenter came in and cut a sawblade's width cut between the sheets to open up the gap again and things have been good so far. We probably should have left a bigger gap to begin with, say 1/4 inch, it would have saved coming back and cutting the stuff later.
    Anyway, after everything got laid down, we gaff taped over the seems, then put down an oil based primer and then 3 coats of flat black latex paint. It's been OK since.
    One word of advice we got in calling around was that if a sheet buckles or bubbles or gets damaged it should be replaced not just re-attached. That's at least partly why people like it. It's cheap.
    Matt
     
  4. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
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    Both of the above posts are full of good advice. When we lay Maso as a cover, either on top of triscuits or the deck itself, we ;
    A. Usually only use 1/4" MDF
    B. Allow it to "Climatize" for at least 24 hours prior to installation.
    C. Hand everyone a Dime < mdf > or Quarter < Maso> to use as spacers around each sheet.
    I really like the idea of using a primer on MDF or Maso as, as Derek Stated, that frst coat can reall get sucked in. Even if you just use paint from the "Trash Bucket" in the paint shop it'll be better than wasting a lot of good flat black.
     
  5. Dally

    Dally Member

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    Hear hear.
     
  6. Seldred

    Seldred Member

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    Florence, MA
    We put down our Maso stagefloor (over a soft wood auditorium stage) in 2003. 4 foot squares w/ 1/8 - 1/4" gap. We've never had any buckling. We paint it each year (with occasional touch-ups between shows) with ArmorSeal Treadplex - an industrial floor paint, which while a litte expensive, has been extremely effective. We haven't had to replace a single square in 6 years! Dan Rist, the TD at Smith College Theater Dept., tipped me off to both the masonite stageflooring technique and the paint to use on it.

    We get a lot of shows and events in our auditorium - dance companies have been very happy with the surface and haven't needed to put down dance flooring. It's worked out great for us!
     
  7. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    Masonite is pretty standard. Pretty much every venue I've been to uses it, and so did my tech theatre school's stages.

    Always acclimate it. It is a good idea to prime it, and paint it. I've always used rather normal scenic paint on it with no difficulties (matte latex). Prime before laying!

    Think about how you paint a backdrop: You square it, water it, let it dry, prime it, let it dry.... THEN you paint it... The primer helps to seal it.

    A gap between sheets is very important. I like the idea of a Quarter or such.

    Lots of screws is important.

    Example: When laying down sub-floors for tile building code requires a screw I believe every INCH! This prevents shifting and such.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2009
  8. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Depending on your intended usage and budget, Stagelam may be a product worth considering. We converted the top layer of our stage over to this several years ago and it has proven to be a very durable stage surface. Just be aware that your initial costs will be significantly higher than either Masonite or MDF.
     
  9. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Never have I seen a code hat required a fastener every inch. < except on aircraft skins. On a subfloor the most I've ever seen is every 6".
    Masonite as a subfloor for tiling ? Really bad Idea it would suck all the water out of the motar before it would have a chance to set.
     
  10. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    Not for masonite. I forget what the product is, but it is completely different from masonite. I never indeed said it was masonite either, didn't say what it was.
    I don't remember what the code says for this particular application, but it is very nearly every inch if not for a proper installation. I could go find out, but really I don't care enough. I've just seen it installed a thousand times, even helped to install it once.
     

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