Painting new masonite (hardboard) overlay

WFair

Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2011
Location
Houston, Texas, United States
The time has come to resurface my entire stage. It will be 1/4" oil-tempered hardboard (commonly referred to as Masonite, even though they no longer make it) screwed down to 2 old layers of 3/4 plywood. I plan to paint both the front and back with Rosco Tough Prime before installing it to help with sealing from humidity. I will also be leaving the requisite nickel width gap between sheets and I will acclimate them to my space for a few days before installing them. Ok...there was the background.

Now, on to the painting...I can order the hardboard with both sides smooth, or only one side smooth. The smooth side is VERY smooth, to the point that I am concerned about adhesion. Will I need to sand or otherwise rough up the smooth side before using Tough Prime? Would it be better to (gasp!) install the panels upside down with the ROUGH side facing up and assume that after a couple of coats of paint, it will be fairly smooth anyway? If the consensus is to go ahead and paint the smooth side, is there any reason to get the double-sided smooth version of the hardboard?

Another posting back in 2009 ( https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/need-advise-on-masonite-as-stage-surface.8278/ ) suggested using Sherwin-Williams ArmorSeal Treadplex for floor paint. Has anyone done a side-by-side comparison of it versus the Rosco Tough Prime? Are there other recommendations for super-hardy water-based paints for a stage floor? Is there ANYTHING that can handle this much abuse from the paint department at Home Depot or Lowes? Everything I have ever tried from there has had durability issues.

Thanks!
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
I specify PPG Breakthrough in Wrought Iron. We did side by side tests - tape and casters - and found it performed better - at that time - but formulations do change so beware.

DPI hardboard is closest I have found to the old Masonite. Nothing in the big box stores or local lumber yards comes close.
 
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ISSRRandy

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
I recommend you talk to Jenny Knott at Rosco about this. She has been doing a lot of research on painting stage floors with Tough Prime due to issues with both the material commonly reffered to as "Masonite" and the paint being reformulated.
 

blueeyesdesigns

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2010
Location
North/West Chicago Area
We redid our floor about two years ago. Bought smooth on both sides, primed the top with Tough Prime and backpainted the underside with old wall paint. I had no problems with the TP adhering to the board, but I have had nothing but problems with the boards staying adhered to themselves; they've been delaminating terribly when tape is pulled up, anything heavy set on it for a while, etc. The only thing that's been helping is lots of layers of paint essentially creating an thick coat on the stage. (I'm currently painting Conco 1500, but I'm open to trying something else. It needs to have more structural integrity than the hardboard and still allow tape to stick...)
 

Van

CBMod
CB Mods
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Jul 27, 2006
Location
Portland, Or.
I greatly prefer 1/4" MDF over the product you are referring. Most Pit filler manufacturers default to Rosco Tough Prime for the Hardboard cover they ship. We have a regional paint company that has a product called "Tough Tread" which is formulated as an Interior/exterior floor paint and it is THE product most companies use for stage floor in the area. There may be a similar product in your area..
Again, I have had problems in the past with the Oil Tempered hardboard, I greatly prefer MDF. <It's also 49x97 so it extends beyond the 4x8 sheeting beneath it, great for overlap layout.>
 
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WFair

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Oct 3, 2011
Location
Houston, Texas, United States
I greatly prefer 1/4" MDF over the product you are referring. Most Pit filler manufacturers default to Rosco Tough Prime for the Hardboard cover they ship. We have a regional paint company that has a product called "Tough Tread" which is formulated as an Interior/exterior floor paint and it is THE product most companies use for stage floor in the area. There may be a similar product in your area..
Again, I have had problems in the past with the Oil Tempered hardboard, I greatly prefer MDF. <It's also 49x97 so it extends beyond the 4x8 sheeting beneath it, great for overlap layout.>
Isn't MDF less dense than a similar hardwood plywood? At that point, should I get 1/4 birch and still have super smooth but less prone to dents and ruts? Obviously, MDF is very inexpensive but if my goal is to not replace this every couple years will it hold up?
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
The DPI hardboard - whick looks and feels just like Masonite of 40 years ago - is not available in oversized sheets which is why it's not used on plyron. It is used on at least Stageright's platforms. Two recent projects tape across the Stageright pit filler and the plyron (with Simpson hardboard) peeled on the plyron but not the DPI on pit filler.
 
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WFair

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Oct 3, 2011
Location
Houston, Texas, United States
The DPI hardboard - whick looks and feels just like Masonite of 40 years ago - is not available in oversized sheets which is why it's not used on plyron. It is used on at least Stageright's platforms. Two recent projects tape across the Stageright pit filler and the plyron (with Simpson hardboard) peeled on the plyron but not the DPI on pit filler.
Bill, when you mention DPI...do you mean these guys: https://www.decpanels.com/
I contacted them about purchasing materials and they referred me to my local Lowes...but I have not historically been impressed by the quality of hardboard at Lowes.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Clayton NY 13624
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J Katz

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Dec 21, 2018
Location
New York, NY
As you might know, the Broadway standard “toppers” on a show deck is Arboron. But for “runoff” or offstage wing areas - we use hardboard. You absolutely want them tempered on both sides - more stable and consistent in thickness. Roll on Rosco Tough Prime (let it dry) and finish with a top coat of Basic Coatings StreetShoe waterbased wood floor finish. (Choose gloss, satin, semi gloss etc..)

We never paint the underside.
 

dbaxter

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Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Location
Rochester, NY
This subject has been kicked around a bit here, but let me just relate our recent experience, for better or for worse. When we created the theater, there was a concrete floor of an old bus garage to start. We put down 2x4's and 2x6's on 16" centers and concrete nailed them down, covered them with 3/4" hardboard and a layer of Masonite (this was 11 years ago). That held up through 10 years of shows, about 6 per year. The theater is such that the floor is part of the set design and gets painted for each show. Yes, there was a considerable buildup of paint - about 1/4" or so. We had some damage to it during Hands on a Hard Body, the truck was too heavy and made "potholes" in the floor. Patches were made, but ruined the uniform appearance of the stage overall.

So, new floor discussions, similar to what you read here. We decided it was going to be too much work and money to rip it up and replace everything and to just recover it. We thought it would be good to sand the stage down to make it nice and smooth, rented a big disk sander, but the amount of paint just got warm and sticky and was making more of a mess than it was fixing. So we ended up just hitting the high spots with a belt sander. We ordered new hardboard from 84 Lumber with the thought it would be higher quality than Lowe's or Home Depot, and indeed, it was lovely stuff, very smooth and uniform. Here's where we varied from some of the recommendations here. We did let it sit in the theater for several days to get acquainted with the environment and then glued it down with floor adhesive with no gaps between sheets. We did offset the seams from the original floor so the seams were not in the same place. We also used an air-gun with 3/4" staples applied liberally around the edges and middle. Talk about quiet - all the squeaks of the old floor were gone and it was a joy to walk on. I'm not a dancer, so I can't speak to that.

Next came the finishing part and painting. Here I let my Master Carpenter talk me out of something that I regret. I wanted to coat the whole surface with concrete waterproofing liquid. In the Northeast here, it's common to prevent ice damage to concrete surfaces. It's pretty runny and penetrates fairly deeply. We didn't do the whole surface, but just the seams. First coat of paint went down for the upcoming show and tape put down to indicate where the walls would go. True to what has been mentioned, removing the tape (it was even blue painters tape), pulled up the paint and a little of the hardboard EXCEPT where the seams has been treated!

It is now several shows later and 5 more coats of paint and things have settled down. The tape doesn't pull up any more and you can't see where it did the first show. The seams are still smooth and invisible with dark paint, faintly seen with light colors. So, overall, pretty successful. Check back with me in a couple seasons (and use concrete sealer).
 

WFair

Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2011
Location
Houston, Texas, United States
I wanted to coat the whole surface with concrete waterproofing liquid. In the Northeast here, it's common to prevent ice damage to concrete surfaces. It's pretty runny and penetrates fairly deeply. We didn't do the whole surface, but just the seams. First coat of paint went down for the upcoming show and tape put down to indicate where the walls would go. True to what has been mentioned, removing the tape (it was even blue painters tape), pulled up the paint and a little of the hardboard EXCEPT where the seams has been treated!
dbaxter, I looked at Home Depot's website and found Olympic Waterguard Clear Multi-Surface Waterproofing Sealant. Is that what you are talking about, or something much thicker like Drylok? The "weatherguard" product is (according to the manufacturer response in the Q&A) not meant to be painted, which makes me concerned about bonding ToughPrime or some other primer/paint to it. What sealant product and subsequent paint product did you use successfully? Thanks!
 

dbaxter

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Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Location
Rochester, NY
Sorry for the delay in answering. It's the start of tech week. The sealer is "Drylock Natural Look Sealer" and the paint is Ace Hardware "Ultra Spec 500". Cheap paint, I know, but then it only has to last 3 weeks.
 

WFair

Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2011
Location
Houston, Texas, United States
One thing that I saw last time we did one of these threads, last year some time, was "paint all 6 sides of the board".

Has that wisdom changed?
I have assumed that, given the relative thinness of the material and the gap between pieces, I would only paint the top and bottom and then when I paint on my final top coat it would manage to get down in the cracks to mostly seal the edges.