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Grout Directly on Glass? Safe for Heating?

Discussion in 'General Construction' started by AZgeckos, Oct 19, 2014.

  1. AZgeckos

    AZgeckos Member

    I am working on a 10 gallon leopard gecko habitat and using the polystyrene foam/grout method (first time). I do not intend to use any sort of particle substrate, but rather I want the floor itself to be "rock." The plan is to "glue" the foam rock formations that I have carved to the glass bottom, and then coat the ENTIRE thing (foam and glass bottom) in layers of grout.

    But before I continue, I have questions!

    1. Will the grout even hold to the glass? Or will it flake off over time? (keep in mind that after the layers of grout, I intend to do a nice acrylic paint job and then finish it off with some form of sealer).

    2. Will the under tank heater cause any problems with the grout or foam? Or paint? Or, for that matter, the gecko? Are UTHs safe without a layer of substrate?

    If needs be, I can of course simply add a base layer of foam over the entire floor. That would give a cool opportunity to carve details on the floor, but I am not so sure I want to raise the whole thing up another layer.

    Has anyone had experience with this? Are there any obvious "red flags" in my plan? This is my first build so I could use ANY advice on the matter!
     
  2. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Under tank heaters are not safe without something between them and the animal. If I am understanding correctly, you will have a layer of at least grout between the gecko and heat source, which would make it safe. The issue you may have though is whether or not the heat will be able to permeate through the layers of foam and grout. The further you get away from the heat source and the thicker the layer between the animal and the heat source, the less heat will reach the surface.

    Grout will stick to the glass but as the glass cools and warms, it could separate from it over time. I got grout on one of my tanks during a project and it came off pretty easy with a razor blade.

    The interaction between your heat source and acrylic paint (which does soften when heated), silicones, sealants, etc. will be determined by the manufacturer. Read the labels and then call them to find out if there isn't any info to go on. I am always concerned about gassing. Chemical reactions worry me when heat is applied to anything like paint or sealant because some products can emit invisible fumes. While the fumes may not be strong enough to harm us, I always worry that inside a tank, where the space is confined and houses an animal much smaller than us, will it affect them?
     
  3. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I have my doubts as well if the heat will transfer through. The foam will act like an insulator and likely prevent the heat from passing through.
    It were just the grout and stone they would eventually heat up.
     
  4. AZgeckos

    AZgeckos Member

    Gotcha. Okay all of this info was very helpful!
    I am currently doing oodles and oodles of research on various materials and making some revisions to my plan, which at some point to this thread for more thoughts. I want to get this right!
    Thanks!
     
  5. AZgeckos

    AZgeckos Member

    Well, it has been FOREVER since I started this post. But again, both of your responses were very helpful and steered me in the right direction!
    In fact, I BUILT that sucker, got my much anticipated baby leo, and kept her in a simplified plastic bin setup (paper towel lined, proper temp gradient, cool hide, warm hide, humid hide and all that jazz) while I let her custom enclosure off-gas with the UTH running for a good loooooong while.

    I will post a thread with more details about the enclosure and its happy little resident sometime in the next week or so, but as a follow up to the UTH/grout concerns of this thread in particular, I ended up using a thin layer of sand on the very bottom, and then slate tile overtop that (no grout on the tile, just a bit of non-toxic acrylic paint and sealer to make the color match the foam rock formations that I added later). The tile was cut to size and siliconed in place so that the sand was 100% sealed off underneath the tile and unaccessible. The idea was to use that bit of sand to eliminate any air pockets and be certain that the heat would transfer through the tile sufficiently and evenly. And it DID. In fact it worked TOO well haha I got a rheostat to control the temp because it was too hot on its own.

    But again, more details about temps and materials and such in another post, another time. As for the "fumes" concern, I researched the heck out of materials, and ultimately went with products that 1. I could find no "red-flags" on the labels, reviews, ingredients, etc., and 2. Many other reptile/fish keepers with years of experience will swear by their safety and quality. Once the entire enclosure was 100% complete, I let it sit with the UTH running to off-gas until I couldn't detect any odors whatsoever (which I would check by holding my head actually inside of the tank for a bit haha). That only took a little more than a week... and then I waited for 5 more weeks just to be certain!!!! Which wasn't a bad wait, because my little gal was just a baby and I was more comfortable keeping her in a simpler setup to monitor her health.

    But now she is in her "rocks" and loves it! I will post pictures/enclosure details soon. Thanks again for your advice! I will certainly need it again as I move on to bigger and better things! (kingsnake enclosure? maybe something fancy for my cresties? HMMMM!)
     
  6. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Looking forward to some pictures.
     

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