Does anyone make/use HYPERTUFA?


Mmathis

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Just wondering a few things....
  • How much lighter is this, really?
  • Have you ever made anything free-form (not in a mold)?
  • Can you form it around, say a wire mesh?
  • What about coloring it?
  • How durable is it once cured?
Reason I'm asking is that I'm removing most of the natural wood pieces (mostly a variety of sizes of tree branches, etc.) from the box turtle habitat due to carpenter ants -- removing a food source so maybe they'll leave and leave the turts alone!! I want to replace these pieces I'm removing, though, because they provided a lot of shade and cover for the turts, as well as structure for a few of their hides. The habitat has always looked very natural and nice -- imagine a miniature woodland scene with well-placed branches to mimic fallen trees.....

In some places I am using cedar fence planks, and PVC pipe is another option, shaped and painted to a natural "woodland" color. But painted PVC pipe only goes so far in the aesthetics department (the turtles won't mind, but I will...!). So was just wondering if it is possible to incorporate something like hypertufa into the decor-mix -- to mold/shape to look like real tree branches, etc. I know I can (and will) experiment on my own, but since hypertufa has such an extended curing period, it's not like I can get instant gratification for my project.....

What are your hypertufa experiences?
 

Meyer Jordan

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Never used it for anything except making specialized planters. Worked well for that purpose.
Might work with a chicken-wire frame, but, as you say, it takes a long time to cure because it holds moisture, which is the real reason for using it.
 
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I've never done any hypertufa, but there's a lady at one of the farmer's markets we frequent who does hypertufa with old bath towels and shapes them into pots and planters. She didn't know what she was doing was called hypertufa, but when she described it to me, I knew. She drapes the towels over upside down pots to form them, so the bottom is flat and the sides are, well, what you would imagine a towel would look like if you hung it over an upside down pot! Honestly, they don't really appeal to me, BUT I mention it because she did say she has had her pieces outdoors for many years with no sign of deterioration. And they are super light weight. A piece the size of a standard bath towel (use your imagination here) was light enough to pick up with two fingers. And she does indeed color it. She uses them as actual planters with dirt and plants, so I would say they are relatively durable.
 

Mmathis

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I've never done any hypertufa, but there's a lady at one of the farmer's markets we frequent who does hypertufa with old bath towels and shapes them into pots and planters. She didn't know what she was doing was called hypertufa, but when she described it to me, I knew. She drapes the towels over upside down pots to form them, so the bottom is flat and the sides are, well, what you would imagine a towel would look like if you hung it over an upside down pot! Honestly, they don't really appeal to me, BUT I mention it because she did say she has had her pieces outdoors for many years with no sign of deterioration. And they are super light weight. A piece the size of a standard bath towel (use your imagination here) was light enough to pick up with two fingers. And she does indeed color it. She uses them as actual planters with dirt and plants, so I would say they are relatively durable.
Are you sure we're talking about the same thing...... Hypertufa uses Portland cement, sand, peat, and stuff like perlite or vermiculite mixed together. It makes a lightweight, porous "concrete" mixture. But this lady's work sounds very interesting. I wonder what holds the towels together?
 
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Yup. That's exactly what she uses. She told me her "secret". I said "Oh, hypertufa" and she looked at me like "huh?" She said she spreads it on like spackle with the towel draped over a pot and a form of some kind hanging upside down. Each one is made with one "recycled" towel - her big claim to fame is that she is recycling all these otherwise unused towels that she gets at the resale shops. I wanted to tell her that the towel is really unnecessary to the process, but didn't have the heart! Not to mention the fact that those towels would go to better use at an animal shelter. She's a really different kind of lady - I end up having long conversations with her every time I go... I think maybe because everyone else gives her a wide berth! The "pots" look like a few of the towels my boys deposited on the laundry room floor over the years that had spent a few too many days in their gym bag!
 

herzausstahl

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Sounds like she is using the towel to hold the shape & get away with a thinner layer of hypertufa than you would need for a pot. There was something I saw sold as a moldable concrete similar to hypertufa on my bonsai forum I'll look for for you.
 
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I have used hypertufa to make fake rocks for my pond. I have had varying degrees of success. There are several YouTube videos that show how it is done. I found it to be as temperamental as concrete to get the mix just right so it would set up and hold. My greatest success was using chicken wire, plastic bottles, and newspaper to make a cover for my pump and filter. It's not the best, but it works and has held up well over 3 years. It probably weighs 1/8 of what a concrete cover would weigh.
pump cover small.jpg
 

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