Styrofoam Base for columns? Help needed

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  • Styrofoam Base for columns? Help needed

    I am helping a very rural church with their construction. They have a limited budget and many churches promised that if they could come up with the money for the material, they/we could supply the labor (most are licensed contractors with different areas of expertise.).

    They paid for, ordered and received the major structure and frame items a year and a half before Covid 19 hit. The building frame, wall, roof and roofing, outside doors and windows installed, then covid hit. It was to have 4 columns under the portico. Well, only two came, but we were not far enough along to put the columns up before Covid. We Got started back in January of this year, and had to pour the walkway and portico base - 3 months ago. At that time (3 months ago) I asked the lumber / hard ware company why we only received 2 columns. I was told and shown that we only paid for two because at the time, the columns we wanted were on a long back order and we only got 2.
    HOWEVER - BUT with covid and the extra items still inside the building that had not been used, and volunteer workers not available, we never not noticed that we did not receive the purely aesthetic base and top for the columns. By this time, it was too late to put in a claim for not having received the 2 bases and 2 tops to the columns. Again they were not for structural, but only for aesthetics. Below are what was NOT shipped with the first two column almost 4 years ago.

    So 2 months ago, we ordered two more columns with same dimensions as the original 2. The new ones came with bases and with tops. So here are pictures of them (Below the pictures I have questions for you):

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Column Base.jpg Views:	0 Size:	92.4 KB ID:	851608 Click image for larger version  Name:	Column T&B base.jpg Views:	0 Size:	144.5 KB ID:	851609

    We are not able to order replacement appointments for the first two columns. I started to make copies out of wood but figured it would be too heavy, and I was afraid to turn something that large out of wood on my lathe. The large one is 16" square, the small one is 14" square. The small one is 5 inches high, the large one is 8" high. The holes in the center are 12" and 10"

    MY SECOND thoughts was /is to make them out of some kind of styrofoam. This is where I need your help. The above is a dense styrofoam covered with a hard shell of some kind of paint or epoxy paint. I need a Styrofoam without open pores, if that makes sense. If it is dense enough styrofoam, I can turn it on my Grizzly lathe, as I "can" turn 18" if needed. I can slow the lathe down to just under 600 RPM.

    1. WHAT Kind of foam do I look for and where can I find it?
    2. What kind of hard finish can I put on it that won't eat up the styrofoam, AND be weather proof?

    Any help would be appreciated. I don't want to make 2 of each out of wood.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by leehljp; 07-12-2022, 04:43 PM.
    Hank Lee

    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

  • #2
    You couldn't order two more sets from the new supplier? Is there a structural architectural foam company in Texas? A nearby Wendys restaurant had a remodel with the foam. The entire exterior was covered in it and then covered with a sprayed on hard covering that resembles concrete. How about making plaster casts of the moldings and then casting new parts in foam? lengthy process I know. The foam is called EPS for expanded polystyrene foam. There are a couple of suppliers in my area. The stuff is also available from on line distributors. Home Depot supposedly sells it too. Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Jim Frye; 07-12-2022, 06:22 PM.
    Jim Frye
    The Nut in the Cellar.
    ”Sawdust Is Man Glitter”

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Jim Frye View Post
      You couldn't order two more sets from the new supplier? Is there a structural architectural foam company in Texas? A nearby Wendys restaurant had a remodel with the foam. The entire exterior was covered in it and then covered with a sprayed on hard covering that resembles concrete. How about making plaster casts of the moldings and then casting new parts in foam? lengthy process I know. The foam is called EPS for expanded polystyrene foam. There are a couple of suppliers in my area. The stuff is also available from on line distributors. Home Depot supposedly sells it too. Hope this helps.
      Order two more sets? No, I asked if I could and was told they come only with the columns. Two new fiberglass columns with bases and tops like those shown would run $900.00.

      I considered making a cast but did not want to get into plaster casts that have to be made in two parts. But I may have to do that. I will check HD tomorrow while I'm there for the EPS.

      If I had some dense foam, I could turn it easily. Shaping it to specs is not a problem for me. Just need to spray some kind of hardener on the outside or fiberglass it.
      Last edited by leehljp; 07-12-2022, 07:41 PM.
      Hank Lee

      Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

      Comment


      • #4
        Something like this?

        https://www.elitetrimworks.com/Capit...-base-set.html

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        • leehljp
          leehljp commented
          Editing a comment
          That is what I am looking for. I need two pair. If I can find something closer to the ones I have now. $250 would not be unreasonable. THANKS for this. I am going to search for a closer shape to what I have. If I can't find what I am looking for, I will call and see if a salesman can help locate one.

        • atgcpaul
          atgcpaul commented
          Editing a comment
          I saw other places with similar offerings but I was looking on my phone so the browsing wasn't ideal. I know the place I linked also showed them with 10" holes. Good luck!

        • leehljp
          leehljp commented
          Editing a comment
          I need them with 10" for the crown (upper) and 12" for the base. That is what may be difficult.

      • #5
        As far as foam, not sure what you could use, XPS, Styrofoam, take your pick, XPS would probably be more stable over the long run. As far as surface coating, it really should be fiberglassed using epoxy resin. The regular polyester resin will simply eat styrofoam, XPS, etc...

        The problem with that foam is it WILL degrade over time, especially when exposed to heating / cooling cycles. If you can manage it, I would still consider making the capital (the topper of the column) from wood. Too bad there isn't a local rent a monster lathe shop...
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        • leehljp
          leehljp commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for the suggestion. I may have to do that. I have pressure treated wood for it because it will be used outside. I had planned on doing that then decided to look for foam.

        • dbhost

          dbhost
          commented
          Editing a comment
          I get it, if it is a base, not a capitol, you might be able to use the foam to create a sand mod for concrete casting?

          Thinking out loud here and all....

      • #6
        Use one of the bases to create a mold, fill the mold with reinforced concrete, make as many as you need.

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