There are two primary considerations in selecting the materials used for concrete molds: the texture and the stability of the material. Concrete will mimic the texture of the mold material when it dries. Additionally, not all materials will support the weight of concrete and may need braces to hold the concrete. Nevertheless, there are a variety of things to use for molds in making both large projects and smaller ones.
Wood is often used by professional concrete countertop makers. Basic plywood and a particleboard known as melamine are both popular. Malamine is popular because it releases quickly from the concrete and has a minimally textured surface. Basic plywood, on the other hand, will cause the concrete to reproduce the wood grain, but it is also easy to cut and shape in order to form large shapes.
Rigid insulation foam has a coating of either silicone or epoxy resin so that it does not completely attach to the concrete when using rubber as a mold. This material is popular to use in making small sections of a larger project due to the fact that it forms easily. It is, however, not strong enough to support the weight of heavy concrete projects.
Rubber molds are made from polyurethane or neoprene. Rubber molds are popular because they provide a relatively smooth surface if the rubber itself has no indentations in the texture. Moreover, rubber molds have a long life and are safe to use multiple times. However, rubber molds are not as stable as molds made from other materials, and the rubber mold may give way under the weight of concrete.
Manufacturers regularly use steel molds to make large objects because of their longevity and because, once treated with a concrete release agent, the concrete will easily release from the mold. The same is true of aluminum that many gardeners use in making molds for concrete steps or garden decorations. Old aluminum bakeware, for example, once treated with a concrete release agent, is suitable for creating a variety of small shapes at home. Glass and fiberglass, like metals, provide a secure and stable foundation for small concrete projects. In addition, glass and fiberglass also have the smoothest of surfaces that generally prevent any distortion of the concrete due to texturing of the mold. Finally, cardboard molds are available at many home improvement stores. Cardboard molds are selected for large pillars, for example, and are treated with a release agent. Yet, if these molds are made of multiple layers of cardboard they have a longer life.
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