How to Make a Spray Foam Tree

Set designers discovered the advantages of using spray foam long ago. Spray foam, which is a polyurethane based foam, is well-suited for making props because is lightweight, expands to cover large surfaces quickly, and is easy to carve and sculpt. Take a cue from set designers to make your own spray foam tree. With a bit of artistry, it is possible with spray foam to make any size or style tree you desire.

Things You'll Need

  • Plywood

  • Jig saw

  • 2-by-2 board

  • Drill

  • Screw

  • Chicken wire

  • Wire cutters

  • Spray foam

  • Knife

  • Rasp

  • Sandpaper

  • Dust mask

  • Hand broom

  • Cloth

  • Plastic primer

  • Acrylic paint

  • Fake leaves (optional)

Step 1

Create a basic armature. Cut a round piece of plywood for the base using a jig saw. Cut it to the size you want the trunk of your tree to be. Cut a 2-by-2 board to the height you want your tree. Screw the 2-by-2 board to the center of the plywood circle.

Step 2

Cut a section of chicken wire with wire cutters and wrap it around the 2-by-2 for the trunk. Bend and model the chicken wire to form the shape of a trunk.

Step 3

Cut several smaller sections of chicken wire and wrap them into tubes for branches. Hook and wire the branches to the trunk and bend and shape them as needed.

Step 4

Prepare to apply foam. Put on gloves and mask and work in a well-ventilated environment. Spray foam is vaporous and very difficult to remove from your skin.

Step 5

Start spraying the foam at the base of the tree and work your way up in a spiraling manner. Continue until the entire tree is covered. Leave the foam to cure.

Step 6

Carve the foam as desired to smooth down the bumps in the foam and to create the surface texture of the tree. A knife, a rasp and sandpaper are all suitable tools for carving foam. Wear a dust mask when sanding to avoid inhalation of sanding dust.

Step 7

Brush the tree with a hand broom and wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove all residual sanding dust.

Step 8

Paint the tree with a plastic primer. Do not use aerosol or solvent-based paints, as they will dissolve the foam.

Step 9

Paint the tree with shades of brown acrylic paint.

Step 10

Add leaves to the tree, if you wish. Add leaves by poking holes in the foam with a nail, dipping the stems of fake leaves into glue and sticking them into the holes.

References & Resources