View Full Version : Blending wall panel seams

Allen H
07-20-2011, 07:04 AM
I really want my asylum this season to appear less like a wall panel haunt- so I want to hide the seams but not greatly increase the time it takes the crew to set up and tear down. What do you guys use, and what are the pros and cons Ive considered Drywall joint compound, Wallpapering over them...
Help a brother out..what am I forgetting. Or do you bother to hide them?
Allen H

Mr. Haunt
07-20-2011, 09:07 AM
Good question, I will tell you this.....I have been to a lot of haunts over the years and as a paying customer, thats the last thing I would notice going through a haunt.

Just a thought!

Mr. Haunt

07-20-2011, 09:42 AM
When painting wall panels, I usually continue the paint color around the edge of the wall panel a bit. When the panels are later assembled, the joint almost vanishes. The rest is taken care of with lighting.

As a customer, I would be looking at the effects, props and for where the next scare will come from. As a fellow Charity Haunter, I am looking critically at sets, lighting, costumes, continuity and prop placement. Thankfully the vast majority of our customers don't look at our haunts the same way we do. ;)

Using an assembly jig and paying attention to placement of the panel face during cunstruction will also minimize the size of the gap and the visual impact of the joint.


07-20-2011, 09:53 AM
Damn good question.
Its an easy answer if was a permanent haunt but if your taking it up and down,
the only thing I can think of is cloth over the entire wall if it like hallways and such.

If its the asyum why not white sheets button tucked to the walls?

Cloth will obviously not work on textured surfaces like stone and such.

I did one year put masking tape over the seam and then painted as normal.

You do not see it at all. When taking it down just pull the tape.

My 2 cents with 2 seconds of thought....................


07-20-2011, 10:09 AM
I finally got to see your human pelt video on YouTube, very cool!

Anyway, I use both the paint around the edge method like earlier suggested and the masking tape whenever the seam still needed help.

I'm sure either way you'll do great, youre one of the industry big guys! :)

For half walls, low traffic areas or if you're in a rush, if your haunt is indoors, or under a tent, www.hauntedprops.com carries some useful wall rolls, that are actually pretty good. We've used them for the Relay for life haunt and they saved a boatload of time when you have less than 12 hours to set up a 1,200 sq ft wooden haunt! Thank god we got a scAIR sponsor which saved SO much time.

Front Yard Fright
07-20-2011, 10:38 AM
What I started doing was using Duct Tape to tape over the seams and painting over that. It works surprisingly well, and the paint sticks to the tape great! (I used name brand duct tape, not sure if the cheaper stuff would work or not.)

If your show is outdoors (as mine was) I suggest stapling the tape on either side of the seam and hammering the staples down flat to assure the tape doesn't fall down after a heavy rain storm.

At the end of the season, just tear off or cut the tape. Worked great for me!

Good luck!

Allen H
07-20-2011, 10:44 AM
there are no big guys in the industry- and if you think you are one, then your doing it wrong. We all just work and pretty much have the same challenges different attendance just changes a few of the problems.

I was worried about masking tape because of the temperatures here- we had 30 100 degree + days in a row, and that wont let up for a while. I will tape them, carry the tape over the top of the panel and staple it there. that should keep the tape on till the paint seals it down.
Thanks for making me rething masking tape.
I know the seams seem like they arent a big deal but breaking the wall line every 4ft is a big deal and it bugs me.
We have seven shows to put up in four months and then take down in one month, so its definitely not a permanent location lol.
Im jealous of the haunts that are up year round.
Allen H

07-20-2011, 11:26 AM
You could Dutchman it. Take long strips of fabric (just use the cheapest fabric you can find, but it has to be thin) and dip in a mix of House Paint, Elmers Glue, and Water. Then paste them over the seam and blend with your hands. Kind of like paper mache, but with the mix of paint and glue, it makes it so you can peel it right off when you are tearing down. Once you can get the process down, you can make the seam nearly invisible. It would take a bit longer than doing masking tape, but it might work better for your conditions and it is cheaper in the long run.

- Jake

07-20-2011, 11:42 AM
A "dutchman" is an old theatre technique, it would work to hide the seams very well. It's generally made with watered down joint compound, sanded, then painted. I would also suggest masking tape, but prior to laying it down, spraying a VERY STRONG adhesive under it to hold it once the tapes adhesive dries off. I don't think though, once you paint over it...it would peal? Especially if you're using latex paint, that alone should hold it on well!

Have you tried taking plastic strips and shrinking them over the seam? ;)


07-20-2011, 12:46 PM
I'd have to double check, but I thought the mixture we used was House paint, Elmers Glue, and water... I don't remember joint compound, but I'm sure both mixes would work fine. We didn't do any sanding when we used it though, just smoothed it down while it was wet, the mixture was pretty runny.

07-20-2011, 01:55 PM
There are HUNDREDS of ways to make a dutchman...I think in theatre we actually used a cheap scrim/mesh with the compound. -Tyler

07-20-2011, 04:17 PM
Hey Allen,
For my asylum I used joint compound and put it on the whole wall then took a flat head screw driver and carved lines back into it to make it look like white tile. It gave a great effect and you can not tell where the seams end at all. However, when you take them apart it will crack and mess up a little just at the seams, but next year when you put them back up you just use the same joint compound over the seams and redraw your tile lines where they join and it only takes a few minutes and you cant tell they were ever down. The first time spreading all of the compound on the wall took forever, but it turned out looking great and much cheaper than buying the tile-looking luan at lowes for $22 a sheet.


Allen H
07-20-2011, 05:19 PM
Tile tip: I paint my tile by painting the walls black, then slapping a piece of 6" square hog wire fence against it, then spraying white over that- when you remove the stencil (hog wire) it looks like tile. Your way sounds good to, I may try that in a few areas.

Matt Marich
07-20-2011, 05:30 PM
Yep Allen, I would go with the dutchmen technique. These guyes are right with the Muslin strips. You can also use wallpaper paste, pre soak the strips in water, wring out, then soak in paste. These will come off fairly easy. This old theater technique was the main method when Theater flats were "soft". Soft flats were frames stretched with muslin or canvas like a painting. They are still used for faux ceilings during photography because they can easily rest on top of walls, slide around to accomodate lighting. School's Out!!

Allen H
07-20-2011, 06:05 PM
Awesome, a dutchman it is. I have no theater back ground so thats new to me- Awesome guys thanks!

Jim Warfield
07-22-2011, 12:42 AM
Leave your joints at home. Or in somebody else's car to get Them in trouble!
I got So sick of teenagers and others saying they thought I was using some kind of dope just because they see my different and creative ideas fleshed out in my house...and... ? They feel threatened? Insecure? Inadequate?
I fill seams with Elmer's Wood Putty. It dries quick and hard (not cheap) but it holds up well even under quite a bit of abuse.

Greg Chrise
07-22-2011, 10:56 PM
Put the walls side ways and a chair rub molding at the seam. Top half a plaster look or wall paper, bottom half a wood look? Or some such design.

Then lighting on the walls that look the most full as a set dressing and not so much on the walls that are seamed every 4 foot.

This becomes a jedi mind trick of the customer only remembers the detail of the full lighted pretty panel and dismisses the ratty miss aligned in between segments. As long as there isn't light bleeding in from the next scene it doesn't matter. If there is it is time for black duct tape on the non show side.
It really doesn't matter if the walls are seen on the back either on occasion where the framing lumber is visible as long as it is painted. Black or dark grey is nice.

Color where there is a detail scene, non color where there is a function like go from here to there. Even this is a brain stage of expectation/rest/anticiation/experience quicly and vividly. lather rinse repeat.

There is just a limitation to detailing and then being able to reuse things in different places later with out lots more work. The customers will enjoy anything you give them. If there is enough happening they get tunnel vision anyhow. Unless they are directly facing a wall they see they just walked into the room and behold, they don't see it or register it as something to judge. Unless it is all just a plywood collection. You can see that at Home Depot for free.

07-25-2011, 10:14 PM
The best thing we have found to use is silicone. It works great to fill screw heads and fills cracks and seams between walls. If the silicone doesnt meet your desired look when a particular seam doesnt fit quite right just add a little more detailing and distressing to the seam to make it disappear.
Silicone is also a great way to blend the edges of plywood to 2x4 at a corner. Just run a bead down the side and the 3 ply look disappears. Add some distressing paint and it does wonders. It works for us any way and the silicone will split easily when it is time to tear down.

07-25-2011, 10:35 PM
Fantastic Idea Chris!


Scenic Art Productions
08-01-2011, 10:28 PM
I am thrilled to hear that someone is as picky to details as I am. I have been building Theatrical props & sets, themed environments, and signage for many years. I have used the tape method, but not just any tape.
Duct Tape is strong but too strong and has a tendency to pull apart your set when it is time to strike the set. It also leaves a glue residue on your set. The paint does not cover the duct tape well unless you paint a few extra coats over it. Masking tape is not strong enough I would never even try it myself. You can use drywall tape but that does not work unless you are using drywall mud to close the gap. That is also too much work and mess. I use gaffers tape. This is used on film and video sets by the grips and gaffers. It is strong but will come of easy. The paint covers it well also. You will need to find a store that caters to the theatrical lighting industry to buy it and it is expensive but worth it if you are picky as I am.
I hope this is helpfull and that I am not too late responding to this. Please let me know if this works.

Happy Building,
Robert Travis
Scenic Art Productions