DIY Wargame Caulk Battlemat

In the last year I’ve had a few games of Black Powder,  having dusted off some 20 year old 15mm Napoleonic’s, and painted up a few new ones. Though the game is great, its always much more satisfying if the terrain you are playing on looks good.

Initially I had purchased from ebay a cheap, old piece of grass matting. It was an odd shape and needed to be taped together to cover the whole table. The real downside was it shed grass everywhere. Playing a game is one thing, clearing away is boring but having to vacuum upafterward is very dull.

A search of the internet turned up DIY Caulk Battlemats. You can make them to the size you need, the weight of them helps them lay flat, caulking is pretty sticky stuff so the grass won’t shed, and you can texture it how you like. It looked like I’d be saving £££ by making one, nice mats are pricey.

There are a number of DIY tutorials the most useful being this on youtube, and the article in WS&S 69. There are plenty of articles and forum posts you can dig up with a bit of googling.

Supplies Materials
• Cloth  – I repurposed a piece of cloth I’d been using as a dust sheet.
• Caulk – I already had three tube tubes of white caulking, I went a bought some brown frame sealant from Screwfix. I then went and bought even more brown, in the end I used six brown tubes of sealant.
• Grass Flock – I initially purchased three small tubs of Army painter grass (Field Grass and Steppe Grass), then had to buy three more. I then gave up with small pots and bought two big tubs of woodland scenics. Basially I spent a lot of money on flock grass!
• Tools – Clamps, spreader, plant water bottle spray
• PVA Glue

 

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Coat of brown sealant covering base layer of white.

Construction
• Clamp the cloth to a table, the biggest table you can find. I wanted to make a mat bigger than the table so I decided to do it in sections.
• Smear a base layer of caulk. For this I used up the tubes of white caulk that I had, white is cheaper than brown so its a small cost saving. The caulk dries pretty quick so you can easily do it in section.
• Once that is dry I put a layer of brown sealant over to cover the white.

 

At this point I ran out of time on the kitchen table! I rolled up the now dry mat and decamped to the shed. As my area in the shed to work on was 200cm x 50cm (the tool chest) I was forced to work in section. I would work on a bit, once dry roll that up and work on a new piece.

• A third layer of caulking was applied. Whilst still damp scatter in and squash the flock grass. I used two difference colours of green. I found a main dark green base looked good with light flock lightly scattered over the top. I also scattered in some sand for texture.

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Working on only a small section at a time.

I used lots of flock expecting it all to stick.

It took a few nights of caulk, grass, wait for it to dry, roll it up and move on to the next section. Once finished I dusted it all off, collecting up the loose flock.

Lots of the flock came off, it was much more patchy than I expected and I was disappointed. It needed more grass, but how was I going to attach this without it all falling off? I was determined to have a mat I didn’t have to vacuum the floor after every use.

More patches than I really wanted.

More googling provided me with the idea of watered down PVA glue being sprayed from a hand pump plant sprayer, and applying extra flock.

Once more I did it in section, a little every night.

• Spray watered down PVA liberally, scatter flock. The apply another misting of watered down PVA.

Once you’ve finished, do it again. Keep layering it up until you have a covering of flock that you are happy with. The mist coat of PVA helps seal the flock so it doesn’t come off.

The whole process took a couple of weeks, but I now have a mat I am pretty happy with. But its did cost me more that expected!