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Priming and Painting

Unfortunately my idiot contractor human forgot to take pictures of this stage. But all exposed surfaces of the wall sections were painted with one layer of thick, moisture and mildew resistant, primer, followed by 2 coats of thick, moisture and mildew resistant un-tinted white paint. The windows had to be masked off with tape so the window frames and trim could be painted. Painting was hampered by bad weather and some was done in a garage, and the front and rear walls are BIG, so this was pretty tedious. Don't forgot to paint all the screen trim and exterior trim you'll need for final assembly.


I'll spare you the details of transporting the 6 completed and painted wall sections from where they were built, to my apartment other than to note:

  1. You need a truck that can transport the 6'7" x 8" front and rear walls. We used a shortbed F150 pickup with a truckbox taking up some bed space and it was a bit touch and go, since the load shifted on the way to the apartment.
  2. Move the front wall with the door and windows NOT installed as it will be lighter and you won't risk breaking the expensive tempered glass windows.
  3. You'll need at least 2 people to move the wall sections. They're not super heavy, but they are bulky and hard to handle.
  4. Use blankets to wrap the painted wall sections for the trip.
  5. Use ropes to tie down, and use heavy cardboard padding between the rope and the wall sections to avoid damage to the paint finish.


Once the parts are located at the destination they go together pretty quickly using 4" lag bolts in countersunk, pilot-drilled holes. We used an inexpensive angle drilling fixture purchased from the hardware store to ensure that each countersunk hole was vertical and of the same depth. You need to countersink the holes so the exterior trim will fit over the bolt holes. Exterior trim is what is known (for reasons only humans could guess..) as Ranger Board. This is pre-primed, ready for painting MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). It's heavy and hard to nail into so you need to really hammer on it, or use a correctly sized pilot hole. Here's a picture of a lag bolt in the countersunk hole, they are spaced every 18" or so on the backs (the Hatfield book says how many to use per side, you just need to do the math to spread them out at even distances):

And here's a shot from the inside before the shelf and windows went in. Window openings are on the right. The shelf will partially rest on the fanbox supports, so the supports are screwed well into the interior framing in the wall around the vent opening.



There are 2 basking shelfs in my Pad. The large top shelf is L shaped and runs nearly the full length of the enclosure, about 7 feet long and 13 inches wide approximately, with a 2" tall guard rail on the front and short arm of the L. Both ends of the L are left without the guard rail. I had some leftover 5/8" and 3/4" plywood from making the floor and ceiling so those were used for the shelf, making it quite heavy. A cross section of the shelf is sort of Z shaped (with right angles of course, not squashed flat like a real Z), with the front guardrail being one end, and on the opposite end/side, a 3" section of plywood going down. Stainless steel butterfly expanding bolts are used to hold the shelf to the back wall. This was a bit touch and go as the walls in the area where the shelf attaches are just 1/8" plywood, with no bracing. I used about 5 bolts with washers though and it seems to be holding up. much of the weight is born by the edge of the shelf resting on the fanbox supports (which are screwed into wall braces), and by a piece of closet rod that rests in round plastic closet rod holders top and bottum, about 12" out from the wall. The closet rod is also primed and painted, and some plastic plants hang around it for decoration. The end result of all this work is I have space under the main shelf to hang yet more shelves. Right now I have a 2 gallon ultrasonic Kenmore Whisperflow humidifier on one shelf, and by the use of tie wraps and bird-ladders from Petco I have basking space under the shelves as well. (Note: see my notes on Equipment about this humidifer before buying one.) Small eyebolts hold painted wire closet shelves from the hardware store securely. It's very important to be SURE the shelves are secure, lest they drop down and hurt your green buddie as he's relaxing on them.

Photo showing closet rod secured to floor. Note the Taylor Wireless Thermo/Humid-istat (there are 3 in the habitat), and the 1 piece vinyl flooring, and caulked edges where th walls meet.

Photo showing left as you look in door with closet rod upper end, suspended shelves & ladders, and large shelf secured to back wall via stainless butterfly bolts.

Photo showing right as you look in door with suspended shelf with ultrasonic humidifer, and 3 piece basking/climbing log made from cleaned grapevine roots (held together with plastic zip ties).

The 2nd shelf is a pre-fabricated wire model purchased at the hardware store. It's designed to go into sheetrock walls, but seems to work ok on my 1/8" plywood walls. Installation was a snap and is good so far holding the weight of a juvenile iguana and an 18" tall heavy plastic Tiki. See more about the inside of my pad!


All information on this site is © Robert Allen, All Rights Reserved, unless otherwise noted. Information here may be used freely as long as it materially benefits Iguanas and credit is given to this site and to the habitat design work of James W. Hatfield III, author of "Green Iguana, The Ultimate Owners Manual"..

Last changed on: August 15, 2004