Waterfall Construction for the Beginner

On this webpage I'll be going over the techniques and decisions I made
to make this waterfall for the beginner.  The steps I took are very similar to all of the other waterfall construction projects on this site.

  The difference being that I made
it a lot faster with not as much attention to detail than the other
projects.  Be sure to check out the video below which has a full voice
over describing all of the steps I took to complete this indoor

This tabletop waterfall can be made for a living creature, but be sure to do your research on whether your pet would appreciate having water
in it's cage or not.  A water dragon and several other lizards and
toads etc. would be able to deal with having water in their cage, but
other critters (such as a bearded dragon) could suffer because of it.
So, you might error on the side of caution and just make the waterfall
for yourself!

For inspiration I usually go to a website like morguefile to find
pictures of waterfalls or whatever you might need a picture of.  They
allow you to alter the photo or do as I do and just get ideas from the

For the design, I try and measure out how big and tall I want the
indoor waterfall to be.  I also do a basic drawing of the design before
proceeding to the waterfall construction.

Once I have a design in mind I'll start cutting up pieces of
polystyrene that I get at a hardware store and build up the structure
of the main pond.  Check out the materials list video on the FAQ page
for a detailed list of what you'll need for this waterfall

For a couple of years now I've been using some hotwires from the Hot wire foam factory to do a lot of the cutting of the foam.  I still use a knife in tandem with the hotwires as there are benefits to using both.

I use foam because it's easy to build up mass or size using foam without the unwanted weight that I would add to the structure if I used wood or some other material. After the foam design was completed I proceeded to cover the project in Foam coat -again from the Hot wire foam factory. This substance is very similar to non-sanded grout, but is specifically designed to be applied to eps polystyrene. I applied one layer, but if you are making this for a pet, I would apply more layers to strengthen the piece. Once the basic structure was covered with foam coat I did a test to see if there were any problems with the waterfall. I do this because if there are, I can fix the issue(s) before I apply the paint job. This can save you a lot of time and frustration. So, for that test I applied a water resistant sealant to all of the areas that would have water on them all the time. I determined that there were no structural problems -so I proceeded to the paint job. Be sure and watch the video above on how to build a waterfall for the beginner, as it goes into much more detail.

The painting stage is the most fun part of this process.  I use a
dollar store water bottle and mix in water and a little dark grey
paint. I'll spray this all over the structure to give it a nice dark
look, -and I do this so that it's easier to apply lighter colors to it
and have those colors show up better.  After the base coat of paint is
dry I'll do a series of dry brush treatments over the areas that I'm
trying to make look like rock.  The video above on this waterfall
construction does a much better job in showing this process of using a
dry brush. 

After the rock is painted -I painted the indication of some green
growth around the landscape which really separates the rock formations
from each other.  I followed that with painting in some cracks in the
rock just to add some detail.After the painting stage I sealed it with a non-toxic sealer that is water resistant.  You'll want to put at least four layers on if you're making this for a living creature.

If you're making this just as an
indoor waterfall, then two good layers should do.  I let that dry for about 72 hours and then applied one layer of aquarium grade silicone sealant.  I let that air out -outside for around a week before I brought it back indoors.  I also created a sand barrier between the two
pieces I made that fit together (so that they wouldn't stick together) because of the tacky surface most sealants leave behind. 

So, take these waterfall construction ideas and build yourself an indoor waterfall that even the beginner can do!