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Could anyone provide advice on what would be an effective way of building something similar to the staggered block matrices as shown in the two photos below:

Example 1

Example 2

Regarding materials, solid wood would surely be too heavy and expensive. MDF would likely also be too heavy?

Another alternative could be a foam-based product, but I would be concerned about longevity. It could begin to wear and look shabby over time.

To achieve a glossy finish, would a vinyl or some sort be better than paint?

  • Not convinced this is a Home Improvement question... I'd suggest foamcore board over some sort of framework, For minimum weight with some rigidity at tolerable price, but I'm sure there are other solutions. – keshlam Sep 4 '15 at 12:42
  • This looks like a borderline woodworking/hobby project. I don't think it's far enough to be off topic, but also not a good example of an on topic question. – BMitch Sep 8 '15 at 13:07
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I'm not sure how the originals did this, but as a DIY project, I'd get a large flat mounting surface like a finished grade sheet of plywood to handle the weight. Attach the plywood to the studs. For the blocks, I'd use something like MDF. The flat ones would just be a sheet or two of MDF. The larger boxes would be hollow with 4 sides cut of MDF and a cap on the face. For an even better finished look, you can build the boxes in advance, sand down any rough corners, before placing them on the wall.

To assemble it, I'd lay out a grid with chalk lines or a good straight edge and build from the bottom up based on the grid. Use finish nails to hold pieces in place while the glue dries. Use spackle or wood filler for the nail and screw holes. Caulk the corners. Then finally paint, likely with a spray gun for the primer and base color, followed by a lot of careful brush work for the accent colors.

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Larger issue with foam products is that it's a huge fire hazard.

Likely hollow wooden (thin plywood and wooden batten) construction. Masonite® (tempered hardboard) would be another suitable sheet material.

Could be done in drywall if you were a masochist.

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  • Masochist for sure... you activated my tic by merely suggesting it. – Jimmy Fix-it Sep 6 '15 at 0:48

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