Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
So HDPE stands for High Density Polyethylene. It’s a type of plastic and it’s incredibly handy for float centers. Float On switched to using this any place they previously would’ve used wood in their building materials.
Graham and Ashkahn break down exactly what this miracle product is, where you can buy it, all the different uses it has in a float center, and some special tips and tricks of getting it just the way you need it.
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Graham: The question for today is, “What is HDPE and where the hell do you buy it?”
Graham: Okay. Well, HDPE is high density polyethylene.
Graham: And you buy it at high density polyethylene stores.
Ashkahn: High Density Polyethylene Emporium.
Graham: Yeah. Basically it’s kind of like a plasticky plywood.
Ashkahn: Yeah, just plastic, yeah.
Graham: Almost is what, that’s, plywood, yeah.
Ashkahn: Plasticky plywood, I see what you’re saying there. I’m with you now.
Graham: And we use HDPE in a lot of areas where we would use wood.
Graham: Because wood will get destroyed by all the moisture and salt and things like that. We want something that, of course, is just totally non-porous, and HDPE kind of fits the mold.
Ashkahn: Yeah a few float centers have a few wood things and buy special wood, and they put serious sealant on it and stuff like that. So I think there is a certain thing you can do to make wood work, but it’s easier just to buy plastic. It doesn’t quite look as nice, it looks like plastic.
Graham: I think it looks nice.
Ashkahn: It doesn’t look like a cheap little toy or something like that, it’s got some different finish to it that looks a little more matte or has a little bit of texturing and things like that.
Graham: For example, we kind of end up building these custom pump boxes around some of our pump filtration situations that we have going on. And we’ll end up building those out of HDPE for example, we’ll use HDPE as the platform to set our float tanks on with vibration isolation pads underneath.
Ashkahn: This is like, boats use this material to build their cabinets or parts of their outdoor things like doors, too. Different parts that are actually exposed to water. And basically the reason people like is it’s a plastic material, so it’s not gonna get damaged like wood or corroded like metal. But you can cut it, usually like with just a normal circular saw, like you’d be cutting wood. And you can screw into it like you would wood.
Graham: You can take it out to movies with you.
Ashkahn: Just like you would with a piece of 2x4.
Graham: Build yourself a little stand-up Ashkahn and Graham that you can keep with you at all times. Very flexible.
Ashkahn: You can manipulate it and you can work with it in the same way that you can with wood, but it’s made of plastic, and it’s strong and for a float center it’s water and salt resistant. And-
Graham: So, what were you gonna say?
Ashkahn: I was gonna say there’s certain versions, there’s brand names of HDPE out there that are a little bit more expensive and often it’s because they have some sort of UV resistant material mixed in to the HDPE, because again this is used a lot for boats and things like that.
Graham: SeaBoard, is that what it’s called?
Ashkahn: SeaBoard is one of the brands, I don’t know if there’s other brands, that’s definitely the one we know of.
Graham: Yeah. And they’ll just end up being more expensive. So the more generic HDPE, just because it’s gonna be used in float tank rooms, which are getting no exposure to sunlight at all, barely even exposure to fluorescent lights.
Ashkahn: So, yeah, you’re kind of just looking for generic HDPE boards. They come in all sorts of thicknesses and you can usually ask the company where you’re getting it from to cut it down to certain sizes for you. Because these things can be big, and they can be pretty heavy.
Graham: That gets to the second part of the question, which are what are these stores? Like big contractor plastics stores. Like heavy duty industrial supply, but for plastics, is often where you’ll pick this up.
Ashkahn: Yeah, like the places we found them are, you know, on the outskirts of town in the kind of area where you find all kinds of weird industrial stuff. And it’s just a company that deals in all sorts of different plastics is usually where we find it.
Graham: We were kind of joking at the beginning, but it is kind of a plastic emporium, is where you go to grab these things.
Ashkahn: I think I literally found ours just by Googling HDPE. Or another one is you can look at SeaBoard, and that’ll actually help you find specifically places that sell it, and then you can ask those people if they have generic HDPE as well.
Graham: Very clever.
Ashkahn: That’s actually how I remember finding the place we bought it for. The guy was like, “you don’t really need this SeaBoard stuff, why don’t you just get this other stuff we have, it’s the same thing without this UV stuff.” I was like okay cool, sounds great.
Graham: And for the record, do you remember what the thickness is that we use for the HDPE board when we’re usually getting it for under the tanks?
Ashkahn: For under the tank? I think we go with one inch.
Graham: I think so too, but now I’m thinking .75.
Ashkahn: It’s either .75 or an inch, but I’m leaning towards an inch. But I don’t know, somewhere in that range is probably okay.
Graham: We’ll call this off the record. Somewhere between three quarters and an inch is what we use under the tanks.
Ashkahn: But it’s heavy.
Graham: It’s really heavy.
Ashkahn: Like the nice thing is these come in a, well you can get plywood in bigger pieces than 4x8 as well, but same with HDPE, you can find it in larger pieces so you can actually use like a single piece underneath a float tank, but sometimes we cut them in two just for the ease of getting them into the room and not having it be like a huge gigantic single piece thing.
Graham: Also why it’s totally worth having the supplier actually cut it at their big warehouse, because it’s really hard stuff to move around in a big solid piece.
Ashkahn: The inch thick stuff is like, I mean it’s real heavy to lift the like 9x5 piece of one inch HDPE board. But once you get it there, it’s great. We’ve had it for some years now and like, it’s held up great. I haven’t noticed any damage or anything like that.
Graham: Oh yeah, not a problem with it at all. And little pro HDPE tip here, too. On the kind of sharp corners or edges of the HDPE you can actually sand that down like wood too. So really get rid of any kind of sharpness that you have when you’re putting it into your float rooms. Kind of like cut it at a curved angle and sand down the sharp little edges.
Ashkahn: Yeah, you can do anything. I make my clothes out of it. Protective. When I go clean the float tanks I’m totally covered.
Graham: It’s hard to get through the door, but. Alright. Anything else that you wanted to pass on about HDPE?
Ashkahn: I’ve never really looked into other, I don’t know if there’s like a low density polyethylene that would be like lighter, easy to work with. So I don’t know maybe someone can do more research.
Graham: High density monoethylene.
Ashkahn: This does seem to be a very generic, easy to come across thing. I guess it’s more expensive than wood, too, you should know that.
Graham: Oh, yeah.
Ashkahn: Like a big 4x8 sheet an inch thick was like two hundred something dollars if my memory is serving me correctly, something like that, maybe more?
Graham: It is more expensive, definitely. And we did used to have plywood in our rooms for the base of the tanks and stuff, and eventually we just had to replace it, so. The downside of going with something that isn’t impermeable is its life is ultimately limited.
Ashkahn: Yeah, for under the tank I would not use plywood.
Ashkahn: It’s hard to get under there. We have ours set up to the point where, here’s another little tip for you guys here-
Graham: Just between you and us.
Ashkahn: Check this out. Here’s a little thing we got going on. We take our float tanks, we put them on an HDPE board, and the reason, I guess we should say the reason we’re even putting them on HDPE board in the first place is because we have all of our float tanks sitting on top of vibration isolation pads. We don’t want to connect the vibration isolation pads directly to the float tank unless your manufacturer says it’s okay, but we don’t want to connect them directly to the float tank because they’re just these little things. They’re like three inch by three inch pucks. So we’re worried that the strength of the fiberglass just sitting on those few small points will not be strong enough to have all of its weight distributed just over small-
Graham: Oh I’m convinced, I’m so certain that would cause problems.
Ashkahn: So instead what we do is we connect the three inch pucks, three inch by three inch pucks, to a piece of HDPE and then we set the whole float tank down on top of the HDPE board so then it goes basically float tank sitting on top of HDPE, sitting on top of usually 11 of these three inch by three inch vibration isolation pads. Kind of spread out in a pattern.
Graham: I just realized the acronym for that is VIPs by the way. Go on.
Ashkahn: The HDPE sitting on these VIPs, and the benefit of that, if you use HDPE and if you specifically use kind of water resistant anti mold mildew vibration isolation pads. Which, usually, most people use ones made by Diversitech. They use like EVA kind of material. The benefit at that point it that everything’s waterproof. And you can actually spray underneath your float tank.
Graham: Which is awesome.
Ashkahn: So instead of being worried about wood as salt just starts to get under there in these hard to reach places, or for whatever reason, you have something, a leak coming out of your filtration system and salt’s now underneath your float tank. When you have a system fully set up like this you can literally just take a sprayer or a hose or whatever and just spray underneath the float tank. If your slopes are set up well-
Graham: I was gonna say, if room is sloped properly then you have a drain possibly under there-
Ashkahn: Yeah, boom.
Graham: And a filtration that it’s running to.
Ashkahn: Now you’re talking. All that water just comes right back down, goes down a drain, that’s it. You’re living the good life. You can go sit back on your HDPE lounge chair and pull a martini out of your HDPE martini cup, and you know.
Graham: Pour some liquid HDPE in there and just go to town.
Ashkahn: Hang out. Relax. Its over. You’re done. Float tank takes care of itself at that point. So anyway I think that answers this question.
Graham: Yeah, if you have any more questions about fancy acronyms send them in to fts.com, that’s not it, it’s floattanksolutions.com/podcast
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