While every shop has a different hourly overhead figure, our rule of thumb is to double the price of the rock (be sure to include shipping) and add your hourly shop rate to cover your time and materials. Don't apologize for charging a fair price for your habitats. Habitats can make or break a taxidermy piece. We've never had a customer decline excellent habitat details on their mounts once they know what is possible - in fact they will come to expect it.

Don't know your hourly shop overhead figure? This is your wake up call! Time to determine what that amount is so you can get paid appropriately for your work!!
We use a product called Pur Black Foam for filling cracks and fissures before seaming. Why?

  • It's gray and matches our rock really well. It is less work when you seam to cover gray foam than yellow foam.
  • It "glues" the rock together and adds strength to your piece
  • The excess easily carves away with a paring knife
  • Pur Black comes in a multi-use can that saves time/money over a single use canned foam and one can lasts a long time.
Pur Black is available online from a variety of vendors. You'll need a spray foam gun to go with the multi use can. Buy a good one, you won't regret the purchase.

You don't have to use Pur Black Foam if you don't have it. Any spray foam will do. For other options - please see our Best Results tip page.
We like to use Krylon's River Rock spray paint. It is almost the same color as our rock. We buy it at Ace Hardware and Michaels. However, it isn't always readily available and we have found that any flat gray primer spray paint works very well - don't hesitate to use it. We've used a coat of flat latex house paints to seal seams - it also works well. In a pinch, you can brush on a 50/50 mixture of poly-acrylic on your seams.
We get this question a lot. The truth is that you can use almost any combination of color and we always recommend looking at reference photos of the type of rock you are recreating. That said, we have some basic recommendations for colors. First, start with a dark brown, gray and a black as your base color. Before you buy a can of black paint at the store, have the clerk dip a paint stick in it to make sure it's a true black. Some blacks have a blue tint and while we say any color works on our rocks - blue really doesn't work. After base colors, expand your pallet to include greens, brick red, yellow-gold, burnt orange even a purple. Remember, you are diluting your paint with water and rubbing alcohol so the colors are more forgiving. When you look at natural rocks with a critical eye, it is amazing what colors are actually out there in nature. Rocks are rarely a flat gray.

Color is easy to overthink. Dale and his crew have led dozens of seminars and rock building workshops and for many of those classes they've used paints supplied by someone other than Habitat Rock staff - they've been handed all sorts of colors - and regardless, the rock always turns out great. Use the recipe on our Best Results tip page and go for it!
The short answer is "yes" but it is not our preferred method and we may not be able to trouble shoot it if you experience problems. While you can achieve acceptable results by dry brushing tempera paint or acrylic paints, the foolproof method that we use exclusively in our shop is a mixture of flat latex house paint cut with water and rubbing alcohol (see our recipe on the Best Results tip page). Spray the mixture onto your rocks using a squirt (atomizing) bottle. Have several bottles with different colors lined up, let the paint fly and watch the magic happen. Don't wait for the coats of paint to dry in between, let them run together. We recommend and use this method in our shop because it works.

Regarding the spray bottles - you can use any type of bottle. For example, we reuse our rubbing alcohol bottles or pop bottles to save a buck and save the planet. However, we've found that using a chemical resistant spray head on your bottle is important. They don't clog as easily and they last a long time. When we're done painting we take the heads off and soak them in a bucket of water. We order the heads by the bushel from US Plastics and they may be available at your local hardware store too. They're cheap and worth the extra step.