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Buy or build

zachburnav

Hatchling Member
I'm debating whether I should buy a Zenhabitats enclosure, or build one on my own. I have a lot of tools so I think I can save some money if I build it.

I'm not sure which is better - a PVC sheet/panel or plywood. If I choose the plywood I would like to seal it with polyurethane or paint. Can I have some guidance as to where (and what kind) I can get some safe paints and sealants for beardies?

I would definitely go for the PVC, but if my beardie's poop gets on a wall (trust me - it'll happen, he's messy :lol: ) can it stain the wall if I can't clean it up right away? I'll have a non-adhesive shelf liner or something alike as the substrate, so I'm not worried about the floor staining.

And finally, Plexiglass or tempered? I found a really good deal for Plexiglass on Amazon, but then I found a really good reason not to buy it - scratches and clouding. Is there any way to prevent the Plexiglass scratches? My beardie glass surfs after he poops for a few minutes, so the claws will come in contact with the glass. And if I do go with tempered, where can I get some without spending a fortune? I found a pretty good deal but it has rounded corners and what not. I will go with it if I don't find a better option tho.

Thanks!
 

CooperDragon

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
If you have the ability and capacity, I recommend building your own. You can make the enclosure larger to get around shipping restraints. The Zen Habitats are very nice and well built, but you can probably put together something even better. Build as big as you have room for. I'd use a good quality plywood and seal it with a coat or to of polyurethane. Once that sets, it should provide a nice waterproof seal that is easy to clean up. As far as the glass goes, I'd use glass rather than plexiglass for the reasons you mentioned. The cost increase is probably worth it in the long run.
 

zachburnav

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
As of now I'm probably only gonna do a 4x2x2. My room isn't huge and I live with my parents. I will definently go for something bigger and maybe even bioactive when I move out. Is there any specific polyurethane you recommend? Or does it not matter that much as long as it completely sets?
 

CooperDragon

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
I don't think the brand really makes much difference. Just give it time to set and once it doesn't smell anymore it should be ready to go.
 
I have a Zen Habitat in the OG bamboo I picked up fairly cheap secondhand in pretty much new condition. $150 for the enclosure, handmade wooden stand, Reptisun t5HO UVB reflector hood, a basking fixure, and a couple of hides. I would readily pay THAT price again, but the asking price of $300something? No way. This isn't a case of getting what you pay for, it's a case of overpaying for what you get-- a lightweight (awesome!!) 4x2x2 reptile enclosure with thin/flimsy feeling "bamboo" panels that aren't waterproof, acrylic doors that scratch if you look at them sideways, and a "cat proof" screen top (also awesome). I considered selling mine and replacing it with a personal build, but then figured "hey, I'm pretty lazy, I'm already doing a build for the rescue dragon, I got this thing for a damn good price, and, most importantly, it's already here and in use." So I'm keeping it, but with plans to waterproof the interior.

You'd save money and produce a much sturdier and nicer enclosure building it yourself, if you have any woodworking experience whatsoever or someone with experience to help you. Time is also a factor, ofc--do you have enough spare time to devote to building a whole reptile enclosure? Do you have a well ventilated space, away from the reptile, to work on the project? What about tools--you'll need a drill, for sure. A power saw of some sort unless you get the panels pre-cut, probably a sander to make things easier (I'm using my oscillating multi-tool to multi-task lol), maybe a hammer. Do you know how and have the capability to cut glass (acrylic sucks, seriously) if you buy secondhand glass panels or even buy new from a hardware store that, for whatever reason won't cut for you? Do you know how to install sliding glass doors or can you learn quickly? If you want doors that pull open, do you have access to a router or a rotary tool with a router attachment? How fast do you need it done and in use? Curing times can take awhile, sometimes weeks--can you wait that long?
 
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