I am wanting to waterproof a wooden chameleon vivarium i have to cope with the misting system I am thinking of settin up. Anyone got any ideas what to use, that will permantly waterproof the viv to protect the wood.
B&Q own brand water based floor varnish (use the satin finish one) is the perfect stuff. It dries fairly quickly and has low fumes, so it won't need airing as long as traditional varnish. I've used it on all my home built wooden vivs and never had any problems
Is it definitely melamine coated? You can get some chipboard that has a wood veneer instead of melamine.
Also, could the viv be made out of board that has come from furniture? Some of the flat-pack furniture you get has an almost paper-like coating to it - nothing like melamine.
I've used melamine coated chipboard (under the brand name "Contiboard") for viv building for 7 years+ and not had even the slightest bit of water damage to the coating, including vivs that have been sprayed regularly to keep humidity 80%+.
Must admit though I've never kept it continuously wet as it might be with a misting system.
If yours is affected by water it'd be fine to varnish it but give it a good going over with some fine sandpaper to provide a key for the varnish - it'll help to stop it flaking. You may still get some flaking in areas where the board gets hot (near lamps,etc) - you could shield these areas with something, sections of perspex attached with silicone maybe.
Another option could be to coat the surfaces with fablon - self-adhesive vinyl sheet basically. But it can be difficult to get a good even finish, so a few coats with a decent varnish would look better I reckon. Remember to run the viv with the heat on for a while (couple of days at least) before adding the occupant to make sure theres no fumes.