Producer of Benchwork Kits, T-TRAK Modules, NTRAK Modules, and Train Tables
What is the Best Surface for a Model Train Layout?
Plywood and Foam Board are two of the most popular surface materials for a Model Train Layout. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, however. Read on below to learn more about each one.
Plywood is one of the most popular choices, primarily due to its availability and relatively low cost. It offers excellent strength and a firm material for anchoring track nails or for mounting under table switch machines. Plywood has been in use for many years and was first popularized back in the 60’s and 70’s as building products became more readily available to more people.
The disadvantage to plywood is its weight, with a typical 1/2″ 4′ x 8′ sheet weighing about 40 pounds. It also requires a power saw to cut, usually a circular saw or jig saw, and a power drill for drilling holes for wiring. A plywood top also does not offer the opportunity for below track scenic elements unless you are using the cookie cutter method and risers to support your sub-roadbed.
Foam board, or more specifically Extruded Polystyrene foam, is a high-density foam board product that offers good strength and light weight as compared to plywood. Prices are about 1/3 more for a typical one inch thick, 4′ x 8′ sheet when compared to plywood though.
The supporting benchwork also needs to be more tightly spaced to prevent sagging, or 2″ thick foam can be used at roughly double the cost of 1″ foam. One advantage of using foam, aside from its significant weight savings versus plywood, is that you can easily carve scenic features below track level using simple tools such as a keyhole saw or snap cutter.
Another advantage is that it is also easily cut with a utility knife, a snap cutter for thicker foam, or even an old steak knife. Ultimately the choice is yours over weight savings and more scenic choices at more expensive price.
At the Model Railroad Benchwork Store, we provide benchwork and complete table kits that are both light weight and strong enough to support either style of top. We know that not everyone has the ability or tools to build their own Model Railroad benchwork, and that is why we offer our products at such an incredibly low price.
We also build our T-TRAK Kits and Fully Assembled versions for either style top. Visit our online store today to compare our products and pricing with other manufacturers and you will see the difference. We are confident you won’t find a better value anywhere else than what you will find at The Model Railroad Benchwork Store.