There are many types of foam used by modelers in constructing model railroad scenery, layouts and baseboards. 

  • Extruded polystyrene is pink if Corning or blue if Dow. 
  • Expanded polystyrene a white foam board made up of small beads.
  • Spray Polyurethane is available in disposable spray cans and as two part liquid.
  • Foam rubber can be used for foam rocks or scenicing materials.

When selecting a material for building, the modeler should give careful consideration to the flamability of the product.  Fire safety is a common sense consideration because the most modeling is done at home.  It can also be a legal requirement where the modules or layouts are shown in or to the public where it is subject to inspection and regulation by a fire marshall.

 ScaleTree.com has an excellent webpage titled, “Foam Flamability Testing“.  ScaleTrees tested the flamability of white, pink and blue foams.  The test methods and results should be required reading for anyone considering the use of foam in a model railroad.  Expanded polystyrene or white beaded foam did not do well in the ScaleTree tests.

Additionally, the intended purpose of the foam product should give some guidance as to its use.  Two foam sheets that look similar may behave completely differently around flammability properties.  For example, pink or blue foam used in house construction will generally be fire resistantant.  White beaded foam used for packing material may be highly flamable.

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