The Best Model Building Supplies for Your Train’s Buildings

September 13, 2021

The Best Model Building Supplies for Your Train’s Buildings

Hobbyists have been constructing model train scenes for decades. Any hobbyist knows the best scenes have buildings around the track to imitate towns and cities – early hobbyists often built these buildings from scratch. Many still do. Today, there are plenty of kits available for purchase that make the process a little easier.

These building kits typically include the materials, instructions, and tools you need to build your model train buildings. In case your kit is missing something, or you choose to build from scratch, we have compiled a list of the model train supplies you will need to bring your model train scene to life. 



Styrene sheets are made of a thermoplastic material that’s non-toxic and odorless. People generally use this material to build displays and make signs. The sturdiness of styrene should make it the central element on your model building supplies list; you’ll primarily be using the material for the buildings’ walls and main structures. To provide your buildings with a sturdy base and lightweight structure, you will cut the walls out of styrene sheets.


Metal Straightedge, a Pencil, and a Hobby Knife

To make precise cuts in your styrene sheets, you will need a metal straightedge and a pencil. Use a ruler if you would like to measure the dimensions precisely. Draft up the sides of each of your structure’s walls and make cuts in the styrene with your X-Acto knife. Make sure to draw windows and door frames where you want them!



Once you have your walls cut out, you can set them up. To keep them together, you will want to use a heavy-duty adhesive. Many hobbyists find hot glue guns to be useful. Gorilla glue is an equally effective room-temperature option.


Embossed Vinyl

The simple white color of styrene is not always the aesthetic that hobbyists are after. Consider cutting pieces of embossed vinyl to decorate the walls of your buildings. You can cut out a square to match the size of the wall and use a hobby knife to go back and cut out the windows.

A model train prepares to leave the station while model conductors accompany it



When it comes to miniature windows, acetate makes the perfect substitute for glass. Less fragile than glass, acetate will withstand the typical wear and tear that your buildings experience. Acetate is not as transparent as glass, but it is perfect for your small buildings.


Cardstock or Mat Board

To top off your building, you will need a roof. You could use styrene sheets for this, too, but we recommend something even lighter. Cardstock or mat boards tend to do the trick. Cardstock is a thick and sturdy paper; its lightweight nature makes it perfect for resting on your building’s styrene walls.


Vinyl or Plastic Sheeting

Decorate the roofs of your buildings with vinyl or plastic sheeting. These options can provide different looks, so decide which is best for each of your buildings. You could even create your shingles from scratch by cutting pieces of gummed paper – it merely depends on how far you’re willing to take your craftsmanship.



Not satisfied with the colors of the materials used so far? Make your buildings pop by coloring them with paint. Use spray paint to paint entire buildings one color or paint walls separately before adding roofs of a different color. Grabbing acrylic paint and a paintbrush gives you the ability to add details you otherwise would not get.


What Are You Waiting for?

Now that you know how to build model train buildings, get out there and do it! Whether you plan to build your structures from scratch or follow a kit, our team at TrainLife is here to support you. We have all the model train supplies you need to construct sturdy buildings. Start building your dream model train city today!

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