Planning Model Train Layouts

Whether you are a novice or a veteran, the thrill of creating a new model train layout is unlike any other. From the beginning planning stages to the very last placement of a shrub, the attention to detail must be high, but it is worth the hard work and energy put in.

Before you get right in to creating your latest masterpiece, some work needs to be done in advance to make sure you minimize mistakes that would otherwise cost you a lot of time and money.


The simplest way to start is to decide what sort of layout you are hoping to build. This can help you determine how your track should be arranged, what type of model railroad building kits you need to purchase, and other scenery supplies. Some questions you can ask yourself during this time are:

  • Where am I building this layout?
  • How big should the layout be?
  • What type of scenery do I want?
  • Where do I want the scenery to be?
  • Will this layout be temporary or permanent?
  • Where will the electrical wiring go?

Planning ahead and asking questions like these can help you see what the strengths and weaknesses of your vision are, and how you can fix those weaknesses. It also helps you determine what sorts of parts and items you need to purchase. Some of the best places to look for these parts are in person or purchasing model train supplies online.


Once you have figured out the basics of your layout, you can start to design. The best model train layouts start with a rough draft and are redrawn and reformed multiple times to eventually evolve into a flawless plan.

During this stage, put your final plan on grid paper and make sure every measurement is perfect and to scale. Before you start building, it’s smart to create a life-size, 2-D version of your track and scenery with paper. This will help you to see whether or not:

  • It fits the area you are creating your layout on.
  • It has room for all the buildings and scenery you want.
  • All areas of your layout can be easily and comfortably reached so that you can easily repair or fix elements of your layout in the future.

Have Fun!

Once you know that your plan and design is solid and realistic, it’s time to build! Although it takes a lot of work, planning and designing in great detail beforehand will ensure you have an enjoyable experience and makes building model train layouts much easier.

As you plan your model train layouts, buy your model railroad building kits and model train supplies online from TrainLife!

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