Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Model Train Buildings and Special Technique for Constructing Roads..!

Model Train Buildings

Choosing between easy to construct print out buildings versus preassembled buildings, which usually require painting and weathering to look just right is a critical decision. The real question is do you have money to waste if preassembled buildings don’t fit your layout…? Or can you afford the time to purchase ultra realistic print out model train buildings that allow for massive customization… and can be printed with weathering patterns… at 1/4 the cost?

Why buildings are extremely important to your model train layout?

You can buy almost everything for a model railroad but there’s one essential element that can’t be bought or sold and that’s your imagination! Adding scenery and buildings is one of the most important parts of a model railroad and truly puts your own personal stamp of creativity on the layout. There’s nothing better than sharing your miniature world with friends and family and taking pride in the buildings you’ve constructed.

Step 1

Position buildings around your model train layout

Try ensure your buildings are located in areas that make the building as functional as possible. For example. on this model train track, there is two switches back to back, which make’s it an ideal junction to place your switching station building.

Switch Tower Building

Switch Tower Building

Step 2

Mark your buildings foot prints with a pencil

Foam: Always cover foam with a glaze to seal it and help preserve it. Make sure whichever substance that’s used to seal it does not react negatively with the foam!

Use a pencil to mark all locations where foam will removed plus outline roads leading to buildings.

Things to remember:

  • To ensure that the model train buildings stick to surface of the layout, you must remove the foam.
  • Use spray bottle to wet down the surface you’ve outlined for the model train building space and roads.
  • Let the water sit for a few minutes to dampen the foam and then prepare to scrap the foam off

After the area is soaked, use the knife to firmly start removing the foam to install the buildings and make roadways.

Ground Foam Removal

Ground Foam Removal

Use a yellow or white marker to draw the lines

Paint the Road Lines

Paint the Road Lines

Removing all of the turf on the outlined surface

Foam Removed for Buildings & Roads

Foam Removed for Buildings & Roads

Step 3

Paint and Glue the Model Train Buildings

Items Needed:

  • Acrylic grey point
  • Plain old artist paint brush

Fully remove the foam from the outlined roadway

Ground Foam Removed

Ground Foam Removed

You can either leave certain sections dark, to mimic dirt and pain other sections

Painting Road

Paint the Road

Now you must make a decision on buying print out buildings or a pre-assembled.

Completed Model Train Building

Completed Model Train Building

Why Choose a Print Out Building?

  • The Low Cost Way To Quickly & Easily Make Your Own “Amazingly Realistic” Model Buildings
  • By using discarded cereal boxes, your print model train building can be more more sturdy than a pre-assembled kit
  • Also using a bit of super glue and cereal boxes combined along with the right print out can revitalize your layout and turn it into a well designed model train layout

  • Realistic scenery brings a railroad to life

    Scenery is what ultimately distinguishes a model railroad from a toy train set. Scenery is about the setting and telling a story about the trains and the landscape they travel through.
  • Weathering like on a real railroad

    The areas around real prototype railroads can be particularly dirty as a result of diesel or stream trains passing by. If you place a group of shiny new rolling stock and new-looking structures on your layout, you’ll never escape the toy like appearance of the miniatures.
  • Making your railroad your own

    The end result is in your hands, because ultimately you are creating YOUR RAILROAD. For that reason it should to be a layout you will enjoy constructing and operating


Some people call them cardstock kits, others call them laser cut kits, but we just use the words model railroad buildings to describe these printable paper models. Basically you download the plans or templates in PDF forma to your computer and then print them out and glue them onto some cardstock or cardboard (you can use the card from a cereal pack). The plans are then ready for assembly.

You can save the PDF file to a disk or removable USB stick if you choose. That way, at a later date, you can print out more copies of the same plan if you want to. This doesn’t breach copyright rules as long as you don’t sell or give away the plans to someone else. That would be a clear legal breach.

These structures will look great when positioned on a layout with track, trains, scenery, people, bridges, tunnels, and a backdrop helping to bring the scene to life.

Next, all you need is simple tools to get started:

  • Steel ruler
  • A small right-angled square
  • Craft knife (replace the blade regularly as a sharp blade gives a cleaner cut)
  • Glue stick (perfect for adhering paper to card)
  • Clear all purpose glue (solvent free)
  • Super glue or CA (perfect for the little fiddly bits)
  • Felt tip pens (for touching up the edges and corners)
  • Fine sand paper (for smoothing any rough edges)
  • Artist’s matt spray
  • Damp cloth (To wipe the glue off your fingers)

The most important part to creating realistic buildings that fit your layout is by planning what type of buildings to construct ahead of time. To avoid endless frustration due to buildings not fitting, not sticking to the surface or just looking out of place, getting the right type of building is crucial. The best feeling in the world as a model railroader is enjoying a fully operation layout with all the bells and whistles and truly realistic buildings.

To master model train buildings will take countless hours trying to figure out the exact process for each building so it looks realistic.

If you have access to the bullet points above you are ensured that one of the most vital parts of your model train layout is covered.

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