Pink Foam board vs. Homasote

Hey Forum Members:

 Just doing my morning mental layout planning and I was wondering "When setting up your layout, after the table is laid out and your plywood top is in place, which material is gonna last longer over time. The 2" Pink Foam or the Homasote Board.  I was wondering because after the track is laid and scenery, buildings, bridges etc and everything else, how long will these boards hold up.  Is there a life expectancy of a couple of years and eventually deterioration or which one will stand up strong the longest ?? Questions, Questions


TCA 15-71035





Original Post
Originally Posted by Fec fan:

Both Homasote and foam board are building materiel. Thus, they will last for a very long time. Gilly has it right-- homasote for the base under the track, foam for scenery.

I agree!  Both materials will outlast you, and what you use pretty much depends on what you're looking for most...sound reduction or scenery-building potential.  No real need to use both, though, although I guess it won't hurt anything.

You can sub in Sound board for Homasote and save some money, at least up here in New England.

I agree, Foam under the sound material for depth in the layout.

I'm using 3" total depth of Pink Foam sheets for my new layout. Gullys and Gorges are easily that depth in western Colorado. Mountains will be far taller than that.

And nothing is level for very long.

Hi,  Both pink foam and Homasote will last longer than you will have your layout.  Generally, you should homasote anyplace where you will need strength.  This includes under yards and track.  It is common that most layouts have places where you you need to step on them or place weight.  Homasote backed with wood will not bend.  Note that homasote is not self supporting and must be supported by plywood or other material.


 Pink foam, on the other hand, will easily dent when you place a weight on it or try to stand on it.  Don't use pink foam anyplace where you may need place any kind of weight on it.  Pink foam is perfect for mountains and other kinds of scenery bases.  It carves much easier than homasote.




Pink foam from table top to mountain top. Used Midwest Products cork roadbed. No sound eminating on the foam. Cool trick. Set your mobile phone to speaker and set on the foam.
Only concern. The foam will become a blow torch and dissolve in the process if it were ever to catch fire.
Don't smell it while carving...
I used a hot knife working on it in the basement with window open and fan running. Only got dizzy once cause I stood right over the vapors while carving a tunnel portal. Only needed to do that once to learn not to do that again.
I used kilz 2 as a primer on anything pink. A couple coats to get a decent base coat.
Don't forget your blue in color foam adhesive otherwise other glues may make the foam dissolve.
I built it in foam so I could transport by myself from basement to dinning room during holidays.
Best practice would be to have a fire bottle handy. Admit I've been lucky so far.
When I find my pictures I'll post a few.
Joe is correct about dents. I had not given that any thought. First time it happened I was bummed out. Now, I call it "character" as the dents can be made to easily look like uneven snow.
Hi Dennis,
Thank you for dispelling that myth.
I made the leap because I thought I saw pics within the past two years of a forum members foam board layout dissolved from being in a garage fire.
I always hoped the foam would be fire retardent.
Thank you for sharing your information! I'll rest easier knowing the layout won't go up in smoke.

Two myths in the same thread!


One is that pink foam has any sound deadening properties - it doesn't. Well....maybe if you compare a foam topped layout to wide expanses of unbraced 1/4" plywood. But it does nothing for sound when added to properly constructed benchwork.


....and the old pink foam fire hazard myth! Thanks, Dennis, for once again setting the record straight.


And I suppose an implied third myth might be that advice given on this forum (or any internet forum) can be assumed to be good advice. Newcomers to the hobby...please seek out numerous expert sources before committing time and resources based solely on the advice of one or two forum posts by well-meaning but uninformed posters.


That's not aimed at anyone on this thread, but just good advice in general based on some questionable suggestions frequently made throughout the topics on the forum from track to scenery to electrical, etc.


There are many good reference books, magazines, websites, etc. out there that should be consulted as you plan and build your layout. 








I have used a lot of both, but for different applications.


Pink Insulation Foam Board:

• Great for building scenery such as mountains, rock formations, tunnel portals, retaining walls, etc.

• Easy to cut with a knife, hot wire, band saw, table saw, etc.

• Paint with latex paints, and glued with spray adhesives.

• Not good for sound absorption. (Will not make any track quieter.)

• Will not hold nails or screws. (And there are a lot of things, other than track, that will require to be screwed to the layout surface.)

• Not good to be walked on, and will dent and scratch easily.


Homasote or sound board such as QuietBrace from Home Depot (half the cost of Homasote)

• Great for sound deadening.

• Can be walked on.

• Resist denting and scratching to a certain degree.

• Can be painted with anything and glued with almost anything as well.

• Will hold nails and screws; not like wood, but good enough for most purposes.


Good luck!



Happy O-Gauge Railroading!

  Alexander Müller

See My Mostly Completed Layout Here

OGR Articles: Runs 256, 263, 267, 292

OGR  forum member since 26 January 2008

I am using pink/blue/green styrofoam board on my layout, but took an extra step I learned here on the forum several years ago to help with quieting the sound of the trains rumbling down the track.


After building my benchwork and before laying the 5/8" plywood and the styrofoam onto it, I went to Lowe's and got a roll of hardwood flooring underlayment and cut it into strips and glued them onto the framing.  Then I attached the plywood to the frame with only enough drywall screws to keep the plywood flat, then attached the styrofoam with 'Liquid Nails for Projects'.


Along with the Woodland Scenics foam roadbed and the room's carpeting the only thing you hear when the trains are running is the occasional clickety-clack and the locomotive electronic sounds.  The roadbed and the track are attached with two-sided carpet tape, with one screw at the apex of the wide radius curves.


The styrofoam does get some dents and scratches, but I can incorporate that into the scenery since I'll be carving into it anyway.  When painted it hides a lot of the imperfections, especially when ground cover is added.






I used a 2"X3" board as a straight edge to cut the material to match the width of the framing:









 Here you can see the layers:

West Side MTH Bridges




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