I'm at the point on the new layout where highway construction is on the horizon.  On my former layout, I used the Scenic Express product...mixed the paste and applied it, and when dry, applied the black overcoat.  It looked quite realistic.  I'd like to try another method this time.

For this layout, I'd like to build up the roadbed a 1/4" or so starting on Main St. to make the curbing height more realistic abutting the MTH buildings.  I can envision using a 1/4" sheet product, cutting it to size to the dimension of the road, and coating it or painting it flat back...maybe using the Scenic Express product for black coating.

Any thoughts?  Your opinions / options much appreciated.



Original Post

I have adopted the "Durham's Water Putty" method described in Dennis Brennan's scenery book--applying it over foam core.  Attached is a build sequence.


Start by cutting out the road in foam core:

FAKRAgreen 2

Add a skim coat of Durham's putty with black paint added:

FAKRAgreen 3

Fit the road into the environs:

FAKRAgreen 4

Add railings:

FAKRAgreen 5

Weather with chalks:

FAKRAgreen 6

FAKRAgreen 7





My heart is warm with the friends I make, 

And better friends I'll not be knowing;

Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,

No matter where it's going.

                        Edna St. Vincent Millay



Photos (7)

We use asphalt roofing paper (underlayment). The roll size from Home Depot (about $38) is so big you can do all the roads and parking lots on your layout, your friend's layout, and several others. You can cut it using the "score and snap" method or scissors. Here's what it looks like:

2013-03-31 10.07.212013-03-31 10.07.272013-03-31 12.05.282013-03-31 12.06.28

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

"Celebrating over 20 years of moving freight and passengers from Point A to Point A!"

YouTube Channel


Photos (4)

I also use the roofing material, it gives a realistic look, can be custom cut to the contour of layout and the time, cost and effort are well spent. I use either a yellow or white marker picked up at Michael's, Hobby Lobby or a craft store for about $3 to do the center stripe to complete the look.

It has helped the kid's layouts tremendously, having roads and parking lots.

Paradise & Pacific Railroad

Capetrainman, I have used (and am very fond of) 3M Stairway Tread, which comes 3M stair tread road material3M tape siteIMG_0553IMG_4396IMG_4709IMG_5913b - Copyin rolls, with plenty of length on them. They come in different textures. These examples show you its use in situ as a variety of "pavements," as roadways and parking lots, etc. This photo...portal road ...shows you an unfinished area where the 3M Tape has been put into place as a rural roadway, leading out from the tunnel portal. I'm including the photo to give you an idea of the thickness of the tape as roadway. It is atop a strip of Masonite used as a base for the tape.

These is, of course, paper backing on the tape, but once you have removed it and emplaced the tape, it is very unforgiving and will not be peeled off too readily - it's pretty much permanent. So, when I have used it, I do all the configuring and scissor-cutting before I remove the backing to press the tape into place.


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge has limits.     Dr. W.Dyer


Photos (7)
AGHRMatt posted:

We use asphalt roofing paper (underlayment). The roll size from Home Depot (about $38) is so big you can do all the roads and parking lots on your layout, your friend's layout, and several others. You can cut it using the "score and snap" method or scissors. Here's what it looks like:

2013-03-31 10.07.27

All my friends that have used any type of foam product ended up with divots where their vehicle sit. How is the surface texture Matt? 


I used black "Darice Foam Sheets" (available from craft stores such as Joann Fabrics) which is available in various thicknesses, cut to size and glued down (I used white glue).

Cracks were made with a sail sewing needle, roads were sprayed lightly with Rustoleum "aged iron".  1/8" car pinstriping was used for the striping.  Weather with chalk powders and/or paint washes.  Tire tracks can be made with a pencil eraser.

When finished, spray with dull cote or matte finish.IMG_1975IMG_1975IMG_1976IMG_1977IMG_1980IMG_1981IMG_1982IMG_1983IMG_1984IMG_1985


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I use a combination of 0.125" Masonite and 0.25" MDF. Squadron Green the joints and fill in the edges with Sculptamold.  When dry, sand and paint the roadway with a few different shades of flat black and gray....nothing exact. I then sand the finished surface for some texture and variation and lay down some lines.




"If two rails are good, than three rails has got to be better."


"Give a person a toy train and watch them play for a day. Teach a person to fill their basement with trains and give them a lifetime hobby."


Photos (1)

I use to use cardboard rather than Masonite or MDF because it's far easier to cut. Once painted and striped they look the same.

Now that I have a laser cutter I am using an MDF-like material. Can cut perfect intersections and curved roadways that match-up with scored or engraved control/construction jts as well as using a thicker material for curbing again prefect curved curbs with cutouts for curb gutters and manholes. 


Street crossing the tracks are made with cork HO switch pads. They are the same width as a two lane road in O scale and have beveled edges. I painted the cork with a diluted wash of Woodland Scenics Asphalt paint. I have done 3 separate modules now with grade crossings. I built them up using layers of cork glued down underneath.

In the first pic you also see a module behind that is painted with black textured rustoluem spray paint. My city is never setup quite the same way so I have not put down traffic lines yet.

Down by the depot 2 Austin Taylor Show 2019

In the back is a piece of cork just laid do to match the grade crossing. Notice it is not painted yet.

Grade crossing on D2 with road behind

3751 hits the same grade crossing and in the background I just used black poster board cut the same width to made the road go beyond. I used the pinstripe tape for road stripes but it peeled up eventually. The paint pens from WS don't like my cork either so still working on a solution.

ATSF going over grade crossing on D2

T&P 610 blowing threw a crossing.

610 at Great Texas Train Show 2 in Lewisville 2019



Photos (4)

I used black 3/16" thick foam core for my roads. Grade crossings are made with Woodland Scenics N scale foam roadbed. Keep in mind that my layout is more toy train than scale model.20190510_230431

Joe B.


President Emeritus of the Olde Newburgh Model Railroad Club, now retired and living the dream in Florida.


Photos (1)

I have used a variety of methods.  Most of them for mentioned.  Here is a project where I used Hydraulic cement, It was still wet when this pic was snapped.  When dry it looks just like aged concrete.  You mentioned curbs, similar to Durhams and spackle, this stuff is great for building up depth.

Not a great deal of work involved either.  Mix with water and apply.  A good method for stripes, is the white out roller wheels used for correcting documents.

 Quarter Gauger 48'



 Image result for us army insignia Colors Don't Run Decal


Photos (2)

I have used masonite and foam board with Durhams' Water Putty and Smooth-it. All worked well for me. I use Masonite for all the building bases and score it for sidewalks, using Rustoleum Desert Bisque textured paint to look like concrete.IMG_2321IMG_2322IMG_2324IMG_2325IMG_2326IMG_2532IMG_2533IMG_2534IMG_2535IMG_2536


Located in the real Upstate NY


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Hi Ron,  I tried a concrete product from "Arizona Rock & Mineral " .  The results were pretty much the same as using spackle  or water putty. ALso I tried one time, "Quickret" cement in a tube for patching cracks.  It would not spread  correctly and did not work.   But was does work is the Quickret' in the container.  It has vinyl in it and smooths very easy.  It can also be thinned and still gives very good results.  Lowes, Home Depot have theses products.  

You need to build 1/4" curb in the  chosen length with balsa or basswood and fill  with product.. Make sure you build a crown in the middle.  No road especially concrete if flat.  

There are so many methods and different materials used in model roads. I have tried just about all of them..  Here is a pic of  Blacktop, concrete, and cement...  I found that 1/8" cork also is very realistic and is the long portion of these samples...

This is all 1/8th" Fine cork.  A very lite coating, in spots of vinyl spackle. Raw umber, "Pan Pastels, for weathering.  Base coat of apple barrel "Blacktop" thinned out.  That's it...

Finished product'




Photos (7)

So many great suggestions here to use for asphalt roads on the new layout.  After reading the suggestions for a second or third time I decided to conduct a study that was three weeks in duration...it was not a scientific study, but I believe the results are acceptable

I decided to purchase the 3/16" black foam sheet at Hobby Lobby in  20" x 30" pieces.  It is similar to the Darice product mentioned above by HMORGAN.  I actually had used the Darice product before for a roof replacement on my Korber engine house a few years ago.  The study was to place a Brooklin 1955 Chevy Nomad and a  Buby 1956 Mercury Monterey on the board and let them sit undisturbed for three weeks.  As some of you may know, the Brooklin is a very heavy piece compared to other 1/43 or 1/48th cars available on the market.

The good news is that tire marks were not present when I lifted up the cars.  Someone above had an experience where the cars had left tire imprints on the foamboard.   It could be that the Hobby Lobby product is more rigid with a harder surface than other brands?  I like the thickness of the product as well because it will reduce the high curbing appearance of the MTH buildings on Main Street.  Once the roads are cut with the help of my wife (she is very particular about such things), I will spray paint the board with the Rustoleum "Aged Iron" color mentioned above by HMORGAN.

Thanks again, and please comment further if you would like!  I'll let you all know how the finished product looks on the layout...


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