Few model railroads would be complete without at least a few structures. Even in a rural setting you'll find outbuildings, railroad sheds, bridges, etc.
With a little care your buildings can be one of the highlights of your layout. From combining different modeling materials to adding lights, interiors and other details, it is easy to make your buildings unique - even if you start with a common kit. Read on to find more tips to make your buildings the best they can be.
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Kit Building Basics
Like any project, building a building kit goes a lot better if you know the basics. If you're new to kit building, take just a minute to review these essential skills.
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Building Plastic Kits
Plastic kits are by far the most common structure model kits on the market. These come in a wide a range of difficulty levels just as they do in architectural styles. Here's a step-by-step on a typical kit, an HO scale station from Walthers and its assembly from start to finish.
From painting to gluing and even some simple modifications to enhance the basic kit, you'll see that even a kit easy enough for a beginner can be made into a one-of-a-kind project.
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Despite the overwhelming options in plastic kits, cardstock is making a comeback. These aren't the paper models of decades past. Thanks to laser cutting technology, these kits fit together with surprising ease, accuracy and strength.
If you are looking to expand beyond your plastic cities, these kits are a great way to get started. These are also good kits for younger modelers since the building materials, tools and adhesives are so familiar.
04 of 13Since most of us learn with a plastic kit, the wood "craftsman" kits may seem a bit intimidaing. In fact, wood is in many ways an easier material to model with than plastic. If you start with a simple kit like this storefront building from Grandt Line you'll master the basics in no time and be ready for more challenging projects.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Scratchbuilding can be a very scary word for beginners. It shouldn't be. As with kits, starting with something simple is a great way to get started. A basic structure like this coal unloading shed will build your skills and confidence for more elaborate projects to come.
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Good FoundationsAny building can benefit from a good foundation. Sometimes you'll start with a kit that has one already. But for buildings on a sloped plot or just a different look, a little extra work below the walls can have a big impact on the overall scene.
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Plant Your Buildings
Now that you've got a foundation under that building, plant it in the ground. Seeing air under the foundation can destroy the look of any good building. Follow these simple steps to put your buildings in your scenery, not on it.
08 of 13From basic interior room lighting to scrolling theatre marquis, there are many options for adding light and life to your structures. Take a look at many of them here and how you can improve your building lighting.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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InteriorsAdding an interior to a building can do a lot for the model, especially when the room lighting is dim and the model interior lights are on. Interior details don't have to be as exacting as those on the exterior - all you need is the impression of life within. For even more detail, check out this interior made with laser cut parts.
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There are lots of ways to weather our models. For more techniques you can see the weathering pages devoted to customizing trains. From drybrushing to fading decals, the same tricks that work on a boxcar will work on a storefront.
For some specific tricks to working with buildings, even one you've already built, read on.
11 of 13Looking for a quick and affordable way to change the look of a building? Try replacing the existing siding or roof with corrugated metal.
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Shingle RoofsNew laser-cut shingle kits make adding the look of a shingled roof or wall easier than ever before. Find out how easy it is to enhance your buidings.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Abandoned Buildings - Modeling the Past
You don't always have to model the entire building to make an interesting scene. An abandoned building, lot or foundation can help tell a story, give your railroad a sense of time, and create a memorable scene in just a few hours.