Polystyrene and Styrofoam expanded foam sheets are one of the best options for building model scenery landscapes, shaping hills and constructing inclines.

Before we take a look at the Polystyrene glue best suited to model scenery applications it's helpful to consider the specific material being used. There's often some confusion from beginners within the modelling community around these materials, so it's worth taking a moment to clarify the exact material we're referring to.

Polystyrene, Styrofoam and EPS explained

Polystyrene, Styrofoam and Expanded Polystyrene are terms that are often confused.

We'll be referring to Polystyrene expanded foam in this guide.

In this guide, and more specifically within the context of model railroad scenery, wargame landscapes, dioramas and more general scenery modelling, we'll be referring to Polystyrene expanded foam. This is sometimes referenced as Expanded Polystyrene or EPS.

EPS is usually white in color and is commonly used in packaging where it's used to protect consumer goods - anything from cell phones to freezers. It's ideal for this purpose due to having fantastic durability, shock absorbency and impact resistance. EPS is also extremely light, so it adds very little additional weight to a package.

Styrofoam is a light blue material usually used in construction to provide building insulation boards for walls, roofs, foundations and pipework. It's often mistakenly used as an all-encompassing term for extruded Polystyrene foam. But, it's actually a trademarked brand name for a specific product manufactured by DuPont.

Glues NOT to use on Polystyrene and Styrofoam sheets

Before we consider the best glue to use on Polystyrene and Styrofoam it's important to take a moment to detail a few types of glue that you should definitely NOT use.

There are two main types of glue that shouldn't be used on Polystyrene or Styrofoam:

  • Hot-melt adhesive
    This includes the hot-glue varieties that are administered via a glue gun. These glues will simply melt the Polystyrene or Styrofoam sheets due to the heat used to apply them.
  • Fast-acting adhesive
    These are usually known as cyanoacrylates and are a family of adhesives that contain most instant glues, power glues or superglues. They contain chemicals that enable the glue to dry extremely quickly, however this causes these glues to melt Polystyrene and Styrofoam sheets.

Essentially, any of the hot glues or instant glues should be avoided as they will either melt or damage the foam boards you are using for model scenery.

Best glue for Polystyrene and Styrofoam sheets

Many scenery modellers often try different types of glue when applying adhesive to their Polystyrene and Styrofoam boards. However, it's important to choose a suitable glue for this purpose to ensure that the quality of your model scenery is the best that it can be.

For model scenery applications a Universal PVA Bond Adhesive is the best glue to use for fixing Polystyrene foam and Styrofoam boards to each other or to wooden baseboards.

The advantage of using this Polystyrene glue is that it's easy to apply, cost effective, and sets in a strong manner providing a secure bond between the sheets of Polystyrene or Styrofoam.

This glue is also easy to work with as any overflow or spillages can be easily cleaned up without worrying about a super-fast drying time or damage to your other scenery.

A model railroad landscape built with Polystyrene sheets bonded with PVA adhesive
Model railroad scenery constructed using Polystyrene sheets bonded with PVA adhesive

Whilst other adhesives also form a strong bond between Polystyrene sheets they can be difficult to work with in that they produce a very strong barrier that's difficult to cut through and work with later. This often makes them unsuitable for model scenery applications.

A good Polystyrene glue can also be used for many other areas of model scenery on your train set, wargaming board or diorama. These include laying sections of track, ballasting points, fixing scenery and modelling water, so it's a good all-round model scenery glue that will see plenty of use.

For additional specific product information see the Best glue for Polystyrene and Styrofoam in model scenery.

Summary of Polystyrene and Styrofoam glue

The best glue to use on Polystyrene or Styrofoam sheets is a Universal PVA Bond Glue due to its ease of application, strength and versatility.

It's an adhesive that's ideal for landscape modelling - specifically for building up scenery layers and hills - making it extremely versatile and cost-effective.

This glue is ideally suited to building model scenery on either a model railroad, wargaming board or diorama and is most suited to fixing Polystyrene foam and Styrofoam boards to each other or to wooden baseboards.

Using a quality Polystyrene glue is one of the easiest ways in which to create visually striking model landscapes that are long lasting and durable.

For additional tips and techniques be sure to refer to our guides to model railroad scenery building which feature many helpful pointers as well as scenarios in which Polystyrene and Styrofoam sheets can be used to build model scenery.

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