How to Use Model Buildings to Make Your Model Train Layout More Realistic



Princeton, NJ / 360prwire / December 20 /

Making model trains can be very rewarding and fun. Sometimes, however, it can be a little difficult to get the layout right, especially if it doesn’t look too realistic.

One way to add that touch of authenticity is to add model buildings around the train and tracks.

Below, you can go over some ways to use these model buildings and what to keep in mind when adding them.


An important aspect to consider when it comes to using model buildings is where you want to place your railroad. This is usually because the buildings that surround rail networks tend to differ depending on the location or region in which they are built.

For example, most areas tend to have fairly standardized structures and buildings around the tracks. If you add these types of buildings while retaining their essence and function, you can certainly add some realism to your layout.

Some examples may include counters, operating buildings, courtyards, bathrooms, waiting rooms, food stalls, and newspaper and book kiosks, among others.

If you’re not sure what to include, you can search for photos or visit the nearest train station for reference.


The material you use for your model buildings can make a huge difference if you want to represent your layout realistically. You can either opt for pre-cut sheets specifically designed for modeling or create everything from scratch.

You can also purchase semi-finished material that you can then cut and assemble yourself.

Making your own buildings from scratch can give you a lot more control over the final look. You can make good use of various types of plastic sheeting, which you can then paint once you have formed the basic structure.

You can also use wood, roofing sheets, plaster as well as sheets to make various types of buildings and add finer details to them.

Some vendors also sell kits with a range of materials in one place, although these are quite expensive.

Scale and perspective

Scale and perspective are quite important to consider if you want to add some authenticity to your template layout. First, you need to determine the size of your layout and plan the details so that you know what to expect when building.

Once done, you can structure and create your buildings in such a way that you stay focused on the train and tracks while adding depth to the surroundings.

To do this realistically, you need to increase the size of the buildings near the tracks while reducing the buildings in the background.


Make sure you follow the general theme you are aiming for when it comes to your model train layout. Are you building a passenger train setup, a freight train setup, or a forest railway?

Based on these, you will then also need to consider the surrounding model buildings. For example, if you are targeting a passenger train, your buildings might look like the ones you see in stations with more residential and commercial buildings visible in the background.

On the other hand, if you are aiming for a logging railroad, the surrounding buildings will be more dispersed in your landscape, with a lumber yard nearby as well as a mill, open fields, and a woodland area for lumber.

Color and texture

Texture and details can make your model buildings look more authentic. You have to take into account the brick details, roof beams, glass panes, chimneys, rough exteriors as well as the labels for the shops in the station.

You can add to this by painting all the buildings correctly using real buildings as references. You can also make good use of various paints, brushes and strokes to add to the textures and details.


Make sure you space your buildings well. If you have buildings in the station around the tracks, these are likely to be quite close to each other while still being a reasonable distance from the tracks.

If your buildings are beyond the fence or the limits of the tracks or the station, then you need to consider what type of buildings they are. Usually, however, most buildings in a town or city tend to be placed quite close to each other, so be sure to include this detail in your model.

If your surrounding landscape is that of an open field or countryside that your train will pass through, then you need to space your buildings further apart.

Types of buildings

You can include the following types of model buildings in your layout:

  • Commercial stores on and around railway tracks such as newsstands, book kiosks, food stalls, telephone booths and cafes
  • Buildings related to railways such as ticket offices, operating buildings, courtyards, warehouses, waiting rooms and benches
  • Background buildings such as residential houses, storefronts, grocery stores and industrial buildings
  • Other surrounding structures such as tunnels, bridges, walls and gates

Several scenes

Using multiple scenes for your layout can also add some authenticity to it. For example, if one scene covers the station, another might include the road outside, while residential and commercial buildings might extend from that road.

You can also include more distant fields that your train will pass through if your layout is this large. Add different types of terrain, roads, seasonal details, and lighting to enhance your layout.


You can add people around your buildings using minifigures to add a bit more realism. You can scatter them near the train, stand on the platform, outside a store, and walk the trails.

You can also add cars and buses to the road outside.

Final remarks

Using model buildings can be a great way to make your model train layout more realistic. Be sure to consider the aforementioned aspects of your buildings to ensure you can add them effectively to your layout.

The article How to use model buildings to make your model train layout more realistic appeared first on 360PRWire.



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