model buildings



Designing Model Railway Buildings –
Tips for Construction and Lighting

Guest contributor: Mike Williams

The most important thing while designing your model train layout is how realistic you can make it look. Adding scenery and buildings in your layout will not only help you in making your layout look real, but it will also make the experience of making a railway and operating trains more enjoyable for you.

Following are some basic techniques that you can use to add realistic miniature scale buildings to your layout. Steps are also included that you can follow to add lightning to your architecture, to make your building look beautiful, both with the lights on and in the dark.

Step 1

The first thing is to decide the era that you want to depict in your train layout. Once you have decided that, it will be easier for you to select model kits that you want to add to your design. Make sure that the structures you are adding to your railway layout existed in the era that you are designing. You can build these by constructing from scratch, or you can buy readymade railway buildings that are quick and easy to add to your train layout.

Step 2

When buying plastic kits, count all the parts in your kits to make sure that nothing is missing. Attach the roofs and walls of the structure securely. Paper railway buildings you make from cardstock are a popular choice as they are cheaper to construct and usually come pre-weathered for added realism. The plans or templates are downloaded straight to you computer ready to be printed out. They can be assembled using foam core sheets, cardboard cereal packs, or core flute sheeting. All are inexpensive.

Step 3

Add details in your railway buildings before you glue the structure together. These details will add life to the buildings, and subsequently to your layout. Following are the steps that you can follow to add lighting to your buildings:

1. Start with measuring the interiors of the building that you want to add lightening to. Mark cardboard or construction paper with the dimensions of the windows and building. Also mark and measure the roof of the building on the construction paper.

NOTE: The big advantage of downloading the PDF plans on this website is that the windows, doors etc are already done for you. This make construction much easier. You can download these kits in moments.

2. Decide the windows in which you want to add lights. Cut out the drawn outlines of the windows from the cardstock or the construction paper. Only cut out those windows that you want to add light to and leave the remaining.

3. Cut out the divisions for the floors and rooms of the building. Use masking tape to hold the pieces of cardboard or construction paper together. Cover the outside of the mask with masking tape to stop the light from escaping the model buildings.

4. Tape a wire from the bulb to the roof of the building and let it hang to keep it away from the sides to avoid fire or burns. Place the mask inside the building and add the building on your model railroad. LED lighting works well.

5. Connect the wire to the control panel. Match the voltage of wire and bulb to the power supply of your model layout. Remember, safety needs to be a high priority as you wouldn’t want any parts of your model railway buildings or layout catching fire.

Step 4

Now that you have added light to your railway buildings, add the weathering effect to the structures. There are various techniques that you can use to add weathering effects. If you are using steam train in your layout use gray color to show the effect of smoke on your model railway buildings. If you have designed your train layout with mountains then try to give your structures a weather beaten effect.

NOTE: The railway buildings featured on this site are already painted and weathered for you. Some of these model railroad kits include signs of aging like: cracks, flaking paintwork, mold, fading paint etc.

Step 5

Place your finished model railway buildings on the layout. Make sure that you intelligently place the structures around your train track. Placing a tall building right next to your trains is not appropriate because it seldom happens in real life. You can add people, billboards, cars, tunnels, roads, a backdrop, and a lot more to give your setup a lifelike quality.

These are some simple tips that you can follow to add model railway buildings in your train layout that will not only look real but will also add life.

series 1 - model railroad buildings  

series2 - model railway buildings

Model Railway Scenery

Model Railroad Layout

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Model Railway House

low relief buildings

Low Relief Buildings

shipping container models

Model Shipping Containers

model telegraph office

Telegraph Office Model

tractor shed model

Tractor Shed Model

model railroad engine shed

Engine Shed

model shop

Model Shop

bus shelter model

Bus Shelter Model

grain barn silo model

Barn Grain Silo Model

Restaurant model building

Restaurant Model Building

Factory Model Building

Factory Model Building

model railway depot

Model Railroad Depot


To find out more details, or buy railway buildings featured on this site, simply click on the links in the left column to view the full catalog of what kits are available in the range. The printable model kits can easily be scaled from OO gauge to HO scale or N scale.

Also have a look at the range of low relief structures (also known as FLATS). The miniature railroad kits look great when positioned against a background or backdrop with trains running in the foreground. They are also downloadable.


Model Train Scenery: Making Artificial Grass on Your Model Railroad

By model railroader Dave Walker

Building scenery for your railroad can be extremely enjoyable and also very tricky at the same time. Getting the things to look lifelike is the major difficulty. How can you make rocks that look original without actually using the real ones? What product should you use to give the water its authentic rippling effect? How should you construct grass so that it is just the right color and texture? These are the dilemmas you face when you have a hobby as unique as building your own scenery for your railroad layout.

But this is the most enjoyable part too. You get to use your imagination and experiment with a variety of things to come up with the perfect lake, tree or tunnel. Making grass for your model railroad might require some creativity. Which substances should you mix to come up with the soft green beauty near lakesides, or the coarse dry stuff of deserts? You can always buy the readymade tufts or buy packets of ground cover from the hobby store, but the purpose of this article is to discuss some more unusual methods people use.

Using Original Grass

This might not sound like the most sensible idea, but strangely enough I have seen it done. What you would need to do is save cut up grass from your lawnmower. Take a clear plastic wrap and put transparent glue on it. While the glue is wet, sprinkle the cut up grass on it. Keep a heavy hand so that no space is left. Once dried you could place it next to the river banks or in a garden on your model railroad. You can even add some sand on it to give a more realistic feel.  As I said, using this technique is reasonably uncommon and wouldn’t suit everyone.

Using Felt

This next method is also reasonably unorthodox these days as there are more realistic options available, however I will briefly mention it. Felt is easily available and its rough texture is a good grass replacement. Make sure that you buy one that comes in dark green color so that your model scenery looks as natural as possible. This will work especially well where you want to depict grassy hills. Simply cut up the felt as per requirements and stick it to Styrofoam or whatever other product you intend to use for your hills. Let it dry completely. Meanwhile, collect some fine sand and put it in a tea strainer. Sprinkle the sand on top of your grassy hill and then use a wire bristle brush to spread it out. Shake out the excess sand.

Fiber Mat

This is another thing you can try to make grass embankments for your scenery. What you would need to do is cut a block of polystyrene and stick it to where you want your grassy knoll. Make a plaster and water mixture and put it on the polystyrene piece. Then cut up some gauze strips and add that on top of the plaster-water mixture. Repeat the process two times.

When it dries, paint it a green color. As soon as the paint dries, put PVA glue in narrow stripes on it. Get some fiber mat and cut it so that it fits your grass background. Paste it on the glue. Once that dries, pull most of the fiber mat away from where you stuck it. This way only a thin layer of fiber hair would be left. Make sure you pull gently and from one end. Comb the fiber hair and paint them a grassy green color. It may be better to spray paint (or airbrush) some areas rather than using a brush. Once the paint dries, run a comb through it to make it look natural.

There are also some more sophisticated methods for making grass and turf including using a product called static grass. Explore the different options and decide which option(s) best meet your requirements. Have fun with your model scenery construction and shunting your trains! 



Model Buildings

B419 Railway Shed
B420 Railroad Shed
B421 Cabin
B530 Silos
B423 Church
B424 Office Building
B425 House
B426 Barn Grain Silo
B427 Shop
B428 Grain Elevator
B429 Restaurant
B430 Containers
B431 Small Train Station
B432 Signal Box
B433 Waiting Shelter
B434 Railway Station
B435 Engine Shed
B436 Engine Shed
B437 Engine Shed
B438 Crossing Shanty
B439 Telegraph Office
B440 Railway Goods Depot
B441 Station Platform
B443 Factory Farm Building
B444 Barn and WC
B445 Tractor Shed
B508 Wild West Town
B466 Houses
B520 Mining Town
6 Rail Yard Buildings
Walls Bridges Tunnel Portals
8 House & 4 Garages


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Low Relief Buildings

B446 Low Relief City Buildings

B459 Low Relief Industrial

B473 Low Relief Houses

B474 Low Relief Terrace Houses

B482 Low Relief Terrace Shops

B489 Low Relief Rail Yards

B546 Low Relief Rail Yards

B496 Low Relief Shops

Extendable Buildings

Tall Warehouse Buildings


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tall scale model warehouses - low relief structures

free card building

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