MAU Art & Design Glossary

Styrene Board


Styrene Board

Made of fine polystyrene foam bubbles, styrene board is used to model architecture and interior spaces and other presentations or displays. It is lightweight and can be cut and processed easily with a cutter. Styrene boards come either with or without paper lining on both sides.

Styrene board sizes range from B5 to 3 X 6 (saburoku in Japanese, which is nearly the size of one tatami mat) and is usually 1-7 mm in thickness. White wood-free paper is commonly used in paper-lined boards. In many cases, the paper lining is not water resistant, so it is best to avoid using paper-lined boards outdoors or in other places where they may get wet. As the paper on the board is thin, painting directly on the paper with watercolors that are too diluted may cause the paper to warp. Styrene boards are soft and scratch easily; when handling one, it is important to avoid hitting the corners and using excessive force.

When bending or processing a styrene board for architecture or interior modeling, pay attention to which direction you are trying to manipulate the board. One direction allows flexible bow-like bending, while bending in the other direction will cause the board to snap or break. (You can check by gently bending an extra portion of the board before making your model.) In model work, it is also necessary to actually measure the model correctly throughout the process rather than assume final dimensions based on the board thickness listed on the packaging.

Also note that some adhesives will dissolve polystyrene foam. If you will be applying adhesive directly to the foam, check that the adhesive can be used with polystyrene foam. Check all usage warnings and instructions on the product before use. Boards that have adhesive applied to the entire surface have a release paper that should be peeled off before you use the board. These boards eliminate the hassle of having to use adhesive to paste posters or pictures to panels. Styrene boards are available for purchase at art supply stores and large stationery stores.