Gatorfoam vs Foam Core

Gatorfoam and foam cores are board materials used for the construction of miniature displays and architectural purposes. Just like most materials, one material has its own set of advantages and disadvantages over the other. Since both foam cores and gatorfoams are used in almost the same way, a closer each at each material is necessary.


Gatorfoam or Gatorboard refers to a polystyrene foam mounting board. Gatorfoam is enclosed within a wood fiber veneer and melamine layers. As compared to foam cores, the outer surface of the Gatorfoam/Gatorboard is harder. The material of Gatorfoam also puts off warping. In building miniature models and displays, Gatorfoam is mostly used as a supporting component for wet materials such as stucco finishes or paper clay. These wet materials usually need a water resistant support while coating is left to dry. Gatorfoam is considered as a reliable material for such purposes. Many prefer Gatorfoam over foam cores when it comes to non archival applications. These applications need more light weight and durable material. However, Gatorfoam is not ideal when used in off gas applications.

Gatorfoam Uses and Availability

Gatorfoam is usually found in stores and shops dealing with short term art display mounting or photograph mounting. Most framing shops and art shops sell gatorfoams. There are several options to choose from when buying gatorfoams. They are available in black, white or kraft finish. Krat finish is the same as natural finish. For mounting purposes, there are gatorfoams that come with adhesive coating. This kind of gatorfoams is used to mount posters and photos. If the display will be put outside, black gatorfoam is not advisable. When exposed to UV, the color of the foam material accelerates affecting the appearance of the display.

Foam Core Uses and Availability

Foam core otherwise referred to as foam board is an extremely durable and lightweight board material. Foam cores are also easily cut. Just like gatorfoams, this kind of material is also used for photograph mounting and a support material for photos with a 3D orientation. It is also used in mounting paintings and other related displays. Foam core has three layers. There is an inner layer consisting of polystyrene. The outer surface of the polystyrene is usually covered with either brown Kraft paper or a white clay-coated paper. The construction of a foam core is similar to that of cardboard, although foam cores tend to be somewhat stiffer.

Just like most paper materials, the surface of a foam core is somewhat acidic. This can be used for mounting art displays and for other archival applications such as picture framing. One thing about foam cores though is that they don’t do well with some glue like superglue. Foam cores also do not go well with some types of paint. Foam cores sometimes dissolve and melt when exposed to superglue and several paint types. This may be problematic in cases wherein the art display needs variation. In order to get better results with foam cores, it’s best to use adhesives that are in higher-end spray versions. Glue gun may also be an option when working with foam cores.