Architectural Model Making Materials

The selection of architectural model materials depends on different factors. Architectural presentation models are made of more robust and durable materials. The models have been on show for a long time. They can be exposed during the exhibition to sun and dust. The mod-el materials should, for this reason, be robust and the model should not fade easily. Having a good picture of the concept you want to show is the basic rule of thumb for selecting the right architectural model making materials.

There are various kinds of architectural models based on materials and scales. According to the purpose, you should find the right type of model for your project. The first step is to search for the materials that are used in architectural models. After that, you can decide on the scale. But for the decision-making process to be easy and solid, you should learn about the basics. For instance, what materials are used in architectural models? And which materials are being used in which conditions? 

Materials of the Architectural Models

Model making in architecture is one of the most essential steps of the project. That’s why everyone should be aware of the model-making process. Because there are many kinds of materials that are used in architectural models, deciding one of them can be seen as frustrating and hard. However, each material has a purpose. The most commonly used models are cardboard, wood, basswood, foam, cork, and metal. While sometimes easily put-together materials are required, sometimes permanent and solid ones are in demand. That is the most important difference between the materials that are used in architectural models.

Solid block materials like plastic, foam, and wood, and cardboards are really common in model making in architecture. They cover %75 of the materials. In addition to materials that are used in architectural models that were listed, plastic, PVC, paper, acrylic sheet, and polyamide, are also being used. They are known for their light structure to make an initial design. If it is the first model of the project, it should be made quickly and with light materials. The materials that are used in architectural models meet different demands like in this case. While the light and quickly put-together features are the best qualities for a concept design model, and a working design model, the Concept presentation model requires more qualified materials, like resin, or wood.

Material choosing and scaling a building for an architectural model are essential for model making in architecture. That’s why its importance should be recognized during the process. Since the architectural models are representatives of the projects, they should be well-designed. Each of the materials that are used in architectural models have different purposes and features. And the decision must be based on these qualities.

Let’s take a look at the architectural model construction materials used.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

ABS is one of the modelling materials used by many professional architectural model firms. It’s solid and light, but it’s a little costly. In a wide variety of colours, you can paint finished ABS products. Using a laser cutting machine, it is normally cut. It is powerful and it can take more than 10 years to manufacture. Due to its high-resolution and very versatile character, ABS is used for creating presentation models.

Acrylic Sheet – Plexiglass

There are various thicknesses of acrylic panels for architectural model making.

It is simple to process and cut thanks to its hardness and easy to process feature.

It is costly to manipulate and includes model-making equipment.

There are very striking architectural models made of acrylic sheets or Plexi.

You will convey your designs by providing the viewer with a great visual experience.

Transparent and translucent acrylic sheets are often used to produce windows and building facades during model production.

Curved shapes are harder to make than soft materials, as it is important to polish the acrylic board.

When you use it to build the surface of water and harmonize it with light, it has an excellent effect.

There are several plexiglass-producing firms. It does not matter transparent or translucent. You can easily find plexiglass model material in different sizes and colours.

The plexiglass is used by several 3D scale model companies.

In order to look interesting, this material supports your model.

Wood and Balsa Wood

One of the most preferred model materials is the Balsa sheet because it has features of easy cutting and painting. The correct architectural model types can be created using it. Balsa wood has a thin surface and a variety of weights can be found. You will find balsa wood both in thin plates and in partial geometric forms in locations that sell model materials. Even, it’s a little costly. One of the best materials for creating detailed, structural models is balsa wood. It is also often used in heavy architectural models to render plinths. And many wooden structures were made to form wooden trusses and building frameworks from balsa strips. Recently, for architectural model making, it has emerged as the most common wood product.

PVC Sheet

In the design of buildings, PVC sheet is the most widely used architectural model building material. It is simple to run. It is favoured in the development of conceptual models, because there is not much colour choice. Used sometimes for plot construction.

It is used more in conceptual architectural model making, considering that PVC plate has a limited colour option. They are sometimes used for constructing plots or model bases.

Cork Sheet

In architectural model making, the cork plate used has a very natural surface. It is likely to break due to the fact that it is flexible. Attention should be paid to the direction of the water when cutting. In architectural model making, the cork plate used has a very natural surface.

Craft Paper and Cardboard

Cardboard is often preferred for producing roads and paths in architectural model making. Conceptual and working architectural models are easy to create. Cardboard is cheap and has a versatile choice of colour, weight, thickness and finish. In order to create model roads and paths, this model material is often used. Through layering on a cardboard layer, land can be easily represented. Because of its natural texture, Gray cardboard is appropriate for representing open concrete.

Craft paper is a model material that can be found and manipulated very easily.

Sulphite Paper

It is reasonably priced and easily accessible. For fast volumetric tests or drawing design flats, it is one of the most appropriate materials. You can quickly and easily apply this paper while continuing to create dynamic objects using scissors and tape.


They are relatively light, so they can be transported easily. Most commonly, foam is used as it is easy to cut and can be purchased at any craft shop. Cutting and shaping are easy to do. It is relatively fragile, however, and easy to damage. For this reason, foam is used more to produce conceptual models rather than architectural models for presentation.

Insulating Sheeting

Insulation board is a light material used for the manufacture of materials. It can be processed easily. The downside is that the damage is not very strong and easy. This model material is preferred to produce divider walls in interior furnishing models. 

White Foam Board

The white chipboard used in architectural model making comes in various thicknesses. The two most common types are 3 mm and 5 mm whiteboard. It has a lightweight characteristic, is solidly constructed and will not be crushed. Architectural model material is often used to build architectural model pedestals. It is also used for building walls. 

In a wide variety of weights, colours and thicknesses, foam boards are available. It is light but very powerful. With scissors, foam boards can be cut readily. It is especially useful for making dense architectural or topographic models. It is also ideal for neat intersections and corners to be created.

Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF)

It is a material that creates a good material for the surface and requires no sanding. It is primarily used for the production of large sections of buildings. For creating solid architectural model bases, thicker MDF is helpful. MDF is a material which, since it has a smooth surface, does not require sanding. It is costly, however, and may require sophisticated equipment for architectural model making.


  • Why are different materials used in architectural models?

Different materials that are used in architectural models have different purposes. While initial models require simple and light materials, the representatives need more solid materials.

  • What are the most used materials in architectural models?

There are various materials that are used in architectural models. However, the most common ones are plastic, foam, and wood, and cardboards, because of their solid black features.