Foam Board for Sign Making

by Virgil Dudley; Updated September 26, 2017

Foam board, often called foam core or gator board, is an excellent material used for sign making. It is very sturdy yet light, while holding a rigid form for displaying information or materials. Foam core and gator board both have foam in the center, sandwiched between thick pieces of paper.

Types of Board

Foam core and gator board are very similar materials, however gator board is much stronger than foam core. Foam core generally comes in two different colors: white and black. There are varying finishes for foam core: some are glossy and some are matte. Gator board is a more rigid type of board. There is less likeliness for gator board to warp, but it does have a higher cost. Foam core and gator board are created in different thicknesses; the thicker the board, the more sturdy the backing for the material.

Painting or Drawing the Sign

Whether you are using foam core or gator board, painting or drawing a sign requires the same type of procedure. First, draw an outline of the sign you would like to create on the board in pencil. Be careful not to push too hard because you can dent the surface or create a hole. Once the outline is created, fill in the lines using paint or permanent marker. The finish and color of the board, matte or glossy, black or white, should depend on the material you are using to make the sign. When using paint, make sure the first layer is dry before applying another layer.

Affixing Material to the Sign

There are several ways to affix a printed sign onto foam core or gator board. When covering the entire surface, it is advisable to have it heat-pressed onto the board at a professional printer. If you would like to affix multiple materials on your own, spray mount is the best type of glue to use. In a well-ventilated area, apply the spray mount to the back of the paper you are gluing and the board. Carefully position the paper onto the board, smoothing out the air bubbles as you go. Make sure the paper is positioned correctly before touching the surfaces together.

About the Author

Virgil Dudley is an artist, designer, and urban theorist who has written, researched and designed projects in the fields of art, architecture, fashion, and design since 2001. She has written for websites such as eHow. She holds a B.F.A. in ceramics and art history and a M.Sc. in architectural history and theory and is co-owner of an environmentally responsible clothing line.