Here is a question from a newbie....my 11 year old wants a train table
> in his room. We are planning a 4 X 8 foot setup but I am undecided
> about the type of table to build it on. One suggestion was use of
> metal studs, some luan, and several inches of blueboard for a
> lightweight table. But I have some concerns about use of these
> materials because of outgassing as well as the fire hazard this might
> pose. Again, this would be in my son's bedroom. Would I be better off
> use the more traditional plywood and minimize the use of these other
> petrol-based materials. Thanks for any input from a concerned dad.
If you do use plywood be aware that it does a fair share of out gassing also. I don't know where to look right off hand but do a search on Google for environmental allergies. There are some people that cannot even be near some types of building materials.
I would assume you are talking about blue styrofoam. I'm sure there is outgassing in a fire but don't know what other hazards it could pose. I would suggest as someone else did to research it on the net. I have a brother and sister that are allergic to most everything but this doesn't bother them. I have a few allergies but the foam doesn't trigger anything..
On the plus side , it's great to work with. The stuff is strong enough in 2'x4' sheets by 2" to build a very small layout or module with no other support. I have used it this way.
As far as cutting goes...it's a breeze if you use an electric carving knife. It's as slick as a babys buttt when cut this no way and no dust. I built an around the room 10' x 12' layout about 5 years ago and used blue styrofoam everywhere. I made all the hills , rockwork and even carved streams and depressions in it. I used 4" mostly which gave me some depth and stacked it for the hills. I carved most of the rocks with a utilty and pocket knife. Then used acrylic to finish the rocks. I don't think they looked as good as plaster castings bu you can always put pIaster castings over it if it doesn't suit you. I lightly sanded some of the rough areas of overlap left from the electric knife with 120 sandpaper. Very little dust here either. I kept the vacumn hose with me as I sanded and hardly any dust ar all.
I glued ground cover right to the foam and you can plant the trees so easy. I never used a bit of plaster on this. I started building this as an experiment with foam and was only going to do a small area , but I liked it so well I did it all. It really was quick and clean.
H>Here is a question from a newbie....my 11 year old wants a train table
=> One suggestion was use of =>metal studs, some luan, and several inches of blueboard for a =>lightweight table. But I have some concerns about use of these =>materials
I second Steve's post about working the stuff. Also, to minimise dust, use a serrated knife -- bread knife, for example. I find the way the dust and bits stick to things on account of static electricity is its most annoying characteristsic.
Blue Board (and Pink Board, etc) are polystyrene foam -- if your son plays with plastic toys, he's been in contact with polystyrene -- it's one of the safest plastics available. Only major hazard: Burning the stuff -- just don't dispose of it in the backyard firepit. :-)
My 5 year old has had a train board in his room for a year and a half and aside from his being completely thrilled with anything on rails, there has been no apparent ill effect. We don't keep interior doors closed too often and I suspect there is more off-gas around the new sofa than from the 32 sq.ft. of styrofoam in the train board.
I used 1"x4" pine for the sides, 1/4" plywood under and styrofoam in 2" thickness. It carves easily and was painted with latex, scenic materials and stood up very well even when he gets up on top of it to retrieve something that has shifted and fallen off a flatcar.
I used a hot glue gun to fix the layers (spots about 12" apart seems to be holding well.....but I found I had to unplug it frequently because it can get hot enough that it craters the styro. I have some photos at -
I think it turned out well without a lot of effort and he loves it........So does dad;0)
Metal studs invariably will have sharp edges or corners and that should be considered. I prefer wood anyway.
On a technical note; it is a closed cell material and most of the gas will be trapped and only released when cut....but I assume any vapours are gone fairly quickly while working with it.
Use wood. If you are worried about fumes, leave it in the garage for a week or two. As for fire, it ain't gonna burn any faster than you your house or drapes or bed so make sure the fire alarm is working and then don't worry about it.
What a bunch of crap. Foam will vaporize almost immediately in the presence of a flame, turning into choking gas. There is a reason why the building codes require the stuff to be sandwiched. If there was a fire in your child's room, heaven forbid, he would have very little chance if there was any significant amount of this stuff around.
At least when you use it to build a layout in the basement, your sleeping quarters are remote.
Do not use foam in your child's bedroom. Forget about the nonsense that foam doesn't burn. At best that simply means that the fire will not start from the foam. Your answer is in the building codes.
First I do not work for Dow. However, I work in plastic materials and process engineering and own a company which manufactures specialty plastic products.
I worked with Styrofoam for years, and cut hundreds of container loads of billets of Expanded PS.
I would suggest a phone call to your area Dow sales rep. to get the straight scoop and remove some of your concerns. Another good idea, is call your local fire department and ask about it. Get all the facts and then make your decision about the material's safety.
I am using blue foam on my layout, although not exclusively. I am laminating with other materials. Durability is my concern with styrofoam, not safety.
Simple fact. Styrofoam is no more toxic when it burns than wood. I have seen the tests and MSDS docs. It emits the same chemicals and elements that wood does, primarily Carbon, Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide in addition to other chemicals. Sure you will choke on the smoke. You will choke on wood smoke or paper smoke or the smoke from polystyrene foam. Foam dust, wood dust, flour, they are all extremely hazardous and can ignite violently (explode)
As far as fire hazard, Blue foam has fire retardant in it. I have seen it burn itself out. It does not just go up, POOF. It has to be heated to over 600 degrees F. to ignite. One hazard is that it melts and can drip, when it burns and can ignite other items, it comes in contact with.
I am more concerned about wiring practices. If wires get hot, the foam melts, it doesn't automatically catch on fire. This is why we use hot wire to cut it. Hot wires burn wood. Do not try the block over fire bit, it is dangerous and just proves if you heat something to 600 degrees, bad things can happen. You wouldn't suspend a TV set over a fire......
Being concerned for safety is critical. Being armed with knowledge is part of being safe.
Idiotic safety practices are another thing....... Safety Check: How safe is your layout work area and your home? How are your solvents stored and used. Do you use rubber gloves? How about a respirator or dust mask? Is your electrical wiring safe? Do you use your tools safely? Can the kids or pets get to your solvents, tools or hazardous cleaning products? And by the way, how about a fire extinguisher?
bg Modeling Riverside California, ca.1950 ATSF, LA&SL (UP) and SP
"JP" > Use wood. If you are worried about fumes, leave it in the garage for
Take a 1" x 1" cube of anything from your house - your mattress, lamp shades, blinds or curtains, your wood kitchen table carpet sofa even your 'Elvis' polyester CD's, your computer, your IRS files or your Rivarossi Big Boy (another reason to buy only BRASS - inflammable!!)
All of it will burn if you try.
Building codes do require foam to be covered - generally with OSB - but even that will burn readily.
As someone else pointed out - if there is already a fire in your home you have much greater concerns and the chance that it starts on the layout are likely quite small.
Install and maintain your smoke detectors and make sure you have extinguishers in strategic locations.
Vaporize is probably not the technically correct word. In fact, it burns so quickly turning into gas with so little residue that you won't know what happened to it- it just seems to disappear.
I don't know where you live, but I have never in my life seen a house with an exterior or interior wall of foam. The building codes are very clear: it must be sandwiched between relatively nonflammable materials, eg. basement wall and sheetrock, exterior wall and sheetrock. You will never see a house built to code with an exposed surface of foam.
I don't really care if you stuff your house with foam, but I hate to see your ignorance passed along to someone else where a child's safety is at stake.
Maybe not. If your house is on fire the gas from the foam as it burns will keep you from having the opportunity to worry about anything else. That's the reason for the sandwich specified in the codes- it gives you a chance to put out the fire before toxic smoke inhalation puts you out, which it will very quickly.
If it doesn't start on the layout, then everyone should be at the marshalling point well before it reaches the layout. All of this is pretty much irrelevent and I don't think you really know what you are talking about. Styro board will melt before it 'vapourises' and it takes a more than you imply to ignite it as would your bed, sofa or lazyboy. As I said, by the time a fire reaches the layout it will be too late to get out anyway.....so your argument is irrelevent.
a handful of useful links:
exterior sheathed in styro, covered with stucco
structural insulated panels ie; OSB each side of foam core used in floors, interior & exterior walls, ceilings and roof. They build entire houses of this stuff.