Designing Your Own HO Scale Buildings


If you have been thinking of which model railroad scale you should select, you can try using the HO scale, which is one of the most popular scales used throughout the world. HO scale is exactly half of the O scale meaning, 1:87. It can easily fit onto a 4x8 foot piece of MDF board or wood.

The best part about using this scale is that it is the most commonly used one and all supplies and accessories are very conveniently available. Whether you are a newbie, or have been pursuing this hobby for long, HO scale can be the one that works best for you.  



 model train scenery

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Now that you have decided to use this scale, bought all the train sets and its accessories, you can start thinking about making the scenery. You must first think of the theme of your model railroad. Once you have selected the era you want to depict, start making the background and scenery. Do you want to take the easy way out and buy readymade model railroad scenery? Or would you prefer constructing your own trees, mountains, rivers, tunnels, roads, and HO scale buildings? Making scenery on your own can not only be very captivating, it would also seem more original as you would have come up with everything yourself.

Different eras would require different types of buildings. There were times when wood was used more than concrete, while at other times buildings were mostly constructed of stone or bricks. Since you have made up your mind about which era you want to depict, what you can do is research the internet about what kind of buildings were there in your selected time period. Here are some tips on how you can make buildings:


Cardboard has been very successfully used to make buildings. All you would need to do is cut up shapes, stick them together and paint them the color that looks most realistic.  You can make the project more detailed by printing out different brick styles or other designs which you can then paste on your card buildings. You can make as many card buildings as you want. You can buy PDF plans for HO buildings online at


You can use wood to make many buildings even if your era does not require wooden structures. Once you have made the entire building, you can paint it in such a way that it gives the appearance of concrete or even stone. It might be better to use spray paints.

One idea is to cover your buildings with foil paper then paint it a dull gray to make it look more like steel.


Plastic is not only easy to cut, it is also very easy to glue together. You can construct plastic structures and then paint them according to the color you want. You can even buy small plastic houses and add elaborate structures to make them look realistic.

Small Tip

Always remember that every building has windows and doors. So don’t forget to cut holes for them. For doors you can use wood and for windows you can insert clear plastic acetate. Just make sure your buildings look as close to life as possible.

Have a great time constructing HO scale buildings!

Model Train Scenery