Concrete model making

fine line

Has anyone had any experience of making models out of concrete? Is it recommended to use wood, or will thick card do if it's reinforced properly? Any particular considerations to bear in mind?
Phew...What a lot of questions. Thanks.

Apr 23, 07 7:50 am

thick card will absorb the water and turn to mush. depending on the mixture you've made, it might last long enough to do the job or it might fail before the concrete is set. i'd bet the latter.

Apr 23, 07 7:54 am

coat the interior


i have used chipboard molds before and while they didn't turn to mush, they did stick to the concrete. My advice: line the inside of your formwork with plastic if you want it to look clean.

Apr 23, 07 8:00 am
fine line

Chhers for the quick response guys. Would card lined with acetate/acrylic be fine then?

Apr 23, 07 8:06 am

should work. at least thats what my studio prof. told me

Apr 23, 07 8:12 am

you can use vaseline to release the form.... i used formica and lined my molds/forms when i did a few counter tops..... depending how complicated it is, use acrylic........... can also wrap he inside with aluminum foil.....or syran wrap


Apr 23, 07 8:16 am

hmmmmmmmmm...concrete countertops.

i used gator board and it worked well. i slightly lubricated it with vegetable oil. don't go too heavy with vegetable oil because it can stain.

Apr 23, 07 8:24 am

try acrylic/plex; the surface will come out the smoothest and cleanest...not to mention you can laser cut the pieces easily.
it also makes a really strong mold that wont buckle easily.

also, instead of concrete....try rockite. it looks much nicer b/c its finer, unless your model is huge/you don't have enough money.

Apr 23, 07 8:29 am

^^^^second the plexi idea, I''ve never used chipboard but I suppose it could work depending on the amount of concrete you are using. Remember to spray the mold with something like PAM, or vaseline before you pour the concrete.

Apr 23, 07 9:32 am
liberty bell

To follow up on justavisual's suggestion: do a test pour with acrylic first, as the concrete surface you get may end up being more glass-like than you want - it almost doesn't look like concrete any more when it's cast on plexi. You could use the laser cutter (or an exacto) to score the surface of the acrylic to make surface texture, I suppose.

Apr 23, 07 9:40 am

Rockite with acrylic/plex is the way to go!!

Apr 23, 07 11:12 am

After quite a few failed attempts, I most successfully (and surprisingly) made the mold out of foam core (spraying it with PAM before pouring). The foam core is "slick" and non-porous and so it peels right off and because it's "foam" core, you can kind of smush it(technical term) to get it out of crevices. I didn't reinforce the concrete with anything as it was never more than about 1/2"-1" thick and it has held up- my mom still has it hanging on the wall in her house- it was too heavy to hang on the fridge ;). By the way, I used quick-crete. You have to work really fast and make sure you really tap out the bubbles, but it dries in just a couple minutes.

2 tiles- poured into mold- quickcrete

good luck...

Apr 23, 07 11:47 am

faom core will work..use a spray on vegitable oil. You need to reinforce it, though

Apr 23, 07 12:08 pm

use acrylic or some type of polystyrene (petg works well)

you will get very very smooth surfaces and crisp edges if done right

no oils needed

Apr 23, 07 1:27 pm

watch the mix on the concrete..... just get portland cement and some play sand or white silicone sand....... figure out a decent mix.... the regular concrete has tooo many rocks and shyt


Apr 23, 07 1:54 pm

yeah, stay away from concrete mix!

i would use pourstone in school. nice consistency and grey color.

Apr 23, 07 2:30 pm

oh, and experiment with different liners, etc.

depending on the look you want, different form liners will give you different results. try acrylic, mylar, plastic grocery bags, maybe some strips of basswood (for that board formed look), etc.

Apr 23, 07 2:32 pm

I normally use hydrocal instead of concrete, and I would recommend it if it suits your purpose. it cures faster and is more dense.

for a mold, I use foam insulation boards. why? the blue boards are:

(1) dense enough to give the finished product a smooth surface (but watch out for the printed side of the board - it can transfer to hydrocal)
(2) rigid enough to cut with a bandsaw but soft enough to cut with a knife
(3) easy to assemble in the final mold (using hot glue)
(4) easy to test as a mold (just fill with water to make sure you are "air tight"

now, I've never coated the insides with anything, and *most* of the mold comes off pretty easy. You can find yourself digging it out for a while, if you have some, shall we say, less-than-exposed voids in the final form you want.

I would think the concrete might work with the blue insulation board also. just make sure you shake out the air bubbles (or, if what you are doing is large enough, get a vibrator).

Apr 23, 07 3:27 pm

I used gatorboard and wax paper. I only made 2 concrete models though.

Apr 23, 07 6:45 pm

why concrete - try using plaster of paris about 1/2 the weight and dries fairly quickly

Apr 23, 07 8:36 pm

Yes, this would be a traditional method.

Sean Taylor

About 10 years ago, my thesis studio did a site model out of concrete. It was about 3 feet x 3 feet x 5 feet tall (one continuous pour). We basically did this over Christmas break. The model was much, much more complex than I am writing below, but it is almost impossible to explain fully in writing, so I will only explain the top portion of the model. I'll see if I can post some images later.

1. Made a plexiglass site model (positive). Each plexiglass building was built so that it could be pulled out of the wax negative form independently (and carefully).
2. Made a form with the plexiglass positive and poured a was model (negative).
3. Make a plexiglass box with the wax negative at the bottom and pour concrete (without aggregate, mixed with plaster).
4. Dig out the wax to reveal the concrete model.

Apr 23, 07 11:26 pm
Sean Taylor

"2. Made a form with the plexiglass positive and poured a was model (negative)."

Sorry, make that a "wax model (negative)."

Apr 23, 07 11:27 pm

you can try and use chip board and put clear boxing tape on both the outside and inside . it last long enough to pour around 5-10lbs of (quikrete-quickset fine sand mix) the dry time is about 24 hours to pull off the chip board and tape but it comes out pretty clean. 

this is the most cost effective way to go as i tried silicone molds, resins, acrylic, rockite, plaster, bass wood.

quickrete quickest fine sand mix - 12$

chip board(48" x 36") - 4$

tape - 4$

pigment color change - 5$

laser cut - depends what you need 

so your test model comes out to be no more than 25$ :) there are some proffesor who demand alot and dont care about cost so i tried my  

Apr 2, 17 9:04 pm

what would people recommend using for small scale models? I'm making a 1:100 model of a fairly small building, not much longer than 500mm. Is it worth using concrete or is there a better alternative? 

Oct 23, 17 2:06 pm

500mm is indeed a very small building...


In fact, it's an even smaller model, I was looking a different print out not to scale. 150 x 100 is the base for it, 1:100 scale. It's a small industrial building that we have been given as a project to renovate as an interior design project.
I've designed concrete floors though so I'm wanting to use this for the model,


... does anybody have tips for creating such a small model in concrete? (Apologies for the cut off message, I hit the wrong button)


Just think for a second...on a scale of 1:100 with a maximum span of 10m your floor in the model would be like 4mm thick, if your span is only 5m, we're talking about a 2mm thick real poured concrete floor in your model. You might be able to pour it in plaster but that's very fragile, or 3d print it with this kind of powder that gives it a peppermint texture(the old fashioned hard white candy, not the plant), yet also very fragile. I hate the plastic 3d printers myself. But I'd personally go for grey cardboard on that scale.

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