Phil's Practical - Build a car park

27 May 2020
Car parks are an essential part of any scene, we show you how to lay your own miniature tarmac.


The key to convincing tarmac, especially in OO and N, is texture. You want some, but not too much for a tarmac surface.

We're using a 1mm thick sheet of card as the basis for our car park. Make sure it's well fixed down to a flat surface. A thin coat of PVA glue is ideal, and then weight it down overnight with piles of old model railway magazines.

Kerbs and pavements are built us up using 2mm thick card usually sold under the name "Daler Board", or described as artists mounting board from art shops. Sometimes you can blag offcuts from picture framers who have loads of waste, but with an A0 sheet costing little more than a coffee, it's a cheap material however you get hold of some.

Cutting the card is easy with a sharp knife. For marking curves, coins make an easy guide. We have laid all the kerbstones separately, but you could cut 2mm wide strips and score the joins, a far easier way to lay long, straight lengths.

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Painting starts with a coat of grey, ideally from a spray can. The exact shade doesn't matter much as it's only a base coat and will be covered up later.

Paint with a couple of different shades of grey splodged on with a small sponge. Start with a dark grey and then work over with a lighter shade (we are using Precision Paints Tarmac followed by faded tarmac), working quickly so the first coat hasn't dried before the second goes on. This way, they blend nicely. Try to avoid a uniform result as real tarmac is rarely a single colour.

Finish by dusting some talcum power on the surface with a 1in brush. This adds more shades, bends the colours and ensures the paint dried perfectly matt.