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Which are the Best Paints for Model Railroads?

Drew asks readers:

“Does anyone have a suggestion for model RR paints? Since Poly-Scale stopped manufacturing their paints, I have been unable to find suitable paints for the RR’s I model. If the manufacturer and/or supplier is in Europe, do you know if they will ship to the US? I of course, am looking for 1 to 3 OZ. bottles (50ml to 100ml ?). Thanks very much for the information!”

3 Responses to Which are the Best Paints for Model Railroads?

  • R. Olivarezsays:

    Have you considered using artist acrylic paints? They are versatile because you can dilute them with water to act like an ink wash or leave them thick to create textures.

    What I would do is to buy a small set of water color paints and small set of acrylic paints that you can find in hobby and crafts stores, and a small and inexpensive air brush set. Read and learn how to use the air brush set using the water color paints before using the acrylic paints. After using the air brush set, be sure to completely clean it because the water color and acrylic paints can clog up the air brush, making it useless to use there after. Instead of using your models to practice on, use plain, cheap white paper that you get at any market or stationary store. When you fell proficient enough, then move up to a scrap model before attempting a good model.

  • juan Gomez Meuniersays:

    Have you considered using acrylic paint from Vallejo or MIG (Miguel Jimenez) both are Spanish made, and are the best you can use. Vallejo is acrylic vinyl and MIG are acrylic, I prefer MIG as I have seen him working lately, specially he`s an expert in weathering. But if you can´t get them, you can use acrylic from Testor´s and all the brands they have in you nearest hobby store. Humbrol, Citadel, P3, etc. have also acrylic paints for model painting.
    Of course you can use common artistic acrylic, I use them including in my airbrush (Badger and Aztec), with a proper diluted media (distilled water and a tiny drop of dishwashing detergent or distilled water and alcohol –make your own mix- trial an error- because it depends on the quality of water an alcohol you have access to). But with common artistic colors you must give a varnish final coat in order to preserve the paint –scratches and rubbing-).

  • John Byerssays:

    The difference between paints suitable for models and regular paints is the size of the pigment. You can take regular paint and make it thinner, but the large chunks of pigment make it too thick for small models (unless you have no detail that would be obscured). I remember many years ago a modeler got hold of some prototype paint and thinned it down and painted his Great Northern diesel. While he did a neat job, you could see that the paint was way too thick. So the test for whatever paint you use is how finely ground are the pigments. You can test this by painting a scrap of something that has fine detail and see how it looks after it dries. Of course a paint suitable for an O scale model might still be too course for a smaller scale.

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