You know what foam board (aka “foam core”) is – it’s the awesome stuff you used to use in science fair as a kid!

But now that you’re an adult, you’re using for much more mature applications.

Presentation, way finding, temporary signage, conference and trade show booths, the list goes on.

foam core prints guide

Foam core signs and boards are ideal presentation pieces to get that message across in your business endeavors. These high quality boards are best suited for business or scholastic presentations, lectures, and trade shows.

Businesses often create custom foam board signs for special events or sales or to direct their customers. When you print on foam core you send the message that what you are conveying is worth the attention of your audience.

Foam core is also known as foam boards, foam core boards, kappa, or paper-face foam board, it’s all referring to the same strong, light-weight, and easily cut material.

And we love it.

Of all the high quality board printing options from gator boards to dibond prints, foam core is the most economical. It is ideal for temporary use, although it can be used for longer periods with the right care. There are many options available when you choose to print on foam core including double sided printing, lamination, or heavy duty thickness. We will cover all of the possibilities in a moment.

Where to Buy Foam Core Material

Foam core can be bought at many office supply and some big box stores, but it is usually in restricted sizes and blank. If you don’t need anything more than the standard sizing and need small quantities quickly, then your local office supply store works just fine. When you need custom cut foam core boards, however, you’ll want to look to specialists that can cut your sizes custom for you, especially if you want larger quantities.

Online printing companies, such as ours, can do custom foam board printing and cutting to your exact specifications and quantities. Rather than do that cutting on your own, its best to leave it to the experts so they can do it safely for you. Specialist printing companies such as ours can give you precisely cut boards, printed with your sign information, and delivered to you safely and quickly.


What Can You Print onto Foam Core?

When we’re talking about foam core printing, we’re talking about professionally printing directly onto the foam board and not pasting a paper cut out onto it.

You can print pretty much anything that can be uploaded on the computer to print such as all photographs, graphic designs, and text. The limit is only your imagination for what can be printed onto the boards. We recommend printing directly onto the foam boards for a cleaner, sleeker look and to prevent separation that can occur when you paste paper onto a board.


Use of Foam Board Signs

When should you print your signs onto foam board as opposed to more permanent material? The best use of foam core for signs is when you only need these signs temporarily. The best example would be when businesses are having temporary sales at their place of business and want to direct traffic to the store.

Conferences will often use these signs to show which conference rooms are being used for a seminar. When presenting at a tradeshow, companies will use foam core signs at their booth to promote their products. In all of these cases the boards are only being used one time or only for a few days. Foam core can get banged up if it is not taken care of, so you must pay careful attention to the boards when transporting them.

Foam Core Poster Printing & Foam Core Poster Boards

Foam core poster board printing is generally referring the same to the same printing done on any size of poster boards, but usually foam core poster boards are larger and used for presentations and signage. When you want a foam core sign printed for visibility and giving your audience direction, it’s best to do so on a large foam board so that it is highly visible to foot traffic.

Foam Core Board Sizes

Foam core boards are available in a multitude of sizes to fit any project. For the most part the sky’s the limit, but the sizing will vary from printer to printer. For example, at our shop we offer a wide range of sizes as you can see on our foam core prints page. We can print boards from 6” to 48” wide and from 6” to 96” high.

Sometimes foam core is used on a much smaller scale the case of architecture or prototyping projects. The ability to cut the foam core along with it’s durability makes it an ideal material for these types of small scale project.


Additional Foam Core Printing Options

When you order foam core boards from custom printers, they will offer you many more options than just custom digital foam core printing or different board sizes, there are a multitude of other options available. We are most familiar with our own process, so we’ll go off of our own options.

Double Sided Foam Core Printing

When you order a board you can choose single sided printing or double sided foam core printing for an additional cost. This can be extremely useful when you want to have a board that is seen from both directions or is hanging from the ceiling.

Another use of double sided foam core would be when you want to use this in a presentation and can flip the board around to use as a visual aid for other topics. When you use double sided printing you can save yourself the cost of purchasing a second foam core board, which makes you an efficiency ninja!

Foam Core Print Lamination

Want to extend the life and quality of your foam core board even more? Consider lamination on your print. This will increase the life expectancy of the board as well as add a higher quality look to the board. The lamination does add an extra cost in most cases, but if you want your foam core print to last longer, it could be a great addition.

Heavy Duty Foam Core Material

Instead of the standard 3/16” foam core board material, you can usually upgrade to a 1/2” foam core board. This makes the board more durable, longer lasting, and less prone to bending and creasing. Sites such as ours offer this option for an additional price so consider how long you’ll be using the board for and who you’re trying to impress with the presentation.


Gator Board vs Foam Core Board

When comparing foam core vs gator board you should evaluate what your printing project is going to look like. How long will you want the board to last? Is it a long term board or just a short term board that’s going to be used only once? What is your price range?

Custom Ultra board Prints

Foam core will provide added strength and rigidity with a lower cost than the other options. Foamcore is best suited for short term use and is available in thicknesses of 3/16″ (standard) or 1/2″ (heavy duty).

Gator board, Gatorfoam, or Gator foam board provides a more durable solution at a slightly higher cost. Gator board has a polystyrene core that is more dense than the foam core with a wood fiber veneer laminate surface on both faces. Gator board is best suited for a short to mid-term application life for trade show displays, presentations, and other indoor uses.

Both foam core and gator boards can be cut using a knife, saw or router to any shape or size making both of them excellent option for life-sized standee cutouts. When you have a professional printer create your piece, they can cut it to any piece you specify. It is good to know however that you as a customer can make changes to the board later with standard tools.

So to recap, if you’re only using your board temporarily for one or two shows, foam core will work just fine, but if you want more durability you should look at gator boards.

How to Cut Foam Core

It can be cut using a knife, saw or router to any shape or size making it an excellent option for life-sized standee cutouts. You can use more precise tools to get more intricate cuts or for smaller projects.

Foam core should be cut with caution and always using the right supplies. You will need:

  1. Modeling knife with an ample supply of sharp blades.  Single-edged razor blades will also work if you don’t have the modeling knife.
  2. Machinist’s square.
  3. For longer cuts and unique bends you might need a metal yardstick to get the right angle and accuracy.
  4. A large piece of cardboard underneath the foam core to use as a cutting surface.
  5. A flat work table. Avoid unstable conditions especially when using sharp blades

Make sure all the safeguards are in check before you start cutting the foam core boards. Mark your cuts before hand with a pencil so that if you make mistakes they can be erased and corrected. For the first cuts you’ll only want to cut the top layer of the board, just penetrating the paper surface. When the top cut looks accurate you can go through the cut again a second time with a deeper cut all the way through the board. For the final cut you’ll want to cut all the way through the board from end to end and penetrate the final layer of paper. Inspect your blades after your first couple of cuts and put on new ones if they look dull. If the blades aren’t sharp you risk tearing the paper.

More On Foam Core Board Prints

Feel free to contact us for more information and questions on custom foam board printing. We offer high quality printing that includes all of the options discussed in this guide, and you can check out everything including foam core pricing on our product page.

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