Making A Garage Fit For A Railway

garage railwayI’ve had a few emails and comments recently from modellers asking if a garage can be used to house their model railway.

The immediate answer to the question is a resounding yes. I know of many modellers who home their N, OO and HO railways in garages without problem.

But that doesn’t mean you can just leap into building you garage railway. While they are structurally good places for a railway there are environmental and security considerations.

By environment I mean the temperature. Garages by nature of their externally facing walls will get a LOT colder and damper than a loft or spare room and both these aren’t good playmates for model trains.

Equally, many garages often have holes and gaps around the doors and so are home to all manner or insects, dirt and dust.

I’ve got a spare garage that I’m planning on using for a future layout and having spoken to various builders my preparation work will consist of:

  • Fitting out extra lighting – especially over the area where my workbench and layout will be – and power points.
  • Insulating the walls, roof and door to keep the cold out – using foil insulation such as TLX Silver Multi-Foil insulation from Wickes.
  • Weather proofing the door.
  • Plaster boarding the walls (further helps insulation but also to keep the area clean.
  • And maybe, putting boarding down on the floor.

None of this is expensive and will transform a garage from dark, cold, dirty room to a dry, clean area suitable for spending a lot of time in.

Obviously there’s still potential for it to get cold and although the insulation should keep the worst of the Winter cold out and keep the railway safe I’ll get a small electric heater to make it more comfortable for the railway engineer 😃

Lastly, I also mentioned security…

Garage doors aren’t as secure as house doors so I’ll be fitting an extra lock on the door and hooking up an alarm to it. I might also incorporate a movement detection based CCTV just for good measure.

With this lot done, a garage will be perfectly viable as a room for a railway.

If you have a model railway in your garage share your story below in a comment. I get a lot of questions about this so other modellers would appreciate any tips.

Picture credit & copyright, ModelRailwayEngineer reader Arthur Smith’s garage; a work in progress during fitting out for his OO gauge railway.

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.

Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.

When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here,
    • LAST year I started conversion of my old run down garage for use as a workshop and have enough space for a model railway.12x8foot.
      Damp was a big concern i cemented holes in floor and walls then painted in bituminous paint then covered whole floor and 1 metre up sides with damp proofing damp should get through that.walls and ceiling also covered in damp proof sheeting.
      Then 4 inches insulation covered by 12mm exterior plyboard all this sheeting seemed and taped. I hope this helps

  1. I have my railway in a garden shed. I have it fully insulated but it still gets damp inside. I would appreciate any advice on how to stop the damp getting in

  2. If you can afford it replace the garage door with bi-fold doors with built in venetian blinds. These will be air tight, secure, and can be arranged so that a car can enter if required.
    I have converted my built in garage to a workshop.

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