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What is Foam Core Board?

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  • Written By: Nychole Price
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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A foam core board is a lightweight, yet sturdy, board made by adhering a sheet of paper to each side of a foam core. It is used to temporarily display signs, art work, menus and other signage. Foam board is especially suited for trade shows signage, directional and informational signage and indoor point of purchase signs. There are five types of foam core board available for displaying artwork. They are standard foam board, Prime Foam-X® board, Gatorfoarm® board, Gilman board and Artcore.

Standard foam board is available in 0.125 inch (0.32 cm) and 0.1875 inch (0.48 cm) thicknesses, with several sizes available to accommodate a variety of artwork. It has a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 to 6.5, making it unsuitable for long-term use, as it will cause the ink to fade on the prints. The original foam board is also available with an adhesive backing, for easy application of art work. It is sold in a wide variety of colors, including fluorescents. Acid-free foam board is also available and has a slightly basic pH of 7.5 to 8.5, making it more suitable for longer use, though still not permanent.

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Prime Foam-X® board is similar to standard foam board, but with a couple of distinct differences. The paper that is adhered to the foam core is thick, glossy, and treated with a UV inhibitor to protect the board from becoming brittle with exposure to the sun. Indentations to the foam quickly disappear, as the board has better shape retention abilities. It is available in white only, with 0.125 inch (0.32 cm) and 0.210 inch (0.53 cm) thicknesses.

Gatorfoarm® board is different than standard foam core board in that the foam center is made from Dow Styrofoam polystyrene, instead of the basic polystyrene core. This makes the board rigid, weight bearing and flat. If the board is being repeatedly handled or transported, Gatorfoarm® board is the best material to use, as it is dent resistant. It is sold in black and white, with thicknesses of 0.19 inch (0.48 cm) to 1 inch (2.54 cm).

Gilman board is similar to Gatorfoarm® board, with the only difference being an expanded polystyrene core and clay coated white sulfate paper for the outer sheeting. With this type of outer paper, the board can be scored with a mat knife and the pieces bent until they snap off. Gilman board is mostly used for framing photographs. It is sold in a variety of colors, but only in a 4 feet by 8 feet (1.22 meters by 2.44 meters) size.

Artcore is a type of foam core board made from polystyrene and covered in a white styrene sheet. It is waterproof and UV proof, making it perfect for use at outdoor events. It is difficult to mount pictures and paper, though, due to its plastic, nonabsorbent surface. It is recommended for use as signage and displays. It is only sold in white with thicknesses of 0.06 inch (0.16 cm), 0.125 inch (0.3175 cm) and 0.1875 inch (0.48 cm).

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