How to Build a Model of a House Out of Cardboard

Written by larry simmons
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Model houses made from cardboard offer an easy-to-construct and inexpensive alternative to wooden or resin models. Quick to build, a cardboard model house requires little more than scissors and glue to complete and can even be made by young children. Model houses are available in a variety of scales and designs from single-room farmhouses to large dollhouse types, and many come available in a template that you can print out yourself on thin cardboard, creating a sturdy model house that's suitable for anything from war gaming to ornamentation.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Personal computer
  • Colour printer
  • Thin cardboard
  • Clear spray varnish
  • Scissors
  • Self-healing cutting board
  • Straight edge
  • Hobby knife
  • Gluestick
  • Seam roller
  • Cyanoacrylate glue

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  1. 1

    Prepare the printer for your model sheets. You should set the printer for the highest quality printing settings available and make sure that there are no scaling options chosen.

  2. 2

    Print the template sheets for your house onto thin cardboard. Template sheets contain everything you will need for the house you're building, from the walls and rooftop of your house to chimneys, fences, staircases and floors. The template will also include the tabs that you will need to use to connect the various pieces. Thin cardboard can be found at art or office supply stores, often under the names poster board or cardstock.

  3. 3

    Spray the printed cardboard with a layer of clear spray varnish. The varnish will protect the colours of your printed structure from running and provide a thin plastic layer that will add a bit more firmness to the final house model. Allow the varnish to dry for an hour.

  4. 4

    Lay the cardboard on the self-healing cutting board print side up. A self-healing cutting board is a cutting mat specifically designed to absorb cuts from hobby knives without lasting damage, sealing the cuts instantly so the board lasts longer. Use a straight edge to line your cut for the model pieces. A hobby knife applied with a light pressure should be enough to cut through the thin cardboard. For smaller cuts or curved cuts, scissors can be used. Any openings that may be present in the house such as windows or doors should be cut out at this time as well.

  5. 5

    Some models come with interior as well as exterior print and will have to be folded to create two-sided walls. Use the straight edge at the fold marks and fold the piece, firmly creasing the folded edge. Use the gluestick to glue the folded pieces together and then seal them securely by running over the folded piece with the seam roller and set a book atop it to weigh it down as the glue sets between 10 and 15 minutes. The seam roller is a small roller on the end of a short handle that flattens the walls and removes any air that may have been caught between the fold.

  6. 6

    Construct the house by folding the parts along the tabs marked by the folding-edge lines and gluing the pieces together according to the assembly instructions. To glue tabs covered by the varnish you will need to use the cyanoacrylate glue (CA), which is a form of plastic adhesive super glue. The CA glue works quickly, so make sure the connections are made correctly and require no adjustments. Hold the glued edges together for about 30 seconds to give the CA glue time to set.

  7. 7

    Fold the roof along its seam to the angle necessary to fit it onto your house and then glue it to the building using the CA glue, level with the house walls.

Tips and warnings

  • When purchasing cardboard, 80-pound cardstock will provide a firm model while being thin enough to run through most printers.
  • For sturdier models you can glue the cardboard to Bristol board backing or balsa or plywood sheets before assembling the parts.
  • Use as little glue as possible as too much will wet the cardstock causing wrinkles in the model surface.

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