Friday, 15 July 2011

Rambling and Ranting about Polystyrene Sheet

Time to put my cards on the table. I hate everyone in the UK for one VERY simple reason.

When I was a mere youth and my Grandmother bought me the old red 'How To Make Wargames Terrain' book, there was mention made of polystyrene insulation tiles and sheet. Then when I was a touch older and nosing round the web, particularly Terragenesis, there was mention of insulation tile and sheet. Everytime it was mentioned, it was followed with the words 'available from DIY stores'.
Okay, I thought, let's go check out the local hardware shop. They didn't have it.
OKay, I thought, the local hardware is not that big, let's pay a pilgrimage to Bunnings Warehouse, the largest of Hardware stores. They didn't have it.
Eventually, I found expanded, not extruded, polystyrene sheets for a ruinous cost at a large carft shop in Chaple Stree, Prahran (that's pronounced Pa'ran for all those readers outside of Melbourne and it's crazy ideas on pronunciation). It was the white type, made up of big round balls. Very soft and very fragile. But I bought it anyway. It was literally all I could find.
Seems no one in this country used polystyrene insulation.

Many years later, when my dad started building his infamous Kayak, he needed resins and fibreglass and all sorts of interesting stuff, so he went to a place called Solid Solutions. When he got home, he mentioned that they sold high density blue polystyrene.
So I bought some. And it was good. And it was very good. And it was affordable.
Then I left home and moved to the country for my job, and popping out to visit Solid Solutions was not an option anymore - it was over two hours drive away.
Also I drive a tiny little blue car. You cannot fit great big sheets of blue foam in a tiny little blue car, no matter how well the colours match.
Of course, I can always pop over to Solid Solutions while I am visiting my parents, but it's a pain in the neck.

So I went on the Internet, and had a look around and found that just about the only places to get the stuff in this country are building supply companies who only deal in bulk orders. Or in Perth. (For those without the geographic apprecitation of Australia which comes from living in it, Perth is on the other side of the continent. It's a blood long way.)
Fortunately, a friend of mine took a job working for a place which wholesales things like polystyrene to the building industry, and he's taken to claiming the off cuts and giving them to me. Problem is I don't see him often, and he didn't realise just how small my car is, so last time I got stuff from him I could hardly fit it in without surgery.

So if you are in the UK, and you are writing an article or a book about making terrain, and you use high density polystyrene foam, spare a thought to those countries where it's NOT easy to get. You don't know how lucky you are to be able to just pop into the local DIY and get a sheet.

For those interested, these are the suppliers in Australia I know of:
SOLID SOLUTIONS: Located in Melbourne, they have an excellent stock, although they stopped making 10mm sheet, and now start at 25mm.
FOAM SALES: Located in Perth. They seem to be happy to sell to the public, but of course, they are on the other side of the continent. If you live in WA this could be useful. Of course, WA is almost mind numbingly huge, so it might not.

If you know any other places you can get high density polystyrene in Australia, let me know. I want to get together a list to help people starting out so they don't have the frustration I did.

UPDATE: I've stopped hating everyone in the UK. Apparently polystyrene isn't as readily available over there as GW seems to want us to believe (see the comments below). Now I'm just back to being annoyed with GW for making me think the UK was some sort of magical wonderland full of polystyrene. Gah.
Thinking about it, I'm actually kinda surprised that GW hasn't seen a further opportunity to sell things at greatly increased prices and gone in to selling sheets of polystyrene themselves!


  1. FoamEX is good for it in South Australia, I've gotten a ton from them.

  2. Any dedicated insulation shop should be able to set you up. Ask for a product called Fomular by owen corning, its yellow rather than blue but comes in thicknesses from 25>>100mm, the 25mm stuff for a sheet is about $25.

    Nice Terrain btw :)

  3. You're kiddin, right!? I live in the UK and I can't find it anywhere except for at an utterly obscene price or in-bulk.
    It's like a mythical beast, everyone knows about it because GW use it so extensively but few of us ever get to see it!

  4. Gah. Obviously I have been taken in by GW propaganda! Curse them and their insidious lies about polystyrene! Ah well. I shall stop resenting all residents of the UK, and simply resent GW instead. Which is what most people seem to do, so I'll be in good company.


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