Foamboard vs. Styrene | Pros and Cons For Your Business

Foamboard vs. Styrene | Pros and Cons For Your Business | Printmoz

Sturdy, waterproof, and made from high-quality material are the three things people look for in a good print job and most of the times beautiful. To help you learn more about signage, we’ve decided to differentiate between the two most requested signages, which are Foamboard and Styrene print. In this short article, we break down the fundamental features of both prints, so keep reading.

Foamboard Print 

different thickness foam board prints

You may also know this print as Foam core board, Paper-faced foam or polyurethane foam. Foamboard is famously known for its versatility; it can be used for displays, signs, and projects. Moreover, it is quick, affordable, and has a great appearance. 

Foamboard is made from polystyrene, a popular type of plastic that is also used in the production of Styrofoam. One of the reasons people love foamboards is that they are incredibly lightweight thanks to the polystyrene core of foam board, which is 95-98% air.

This printing and display board is composed of a foam core between two sheets of paper, which is why usually referred to as paper-faced foam. One of the great things about foamboard is that it has a great finish. It has a variety of finishes that can be used for picture frames, science fair projects, display boards, and other projects.

Pros of Foamboard

One of the significant advantages of a foamboard is that it can be used for heavy duty poster boards because of its sturdiness. It is very rigid and hardly bends or curls. Foamboards are also super lightweight so that you can move them from your office to your new home without a struggle or from your store to a clients home. 

If you need more finishing options, foamboards are your best bet, why? You can easily laminate or frame your foamboard. You can also choose between a glossy, textured, or matte finish depending on your décor or personal taste. 

You can cut, nail, screw to the wall or use Velcro on a foamboard because it has a variety of thicknesses that make it easy to handle. 

Cons of a Foamboard

thin sheet of foam board advertising

If you’re thinking of using a foamboard in the long term, then you must avoid exposing it to the elements. Foamboards can get discolored, disintegrated or warped if left under the sun or rain. It can be used for a short outdoor event and not as a permanent outdoor display. Also keep it away from your bathroom or kitchen as steam can create moisture, affecting the foamboard. 

Although we’ve mentioned how sturdy this material is, foamboard is prone to wear and tear. Hence, you must handle all foamboards with care.

And also, if you must display your foamboard outside, make sure it is fastened adequately, otherwise wave bye-bye to it when a strong wind blows. 

As mentioned earlier, foamboards detest moisture, which also includes adhesives, most of which contain water that can warp the outer layer of a foamboard signage. 

Glossy or Matte Foamboard Finish

Before diving into this part, the first question is… to be glare or not to be. Matte finish is generally glare-free and resistant to fingerprints, which are both significant advantages. Even through glass, matte usually has a soft and subdued appearance. 

Black ink and matte-finished foam boards complement each other better than with glossy paper. On the flip side, matte finishes make specific photographs grainier, and this is especially noticeable in high-contrast images.

If matte doesn’t really do the trick for you, glossy finishes might float your boat better. The two main cons of a glossy finish are that it is prone to fingerprints and glare. However, it can repel moisture, which is a plus. If you’re dealing with high-contrast or high-saturation photos, glossy finished foam board prints are ideal. 

Glossy finishes are also incredibly eye-catching, and has promotional aesthetic, that is suitable for album artwork, magazine cover or movie posters. 

Thickness of a Foamboard 

Foamboard is usually between 0.3 and 0.5 mm thick, which is roughly 1/8 and 3/16 inches, respectively. The most common size of a foamboard is typically 20 inches by 30 inches; however, other sizes can be made as large as 30 x 40 and as small as 12 x 18.  The material of a foamboard is typically white. However, some manufacturers offer it in black.

Styrene Print 

styrene signs for advertising

Now that you know the nitty-gritty of foamboard print, its time to differentiate it from styrene print. So, what is styrene? Styrene is a lightweight, thin, semi-rigid plastic substrate. It is a liquid hydrocarbon, derived from ethenylbenzene phenylethane vinylbenzene, otherwise known by its shorter, easier name benzene. 

Styrene is incredibly flexible and lightweight; thanks to the expanded plastic material it’s made from. And because of its flexibility, you can easily roll it up after an excellent day of sales or after a show and transport it for proper storage. 

Styrene is referred to as polystyrene; however, the former is a clear, colorless liquid while the latter is solid. Even though this difference exists, both are considered compounds styrene. This means that the terms styrene, polystyrene, and styrene mounted prints are interchangeable.

Pros of A Styrene Print  

two sheets of styrene prints

Unlike foamboard print, styrene is waterproof. It can withstand a certain amount of moisture. Styrene is highly durable, and apart from its resistance to moisture, it can resist denting and ripping. This material is also affordable, which means you can order as many as you need for large orders. 

The double-sided smooth printing surfaces of styrene make it the perfect signage for numerous in-store point-of-purchase signage and tradeshow graphics.

Most stores use styrene signs for in-store directions, to provide information and for store display inserts. Thanks to its flexible nature, styrene signs are the ideal substrate for curved displays. It also makes transportation easier as it can be rolled and stored or for easy shipping. 

What makes Styrene different from Foamboard is that it is water resistant. And with a glossy, matte, or semi-matte laminate finish, the styrene print can be shielded from UV rays and wear and tear. 

Styrene is commonly used for frame inserts because it is strong and more durable than poster paper. You can also use Velcro or adhesive- because it is waterproof- to hang it up. 

Cons of Styrene

Styrene is a lot thinner than foamboard, making it less durable. Also, styrene cannot be used as a permanent outdoor sign. Long-term exposure to UV light can cause the plastic composite of styrene to bend and warp in the sun. So, it's better to hang a styrene sign away from a window that is directly exposed to the sun. 

Thickness of Styrene 

Styrene is usually either white (the most popular color) or black. In sizing, styrene sheets are typically 48”x96” in size; however, they can be customized to any shape or size. It has a variety of thickness ranging from 0.15” all the way to .090”. 


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