If you’ve ever noticed your model railroad is getting a little boring (and who hasn’t?), then you’re in luck because this blog post is here to help. You can simply coat the entire track with paint and wait a few months to see the results. And, when you’re done, it’s easy to remove if you’re not satisfied with the results. But, if you’re looking for something more permanent, and to get the best results, you’ll want to use cork.

To create a realistic model train track, you need to know where the “season” is and how to make it “rain”. Here are some tips that will help you achieve the best results.

I’ve always had a passion for model railroading. I also have a love for photography. I wanted to combine both into a blog post, and here it is. One thing I like to do with my photography is to show people how to weather their model train tracks.

Knowing how to realistically weather your model train tracks is a talent in and of itself, but if you can master it, it will really help tie the whole layout together! There’s nothing like some old, rusty rails to bring a railway yard together. They indicate how long it’s been around.

However, it’s not only your train tracks that you need think about; understanding how to weather your model train is as important!

From airbrushing to oils, there are a variety of methods to weather your model train track, so we’ll look at a few of them in this post!

Why Should Your Train Tracks Be Weathered? 

When it comes to model railroads, we all invest a lot of time and effort attempting to mimic the actual design of a genuine railway track so that the layout seems as realistic as possible. However, the one thing that may pull a person out of it is how genuine it seems.

It’s pointless to have a genuine Santa Fe Flyer moving around a layout on toy track. It just pulls you out of the moment.

As a consequence, weathering your model railway tracks is an important part of the process.

Should You Purchase Pre-Waxed Tracks or Make Your Own?

As a result, it all relies on how much time and patience you have to devote to your design.

It’s ideal if you can weather the railway tracks yourself. You may apply your own techniques and customize the details to fit the pattern during weathering.

If you’re simply searching for pre-made weathered track, you may have a hard time finding it in your size. There aren’t many companies who produce pre-weathered tracks. Micro-Engineering, on the other hand, has a very beautiful weathered HO track that comes in a number of lengths.

Weather Train Tracks may be used in a variety of ways.

Weathering your model train tracks may be done in a variety of ways. The following are a few of the most common methods: 

Brushing with a dry brush 

This technique is useful for highlighting higher regions. However, since it’s difficult to produce a consistent outcome, the method isn’t suitable for producing fading effects across a large area. 

All you need for this technique is a paintbrush and some paint — Dip a brush into your favorite model railway weathering paint to get started (or even just some rust coloured acrylic paint). Wipe off the majority of the paint off the brush using a paper towel. After that, rapidly flick the brush over the tops of the surfaces you want to weather. This will aid in the creation of highlights on all of your elevated elements.


Paint washes require the application of thin layers of paint in order to provide translucent effects and fill in gaps. It’s a great technique to utilize in conjunction with dry brushing.

Make sure the model is clear of dust and small particles before using this technique. You may do this by brushing off the dust or washing the set with a mild detergent. If you’re weathering anything with edges, such as your model train, remember to mask off any parts you don’t want to get weathered, since this may be a nasty process!

To make this work, all you need is a black/rust red/brown acrylic paint that has been watered down and applied generously with a brush. The paint will flow and wind up in the cracks and crevices of your model track, highlighting those dark pockets and giving the impression of dirt and grime accumulating.

It will take some trial and error to figure out how many levels to add, but the more layers you add, the greater the effect! Always keep in mind that you may need to apply another coat once it has dried, and remember that it is always simpler to add more than it is to remove!

When applying this, be in mind that if your track is already damaged to your board, the paint will flow into the landscape below, possibly staining your train track ballast.


This is an excellent technique for applying stains to help simulate exhaust, grime, and dust for weathering model train tracks and adding general grunginess to engines and cars.

Make sure you’re working on a somewhat clean surface before you begin.

If the model has been handled often or has accumulated a lot of dust, it may be necessary to wash it with water and a mild detergent; otherwise, the paint may just come off with the dust and grime. If you want to keep it in place, all you need is some watered-down pva and an eyedropper to keep it in place.

Before you commit to weathing your model train layout, you may practice with your airbrush on a piece of cardboard to get the desired look and ensure that the color and air pressure are correct.

Then, after you’re satisfied with the texture, gently spray the model, paying special attention to the areas where you’d expect the most dirt or exhaust.

Use black or earth colors for the exhaust stains. If you’re very careful with your airbrush trigger for the dust and mud along the tracks and blast, you can occasionally get it to’splutter’ to give you a mud spatter effect.

Paints in oil:

To create rust spots or streaks to model railway tracks, you may use oil paint. For larger streaking areas of dark rust patches, use burnt sienna, burned umber, and raw umber. After you’ve put the full-strength colors where you want them, use a brush soaked in mineral spirits to streak the rust paint down the side of the car. You may use this effect to be as subtle or as strong as you like. Keep in mind that the model will need to dry for at least two days before you can work on it any further. 


The use of chalks produces a great result, but it is a multi-step procedure. Before adding chalk, you must first spray a new glossy plastic model with a clear flat finish, either with an airbrush loaded with Polly Scale or with a Model Master Clear Flat spray can.

To create the chalk, use a knife to scrape the artist’s pastel chalk stick onto a piece of paper to form a powder. Then, using a hog-bristle brush, apply the chalk to the model in quick, short strokes. To ensure a gradual increase, start with a modest quantity. The artist’s pastel chalks are the most readily available material, although oil pastel chalks may be used for a more visible or darker effect. You’ll need sandpaper to create the powder with oil pastels.

After adding the chalk powder, you must seal the dust onto the model. After the paint has dry, apply a thin layer of clear semi-gloss lacquer. 


Weathering Your Tracks: Tips & Tricks

For lighting and smoothing the tracks of your model train, you may use the original black with a thin flat grey overspray. In addition, the tracks will be able to be detailed in the dark. Use chalks, crayons, or dry brushing to add matte or dirty black to exhaust stacks. These techniques may also leave a smudge on the cab roof. To simulate dust or dirt, add a light layer of brown wash to the bottoms of the front and sides. 

Last Thoughts: 

One of the most fun things for a collector is weathering their model railway tracks. This post will assist you in comprehending the techniques as well as allowing you to be creative with the resources. Weathering your model railway track can give it a genuine, antique look.


For as long as he can remember, Peter has been constructing model trains. This site is a creative avenue for him to go further into various sizes and elements of the model train community and hobby. He is an ardent lover of HO and O scale.

Weathering techniques are a big part of model trains, but you may be surprised to learn that most of the techniques used today are not that realistic. The weathering techniques you see today are governed by rules that are based on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) published Standard Practices for the Preparation of Models for Exhibit.. Read more about track weathering paint and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you weather model railroad tracks?

Weathering model railroad tracks is all about using a variety of techniques to give the appearance of age and use to something that would otherwise look brand new. Some of the techniques that are used include dusting the tracks with fine grays and browns, using water colors and adding in rust effects.

How do you weather a model train ballast?

There are several ways to weather a model train ballast. The first is to simply water it down. This can be done by watering it down with a watering can or a spray bottle. The second is to use a sponge and apply a little bit of water at a time. There are many different variations

How do you maintain model train tracks?

I write a blog post on the subject here: http://www.train-tracks.com/how-to-maintain-model-train-tracks/ Q: How do I get my wife to talk dirty? I wrote a blog post on this subject here: http

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • weathering model railroad track
  • model railroad weathering
  • model train track weathering
  • n scale track weathering
  • realistic model railroad track
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