How to Build Your First Train Layout

Model trains are a wonderful hobby for people of all ages. Building a model train layout allows your creativity to flourish and your imagination to come to life right in front of you. The model train community welcomes people young and old to begin building a layout, but if it’s your first time, it can be a little overwhelming! Let’s discuss some of the basics to start building your first train layout and enter into the imaginative world of model trains!

Scales and Gauges

Model trains can be built in a variety of scales and gauges. While the larger scale train layout you saw at a train show or on TV may look appealing, a beginner should start with a smaller and more manageable scale layout. Choosing the right scale largely depends on the space you have available and your budget. Compare your options and talk with hobby store employees to determine the right size for your first layout!

Planning Your Layout

Before you start building, plan out what you want your layout to look like. It’s helpful to draw this out to ensure no detail is overlooked. For your first layout, it’s best to keep things simple. Starting too complex will likely lead to lots of trial and error, which can be discouraging.


You can choose from 3 types of tracks. All in one track comes with a pre-built roadbed. The sectional track comes in various sections that are predetermined straight or curved and then you can combine them however you want. Flex track comes in 3-foot sections that are flexible so you can alter them to whatever design you want. As a beginner, all in one or sectional tracks are much easier to work with.


As a beginner, you should utilize a direct current wiring system. Other wiring systems are more complex and take more knowledge to build efficiently. Your wiring will control the speed of your train depending on the track voltage. To get more knowledge of wiring, it’s helpful to attend model train shows and speak with experts in the field.


The scenery surrounding your track can be as little or as much as you want. This is the space to really let your creativity shine! Turn your track into a picturesque scene by incorporating small details in your scenery that make it feel like a real place, just much smaller of course!

Building your first train layout is an exciting and challenging time. For more tips, tricks, and advice on your first build, visit Charles Ro today!




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