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Foamcore vs Gatorfoam...

Discussion in 'Materials' started by bendeane, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. bendeane

    bendeane Member

    Nov 10, 2009
    Okay, so I understand the differences in Foamcore and Gatorfoam from a materials standpoint, but what's really the difference in durability? I'm printing a full color digital print on ad-back vinyl and mounting it to gatorfoam. Foamcore is so much less expensive, but since I'm just using it for a mounting surface and completely covering the clay coated paper facers, is it really that much worse than using gatorfoam with its wood-fiber facers? Finding prices on white foamcore 48x96 to be 10 bucks a sheet vs 40 bucks for same size gatorfoam.

    If enough people can convince me that it will be much better in the long run for the client, I'll stick to gatorfoam. It is an interior sign in a freestanding 22x28 inch frame.

    Thanks for the input.
  2. HaroldDesign

    HaroldDesign Very Active Member

    Aug 16, 2007
    Foamcore will warp quite noticeably in time with vinyl applied to it. Gatorfoam doesn't.
    In the long (and not that long of a run), you will get a lot of complaints. People will love the price of foamcore, but will end up only remembering that the product ended up looking bad.
  3. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    I wouldn't use foamcore for anything long term. It's fine for short term one day use signs (like events or tradeshows) with the customer's understanding that it's not going to look good in a few weeks. It will warp, and it's very susceptible to damage and bent/broken corners. Gatorfoam won't warp over time, is much more rigid and damage resistant, and is better for someone who needs a nice looking lightweight sign that will last a while.
  4. Tim Aucoin

    Tim Aucoin Very Active Member

    Once you've actually handled and used Gatorfoam, you'll be amazed at the difference... I was! Gatorfoam is way sturdier, stronger and durable. What I hate about foamcore is if you accidentally bump it, you mess up a corner, or dent it easily, or even bend it. Gatorfoam is much more forgiving. It will stand up to much more abuse. I have sample pieces of both to show customers and 90% of them choose Gatorfoam.

    Actually, I use a product here called UltraBoard, which is a "generic" brand of Gatorfoam. It has all the properties of Gatorfoam at around 30% less cost. Maybe a Canadian product, I don't know. Either way, it's not hard to improve over foamcore in many ways! Oh yeah, and Gatorfoam won't warp (like Caleb said). :thumb:
  5. HaroldDesign

    HaroldDesign Very Active Member

    Aug 16, 2007
    Oh- if you haven't used Gatorfoam before, be sure to handle it carefully. Do NOT swipe your hand along an edge. You will die.
  6. Slamdunkpro

    Slamdunkpro Member

    Dec 18, 2009
    Here in the states Ultraboard is a polystyrene faced foam core product. I prefer it to Gatorfoam as there are many vinyls that will lift off of Gatorfoam's resin coating over time unless you prep the surface. Ultraboard has the same warp resistance as Gatorfoam.
  7. Bly

    Bly Very Active Member

    Mar 9, 2004
    As already stated Gator's a bit more durable and less prone to warp.

    But cheapskates will nearly always go for the cheaper option.

    I tell them foamcore will be fine if it's fixed to something flat along all areas at the back, and isn't likely to take a knock. 9 times out of 10 they accept the risks.

    Bendeane, if the frame will keep the board flat I'd go with foamcore.
  8. signs2trade

    signs2trade Active Member

    We never use gator foam or foam core....always use sintra or pvc..
  9. Rooster

    Rooster Very Active Member

    Feb 22, 2008
    Foamcore will damaged before the customer gets it back home or to the office.

    Gatorfoam all the way. Worth every penny extra.
  10. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    Good point. Gatorfoam is the most dangerous substrate known to man...
  11. weaselboogie

    weaselboogie Very Active Member

    Apr 23, 2006


    Imagine the worst paper cut you have ever had and multiply it times 50.
  12. thewood

    thewood Very Active Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    I always steer gator/foam core clients toward pvc.
  13. StopSignGraphics

    StopSignGraphics Active Member

    Jun 2, 2009
    I've only played around with this on a few personal projects but I've had good results. After I've mounted my print on foam core I have installed a 10 mil thermal overlaminate on top of the foam core.

    It made the corners incredibly durable and the foam core more resistant to warping (It'll still warp if it's leaning).

    I've got a couple of samples that's been around the shop and they still look as good as the day I made them.

    I'm curious if anybody else has ever tried something like this? I've thought about offering it a product but I'm hesitant since I haven't heard of anybody else doing this.

    I'm attaching an example... I did this a few weeks ago it's still looks good. All I have in stock is a glossy thermal overlaminate it would probably look better as a matte.


    Attached Files:

  14. bendeane

    bendeane Member

    Nov 10, 2009
    I don't want to die!

    I'll be sure to take that into consideration. I already used it, but I was fortunate enough not to have a run in with the edge.
  15. nickelartistic

    nickelartistic Member

    Jul 17, 2009
    New Jersey
    I am with the posters who favor ultraboard. Not quite as dent proof as the Gator, but certainly wont warp or damage as easy as foamcore. It usually prices in the middle of the two and is much easier to work with than the gator (plus, no edges of death - I actually have scars from Gatorboard). Most of my customers who come in looking for Gatorboard have been very happy using the Ultraboard as an alternative.
  16. gnemmas

    gnemmas Active Member

    Nov 7, 2006
    Gatorboard is overpriced.

    I45 said. Off brand expanded pvc (Sintra) cost is $16 sheet, 3ml, 4x8. We prefer this.
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