Martin Tärnrot

Realistic Wooden Flatbed Decks

Martin Tärnrot
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Duration:   5  mins

If you offload cargo at its destination and run empty cars back to where they came from, the wooden decks on the flatbeds are now exposed. Have you weathered the decks for a more realistic look? MRA Contributing Editor Martin Tärnrot shares one of his techniques for weathering flatbeds.


Martin starts with a deck that has been weathered, but he wants to improve its appearance with some additional effects. The first step is to add texture to the wood with 120-grit sanding paper. This engraves a wooden texture into the surface of the plastic top, giving it a more matte appearance.


For the first layer of paint, Martin uses oil paints, specifically Humbrol yellow, white, and brown. The mixture is two drops of yellow, two white, and one brown. He uses a wide, flat brush to paint the entire deck, and advises you not to worry about uniform distribution because this layer will be painted over later. He then lets it dry it overnight.

The second layer of paint is acrylics, not oil. The formula is similar to the previous one but with more brown and a drop of black. Cover the entire deck and let it dry for an hour.


Next is a layer of wash made of two drops of black into a mix of isopropanol and water. This enhances the contour of the planks in the deck. After this dries, it’s time for the third layer of paint. This one has more brown and black.

When completely dry (overnight), use a 400-grit sanding block (or paper) and sand it irregularly for a natural weathered look. In some spots, sand all the way down to the first layer of paint.

Martin does eight or nine cars at the same time.

For more on weathering various elements of your layout, we have an entire category on weathering. We also offer an online class called Model Paints and Tools—almost an hour of information on the tools of the trade.

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