Foam Board Printing & Gatorboard Printing

The terms “foam core” (or foam board) and “gatorboard” are often used interchangeably. While the two materials have a similar appearance and are generally used for same purposes, there are some distinct differences between the two.

What are Foam Boards?

Foam board gets its name because it is made of a closed-cell, foam plastic. The material is extruded polystyrene foam combined with bright white clay-coated kraft paper. The material is light but quite stiff and strong for its weight.


When choosing a custom sign, this is the most affordable option to get the most vibrant and long-lasting print for an indoor application. Foam board printing comes in three different thicknesses, 1/8″, 3/16″, and 1/2″.. Because of its closed-cell structure, foam board will not soak up water or other liquids the way that some corrugated boards do. It’s also perfect for protecting artwork against humidity.

This makes it an excellent material for creating signage or mounting photos/artwork for exhibits or displays. Unfortunately, because of the white color of most foam boards (it’s normally dyed), they can reflect glare from indoor lighting—which can be difficult to photograph.

gatorboard products
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What is Gatorboard?

Gatorboard is the brand name for a type of display board with a dense inner core made of foam and a rigid exterior made of wood-fiber veneer. This exterior is water-resistant and will not easily break or warp. It is similar to foam board but is more durable and holds its form for a longer amount of time.

Foam Board or Gatorboard, Which is Right for me?

The question of foam board or Gatorboard is one of affordability vs durability. Foam boards are the more affordable option. However, the lightweight of the foam will cause it to warp over time with changing humidity levels, so indoor applications are recommended.

Gatorboard is a great choice for signage or displays that will be briefly exposed to weather elements or high usage in public areas. Gatorboard can hold up to foot traffic and outdoor conditions while still being affordable enough for small budgets. Because of its durability, it can also be useful for temporary projects that will have limited use, such as construction site signs or political campaign signs that may only need to be posted temporarily then taken down without damage.

So whether you decide on foam board printing or gator board printing depends upon your budget and what you wish to accomplish. If you need a sign that will last a long time and is not easily susceptible to damage, gator board printing is the best choice. However, if your budget is tight or if you need something only for indoor use, foam board printing will get your signage noticed at an affordable price.

Indoor Usage

Both foam board and Gatorboard are designed primarily for use as temporary indoor signage or displays. Neither product will hold up well when exposed to moisture or prolonged periods of sunlight. For outdoor displays or signage, one should consider materials such as coroplastacrylicdibondaluminumLexan, or even wood.

foam board from grimco
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For indoor usage, both foam core and Gatorboard give you a lot of bang for your buck. The surfaces of the materials are designed for printing. This means that the ink adheres beautifully and the print colors come out as true to the source as possible. Both materials are also easy to cut into nearly any shape, which allows for some creative signage and display possibilities.

For temporary displays, both products are great options. The keyword, of course, is “temporary”. The answer to the question “how temporary?” is what will help you decide which material is best for your needs.

Custom Foam Board Signs

For a one-time presentation or display, foam core is probably the way to go. This is the material commonly used as direction signage at conventions, or by presenters who are giving a single presentation.

Foam core is made from two sheets of paper pressed around a foam center. It is somewhat pliable, but flex it too much and it will snap. It is also quite easy to puncture foam core. So, if you are reasonably careful, foam core will do fine for a one-time event. If you try to use it year after year, however, you are pushing your luck.


In instances where you are using a sign or display for repeated occasions, we recommend Gatorboard. This is especially helpful if you are going to be traveling with your products.

Gatorboard is made from dense polystyrene. It is much more rigid, and slightly more pliable, than foam core. It can even tolerate some limited exposure to moisture. A properly cared for Gatorboard display will last at least two years.

foam board from denver print company
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Custom Foam Board Printing

The great thing about both foam board and Gatorboard is that the products are designed specifically for printing. The surfaces of both products have a smooth matte finish. This means that there is no special preparation required for either printing or painting. The paint adheres beautifully, and the final product looks true to its original source.

The other characteristic that makes these products good choices for signage is their affordability. At Denver Print Company, we offer both foam board printing and Gatorboard printing at very reasonable prices. We can also use your design files as well as create custom designs if you wish.

We invite you to come in and talk with us about what you need as well as see samples of our workmanship which includes custom foam board signs & Gatorboard printing along with other professional sign types such as coroplast signs, wooden signs, metal signs, and more.

If you are still unsure about which product is right for you, contact us today to speak with a project manager!