What is Gator Board?

ontario airport gatorboard display and channel letters

If you’ve been browsing potential display boards for projects or even signage, you may have come across the phrase Gator Board or the longer Gatorfoam Board. This display product is famous for its durability and water-resistant surface.

Let’s take a closer look!

gold gator board sign over tattoo artists table
Bella Brows brands her studio with a custom matte gold Gator Board sign.

What is Gator Board?

While you may call this product Gator Board for short, it’s official trademarked name is Gatorfoam®Board. Gatorfoam board is a sturdy and high-performance display board made of polystyrene foam bonded between two layers of wood-fiber veneer. 

This veneer is what sets it apart from other foam core products like Sintra Board, CoroPlast, FoamCor, MatBoard, and UltraBoard. The wood veneer protects the sign or display from dents, scratches and light water (although we don’t recommend you submerge your sign!)

What Is Gator Board Used For?

Displaying Fine Art and Photo Prints

Gator Board is a great option for mounting fine art and high-resolution digital and screen printing. Why? The white Gator Board is also still the brightest board of its kind on the market. The Gator Board creates a clean backdrop for photo prints and holds color with vivid detail and crisp presentation. 

However, that doesn’t mean it’s archival quality (used for archives and museum displays) like its competitor Foam-Cor is! Gator Board is not acid-free. When mounting works of art onto foam core signs, this is an important factor to check. The acid in the finish could eat away at the mounted artwork over time, damaging priceless works of art!

Working With Watercolor Paper and Illustration Boards

You’ll probably find Gatorfoam Board in many artists studios, especially watercolor painters. In fact, this foam board’s rigid outer layer makes it ideal for stretching watercolor paper! 

Artists who work with oil paint and acrylic paint as their preferred medium also similarly use gator foam! Finally, you may find it on easels behind mixed media papers as a drawing board. 

white gatorboard sign with red and black design for events
Gator board step and repeats at a Ferrari event.

Creating Outdoor Signage

However, Gator Board paces Foam-Cor when it comes to creating outdoor signage. This is because the Gatorfoam board has a rigid outer surface made of melamine and wood fiber veneer. The outer layers protect the polystyrene foam from water and warping. 

Standard FoamCor is just foam covered by lightweight paper. 

Gator Board has a very rigid poly surface which is resistant to moisture, unlike foam board which is foam covered with lightweight paper stock. This surface makes it a perfect backing for permanent designs instead of using DiBond. In fact, we craft many yard signs out of Gator Board!

However, keep in mind that the color matters to the type of project you’re doing! Read on below to find out what finishes are available. 

We’ll also tell you which kinds you should not use outside! 

Building Models and Displays

Gator Board also has a specific purpose when it comes to models and displays. Miniature models of homes, buildings and event centers are incredibly useful in real estate and construction, and the sturdy but lightweight foam core board material of Gator Boar is perfect to hold up paper-clay or stucco to make textured walls. 

What is Gator Board NOT used for?

Foam core boards are a favorite when creating displays for work or school. However, if your project doesn’t require weather-resistance and superior durability, Gatorfoam may not be the choice for you. 

However, if you do not require weather resistance, you can enjoy many of this product’s benefits (lightweight build, easy portability, etc.) in a more affordable package by using a paper foam board mounting instead.

Working with Gator Board


Gator Board has three popular finishes. These include white gator board, black gator board, and kraft gator board. While black gator board may make a chic backdrop and modern picture frame look for display prints, you should avoid using it outside.

Why shouldn’t you use black gator foam outside? The dark color absorbs UV rays faster, accelerating breakdown!

Adhesive Finish

If you’re planning on mounting fine art or photos, self-adhesive gator board is also available. This type of foam core board has a layer or adhesive coating already applied and ready for use! Just peel the protective layer off and carefully apply your design. You can use a palette knife to carefully flatten any mixed media paper to the surface, making sure it is bubble-free and wrinkle-free! 

Price Tag

Keep in mind that Gatorboard is substantially more expensive than its cousin, the foam board. The added wood finish drives the cost up! However, it is a worthwhile investment for high-quality backing for your project.

Cutting and Sizing

The extreme durability of gator board comes with a downside: it’s difficult to cut and size with ordinary tools! A very sharp, thin blade is needed to score the foam core board without damaging the interior. This is why most printing companies and Gator Board enthusiasts opt to use specialty cutting tools like precision table saws. 

In conclusion, Gatorfoam Board is a heavy-duty, high-quality material that’s perfect for displaying artwork, signs and more permanent fixtures. The water-resistant quality makes it a fast favorite in artist studios under watercolor brushes, drawing papers and more! 

Gator Board or one of the other foam core panels on your wishlist? Check out our offerings here.G

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