Gatorboard vs Foamcore: What is Gator board?

Gatorboard vs Foamcore

We get the question all the time. What is Gator Board? What is Foam Core? What’s the difference between Gatorboard vs Foamcore?

One of the most common questions we get at Nonstop Signs. Both foam based poster board materials that are used for commercial printing.

They look similar at first glance, both consist of a foam center with a printable facing on each side.

However, they are quite different. The one you choose will be based on how long you intend to use the display.

Foamcore - Image Missing

Gatorboard vs Foamcore.  The Basics:

Here is the quick and easy answer for Gatorboard vs Foamcore.  

Gatorboard is about 2-3x the cost and about 2-3x more durable. Foamcore is a much less expensive option but it can dent very easily.  If you are changing out your graphics every 6 months or more, I would recommend Foamcore.  The print quality is similar to both materials.

What is Foamcore?

Foamcore or foam board as it’s sometimes called is made of a lightweight but fairly sturdy polystyrene board that’s faced on each side with printer paper.

It’s cheap, lightweight, easy to install and perfect for temporary displays. Unfortunately, due to the paper face, it’s extremely susceptible to water damage, scratches and general wear and tear.  

There are several different manufacturers who produce foamboard, we have tested about 8 different types.  We choose the foamboard that has the “brightest” white color for the best print quality.

Where is Foamcore typically used?

Like we mentioned earlier, Foamcore is generally used for temporary displays.

Whether it be for retail use, public speaking props, an art presentation, a trade show display or festival booth, Foamcore will usually give you the most bang for your buck.

Gatorboard vs Foamcore

How do you print on Foamcore or Foamboard?

There are 2 ways to print on Foamcore or foamboard.

The first and most traditional way is to print on a large poster then spray adhesive to the back of the print and mount it to a piece of Foamcore using a wide format laminator.  

This is an older method that is still commonly used however this process has several issues.  Dirt, debris, air pockets, and dust can get trapped underneath the print causing a flaw.  

This can result in poor print quality which causes the print to be reproduced which costs you, the end user money at the end of the day.

The newest and best way to print on Foamcore is to utilize a “flatbed” or “UV” printer.  These are very large printers, the printers at Nonstop Signs are 5’x10′ or 60″x120″ wide.

Our designers place the Foamcore onto the flatbed printer. The print is then transferred right onto the board.

Think of your desktop printer, just like that but instead of a sheet of papers it’s a huge sheet of Foamcore. Our printers bake the ink with UV light.

This makes laminating unnecessary. It is also dry to the touch immediately, this helps with producing large Foamcore projects quickly.

Gatorboard vs Foamcore

What is Gatorboard and what is Gator Board?

When our clients ask us “what is Gator Board?” we typically explain that it is a very durable foam board product.  Gatorboard’s center is polystyrene and its faces are a printable material. 

However, gator board’s faces are a wood veneer finish. Gatorboard easily outlasts Foamcore signs with its durability. 

Unfortunately, that extra durability comes at an additional price.  Gatorboard is available from the manufacturer in white and black finishes.

It comes in 4’x8′ sheets and also 5’x10′ sheets. We print directly to the Gatorboard then trim to your exact size.  Are finishing machines can cut prints within .001″. These boards are available in 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 1/2″ and 1″.

The Uses of Gatorboard

Designers use gatorboard and Foamcore in the same places. This includes informational signs and artwork.

The warp and water-resistant properties make it the more common choice for permanent and semi-permanent displays. Gatorboard is very lightweight, yet still more durable than Foamcore.

This makes gatorboard the perfect candidate for displays hung in tricky locations.

Gatorboard vs Foamcore

Finishing Options for Gatorboard vs Foamcore

The finish on Gatorboard and Foamcore are often the same. 

Our designers finish the product in several different ways! The most popular way to finish gatorboard and Foamcore is lamination, to add additional protection.

Our production team also utilizes our CNC routing machine to die cut pieces into any shape or size.

Gatorboard vs Foamcore

Gatorboard vs Foamboard:  The Verdict

So, as you’ve probably noticed, the choice between gatorboard and Foamcore really comes down to one thing, the intended length of use. Printers can place vivid, high-definition imagery on either material.

Printers can also cut the material to any shape or size. Designers can also laminate either material to add style and durability. So, the real deciding factor is how long you intend to use them for.

Foamcore is the cheaper of the two, but it is extremely susceptible to damage. Gatorboard is a bit more costly but exceptionally durable and moisture resistant.

If you don’t mind spending a little extra and want the most durable poster board material available, check out Ultraboard.

Ultraboard has a lightweight polystyrene center. Amazingly, Ultra boards face is completely waterproof. You could also strike Ultraboard with a hammer with no breakage.

We hoped this helped to answer the question of what is Gator Board.  If you have any other questions, give us a shout!

For pricing and more details, visit the product pages below

Foamcore Printing

Gatorboard Printing

If you have any more questions about Gatorboard vs Foamcore or any other printing materials, just give us a call at 800-205-9005!

Don't forget to share this post!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp

Want to see more from Nonstop Signs?

We’ll send you emails with our latest and greatest posts—and some fun extras.