Today I wanted to share a complete guide to all of the different miniature building materials you can use for dollhouses. This includes wood, paper, plastic, metal and more. Understanding the properties of these different building materials can help make your miniature hobby a LOT more enjoyable!
When I first got into building miniatures, I was lucky to come from a mixed media background – Over the years I’ve dabbled in all sorts of different mediums and I learned a lot from watching both my Dad and my husband working on the life-size scale items like building shelves or working on cars.
While miniatures are a lot less daunting than welding parts onto a car engine, it’s definitely important to know what kind of materials work for what, and of course know what types of glue and paint will work with different items.
In this post, I’m going to cover the basics for ALL of these, so hopefully this will help you when it comes to building dollhouses and doing your own DIY dollhouse furniture in the future!
Here’s All the Different Dollhouse Building Materials You Can Use:
Let’s get to this list and start understanding the many different properties of each!
Wood is one of my favorite things to work with when building miniature dollhouse furniture, such as this miniature potting bench I made.
Working with wood in miniature isn’t too difficult, but it’s definitely important you have all the right tools for getting started. My list of miniature tools covers most of the different items I use, but at the very least you’ll want to have a good set of clamps and some sandpaper!
You can use many different types of wood in your miniatures, but I typically stick with pine because it is much softer than hardwoods such as oak or maple. I most frequently use large tongue depressors, craft sticks, and dowel rods in my building projects.
Because working in miniature makes it very difficult to nail items, wood glue is usually the way to go when fastening pieces together. I most often use Elmer’s brand woodworking glue and Gorilla brand woodworking glue.
Wood is porous, so when painting it’s always a good idea to first coat it with a primer such as latex primer or gesso.
Paper & Cardboard
Paper is another common material I use a lot in my dollhouses. Whether I print out something from stock photo sites or I’m making paper books, you can definitely achieve a lot with paper! I’m also including common household cardboard under the category of paper as miniature building materials.
Another popular option is to use paper mache for making your miniatures. Paper mache is fun and simple and I’ve made a few paper mache houses that really came out pretty nice!
One of the secrets to making strong paper mache is to use Elmers Glue-All instead of flour in your paste. See my paper mache recipe here.
You can also use paper for making all sorts of accessories in your dollhouse. Thick cardstock or chipboard is perfect for decorative pieces or even making siding. You can also always make these miniature printable notebooks!
The nicest thing about paper? All you need is glue! I usually use Aleene’s Fast Grab tacky glue with paper, but I’ve recently really come to love Tombow glue as well for gluing paper items together. The pen tip is so nice for precision!
Paper, like wood is also porous, so when painting, use a primer to ensure a better
Foam is another favorite thing I use a lot of when building furniture and accessories for my dollhouses and miniature scenes. It is sturdier than paper, but a LOT easier to cut and shape than wood!
Foam core boards are also really helpful to use if you are building a paper mache dollhouse. The foam doesn’t absorb the water or glue, so it is much more sturdier and less soggier than using cardboard as a base!
Plastic is another thing I sometimes use in my dollhouses, whether it is plastic lids or plastic containers I recycle. We as a society tend to use a LOT of plastic in our everyday lives, so I’m always trying to find ways to use it as a miniature building supply!
Gluing plastic containers can sometimes be a challenge, but I’ve found that most super glue works for almost any kind of plastic-to-plastic bond. If you are gluing fabric to plastic, spray glue can help you get a nice even adhesion without wrinkles.
When painting plastic, it’s helpful to use a multi-surface craft paint. I’m a huge fan of the folk art multi-surface paints!
There are many types of different metals, and the way I find myself using metal the most often in my miniature adventures is through using old costume jewelry and jewelry making supplies for items such as chandeliers and lamps.
While soldering is always an option, I’ve found that my favorite way to attach anything to metal is to use a metal epoxy such as J.B. Weld.
For painting metal, it can be very hard to get a nice finish. Using spray paint or using multi-surface paints is very important so it doesn’t later peel off.
I hope you find this guide to the different building materials for dollhouses helpful, and of course if you have any questions or would like to know more, just let me know! I’m always happy to help and continue adding to this site as a resource for miniature enthusiasts!