How to Make Styrofoam Letters

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Styrofoam lettering can be used to create messages.
Styrofoam lettering can be used to create messages. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Styrofoam is a highly versatile and inexpensive material for creating three-dimensional lettering. Foam letters can be used in a wide variety of crafts, including wall plaques, ornaments and alphabet learning tools. Unlike standard wood letters, Styrofoam letters do not require hardware or a specialized skill set to produce. You can find Styrofoam panels in nearly any craft store in many colors and thicknesses. Take special care when cutting Styrofoam letters, as the plastic foam may break or crumble in thin areas.

Things You'll Need

  • Styrofoam panel
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Marker
  • Hot wire
  • Filing tool
  • Latex paint
  • White glue
  • Paintbrush

Purchase a Styrofoam panel in white or the color of your choice. Select a Styrofoam panel that is at least 2 inches thick to prevent the board from snapping when you cut it.

Choose a font style and font size from any word processing program on your computer. Type the desired letters into the word processing program and print.

Cut the printed letters from the paper with scissors. Tape the cut-out letters to the surface of the Styrofoam panel, approximately 2 inches apart. Trace the letters onto the panel with a marker.

Remove the paper letters from the Styrofoam panel. Cut out the Styrofoam letters using a craft knife. Follow the marked lines carefully.

Create a smooth edge around the outside of the letters with a filing tool. Leave the corners of the letters square or round the edges.

Mix 1 part white glue with 2 parts latex paint. Apply a thin coat of the mixture onto the entire surface of the Styrofoam letters. Allow the paint coat to dry and apply a second coat.

Tips & Warnings

  • For more precise cutting, use a hot wire to remove the Styrofoam letters from the panel. A hot wire foam cutter consists of a taut, thin metal wire that is heated via electrical resistance. As the metal wire passes through the foam, the heat from the wire cuts through the material. Hot wire cutters can be found at most home improvement stores.
  • Do not cut wet or damp Styrofoam. Allow the foam to completely dry before cutting it with a hot wire.
  • Rough edges of Styrofoam can be "sanded" with another piece of Styrofoam.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated room when working with Styrofoam and paint materials. Wear a dust mask to avoid breathing in Styrofoam particles.
  • Wear gloves when working with a hot wire foam cutter. Never touch the heated metal wire with your hands, as this can cause burns.

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