When building a town or train landscape invariably the builder will require roads on which cars, trucks and other vehicles can travel. There are two methods to creating roads: road plates or "built" roads.
- Straight - two lane road running across the plate
- Curve - a rounded corner
- Four-Way Intersection
- Advantages: cost and perceived purity. Buying road plates (especially second-hand) covers the maximum amount of table for the best price. As a LEGO product they have been included in some town sets thus creating official streetscapes. More often however road plates have been sold as a parts pack.
- Disadvantages: primarily those of inflexibility. Road plates are only two lanes. The lanes are of fixed width (varies depending on year manufactured). All turns are 90 degrees. And they are fixed-plane which makes building anything other than flat, square blocks difficult.
Advantages: Freedom and flexibility limited only by the imagination of the builder are the primary advantages:
- Different colour (especially black) roads are possible.
- Multiple lanes, odd turns and hills are all possible.
- Built roads can also have a depth that allows for more details such "digging" into the road surface by repair crews or potholes.
Disadvantages: Some of the disadvantages are:
- The amount of brick required to build roads can be daunting for many builders leading to higher cost for the same length of roadway.
- Many builders do not approve of the aesthetic preferring LEGO road plates as part of the system of play.
- If participating in a cooperative display it requires effort to coordinate an agreed standard and/or build transition sections between different road systems.
Building roads in historical themes does not usually involve LEGO road plates which are clearly designed to resemble modern asphalt surfaces. There have been some baseplates with a printed cobblestone or dirt road surfaces but these are rare and do not join together particularly well. This leaves brick built as the most common method of depicting roads most often using brown and shades of tan for dirt/sand and using primarily greys for cobblestones/gravel surfaces. Historical roads are also more likely to be studded, reproducing the rough texture of more primitive surfaces.
- brick built roads by Mike Gallagher as featured in Railbricks Issue 4.