This paper compares and contrasts alternative methods for the construction of discontinuous population surface models based on the census and remotely sensed data from Northern Ireland. Two main methods of population distribution are employed: (1) a method based on redistribution from enumeration district (ED) and postcode centroids, and (2) a method based on dasymetric redistribution of ED population counts to suitable land cover zones from classified remotely sensed imagery. Refinements have been made to the centroid redistribution algorithm to accommodate an empirical measure of dispersion, and to allow redistribution in an anisotropic form. These refinements are evaluated against each other and the dasymetric method. The results suggest that all of the methods perform best in urban areas, and that while the refinements may improve the statistical performance of the models, this is at the expense of reduced spatial detail. In general, the techniques are highly sensitive to the spatial and population resolution of the input data.