To create an unusual decorating effect, try using brown paper bags in place of traditional wallpaper. This is a guide about the brown paper bag wallpaper technique.
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Do I need to prime the wall first if I am using the brown paper bag technique and do I put anything on top of the bags to seal the wall or coat them like a glaze or something?
Pat from Mansfield, MO
I live in an old home and many times the plastered walls have cracks in them. Here is an alternative if the cracks keep showing up soon after you paint. I "papered" my walls in brown paper and rosin paper that have been painted.
I wanted to go with a copper theme and have always wanted an elegant bathroom so I took pieces of brown craft paper and tore them into irregular pieces, saving some of the ones with a straight edge for where the ceiling and the wall meet. I then crumpled them all up very hard and then semi smoothed them out so that you could clearly see the wrinkles in them.
I used a sponge brush and brushed on copper leaf paint on some, barely touching the surface of the wrinkles and then used gold spray paint on others. Let them dry (doesn't take long at all) and then apply them with wallpaper paste. The wall should be sized first.
I already have a claw foot tub and my kids inserted a sink into a dresser that I faux painted and applied copper paint stenciling. I had rough plastered walls so the roughness of the walls added to the dimension of the treatment. My curtains are copper colored and I made a shower curtain with some copper color in it and put copper colored beading on the edges. I painted the bottom of my claw foot bathtub brown.
By Elaine from Belle Plaine, IA
The walls in my bathroom were not in super good shape when I bought my 100 year old house, they had the old bumpy type plaster. After several attempts at painting, I finally came upon a solution.
I took both brown craft paper and red rosin paper (both available at home improvement stores) and tore it into uneven pieces, keeping some of them with a straight edge to put at the top of the wall where it met the ceiling. I then took them and crushed them between my hands really good and opened them up again, revealing the wrinkles. At this point smooth them slightly, but not very much.
Then, before I applied it to the wall, I spray painted some gold and used copper leaf paint on others (I bought the copper leaf paint at Wal-mart). I used a foam brush dipped in the copper leaf and very lightly drug it over the creases so it just hit the top of the creases. I let it dry and applied it with wallpaper paste. When it was all done, I applied a coat of water based polyurethane over the top.
I get more compliments on this room than any room in my house. I have a clawfoot tub and a vanity made from dresser. I also have chandeliers in there that adds to the glamor.
By Elaine from IA
Editor's Note: Here is Elaine's dresser vanity:
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Here are questions related to Brown Paper Bag Wallpaper Technique.
Can you use construction paper or even a wallpaper picked up at a thrift store for brown bag wall treatment? I can't find colored paper, only mauve and brown. I want green. What bond paper is acceptable.
Also, it was mentioned about Draw Tite. I can't find it anywhere and the address given is non existent. I do however see that others have found it. I have five cats and a parrot and need to know if the Draw Tite is odorless. Also there is another product called Gripper. Anyone familiar with that? If so is it comparable to the Draw-Tite?
I am also confused (normally lol) about the edges? Do I overlap around the corner? I know I will have a zillion more questions, but for now, please help.
By Kali from RI
I have been in awe of the work you did on this wall. Actually by accident I clicked on the wrong thing when I was saving it to my pics and it is now the background on my computer. lol.
LG, How did you do this wall? I mean it looks so beautiful and I am wondering how you knew where to put certain colored paper. Did you spray paint some of them? Gosh this is so exciting. I have everything I need. Only thing is that after searching for days and miles I had to settle for an equivalent of the GH 34. I hated to do it but had no choice. Are there recommendations for the way you did this?
I want to do the brown bag wallpaper treatment on my wall. Can I use wrapping paper instead?
By Elaine S.11/11/2011
Sorry, I thought you meant craft paper not wrapping paper. I got mine at Walmart but I think the $1 stores have it too.
I did my office walls using this technique (brown paper bag wallpaper) two days ago. What do you suggest as far as using as a stain to give it more depth and also, (the biggest question) what do you seal it with? You mentioned thinned varnish. What do you thin your varnish with? My walls look great so far, but they really need to be finished. Thanks so much!
I am currently looking to brown paper bag the walls in my living room. Can you tell me if you can do this procedure over existing wallpaper?
Julie from Cameron, TX
By Julie (Guest Post)09/02/2008
For anyone who is contemplating brown paper treatment over existing wallpaper, I have found it to be easier to lose the wallpaper. It does not adhere to the wallpaper.
Thanks so much for the feedback, I do appreciate your help! Project is still in process.
I just wanted the most up-to-date information and instructions for the brown paper bag wall treatment. I have walls that have groves, dips, and I don't want to hassle with all the drywall stuff. I think this is an awesome way to make your walls look like they were done by a pro, and very expensive. Thanks in advance for your help!
I covered one of my kid's room walls with brown kraft paper. Though it looks good, since it is a kid's room (boys), something looks missing. The curtains in the room are of a dark green color with gold leaves. Can someone please suggest what can be added to this wall to make it look good of a boy's room.
By R from India
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
I sent this in already once without a picture Here is the picture of part of my wall.Materials:
1.) Tear the craft paper or grocery bags into pieces approximately the size of a large dinner plate. Tear away all straight edges. Crumple each piece tightly into a ball.
2.) Pour the wallpaper paste into the paint tray. Use the paint brush to apply paste onto the wall in about a 4'X 4' section.
3.) Uncrumple each piece of brown paper and press onto the wall. Do not smooth out all the wrinkles. This will give a lot of texture to the finished wall. Lay down the next piece slightly overlapping the first piece. Press down the edges with the damp sponge and remove the excess paste. You may have to periodically rinse and wring out the sponge. Continue rolling on paste and applying the paper until the entire wall is covered. Allow to dry 48 hours.
Makes it look like a leather or suede look. It's fantastic and if there is a spill or a piece is damaged later you can just add a piece.
Here came my husband with a magazine in hand, Life magazine 1953! They had been on that roof as insulation for God only knows how long. So I salvaged about 4 or 5 of them, as fragile as they were, and took about 50 various pages and did the same, applying them to the left entry wall, that leads to the downstairs. (bi-level home). It is quite amazing I might add. When you stand at the bottom of my stair way and look up. I am original! No one else has an entry way like this. Be creative, be original. I don't want to be like the Jones. (04/13/2005)
The show she recorded had all the instructions very explicitly shown and it had you, rather than wall paper paste or mod podge or whatever, it had you using polyurethane of your choice in high gloss to satin. It didn't recommend flat though. Is was the latex fast drying poly. "Not" oil, latex, water based poly.
Crumple your paper and dip into the poly and kind of squeeze/squish it to absorb some of the poly which being latex will at this point look like skim or 2% milk colorwise. It most assuredly dries perfectly clear with not a hint of oil based poly yellow tint. Next remove paper out of the poly and squeeze most of the excess out leaving only enough to allow the paper to slip and slide easily so you have a few minutes to shift it around for the best look/location for the piece. Gently smooth out to your taste at this point, we smoothed heavily and didn't leave a lot of wrinkles. I think this was helped by dipping into and squeezing in the poly so it actually absorbs into the paper fibers. You can do lots of smoothing like we did or I would imagine leaving mostly wrinkles would look great, too. But I just wanted to through my 2 cents into the hat too, hope any of this helps someone out. (01/22/2006)
By Ken K
When I did the living room with the brown paper bag wall treatment I was on a roll.
There was this wrapping paper with a leaf print on it and the back was just plain brown so I did the foyer with that. This is the picture. It's kinda busy, but much better then the terrible green, huge flower stuff we had in there when we purchased this old farmhouse that was built before 1836.
I just used the same things as I used with the brown paper bag wall treatment.
By Monita By Kim By Vickie B By LeNelle By Popi By lewis_admin I will post the results if I follow through. This project and my pickiness took about an hour a 4 ft sq, but I'm slow and steady. The nice thing about this project is that if you noticed you missed a spot, you can just cover it up. It was a nice, warm, think rugged rustic look, and although it took me a week to do, between doing other chores in the country, the end result is very pleasing. Much nicer than a boring drywall eggshell coloured wall. Our house is a style of antique, eclectic, rustic, country theme and this just seemed to warm up the space. It's a project that starts off a little touch and go, you wonder, hmm, what did I get myself into, but when it's done, it really grows on you and I'm sure it would just come right off with little effort. So I say, why not try it, it can't hurt and it's a nice change. Here is the before. (07/07/2007) By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario
RE: Brown Paper Bag Wallpaper I have done this many times, I recently put it on my cement basement walls. I use brown bags, tear them and wrinkle the pieces up to make texture. Use regular wallpaper paste, that you mix with water, and stick them on the wall. To make it look more like leather put wax shoe polish on it. When you want to take it off again spray the wall with water let it sit awhile and pull off. (01/31/2005)
RE: Brown Paper Bag Wallpaper I did this also and used mod podge the pasty stuff. I actually painted mine, when done with a goldish metallic paint and it came out good. It had a really antiqued look. (02/04/2005)
RE: Brown Paper Bag Wallpaper I did this in my son's room at Sherwin Williams they called it animal hide. I put wall paper paste on then glued on tissue paper, it worked really well and was easy to crinkle up on the glue. It was extremely easy and turned out nice. I just can't stand anything on my hands and of course with it being thin some of the glue oozes through while pressing it on. (02/06/2005)
Brown Craft Paper Instead of paper bags, try going to your local home improvement store and buying a roll of brown craft paper. It is a lot easier than the bags. (08/02/2005)
Change Colors If you would like a different color then brown, you can dye your brown paper with Rit dye. After you tear it to size, wad it up and drop it into the dye. Hot dye will give you a dark color, cold dye will give you lighter color. Everything else is the same process. (01/08/2006)
RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment I did ours with Mod Podge, first pasting the wall, then applying the crumpled paper and then pasting immediately over top, and overlapping a new piece with the same technique. I used smaller pieces and it has the effect of a patchwork leather look. Some pieces are darker and others lighter. It took a long time to do, and I liked the wrinkles. I am still contemplating a colour for it, I'm thinking of trying a orangey brown, and then ragging on an antiquing brown, followed by a copper leaf metallic.
RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment Here is the after. I think if I try this again, I will do it in the larger dinner plate sizes, that other people have mentioned. Experimenting is a lot of the fun, it just getting up and going, getting the courage and motivation to try something new, that hold us back. Live! Play! Have fun! (07/07/2007)
RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment Noticed the before pic didn't upload, so here it is, along with a side picture that shows the texture better. (07/07/2007)
RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment (07/07/2007)
By Vickie B
I will post the results if I follow through. This project and my pickiness took about an hour a 4 ft sq, but I'm slow and steady. The nice thing about this project is that if you noticed you missed a spot, you can just cover it up. It was a nice, warm, think rugged rustic look, and although it took me a week to do, between doing other chores in the country, the end result is very pleasing. Much nicer than a boring drywall eggshell coloured wall.
Our house is a style of antique, eclectic, rustic, country theme and this just seemed to warm up the space. It's a project that starts off a little touch and go, you wonder, hmm, what did I get myself into, but when it's done, it really grows on you and I'm sure it would just come right off with little effort. So I say, why not try it, it can't hurt and it's a nice change. Here is the before. (07/07/2007)
By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario
By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario
By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario
By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario