Brown Paper Bag Wallpaper Technique

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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Brown Paper Bag Wallpaper Technique
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View of the corner of bath with painted brown bag wallpaper.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. View of bath mirror and sink area.

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. Copper colored leaf towel holder mounts.

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 View of the corner of bath with painted brown bag wallpaper.

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Torn paper bathroom wall.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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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

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I want to do the brown bag wallpaper treatment on my wall. Can I use wrapping paper instead?

By Cindy

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Sorry, I thought you meant craft paper not wrapping paper. I got mine at Walmart but I think the $1 stores have it too.

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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

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I used this technique in my entry. There were over 4 layers of old wallpaper. I chose to remove because they were lifting. If your wallpaper is in good shape, it should be ok. But I'd suggest sizing it first.

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Do you put the paste on one side or both sides of the paper?

By Juanita T. from Junction City, AR

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You would only put paste on one side, so it would stick to the wall.

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We are replacing the shower, shower walls, and floor in one of our bathrooms. Looking around it is going to cost more for the shower walls than the oversized tub/shower we want, because of the odd size. I am wondering if the paper bag wallpaper is water tight enough to be used "in the shower" as the walls. I want to do the floors that way also. So, I guess what I'm asking is, can I do the floor and the walls "inside" the shower, without danger of water damage?

By Angie from Modesto, CA

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No, it would not be waterproof. But, they do make a waterproof shower panel that they sell at lowes and home depot.

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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

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Hi - it would be very helpful if you could add a couple of photos.

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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

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Hi Laniegirl,

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?

Thanks,

kali

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I sent this in already once without a picture
Here is the picture of part of my wall.

Materials:

  • brown craft paper (or used brown grocery bags)
  • wallpaper paste
  • paint brush (inexpensive)
  • bucket
  • newspapers
  • large damp sponge

Instructions:

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.

By Tracey


Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

I've done this with Mod Podge (craft glue) thinned with water for edging old photos for hanging and also on decoupage projects. It works wonderfully on small bottles and jars if you use small pieces. Cover small projects with diluted Mod Podge, larger projects with thinned varnish. (10/13/2004)

By Doggy

Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

I did this in the hallway in my house and want to do my "family room". Sure you can paint it or do anything you want. Many years ago, I tried it on a whim, just doing a small area first and liked it so much I just kept going. One great thing I did was similar to dry brush over the bags directly with eggshell and it gave a great look. In the entry way, I painted it eggshell and very lightly sponged a tiny glitter glue to it. People ask where I got such gorgeous wallpaper. It looks like top of the line embellished rice paper. (02/23/2005)

By klucretia

Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

I used this in our entry way of our 53 year old farm house that we are remodeling. I was unsure at first. But my husband wanted something that was a little rustic and more "manly", so... they were pulling the roof off to be reshingled.

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)

By Melissa

Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

My mother and I, about 3 1/2 years ago, just 6 months prior to her death at age 60 from a second battle with lung cancer, anyhow, she wanted change in a small hallway/storage area and saw this technique on some TV show. The only difference from reading all your postings is one and an easy one to try, too. Do all the same with the paper, tear by hand, no scissors, no straight edges, let the paper "fray" if it will, leaving a nice kind of fuzzy around the edges, and then the difference.

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

Update: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

Finished brown paper bag wall treatment.

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.

Tracey

<Feedback:</font>

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)

By Monita

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)

By Kim

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)

By Vickie B

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)

By LeNelle

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)

By Popi

(09/24/2006)

By lewis_admin

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.

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

RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

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)

By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario

RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

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)

By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario

RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

(07/07/2007)

By Butterfliesandsunshine - Nolalu, Ontario

RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

Though I am still in the process of completing a similar technique to the master bedroom of our home, here is a before and during shot. There is still much to do and things to change, so I
won't call it an "after" shot, but this gives you an idea.

wuvie (08/10/2007)

By WUVIE

RE: Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

Brown Paper Bag Wall Treatment

For a shiny finish and something that will last, use our Drawtite Clear no-run low odor water base dries in 5-10 minutes. Varnish is too stinky and shoe polish wax dries out the paper. By using Drawtite, you can also add acrylic tint for a more heightened look. See my web: scotchpaint.com (07/24/2008)

By Felicia/Scotch Paint

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