Brown Paper Bag Wallpaper Technique

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

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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.

Torn paper bathroom wall.

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July 19, 2007

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?

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17 Questions

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November 9, 2011

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

By Cindy



November 10, 20110 found this helpful

I think wrapping paper would be too flimsy to use for a wallpaper treatment, but you don't have to use brown paper bags either. You can buy brown craft paper in large rolls at places like Office Depot. Do a Google search for "brown craft paper" to find out where else you can buy it.

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November 10, 20110 found this helpful

They sell brown kraft / craft paper just about everywhere, including dollar stores (although you can get a bigger roll elsewhere).

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November 11, 20110 found this helpful

Yes you can. I did my bathroom using this method and some copper paint and gold paint. I get many compliments on it.

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November 11, 20110 found this helpful

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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August 29, 2008

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


August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I have never seen it done on walls, but a long time ago, I saw it done in a small ice cream shop in Old San Diego. The worker would tear the pieces in "flagstone" irregular shapes, then slightly brown the eges. This let him overlap the piece on the floor already, for a "random look". which he glued down. Then, when everything was dry, he poured resin over it. This was, of course, for a floor. I would make sure you can google or get some really good advice befor you do this. If you are sucsessful, let us all see how it worked?
PS: You may want to try it on an old piece of sheetrock before you tackle a wall??

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By jann weitman (Guest Post)
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

Sounds interesting! Please send pictures of the end results. Tx. Jann

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I don't know specifically about brown paper bagging, but I do know that you can wallpaper over wallpaper, as long as it isn't vinyl or some fancy flocked stuff. I would think you could glue the brown paper right overtop of the existing wallpaper, using whatever glue you intended to use. It also might make it easier to remove this in the future if you got tired of it.

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By Julie (Guest Post)
September 2, 20080 found this helpful

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.

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September 11, 2019

Can I put brown paper on my walls before wallpapering them? I have some walls that that paneling on them, and it shows through the paper.

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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


July 21, 20101 found this helpful

You can tear pieces of brown paper or red rosin paper and spray paint them to get the color you want. First crinkle the chunks and then spray. I did my bathroom in a copper and gold and get many compliments on it. This is a portion of the wall that I did.

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July 23, 20100 found this helpful

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?

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September 12, 2016

Can you paint over it? Will that seal it? I love the texture it gives the wall, but am not fond of the brown. I am wondering if I can paint it a color I want?

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March 10, 2014

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


March 16, 20140 found this helpful

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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June 7, 2016

I'm looking for Paper Illusion wallpaper in a light color. This is the tear, dip, and apply type of paper. Any help appreciated. TY

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March 29, 2014

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

By Juanita T. from Junction City, AR


April 1, 20140 found this helpful

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

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March 4, 2014

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


March 6, 20140 found this helpful

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

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September 8, 2014

I bought my home with one of the bathrooms done in brown paper bag; I love it. But above the shower it got wet and part of it is coming up, how do I fix it? And how can I clean a spot on the wall?

By Tina P. from KY

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October 31, 2013

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!

By Marjorie

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October 3, 2012

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!

By Carrie

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