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Brown Paper Bag Wall Techniques

If you want to create an unusual look for your walls and don't want to use traditional wallpaper, consider papering your walls with brown paper bags. This is an easy and inexpensive project, and after a few rolls or a few brown paper bags, you will get the hang of it very quickly. Buy brown craft paper or use old paper grocery bags.


You will need the following supplies: one small paintbrush with a straight edge, some cotton rags for cleaning up, large garbage bags, brown craft paper or old brown paper bags, ladder, table to work on, wallpaper paste and a brush. Polyurethane (either oil- or water-based) is optional.

Getting Started

Label two large garbage bags, one as straight edges and the other as torn edges. Now for the fun part. Tear the brown craft paper or brown paper bags into shapes of all sizes. Make sure the shapes are irregular. Retain a portion of the bags to keep some straight edges for use near the ceiling or along molding or windows. Once you have torn a lot of paper shapes, crumple the pieces into balls and place in the correct garbage bag. The straight-edged pieces will be crumpled up just like the irregular shapes. Pieces can be applied in any order; just make sure you have enough of both types.

Apply the Paper

To apply the paper, remove a ball of paper from the garbage bag and smooth it flat with your hand. Brush wallpaper paste on one side and place the paper on the wall. Smooth out with your hand or a dry wallpaper smoothing brush. Don't worry about being neat--the paper will retain some creasing and definition after being put on the wall. This is the effect you want.

Take your time when applying the straight-edged paper around doors, windows and moldings. Try to make one long continuous line. You may overlap edges of the torn paper pieces as much as you want. It also doesn't matter if a little wallpaper paste seeps through because this will only further enhance the end result.

Finishing Up

Allow the paper to dry at least overnight. You may then apply a clear coat of oil- or water-based polyurethane with a paintbrush or roller. Clear Minwax is one choice, but you may use a tinted formula if you like. Initially the walls will become darker after you have applied the polyurethane but will lighten as they dry. Keep in mind that an oil-based polyurethane works well for kitchens and bathroom walls because it is more waterproof than the water-based version.

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