Kraft Paper Walls

After some minor demolition in a bedroom that would become my new home office, I expected a couple of walls would end up requiring a lot more work than I was willing to do to get them prepped for paint.  Rather than obsess about it, I worked the problem into my overall plan.  The walls that were still in fine shape would be painted, the two problem walls would be papered.

Paper, yes, but not your normal off the shelf wallpaper.  That would have only served to magnify the problem.  The whole point was to camouflage the imperfections.  The solution: ripped pieces of brown kraft paper.

Brown Kraft Paper

Here are the basic steps I followed:


  1. Apply wallpaper sizing to the walls (really, don't skip this.  If you end up hating the look, this will make removing the paper a whole lot easier).
  2. While the sizing is drying, sit down with your roll of kraft paper and start ripping the paper in to random shapes and sizes.
  3. Be sure to save the straight edged pieces.  They work great for doing the joints between a papered and un papered surface.
  4. After the sizing has dried and you have a pretty good stack of torn paper pieces, put on some rubber gloves (latex, nitrile, whatever floats your boat).  Pour yourself a bucket of wallpaper paste (I used Roman's Universal Wallpaper Paste GH-57 from Lowe's).
  5. Reach into your bucket of paste a grab a loose handful.  Smear the paste on to the wall.  Grab a piece of the paper and ball it up.  Uncrumple the paper and apply it over the paste.  Smooth out the paper with your gloved hands (enough to take out the bubbles, but not so much as you lose all the texture...  Wrinkles are good!).  Once the paper is sort of flat, take another handful of paste and smear this over top of the paper you just applied.  The point is to saturate the paper once it's on the wall.
  6. As you go along, use the straight edge pieces to butt up to the ceiling and anywhere else you need a straight finished line.
  7. Repeat until your walls are covered, taking care to overlap your paper pieces.

Things to keep in mind:

  • This is supposed to be random.  Mix up the sizes and shapes as you put them up on the wall.
  • You can't use too much paste.
  • It's easy enough to do solo, but having a person available to hand you paper pieces while you're on a ladder makes the job easier.
  • Don't try dipping the paper into the paste.  Without any support, the paper disintegrates pretty quickly once it's saturated with the paste.
  • Estimate about 50% more time than you think this will take.  It took me a solid day and a half to do two walls (and one wall had a sliding glass door in it).
  • Again, you can't use too much paste.




These two pictures were taken during the application process.  Notice how I just papered over the corner inside the closet in the top picture.



Here's a bit of the finished product (sans molding).

You can see the wrinkles and texture a little better in this picture.

The final result ends up resembling leather or suede.  I imagine you could achieve equally interesting results by using colored paper.  Other ideas I've had include trying to buff the paper up to a shine with some sort of wax or polish and car buffer and painting over the paper.  I'd do a test board before attempting either on a whole wall.

In the end, I couldn't be happier with how the walls turned out.  The paint color on the other walls (Lyndhurst Castle Sand) is a light sage that compliments the brown paper nicely.

For more pictures see posts about my office on my blog...  and be sure to let me know if you do this.  I'd love to hear how your walls turn out.

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Betty on Jul 22, 2015:

My wall looks great now two days later it is drying out and crackling and coming all loose from the wall. I don't know what to do. Also did not know it shrinks when it dries

Betty on Jul 22, 2015:

Me and my sister are doing this in a bedroom. It is in a double wide mobile home with flowered paneling. We got two walls al done and I loved it now two days later it is dry and crackling and coming loose from the wall. Help not sure what to do. Did not size walls.

Bruce on Aug 08, 2012:

I imagine it would depend mostly on the adhesive they used.  I used wallpaper paste (after sizing the wall so that who ever came behind me could remove it more easily).  I'd try to the usual wallpaper strippers to see if they can hack it.

Cami on Aug 08, 2012:

Do you know how to remove this kind of treatment from a wall? Just curious, someone did this to the house I just moved into and they didn't do a very good job. 

kaye on Aug 14, 2011:

my niece did this to her bathroom walls.  After she got all the paper on she used old english furniture polish and wiped it down to the shade she wanted.  It is beautiful.  I'm thinking about doing this half way up to my dining room and using  a trim at the top.

totmac on Feb 04, 2007:

just finished...somewhat labor intensive, but is definately unique. I did notice the texture is different depending on how thin or thick your paste is as well as how long you soak the paper before applying to the wall. I used my husbands paper he gets for taping off a car before painting it ...its an endless roll of paper and tougher than newspaper, but not as thick as brown paper bags.

Thanks for the idea, I really like the look

CasaHartman on Dec 13, 2006:

Thanks for commenting, CQ.  It was a fun project and turned out great...  hopefully it'll work out for you too.

coffeequeen on Dec 13, 2006:

OMGoodness! This is FABULOUS! My teen boys have crashed and cracked the sheetrock in the livingroom wth all their wrestling, and that wallpaper is no longer available to replace it. It is 16 years old and is about the only thing in the house I haven't changed a dozen times because I love it. This might be the perfect solution after replacing the sheetrock! Than so much! I will be checking back frequently fr new ideas. No pressure or anythng :). Happy creating!

Nimue on Dec 09, 2006:

Thanks for the details on amount & type of paper.  I'm going to work on my project this weekend (decided against the wall) - and I'm so glad to be reminded of this excellent idea and to have your directions.

CasaHartman on Dec 09, 2006:

The stuff I got was purchased from a shipping supply company and is usually used as packing material.  For some dumb reason I had it in my head that the project  was going to take a lot of paper.  In all actuality, just figure the square footage of the walls you're covering, add 30% to 50% (for overlap & edging) and you should have a good idea of how much paper you need.

My guess is that the contractor paper is essentially the same stuff.  And honestly, if I had been thinking that's what I would have bought.  It might be a different weight and have a different finish, but I'm not sure how much that would matter.  The stuff I'm using is pretty thick (I think it's 50#).  Whatever the case, the rolls available from the big box home improvement stores are only about $8 or $10, so trying it out before committing to it wouldn't be an expensive proposition.  If you already have some for the kids, I'd try that to see how it looks.  The roll I bought cost me around $60 I think, and it has more paper on it than I'd ever use even if I did my entire house.

Nimue on Dec 09, 2006:

CasaHartman, I'm curious about how much kraft paper you ended up using in the room?  And where did you buy it?  We've bought "contractor's paper" in huge rolls for our children to draw on, found in the paint department of Home Depot, but I'm not sure if it's the same as Kraft paper, or if it's thin enough.  Thanks again.

CasaHartman on Dec 09, 2006:

Nimue, you're absolutely right about crumpling the paper before putting it on the wall (I left that out of my original directions).  Good luck with your wall...  be sure to post pictures.

Nimue on Dec 08, 2006:

An excellent solution to uneven or beat up walls! I've seen this type of wallpaper decoupage before and it really does resemble leather, and looks like cracked leather when the paper is crumbled up first.  You can try rubbing in brown shoe polish to give more depth (if you can tolerate and wait out the smell).  Thanks for your well thought out directions - I have the 'perfect' wall to give this a try on.

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