wallpapering w/ brown paper bags

Old 12-22-06, 08:19 PM
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Question Please Help With Walls

I Would Like To Know How To Use Brown Paper Bags To Wall Paper Over Paneling And If You Can Paint Over The Paper After You Put It Up Thanks
Old 12-27-06, 01:48 PM
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first off, i haven't ever done this, & i couldn't find any really good instructions anywhere for you, so i'm speculating on a lot of this. hopefully someone else will follow with some solid fact-based advice for you!

if it were me, i would first thoroughly clean the paneling with TSP. then i'd fill in the grooves with joint compound and a putty knife. inevitably you'll have a seam land on a groove & you probably want to hide the grooves. then use a wallpaper primer.

but there's a product you can buy called Paper Illusions, which probably started because of this technique. you might look into that product if you don't mind spending a little more money in return for easier installation. i believe it's basically a faux texture pattern on prepasted wallpaper (like a marble look) that you simply tear into pieces & hang randomly overlapped. the brown paper method would probably be harder to get to stick to the wall, since it might absorb a lot of adhesive and would be heavier. but it'd be worth a shot on a practice area.

actual brown paper bags, like they used to use at grocery stores, are pretty thick & stiff, and have many fold creases that may make it difficult to work with, and words printed on it, which might be difficult to cover up. so for starters, i'd recommend using brown wrapping/craft paper you can buy on a roll instead. and i'm not sure why you'd want to paint it when done, as i'd think you'd just about cover up all the texture & seams, and i think it's supposed to look like leather when you're done. but you "could" paint it. you'd have to first seal it with the an oil based primer, so that the moisture in your paint wouldn't loosen the glue & cause it to fall off the wall. then you could paint with latex (water based) paint (i'd recommend a multi-colored mottled technique over a plain old solid color). you might also try spray painting the paper first, before you tear it into pieces. a previous poster mentioned using gold spray paint & creating a "fleck" pattern, before tearing into pieces.

Last edited by Annette; 12-27-06 at 01:59 PM.
Old 12-27-06, 02:21 PM
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I haven't thought about this technique in a long time. The last interesting wallpaper idea I read was where a woman papered her husband's study with sheets of old music. He was a music professor. When I was a kid papering walls with newspaper was affordable and popular.

Here are some links that may provide some insight into what you want to do with brown paper or brown paper bags:



Old 01-08-07, 06:42 AM
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I notice 12pole inserted a link about Bonnye Manning. she is a paperhanger from TX who specializes in the brown-bag technique. Her website is:

Old 03-10-07, 12:02 PM
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Papering with brown paper

I used to do this finish periodically in my 15 years as a faux finisher. Here are some of my secrets to doing a nice looking paper bag finish.

Materials needed: Brown paper, heavy-duty clay-based wallpaper paste, a large sponge like the kind used for car washing, a bucket, a wallpaper pasting brush, a wallpaper smoothing brush (not a plastic smoothing blade), a work table large enough to paste your paper on, and a utility knife or blade. You may also want to have a couple of drop cloths on hand.

Before you start, you should make sure your wall surface is ready to wallpaper. You can paint paneling with a product like KILZ or BIN. You shouldn't need to fill the grooves, but if you are concerned about them showing through, or if the edges of the routed grooves are rough, you can first cover the wall with wall liner paper.

When your wall is ready, select your paper. Kraft paper is my recommendation. You can buy it in large, wide rolls and choose the weight (thickness) of paper you desire. It comes with straight edges on each side, which will be useful when doing your edges and corners. It is flat, without creases that will show on your final wall, and it is free of printing. Ink can bleed through paint. And, buying a roll of paper will ensure you probably won't run out before your wall is finished.

Paper bags still can be used, but they have limitations. Not all are the same weight. If you plan on painting the wall after you've papered it, using paper bags with printing on them is OK, as long as you put the printed side toward the wall. They have very few truly straight edges (some are serrated), and you have to tear them apart. They have straight creases that can show in your finished wall (random creases in a variety of directions look better than long straight ones). You are also limited in the size of the pieces you can use. Nonetheless, paper bags are easily available and relatively free (you usually have to buy something in order to get them).

Start by tearing your paper into large, erratic shapes, no bigger than about 18" in diameter. Reserve large edge pieces for your corners. Once you have your pieces torn, you can start papering. If you wish to just cover the wall with flat pieces, skip the next step.

If you want an interesting texture on your wall, take all the torn pieces of paper to your bathtub or swimming pool, crumple them into loose balls, and submerge them in the water. Remove them, un-crumple them and lay them flat on a surface to dry. Don't smooth them. Let them dry with lumps and wrinkles in them. When they are dry, start papering.

Lay out one drop cloth or a long strip of kraft paper along the floor of your wall to protect your floor from any drips of paste and water.

Lay a strip of untorn paper or a second non-plastic drop cloth on your work table, then place your first torn piece on top. It is best to start with an edge piece. Apply the paste with the pasting brush, making sure to coat the entire piece edge to edge. Since the paste is not the dry type, you won't need to "book" the paper. Place the edge piece right up to one corner of your wall and use the smoothing brush to affix the paper to the wall. Repeat until the first edge of the wall is done, allowing the edges to overlap. Then, using the pieces that are torn on all sides, fill the wall piece by piece, and edge the flor and ceiling corners with flat-edged pieces. Finish the final edge of the wall with the last straight-edged pieces. If there are any open spaces of wall surface showing through, take a smaller piece of torn paper and cover them. Trim off any sloppy edges with a knife or blade.

When you are done, fill your bucket with clear water and wash residual paste off the wall with your sponge. The sponge should be damp but not loaded with water. Smooth out from the center of each piece to the edge so as not to lift the edges. Let the wall dry.

If you want to paint it, prime the wall first using a good latex enamel primer, then paint as desired. You can even apply a glaze over the paint (as long as the paint used is not flat paint) for a more beautiful visual texture.

I also used to take metallic acrylic paint and water it down by about 80 percent, then wash it over the painted wall with a sponge. The metallic paint would build up in the creases and textures and give the wall an elegant look.

Sometimes, the brown paper itself looked really nice, so I would either leave it as is, or shellack it with either a water based dull varnish or clear shellac. Plain brown paper walls can be "patched" simply by applying another piece of paper as needed.

Best of luck with your project. I hope this helps!

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