How To Wallpaper with Newspaper

photo Stacy Reynaud

Ace Hotel has drawn attention to boring walls using a material not usually associated with wall coverings - player piano music. Achieve this look by using ordinary papers such as comics, sheet music, maps, blueprints, magazine cuttings, newspaper, paper doilies, or heavy foil—the more creative, the better.

image © 1974 General Publishing

How to wallpaper with newspapers and other stuff.


Polyurethane can be omitted. However, it gives a glossy protective coating.

**If you decide to use polyurethane, make sure it's water-based, or it will smear and run the print, and the picture from the other side will show through.

The polymer medium can be used as an undercoat and a final coat.

image © 1974 General Publishing
  1. Cut the strips of paper you want to use and turn them face down on a work surface.
  2. Apply polymer medium with a sponge brush to the surface. Do only a small section because it dries quickly.
  3. Place the strips of paper on the wet surface and press down.
  4. Coat it lightly with the medium; if foam forms on the paper, it will not dry clear.
  5. Continue to cover the surface this way; overlap the edges and corners as you continue to make the collage.

image © 1974 General Publishing

6. Rinse the sponge brush thoroughly so you can reuse it.
7. Once both sides have a coating of the polymer medium, they are sealed, and regular water-based polyurethane varnish can be applied on top. The polymer medium is used as a gluing agent and a sealer for the paper.
8. (optional) coat all surfaces with glossy water-based polyurethane with a paintbrush. This gives the paper a hard protective finish. It takes 24 hours to dry and must be painted evenly in one direction.

image © 1974 General Publishing

9. If you decide to omit the polyurethane finish, the surface will require several polymer medium coats to give it a final finish. This dries within fifteen to twenty minutes. The finish will not be as smooth as the polyurethane and will turn white if anything wet touches it for a prolonged period. Other than that, the finish is highly durable.

Here is an old dresser I papered:

Tilley makes sure the table is sturdy.

We grabbed this trashed side table, raided the complimentary newspapers, picked up some sponge brushes at the dollar store and invested in some polymer medium at our favourite art store. The 2009 total cost is $14.50.

The instructions on how to do it.

Stacy Reynaud

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