From the Archives - How to Transform a Boring Room - Wallpaper with Newspaper

Originally published April 2, 2009

Ace Hotel - Portland
using player piano paper

The Ace has drawn attention to boring walls by using a material not usually associated with wallcoverings. The look is achieved using common papers such as comics, sheet music, maps, blueprints, magazines cuttings, newspaper, paper doilies, or heavy foil—the more creative, the better.

How to wallpaper with newspapers and other stuff.

* glossy polymer medium
* sponge brush
* scissors
* your selection of magazines, newspapers, or other ephemera
* (optional) glossy water-based polyurethane (clear or tinted)
* paintbrush

The polyurethane can be omitted. However, it gives a protective glossy coating. **If you decide to use polyurethane, make sure it's water-based, or it will smear and ruin the print. Also, the picture from the other side will show through.

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

magazine pages
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 will not dry clear.
5. Continue to cover the surface this way; overlap the edges and corners as you continue to make the collage.


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


9. If you decided 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 of time. Other than that, the finish is extremely durable.

Here is a dresser I did use the same technique:

Tilley making sure the table is sturdy.

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

stacy reynaud laviolette