Craft paper, used on walls, creates a soft, leather-like appearance.

How to Use Brown Craft Paper to Wallpaper Walls

by Kathy Adams

Brown craft paper -- that stuff that looks a lot like grocery bag paper, but is sold on a roll -- is useful for numerous projects, mainly because of its durability. When torn, crumpled and applied decoupage-style to walls, this paper creates a soft appearance similar to worn leather. The technique is quite forgiving, and you can use it hide flaws or to paper over outdated wall coverings. Contractor's paper can be used in place of craft paper, if desired.

Remove dust and cobwebs from the walls using a duster. Wipe down the walls thoroughly with a damp rag and mild household cleaner. Allow walls to dry completely.

Place a tarp or newspaper on the floor in front of all of the project walls. Cover areas that you don't plan to paper, such as window or door trim, with painter's tape.

Tear craft paper into soft, somewhat uniform shapes, generally a foot wide and tall. Keep the straight edges on some pieces to use along the border of the floor, ceiling, windows and doors. Wad each piece up into a ball, then smooth it back out to create an appearance similar to the visible lines in leather; otherwise, leave the pieces flat. Continue tearing until you have more than enough pieces to paper the project area.

Pour some of the adhesive into a paint tray. Dip a foam brush or paintbrush into the adhesive and apply a generous amount to the back of one torn piece of paper. It doesn't matter which side you choose as the back. Your choice can vary from piece to piece, which may result in a slight color variation on the finished walls if your craft paper looks a bit darker on one side.

Press the glued side of the paper onto the wall in any place you'd like to start, smoothing air pockets and excess adhesive out from beneath the paper with your hands. Use any adhesive that squirts out accidentally on your next piece of craft paper.

Apply adhesive to one side of the second piece of torn craft paper using the foam brush or paintbrush. Align this piece, slightly overlapping the first, so no gaps of bare wall are visible between the two pieces. (If small gaps occur in a corner; for instance, fill them in later with a smaller piece of paper.) Smooth out the paper with your hands, removing air bubbles and releasing excess adhesive from beneath the paper.

Repeat Step 6 with additional torn pieces of craft paper until the entire project area is papered. Trim excess paper as needed from areas while you work, such as along the ceiling, using a utility knife. Immediately wipe away any adhesive that gets onto non-project areas using a damp rag. Allow walls to dry completely.

Items you will need

  • Duster
  • Damp rags
  • Household cleaner
  • Tarp or newspaper
  • Painter's tape
  • Craft paper -- more than enough to cover project surfaces
  • Strippable clear wallpaper adhesive
  • Paint tray
  • Paintbrush or foam brush
  • Utility knife


  • To seal the front surface of the paper while you work, dip the torn pieces into the clear adhesive rather than coating just the back side. Smooth excess adhesive off the front of each piece after it's applied to the wall using a foam brush.
  • You can also apply polyurethane to a dried papered wall, if desired, but it may add a bit of sheen to the finish. Sealing the papered walls is optional and not necessary.
  • To create a stone-like variation, which you can use on floors, roll out five or more feet of craft paper, then paint it with several shades of rock hues, mixing colors slightly with a brush or sponge. Create several variations of the faux rock finish on different sheets of the paper, then tear the paper into smaller pieces once dried. Applied to the wall or floor, these torn bits look a bit like assorted stones.
  • Use a 50/50 mixture of water and standard school glue in place of wallpaper adhesive if desired.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.

Photo Credits

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