Brown Bag Walls

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Brown bagging is so easy to do, and this application can cover a multitude of sins on your walls.

You can even apply torn paper over ugly wallpaper, paneling, textured walls, cedar beams, furniture, fixtures, and even concrete block!  And, you can even use it to patch a hole in the wall, as long as nothing will be anchored to it.  It gives its own unique look and is much cheaper and easier to apply than wallpaper.  You can also use other papers, such as tissue paper.  If you wad up the paper and apply glazes to it, you can get a leather faux finished look.  Scroll to the bottom to see more example pictures.
















I used a Red Rosin Paper instead of the brown paper here in an office.  It was applied over ugly dated wallpaper.  I wad the paper up to make this crinkled textured look, and then applied a couple of glazes over it.  The possibilities are endless; just use your own imagination!  Scroll down below to see more pictures.

Here's how to brown bag walls, and the supplies you will need to buy:

  • First, seal the walls with Scotch Draw Tite Clear No Run.  I am a distributor for Drawtite in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, so if you're close by you can pick up a gallon and get started right away. Please e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.
  • I don't recommend using any other brand of products for this application, because there is a chemical reaction between the three that gives it this cool effect.  When the Draw Tite is dry to the touch, you can start brown bagging the walls.  (Many brown baggers have experimented with other products; only to find out that it didn't trust me, stick with these products name brands only.) 
  • Pre-tear a whole roll of Red Rosin Paper, or Tufco Technologies Brown Builder Paper (available at Home Depot), by tearing off about 1 x 1-foot strips from each end of the paper roll.  Keep all these pieces in a separate pile.  You don't need to unroll the paper, just unwind and tear it as you go, until the whole end section is gone, and then do the same on the other side.  These straight-edged pieces will later be used to edge along the ceiling, baseboards, and other straight lined areas.  Keep all your pieces turned the same direction, with the end edges curling upwards.
  • Pre-tear all the rest of the inside portion of the paper into pieces about the same sized 1 x 1-foot sections but in various shapes.  Don't worry; the sizes don't have to be perfect, but just in this general size.  (If you are doing larger wall sections, you can use even bigger sized pieces, or use smaller pieces for small sized wall areas or other project pieces.)
  • If you want the wrinkled look, wade the paper piece up in your hand before applying the paste.  If you want the smooth look, then you don't have to do anything but apply the paste.
  • Apply Sherwin Williams Heavy Duty Clear (not clay based) Strippable Adhesive to the back side of the paper, using a roller, brush, or your gloved hands.  Apply the paste to the inside of the curve, where, when laying down, the paper ends are curling upwards (just as you set them aside earlier).  When applying the paste, make sure you cover the entire area, especially the edges of the paper, with a generous, but not a sloppy coating.   Applying the paste to the inside of the curve makes a difference in the mottling effect you will get.
  • Fold the pasted ends together, so it can book for a couple of minutes.  This allows the paper to relax and expand.  Paste 3-5 pieces at a time and pile them up on each other.  Take that stack and flip it over so you start hanging the first strip you pasted.  It's a good idea to put these pieces in a plastic bag, so they don't dry out so fast.  
  • Outline the entire straight edge areas first, i.e., ceiling, baseboards, doorways, windows, cabinets, etc., overlapping all the edge pieces slightly.  Use a wallpaper smoother to knock down the wrinkles, and also if you're doing the smooth effect.
  • Then, fill in all the inside areas, overlapping all the edges slightly.  This eliminates unnecessary waste.
  • Optionally, you can apply different glazes, or watered down paint to attain more interesting effects.  Just rub the glaze or paint onto your bagged walls and you can create some very interesting effects.
  • The final step is to seal your beautiful brown bagged, red bagged, or whatever bag piece of wall art you created with a coat of the same Scotch Draw Tite Clear No Run you used as a primer.  Apply the sealer by cutting in the edges with a brush or trimmer, then rolling the rest of the walls.  If you're neat enough, you can do this final step without having to tape off everything.  If you want the paper to be a little darker and have a stronger contrast, you should apply the sealer while the paper is still wet.  However, for a lighter contrast, you should let dry at least 12 hours and then seal it. 


Here's what brown bag walls look like when using Tufco Technologies Brown Builder Paper from Home Depot.  This paper wasn't waded up, so it has a smooth finish (no wrinkles).  As I mentioned before, you can use glazes to get different effects.  No glazes were applied to this's just the brown paper you see.

Here I'm applying red rosin paper to the walls at the Schoolhouse General Store in Camp Dennison, OH.  I wad the paper to get the wrinkled faux leather effect, but I didn't apply any glaze to it. 

There were several blemished spots on the wall that needed to be repaired like this one.

However, the paper covered it up and you can't even tell where they were.  If you have blemishes that are sticking out like this, you need to use the wrinkled leather effect, by wading up the paper first.

Hope you have a very happy brown bagging, tissue paper, red rosin, or whatever, paper day.  Let me know how it all turns out.

There are other high end, hand painted, torn wallpapers that you can buy.  However, these are not for people on a budget.  I just installed it in a really tiny powder room, and the paper alone cost $600.00, and cost the homeowner another $250.00 to install.  But, if you do have it in your budget, it is an awesome one-of-a-kind designer look.  My customer was very happy!

If you are installing this high-end designer torn paper, make sure you read the directions carefully.  This paper is usually painted on small strips of paper and then sandwiched between non-stick papers to ship.  There is an art to putting it on the wall.  However, if you are a diehard do-it-yourselfer, and insist on tackling this project yourself, the best advice I can give you is to make sure you tear sections randomly from all the pieces of paper, so you get a random look on the wall.

Check out my invention, the Bladeater®. It has a built-in blade snapper. Snaps and eats segmented utility knife blades using only one hand. Keeps new and used blades safely contained and off the floor. 





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Yours truly,
Mary Kay Hansen

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