How to Hang Burlap on Walls
I had the crazy idea to hang burlap on my walls and call it wallpaper- turns out, it actually looks pretty good! Come learn how to hang burlap on walls!
I love Houzz. It's my favorite place for planning out my home. Pinterest is great for learning how to do projects, but Houzz is really where I get the most inspiration.
I loved the walls; specifically the contrast between the burlap-y texture and the wainscoting. Now, since this was professionally done with a designer and everything, I guarantee this look was accomplished using real shiplap and custom burlap wallpaper.
I am not that fancy. I took one look at this photo and decided I could accomplish this with some plywood and budget craft store burlap. Go ahead and check out how I did the wainscoting if you're interested in that too!!
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- Burlap-Colored Nail Polish or Paint Sample
How to Hang Burlap on Walls
Step 1: Make the "Glue"
I attached the burlap to my wall using a cornstarch/water mixture. There is a right way and a wrong way to make this mixture.
FYI, I made it the wrong way for the majority of this project. When I figured out the right way, I felt dumb. Very dumb.
Boil four cups of water. Add 1/2 1/4* cup of cornstarch. Whisk. Whisk some more. When it's still super lumpy, take out the hand mixer and beat for a minute or two. It will still be lumpy. Strain out the lumps. Use the strained super-watery liquid.
Boil four cups of water. In large bowl, add 1/2 1/4* cup of cornstarch. Then, (very) slowly add the boiling water to the cornstarch, whisking as you go. Be happy about your nice, lump-free glue.
* I used 1/2 cup of cornstarch, and that was perfect when half of the cornstarch was being strained out. But if you're mixing the cornstarch the right way, this results in a glue that dries unevenly, and leaves cornstarch blotches behind, as a reader discovered.
To avoid this problem, simply use 1/4 of cornstarch instead!
Step 2: Prep the Burlap
Then, using pushpins, pin the burlap into place. It will be saggy and generally poor-looking. That's okay. If you have plaster walls like me, pushing the pushpin into place will be difficult, but not impossible. You can do it!
Step 3: Glue on Burlap
I used a thick 3-inch paintbrush to brush the glue onto the burlap. I typically started in the top left hand corner and worked my way down and across. The key is to always move your brush in the same two directions, else you'll create air bubbles under the burlap.
You might notice above that my burlap has creases where it was folded. I didn't worry about this, instead making sure to brush those flat as I applied the glue.
In some places, a discoloration was still visible after the glue dried, even though the burlap was flat against the wall. Washing the burlap before you start could help, but I didn't try that so I'm not going to guarantee it as a solution.
Cutting Around Obstructions
Since burlap is see through, I waited until I had the burlap on the wall to cut holes for outlets or switches. I cut the hole once I glued the burlap close enough to the hole that I could tell exactly where it would be.
Using scissors, I then cut the hole in the burlap.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
I intentionally cut my burlap a little longer than necessary to make sure I always had enough to cover the entire space.
After the burlap was dry, I cut the extra burlap off with a rotary cutter.
Finally, I tried to disguise the seams between two pieces of burlap. In some places, the paint was visible beneath the seams, making them even more obvious than they already were. I went through and painted these with a burlap-colored paint.
Then I was done! But I have one more thing to talk about before I show you all the pretty pictures...
Dealing with Seams
As you probably noticed in the pictures above, the seams on the burlap walls are 100% noticeable in my final product. As I went through this project, I tried 3-4 different ways of gluing the pieces together. The seams were equally prominent no matter my method, so I'm not going to detail the different things I tried.
So knowing that, this project is really best in rooms where there won't be that many visible seams.
One nice thing about my living room is that it has multiple doors, huge windows, built ins, and a giant fireplace. Because of that, there are really only two places with obvious seams (both are visible in the photo above.) It will be easy for me to put artwork/decor pieces up that will distract from the seams.
If you're thinking of installing burlap walls in a room with many large stretches of wall (and therefore many seams,) it might be worth considering if you can find larger pieces of burlap than what is sold in craft stores. I'm not sure if that's possible, but it's worth researching.
Can you paint burlap walls?
Yes, you can paint over these walls, but be aware that the burlap texture will bleed through.
Honestly, though, using the cornstarch method means the burlap pulls off with very little effort. I think it'd be easier to pull off the burlap then paint rather than paint on top of the burlap walls.
Can I burlap over paneling?
Yes, I see no reason why the burlap/cornstarch mixture wouldn't stick. But beware, the burlap is relatively see through, so you'll probably be able to see the gaps in the paneling through the burlap.
Can I do this with other fabric, or does it only work with burlap?
So, the starch-as-glue method was originally used to secure normal fabric to wall! You can use any fabric you'd like!
What burlap did you use for this project?
I got my burlap at Joann Fabrics in the "natural" shade.
Could this be used in a rental, or will it leave residue when it comes off?
So once you pull the burlap off, yes, I expect some residue will remain. But that residue is just cornstarch and water - easy to clean up with a little soap and water!
Given you're willing to wipe the walls down with water before you leave, yes, this is rental friendly.
Could I burlap my bathroom walls, or will the humidity cause an issue?
To be honest, I'm not sure. I'd put up a test piece and see how it does for a week or two. If all seems well, go for it!
What does the finished room look like?
Go check out my finished living room here! I think it looks fantastic, and the burlap walls were the perfect thing for it!
Overall, even with the visible seams, I am thrilled with how the burlap walls turned out. I was really nervous before I started, because putting burlap on the walls seemed like a crazy idea. But it really adds interest and character to the room, which I love.
The other thing I love about this project was that it was cheap. Really cheap. Paint is cheap too, but at $2 a yard for the burlap, this only cost me around $30.
A gallon of quality paint is well over that amount, so this option was a money-saver as well as an interest-adder!
The final plus about burlap walls? They're super easy to remove. I can easily pull the burlap down anytime, and some quick soap and water will get the rest of the starch off the wall. Win!
I love the way it turned out, and am so happy I was brave enough to try this project. If you like it too, go ahead and save it to Pinterest so that other people can find it too!