DIY Faux Finish Wall Covering

By Donna Boyle Schwartz | Updated Nov 14, 2013 9:52 PM

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

DIY Faux Finish Wall Covering

Detail of burlap wall covering

While it’s not uncommon for a hallway to be the ‘problem child’ of a home decor scheme, most people never encounter one as ugly as ours used to be. The walls were covered in burlap—rough, scratchy, feed-sack-style burlap. And the dark and dingy effect was only compounded by the trim and ceiling color—dark beige.

After years of averting our eyes from the awful sight, we decided to transform the space. Our goal was to make it much lighter and brighter; the first step was removing the dreadful burlap. Because the previous owners had used some kind of glue (instead of wallpaper paste), taking down the burlap proved difficult.

I resorted to trying a rather unconventional tool for the job, a clothes steamer. Working in sections, I used the steamer to thoroughly dampen the walls before removing the burlap with a scraper. It was a time-consuming process, but I successfully removed all of the burlap without damaging the walls.

Related: 8 Ways to Age, Distress, and Add Shine to Your Next Project

The next step was painting the ceiling and trim. I chose a brilliant shade of white paint in a semi-gloss finish to add some luminescence to the area. Then I went shopping for a new wall covering.

Since I wanted to attempt a torn-paper faux finish, I set my sights on a suitably non-directional wallpaper. Ultimately I found a marbleized, pre-pasted wall covering in soft shades of blue and white—a so-called “non-solid solid” that would be perfect for my needs.

I had measured the walls and knew approximately how much wallpaper I would need to cover the area. On top of that, I added another 10% of material to account for the fact that I would be tearing and overlapping the pieces. I started with the straight edges first, tearing the pieces into irregular shapes measuring about a foot wide.

Faux Finish Wall Covering

Pieces of torn wallpaper pre-application

The straight edges went along the ceiling, wall trim, and doorway mouldings. I did all of the edges first, then came back and tore more irregular pieces, roughly a foot square each, to fill in towards the center. Each piece overlapped 1/2 to 3/4 inches. I worked with three pieces at a time, moistening each piece and applying it to the wall before smoothing with the blunt edge of a scraper for firm adhesion.

DIY Faux Finish Wall Covering

Applying torn piece of wallpaper with scraper

The corners required some trial-and-error. At first I tried using the straight edges, but it didn’t look nice. Instead, I chose to wrap an irregular piece from one wall onto the other wall, running the blunt edge of the scraper into the corner to form a tight seal. The end result is a hallway that looks much more pleasant, and much larger, than what we had before.

Wallpaper Basics
Quick Tip: Try Faux Finishing
Easy-Care Entry: Replacing Carpet with Tile