Dining Tablecloth Alternative That Looks Like Wood

How to make a dining tablecloth alternative using a wood look paper that can be easily wiped clean, rolled up and used again and again not only for holiday table settings, but for any occasion.

My mind is constantly filled with ideas imagining items which can be used in many different ways when decorating my home. A few of them are a bit over the top. But one thing I have learned is to never dismiss a creative idea with an assumption that it won’t work just because it has never been done before. Instead I think… why not try?

Round dining table set for a Christmas dinner using white plates and olive green napkins

My house is my lab where I experiment with many ideas. Some never make it to the blog, but the one I did… was post worthy!

I wanted to do a test run for how I plan to set the table for Christmas.

I am not a fan of tablecloths as they are too much work with having to launder and press them. Wipeable placemats are my go to, but it is hard finding ones that I like.

Rustic farmhouse dining table set on a dark wood table.

Earlier this fall, I saw this table setting created by Shannon over at Home Made Lovely. I loved it and immediately knew that I had to create something similar in my own style for my holiday dining table.

What I liked most about this table setting was that I already owned most of the items Shannon used with the exception of the dark wood table.

Round wood kitchen table and driftwood colored woven chairs in kitchen.

At the time I did this, my dining table had light colored wood.

I had wanted to darken the wood on the table to make it feel warm, cozy and inviting, but I wasn’t quite ready to take the time and effort to stain the table.

What Can I Use Instead of a Tablecloth?
Image of the wood color rolls of Better Than Paper Bulletin Board Roll teacher paper that has many other uses like as an alternative to a table cloth for a holiday or wedding table.

While searching Amazon for something unrelated to my table. This bulletin board paper came up in my search. After I read the description, I started to get excited and asked myself….. “What if?

What if I cover my round dining table with the Dark Wood look paper“. Sold! For $14.99 (12′ x 4′ roll), it was worth it to me to at least try it. I could make a tablecloth alternative using the paper.

Why I Like This Paper To Use Instead of a Tablecloth

  • Better Than Paper Bulletin Board Roll Dark Wood It comes in many wood types, colors and textures like burlap, shiplap, brick and even painted wood.
  • Cuts easily with scissors.
  • Is budget-friendly.
  • Does not tear.
  • The durable wipe-off surface cleans easily and can be used again and again. Rolls up for easy storage.
Dark wood look dining table cover with large bubble glass candle in center of table.
I made the DIY Chalkboard Tile Place Cards on the table.

After I cut and placed the wood look bulletin board paper on the table, I didn’t think it was going to work. The paper has a sheen when the sun is shining on it and had a few ripples, but when I stood back, I smiled. I was getting my wish for a dark wood holiday table on a temporary basis. :-)

diy tablecloth idea for any table. This table is covered with teacher bulletin board roll paper.

I got more positive reaction to the wood look paper when our friends came over for dinner and thought it was real wood!

How to Create a Dining Tablecloth Alternative That Looks Like Wood

creative table cloth idea showing the before and after of the budget friendly table cloth alternative

supplies needed:

  • Better Than Paper Bulletin Board Roll – Dark Wood
  • Crayon with paper peeled off
  • Sharp scissors
  • Low-tack Painter’s tape

Time needed: 10 minutes

  1. Roll Paper Over Table

    Roll the paper over the table. Center it and use low-tack Painter’s tape to hold the paper down, until you can cut it to the exact shape and size of your table.

    How to cut and size bulletin board paper to make an alternative table cloth

  2. Cut Away Excess Paper

    Here’s a trick to make working with the paper easier while getting an exact fit for the top of your table. Once you have the paper centered over the table, cut the excess paper that is around the table, leaving about 2 inches. Your final step will be to finish trimming to the exact shape of the table.

  3. Flip the Paper So Wrong Side is Facing Up

    Turn the paper over on the table so the white underside is facing up. Center on table and use painter’s tape to hold it in place. Use the side of a crayon to mark the edge of the table. This will give you an exact fit when cutting to the table size.

    How to make a pattern to cut when making a paper table cloth cover using bulletin board roll paper.

  4. Cut Along Drawn Line

    Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut along your drawn line. If your scissors are very sharp, you will be able to simply push the scissors through the paper. Cutting this way will give you a very smooth cut edge.

    How to cut a roll of bulletin board paper to make a diy tablecloth

  5. Flip Paper Back Over

    Turn the paper back over so the wood side is face up. Center on table and if needed, press and smooth paper out from the center to the outer edge around the table. Ensure you remove any remaining ripples. Then make rolls using painter’s tape to place under the edge to hold the paper down.

    How to attach bulletin board roll to a dining table as a creative alternative to a cloth table cloth.

  6. Set Your Table

    Once the paper is taped down, you can set your table and enjoy a new dark wood look or whatever paper you use – white wood, burlap and oak are a few others.
    Round table covered with a creative tablecloth alternative using bulletin board paper.

Once I had the paper cut I enjoyed setting the table keeping with my simple and nature inspired Christmas decor.

After a few days, the weight of the items I placed on the table was all that was needed to flatten the paper in the areas where it was slightly rippled from being rolled up

Simple and green Christmas table setting idea using dark wood paper as a table cloth.

So polish your silver and pull up a few chairs to a new wood look table, even if you don’t own one.

I realize that many of you may never want or need to create a tablecloth alternative like this, but I hope reading this post lets you see what is possible in decorating and just about everything in life when you look at using items in a new and different ways than they were originally intended to be used.

Update: I like the way this paper looked on the table so much I kept it on for over a year. It held up great and gave me another idea, to make a new real wood top for the table. You can read all about how I did it – How I Made a Large Round Wood Top for My Kitchen Table.


  • Better Than Paper Bulletin Board Roll – Comes in many wood types and colors and textures like burlap, shiplap, brick and even painted wood.
  • Cedar Wreath
  • Green and White Napkins
  • Bubble Glass Candle Holder – Purchased a few years ago at Target. No longer available.
  • Woven placemats – Similar placemats
  • White dinnerware – all bought at HomeGoods
  • Silverware – hand-me-downs from Ed’s parents
  • Cut Crystal Stemware – hand-me-down Waterford – Alana pattern

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  1. I really enjoy your blog.

    I have a black aluminum outdoor patio set with the sling backs (from Home Depot)which was not an expensive set. The arms have faded and just need to be brought back to life. Do you have any ideas or experience with this situation?

    Thank you

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Linda :-) – I have a post where I share how I painted my metal with sling back chairs outdoor dining set. You can read it here: https://bit.ly/43KPdiI

  2. What a great transformation.Would this work on a sideboard?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sarina – Thanks :-) Yes, the paper would work very nicely on a sideboard, desk or any flat surface.

  3. Harry Smith says:

    Great post. I really enjoyed reading your article. Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas and its very easy and clear to understand. I will definitely utilize all the ideas you have given me. Keep up the good work.

  4. This is why your blog is one of my favorites!!!! I love ideas I can really use!

  5. That is brilliant! Beautiful table setting as well!

  6. boxing day sale best says:

    This is really stunning and beautiful, what a great idea, can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the amazing post.

  7. Fantastic idea – beautiful setting!

  8. Easy to read and understand!! Thanks

  9. Always something new around here…love the way your brain works! Simple…festive…perfect! ;)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Donnamae

  10. Catpainter says:

    You are an amazing problem solver!
    Can’t wait to try!
    PS Love your tablescapes – simple, but festive

  11. Brilliant. This has given me a bunch of ideas. Thanks!

  12. Brandi Niemeier says:

    You did it again!! You gave me a solution to a years-long problem! THANK YOU!!
    My light oak kitchen table was once beautiful… until kids. When my youngest son was 18 months old (he’s now 7), he found a black ink pen and frantically scribbled, marking all over my prized table while deeply scratching lines into the surface. After much laborious work, I got the ink off. But, the result was an oak table with the finish rubbed off in blotches, and the scratches became more obvious. I was devastated. My husband said, “Just refinish the table,” like it was an easy fix. Ha! Did I mention I have young kids? And work full time? So, I’ve just lived with it, disgusted at it each day, thinking that, maybe one day, I can refinish it.
    …Now I have an easy solution until that day comes! It will have a beautiful “finish” again! And it won’t be so difficult to wait until my kids move out :-) to refinish it. THANK YOU!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Brandi – Happy to hear that my tablecloth alternative will work for your needs. :-) The roll covers a lot, so you will have enough for a long time.

  13. Hi Diane,
    Another great idea. i love how your mind works! I wonder if I could cover a box and use it under my Christmas tree?
    I have one the size I need that is like a fake wood but I don’t like the color or the texture. I think I might just try this

  14. Jaye Brown says:

    Beautiful, I am not surprised. Merry Christmas

  15. Brilliant! I love it!

  16. Hi Diane

    Another reader who thinks this is a great idea. And what a great shame we can’t buy this in the UK!

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. What a great idea! I am going to try this! I have a table similar to yours and it is sun-faded and scratched, so this would be a quick and easy solution. Thanks!

  18. CAROLYN BIRD says:

    Looks great!! I’m wondering if this could be used as a back splash alternative or as wallpaper…hmmm…..

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carolyn – I think it could be used for a back splash or even wallpaper. It does have a slight sheen that looks like polished wood and texture depending on how the light hits it. If you have under the counter lighting, it may put too much light on it if you want a more matte wood look on a backsplash. Other than this, I don’t see any reason not to use it.

  19. I love this! You are so innovative and creative!

  20. Thank you for this! I have been trying to figure out how to trim my rectangular table cloths to fit my oval table perfectly. The naked crayon method is brilliant!

  21. Oh, Diane! That’s a brilliant idea and I appreciate you sharing it. I have a gorgeous dark table so I don’t need it myself, but I’m thinking and wondering how I could use this product for something else! And then again, you never know when someone else might need it, and you could offer a solution. Love it!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sharon – I think I may cover cardboard boxes using the paper and add a brass label holder to the front of each. Stacked they will look like wood boxes and very decorative.

      1. Oh my gosh, I LOVE that idea! Thanks!

  22. I love this idea. I think I will try it to see if I want to stain my tabletop dark. Or paint it white. It will be a good way to test out the look.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Joy – Excellent idea to use the paper as a way to see if you like the way a certain color of stain will look on your table.