If you are looking for affordable and creative options to using colorful world map wallpaper in a room, consider this creative decor idea to make your own budget-friendly map wallpaper. It is a simple home decorating project with beautiful results.
This DIY map wallpaper idea can also be done using gift wrap, colorful pages from books or any decorative paper preferences following this map wallpaper tutorial. Plus learn the one DIY TIP that will make these inexpensive paper options adhere to walls perfectly and without wrinkling.
This little closet of a laundry room is highly functioning and has lots of storage.
I started to make it over by first painting the brown wood, white using Beyond Paint.
I also shared a post on how I sprayed painted the louvered doors white. Doing these painting projects made a big impact, but not enough. The space still needed some color, personality and style.
I made the style and color happen in the space by making my own map wallpaper using a collection of world maps in map styles I liked.
I love maps…like…. really LOVE them!
I know the reason I love maps so much is because they are so visual and colorful. Looking at them makes my brain happy and is where my love of seeing pops of color around a room came from.
The blues, pinks, and turquoise colors of the maps that were on the walls of my grade school classroom were my saving grace when I was growing up since geography held my interest when academic subjects like math didn’t.
I also got excited as a kid when the pull-out maps came in National Geographic magazine every month. I studied every inch of them.
The laundry closet was the perfect place to add these now vintage world maps to my house. To get enough maps to cover the walls I went to Ebay to find the maps I remember as a child. I found many sold in “Lots” for sale.
I bought 24 National Geographic Maps for $18.
Since I like blue and turquoise, I searched to find maps that had US states along oceans and coastlines or countries like Australia that bordered water.
I even made sure to include a map of South Carolina and Lake Murray where I live.
We are enjoying the colorful wallpaper surprise waiting for us now when we open the doors to do the laundry.
I could not be happier with how the space turned out.
How to Use Maps to Make Map Wallpaper
Installation of this DIY map wallpaper is much easier than adding peel and stick or self-adhesive map wallpaper or even ready-made map wallpaper murals. The map mural being the hardest as you need to deal with large sheets of paper and make sure when installing them that they run straight.
When wallpapering with cut up maps, you don’t have to worry about working with large pieces of wallpaper and keeping it straight or matching up seams.
I used large sections of maps as well as cut out sections that I slightly overlapped and added until the walls were covered.
I used the maps with the least blue along the bottom of the wall and behind the washer and dryer where they wouldn’t be seen as much. I did not put a sealer over the maps when the walls were covered.
The total cost of the supplies I needed to paper the walls with the maps ran about $35.
Helpful Tips Before Starting
Make sure the walls you plan to wallpaper with maps are clean and free of dust and grease before applying the maps.
Prime the walls first with wallpaper sizing/primer following the manufacturers instructions on the can’s label. Once the walls are primed, apply the maps using traditional wallpaper adhesive.
When you tire of seeing maps on your walls and want to do something different, removing the maps will be the same process as removing wallpaper from a wall.
- Maps – I bought mine on Ebay, here. but you can use any map(s) or pages from an old Atlas. Check your local thrift store for them.
- Wallpaper primer and paste
- Scissors or a paper cutter
- 1-1/2″- 2″ wide paint brush
- Plastic spreader or spatula
- Work surface to spread wallpaper paste on maps
Reader TIP: Another resource for maps is to order them from ALL 50 states! If you do it online on the state tourist sites they will mail you the map from their state for free.
I purchased the plastic spreader at the home improvement store. They are also sold on Amazon.
TIP: If you have a plastic spatula in your kitchen, you can use that. The spatula will work the same way as the spreader I used when you use the bottom edge of the flipper section to swipe over the sections of maps as you apply them to the wall.
- Find maps where you like the colors and cut those sections out to use for your wallpaper.
I used about 4 full-maps where I liked all the colors, but it is much easier to apply the maps to the wall in smaller sections. For the rest of the walls, I cut up the parts of the maps where I like the colors.
2. Clean walls and let dry, apply a coat of wallpaper sizing to the walls first and let dry.
3. Turn the map or cut sections over and brush a coat of wallpaper paste to the back. Make sure to get paste on all the outer edges. Fold the pasted section in half (paste to paste) to “book” the paste to the paper.
4. Carry it to wall and carefully open and apply the cut section of the map to the wall using the spreader to adhere the paper to the wall.
5. Some maps depending on the paper they are made out of, may wrinkle when you apply it to the wall. Don’t worry about this…the wrinkles are easy to remove.
How to Remove Wrinkles in Map Paper Once Maps are Applied to the Wall
This is the most important step to ensure DIY map wallpaper success:
- A wallpaper smoothing brush will not work to smooth the maps onto a wall, the paper is too thin and you will see the brush marks and spaces of the bristles in every sweep you make over the maps.
- You need to use a plastic spreader or spatula to make sure the paper is adhered well to the wall and to remove any wrinkles or air bubbles that appear right after you apply the map sections to the wall.
6. Firmly run the plastic spreader over the map in all directions, pushing the wrinkles and air bubbles out to the edges. Go over a few times. You can press pretty hard if you keep the spreader edge level against the wall. If you angle the spreader, the ends could rip the paper, so as you swipe across, keep the spreader level.
7. As you can see the wrinkles are gone.
8. Continue to add more map sections to the wall one by one, slightly overlapping them to create the map wallpaper on your wall.
9. As you apply new sections of maps, go back and check the previous pieces you applied and go over them again with the spreader if you see any more wrinkles forming.
10. I kept swiping over the maps I just applied and then the ones previously applied quite a bit to ensure I removed all the wrinkles, it only takes a few seconds. Doing this before the paper dries will ensure wrinkle-free map wallpaper.
11. Keep adding maps and sections of maps to the wall until it is covered. From time to time, take a damp cloth over the map wallpaper to remove any wallpaper paste residue, but be very gentle so you don’t remove any color from the maps. Let dry. I did not seal the maps.
DIY Map Wallpaper Air Bubble Fix
If after the maps are dry on the wall you find a wrinkle or air bubble, there is a simple fix to get rid of it.
- Use a very sharp craft knife and cut a slit into the air bubble or wrinkle. Use a small paint brush or toothpick to get wallpaper paste behind the paper and then use the spreader to flatten the area. Let dry.
How to Cover Utility Boxes on a Wall With Maps
After the walls were covered with the maps, the water heater control box stuck out like a sore thumb. I thought I could spray paint it white, but it would still stick out.
How did I hide it?
I hid the control box on the wall using a shoebox. I made sure the shoebox fit over the metal box…
… covered it with maps and attached it using Velcro.
The map covered shoebox stays secure, but can easily be removed when needed.
It may not be perfect, but it does the trick. :-)
We also continued the NuCore Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring into the closet which made a big difference to the space, too.
I considered leaving the louvered doors off the closet now that the space is colorful and cheery.
But after more thought, I decided since we do place items and dirty clothes, towels etc. on the washer and dryer all the time I like the space closed off.
If you have any questions about using maps as wallpaper in a room in your home, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section of this post.