Affordable and creative options to using wallpaper in a room on a small budget. This tutorial for map wallpaper is a simple project with beautiful effects. No maps? Try using gift wrap, book pages and more, plus use this one DIY TIP that will make these inexpensive paper options adhere to walls without wrinkles.
I have a room reveal to share with you today… it is not actually a room, but a space that is integral to a well-functioning home and the last space on the first floor of my house where orange/brown trim and woodwork still resided.
This little closet of a laundry room is highly functioning and has lots of storage…
…it just needed some color, personality and style. I posted how I sprayed painted the louvered doors last summer. That made a big impact, but not enough.
The orange brown trim and cabinets are no more thanks to Beyond Paint and one of my favorite things…. colorful maps.
I love maps…like…. really LOVE them!
I know the reason I love them so much is because they are so visual and colorful. Looking at them makes my brain happy and is where my love of color pops came from… the blues, pinks, and turquoise colors of the maps that were on the walls of my grade school classrooms were my saving grace when I was growing up since they held my interest when academic subjects didn’t. I also got excited 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 them 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 states along coastlines and countries that bordered water. I didn’t use any desert or mountain state maps since they are mostly brown, white, and green in color.
Ed and I considered leaving the louvered doors off the closet now that the space is colorful and cheery…
…but decided since we do place items and dirty clothes, towels etc. on the washer and dryer all week long, plus other junk we like the space closed off.
We are enjoying the colorful surprise waiting for us now though when we open the doors.
I even made sure to include a map of South Carolina and Lake Murray. :-)
After the walls were covered with the maps, the water heater control 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 it 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. :-)
I painted the cabinets using a Beyond Paint. You can read my review of it here: Painting Cabinets with Beyond Paint. We also continued the NuCore plank flooring into the closet which made a big difference to the space, too.
I used large sections of maps as well as cut out sections that I simply layered and added until the walls were covered.
I made sure each one had blue on it.
I used the maps with the least blue along the bottom and behind the washer and dryer.
I could not be happier with how the space turned out. I love it!!! :-)
How to Use Maps As Wallpaper
The total cost of the supplies I needed to paper the walls with the maps ran about $35.
- If your walls are old, make sure they are clean and free of dust and grease before applying the maps. You can prime the walls first with wallpaper sizing/primer and then apply the maps using wallpaper adhesive. When you are tired of seeing maps on your walls and want to do something different, removing the maps is the same 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/paste
- Scissors or a paper cutter
- Paint brush
- Plastic spreader or spatula
A tip from a reader Mary Ann: 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 got my plastic spreader at the home improvement store. They are also sold on Amazon, here. 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 areas out to use.
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, if you have problem walls, you can apply a coat of wallpaper sizing to the walls first.
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.
This is the most important step to ensure DIY map wallpaper success:
How to Remove Wrinkles in Map Paper Once Maps are Applied to the Wall.
- 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 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 Fix:
If after the maps dry 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.
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.