hanging burlap as wall covering?

Circus PeanutJuly 1, 2009

I am at my wit's end trying out paint colors, and am ultimately considering something entirely different for a wall that needs either color or texture.

I've found a great shade of burlap that should work, and dimly recall my mom doing this successfully in the '70s.

Has anyone hung burlap? Any tips? Warnings? Shrieks of aesthetic dismay?

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I've never tried this myself but here's something to consider. Burlap is loosely woven so would tend to stretch this way and that and be hard to hang with the "grain" straight. You would probably need to use an iron on stabilizer before trying to hang on the wall. Or, you might google burlap wall coverings to see if there isn't one already ready to hang.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 2:39PM
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I'd look for a woven burlap paper. Have a relative who did this for his wife in the past and he said it was horrible to hang. Maybe you're thinking of a fabric store type burlap, there are probably many types. But I believe the rolls I've gotten for outdoors are treated with something (formaldehyde comes to mind, or something like that; arsenic, maybe, like the treated woods?) I'd check that out before covering the walls in it. Lots of loose little shedding fibers, as I recall, too.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 2:54PM
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One of the design bloggers did this recently. Let me see if I can track down the post...

Here is a link that might be useful: http://karaskottage.blogspot.com/2009/05/beautiful-burlap.html

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 3:30PM
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Here's one example of a burlap paper that's available (eco-friendly):

Here is a link that might be useful: Burlap Wallpaper

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 3:42PM
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I tried sewing with burlap and nearly choked to death. It gives off a tremendous amount of fuzz. I'll never use it for anything again!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 4:11PM
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I would first think about possible ways to put it up (spray glue?), and then I would think about how you're going to get it off (or the next owners of the place) once this phase passes... LOL!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 5:44PM
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When I was growing up in the very mod 70's, my parents "wallpapered" one wall of the sewing/guest room with a king bed sheet. It was a big flower power pattern, and it looked very cool. When the era of bright green and yellow morphed into the jewel tones of the 80's, they used a wallpaper steamer and took it off. My dad was an excellent painter and wallpaperer, and I can recall him saying he was glad it was only one wall, as the thin fabric wrinkled more than regular wall paper. It may not be easy, the open weave would be hard to keep straight, but it would not be impossible.

So I'm wondering if using wallpaper paste would work, especially if there is burlap with a backing, as a PP mentioned, I would think you could just wallpaper that and away you go. Then, if you got sick of the color, you could paint it and have a great texture (I love texture in a room, adds a lot of dimension you just don't get with plain drywall).

Good luck-


    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 8:27AM
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I just watched a Renovation Realities show on DIY network where the couple did this on one wall of their playroom. It looked like it would be a huge pain, and the wife had her doubts, but in the end it looked way better than I thought it would. Looks like it won't get rebroadcast until late august though.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Lucas Project

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 9:28AM
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If you decide to proceed, search the internet for ways to apply fabric to walls using starch. I remembering seeing an HGTV program (Room by Room, maybe) where they used starch. I believe they said that with starch as the "adhesive" it would come off easily and then all you have to do is wash the starch off the walls.

Personally, I would go with look-alike wallpaper.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 9:43AM
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Wow, that's my tiny little blog and my almost finished kitchen that I will soon post here. I hung my burlap with staples only and yes you do need to pull really really tight. I am getting lots of compliments and i really love the look. It was very easy but you will sneeze. I didn't but you could wash it first which would probably cut down on fuz. No need to iron you will stretch out all wrinkles. It is very easy, cheap, cheap, cheap and you can change when wanting a new look.

Here is a link that might be useful: KarasKottage

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 11:18AM
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Circus Peanut

Ha! You are such a fabulous collective resource. Thank you all for the thinking caps.

pammyfay -- you made me laugh; it might well be just a phase. Although my mom still has some up in the basement from about 1974 ...

The burlap-look wallpaper is quite pricey, unfortunately, and since this is an experiment I'm not sure I'm ready to shell out the cash just yet. ($490 for a double roll, ouch - but it is beautiful.)

I hear y'all re. the fuzziness and stink. My hope is to use some un-treated burlap to avoid at least some of that issue. I'm a long-time sewer, so I know how awkward this stuff is to handle. I found a place online that sells untreated 60" burlap off the roll (no folding creases), and they're sending me a few free color swatches, so I should know more as soon as that arrives.

I picked up some regular wallpaper paste (clear), but I'm liking the starch idea too. I wonder if it will hold the heavy fabric?

klutterkara - gorgeous wall! What did you use for the edging? Bias tape? Folded burlap? That might well be the way to go in order not to ruin the wall surface with gooey glue. I have my trusty electric upholstery stapler that would work for this.
How did you handle the seams? I'm thinking with 8' walls and 60" fabric, I could get away with 2 railroaded strips and a thin chair rail to hide the seam?

HMMMMMM. More as it transpires, stay tuned. And thank you!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 10:39AM
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I asked one yard supply and they said their outdoor burlap was treated with copper, to prevent rot.

$490? I thought I saw $68 per roll. I expect it would be pricey though. I wonder if it would be easier to apply over a plain inexp wall paper or another type of paper on a flat surface, rather than directly to the wall first.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 2:03PM
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After hearing about the fuzz, I took a quick look online, and there appear to be other kinds of burlap, including those made from hemp, that look to be very similar, but a little softer. You can also try searching for synonyms like jute and hessian.

Some of the fancier burlaps can be used for things like clothing and upholstery, as opposed to just the sacking that the stiff and scratchy burlap I think of are used for.

I remember some groovy burlap wall hangings growing up. The texture will go nicely with your Danish Modern furniture!

These would probably cost a little more, but if the other didn't seem to work, it might be a next step to try.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 5:43PM
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This thread reminds me of the Barnes Foundation in suburban Philadelphia. The idiosyncratic art collector Albert C. Barnes covered all his walls with burlap and then hung hundreds of masterpieces -- Renoirs and such. (You will have a Renoir, right, CP?)

Did you know that Ballard sells burlap by the yard? It's probably the same stuff they use for their drapes. It's eighteen bucks, but that's still cheaper than the WP.

Here is a link that might be useful: Burlap

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 9:29AM
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I bought my burlap at HL and used a 40% coupon so around $1.50/yd. My whole project was about $50.

I don't know what the trim is called(not a sew-er..LOL). It could be bias tape I found it with all the trims and ribbons also at HL with coupon. Large thumb tacks found in quiling notions.

Fuzz was bad during my installation but I think if you washed it first then it would cut fuz problem.

I just embraced the seems, the burlap has what I would consider a finished egde, I just tried to keep it as straight as possible. I did get a negative comment on RMS about the seems so I guess the look is personal but I feel more trim or some kind of wood trim would cut up the wall space.
My mother did suggest I hang with a starch and water solution but I didn't have that so I went for the regular desk stapler.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 9:18AM
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