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I'd like to cover one wall in my apartment with something that looks like weathered/distressed wood.

example showing wooden planks with weathered paint

The wall is 13 feet wide and 9 feet tall. It's currently just textured and painted.

My project has a few limitations:

  • I'm on a limited budget. Like really limited.
  • Since I'm in an apartment, I don't want to attach anything to the wall that isn't easy to remove without damaging the wall.
  • I'd rather not paint the whole wall and have to paint over it when we move out.

I started playing around with ideas this morning. My first cheap idea was to find images of distressed wood online, and print them on normal white paper. Then I cut out the individual "boards" and taped them to the wall. It looks good enough! (And it's a lot cheaper than buying wallpaper, which I wouldn't want to glue to the wall anyway.)

The problem is how to attach each "board" (rectangle of paper). If I use tape, it will peel the paint off the wall when I remove it. (I know this because I've tried!) If I use push pins, well, that's a lot of pins to push in, and the pin heads will be visible on each "board".

I'd thought about attaching the printed "boards" to a bed sheet and hanging the sheet, but it would probably droop.

Thanks in advance for your crafty ideas! :)

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    What kind of wall is it? Is it painted, is it wallpapered? What is the size of the wall? – Joachim Jan 5 at 10:27
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    Welcome to the group! What I have wondered about your comment about the tape dilemma. When it comes to wall and paint, or sticking anything like tape to a wall. It will peel the paint off. Masking tape, or known as painters tape, will not ripe the paint off the wall. It is specifically used for painting, so when the tape is removed, the paint will stay in tact. Using masking tape to apply paper to the wall might be another idea. Masking tape is relatively cheap. – Lyssagal Jan 6 at 14:19
  • What kind of tape did you use? If you use actual painter's tape (Scotch or Duck brand, blue, or Frog brand, Yellow; I do not recommend off-branded tapes), particularly "delicate surfaces" or "low adhesion" varieties, it won't peel the paint. – Allison C Jan 6 at 17:57
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    Off brand masking tapes are a bit questionable. Allison named a few brands that would be appropriate. Mostly off brand can be cheap quality and it might pull paint off the wall. – Lyssagal Jan 6 at 18:54
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    They do sell distressed wood wallpaper. probably cheaper than all that printer ink. – John Aug 18 at 4:32
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You've got a good start to a solid approach to creating something effective and inexpensive; what you need now is a decent and cheap way to finish the job. I would recommend the following:

  1. Get some cheap poster board/tagboard from a department or crafting store. This will create the foundation for your wall.
  2. (Optional) Also pick up some matte brush-on Mod Podge or similar sealer and a cheapish hardware-department grade brush to seal down the edges and add some more realistic texture to your "wood." (If your ink/toner is not water-resistant or waterproof, pick up a spray sealer to fix it in place before using the liquid sealer as well.)
  3. Get some appropriate adhesives; Scotch, Duck, or Frog-branded painter's tape (blue or yellow in color, not the off-white/tan kind), preferably in a "delicate surface" or "low adhesion" variety, or 3M Command poster strips. These materials are designed to release cleanly from painted surfaces without damage when used properly; avoid off-brand or store-brand colored painter's tapes, as they frequently use a glue more similar to the cheap off-white masking tape that can and does damage painted surfaces.
  4. Stick your printed pages to the poster board with whatever method you prefer; spray glue or glue stick applied sparingly will give you good results on the display surface. If desired, seal the surface using your sealers; feel free to leave brush strokes behind, as they'll add a touch of dimensionality to your faux wood as well as sealing the edges in place. You can either go all the way to the edge of the boards, or add an overlap that will be covered when you mount them.
  5. Use the painter's tape (rolled and stuck behind the poster board, or along corners/edges covered by overlap if you chose this method), or the Command strips (follow package instructions) to mount your poster board pieces to your wall.

All these elements are inexpensive, particularly compared to options like fully painting and repainting or using wallpaper, and should give you an end product that both looks decent and is easily removed when you move out or want a change of pace.

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For a good looking result you probably need a solid foundation that can stand upright or lean against your wall.

The - in my opinion - best foundation would be a sturdy net like chicken wire or a literal net stretched in a simple wooden frame. You could probably use a bed sheet as well. The frame keeps everything straight but the material still allows air to permeate, minimizing the risk of mold.

As an alternative, you could use a piece of drywall, real wood (maybe scavenged from old furniture) or similar to lean against the wall. You should ensure air flow behind the board to avoid mold, especially if you want to decorate an outer wall. Glue spacers in all corners of the board to lift it at least 1 inch / 3 - 4 cm from the wall.

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  • Why would you need a solid independent foundation? – Joachim Jan 5 at 10:28
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    @Joachim Because OP stated they don't want to glue or pin anything to the existing wall. – Elmy Jan 5 at 12:15
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    I interpret is more as a preference, rather than a prerequisite. Having to paint over a wall to cover minor damage might outweigh having to add an extra one. – Joachim Jan 5 at 12:44

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