How to Make New Wallpaper Look Old

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Subtle staining gives wallpaper an antique quality.
Subtle staining gives wallpaper an antique quality. (Image: flowery wallpaper image by Laura Frenkel from Fotolia.com)

Creaking floorboards, stair treads worn smooth, sun-faded wallpaper and crumbled plaster corners. The warmth and charm of many older homes comes from the subtle indications of its history. To help decorators achieve a sense of the past, many new wallpapers are designed as “classic,” “antique” or “vintage.” However, without a patina-like quality, new wallpapers lack the tatty charm of historic wallpapers. You can stain new wallpaper with a glaze to give it the illusion that it has a past.

Things You'll Need

  • Sponge
  • Water-based stain
  • Shellac primer
  • Rags

Clean the wallpapered walls thoroughly with a damp sponge.

Add several drops of water-based stain to a can of shellac primer to tint. The tinted primer will be used to glaze the walls with an antique finish. Stir the mixture thoroughly, and test the tint color and saturation in an inconspicuous area. Add more stain, if necessary.

Wipe the stain on to the wall with a rag, working in circular motions. At the same time, wipe excess stain from the wall with another rag, leaving behind a translucent, slightly mottled appearance.

Stand back frequently to check the look of the patina, wiping off or adding more stain as needed. Keep in mind that shellac primer dries quickly and adjustments need to be made promptly. If necessary, clean up or “erase” primer left too long with denatured alcohol.

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