Cardboard furniture part II: how to waterproof it all

Guestpost by Audrey on Oct 3rd

In Episode 1, with a little bit of elbow grease, sweat and fun work, you built a handy piece of cardboard furniture. Time has now come to gorgeous-ify AND make it last.

There are several materials you can use to pretty things up: Nepalese paper, craft paper, wallpaper, paint — but whatever you choose, you cannot do without a Final Layer of Waterproofing Coating. This is the key.

1. Glue the wallpaperHere is what I did, and I'll detail the other possibilities afterwards. I used wallpaper, paint, and Decopatch paper (a very thin craft paper designed to be glued to its support).

  • Use wallpaper to protect your cardboard from aqueous attacks. This also hides the little flaws of the cardboard. I used a white, heavy wallpaper (the kind you paint afterwards) and glued it to the cardboard. This gives an immediate satisfaction but be careful: you have to be precise when you glue the paper, or you will get ugly creases. Remove all air bubbles with a thick plastic ruler.2. Remove all air bubbles
  • Once the wallpaper is glued, let stand 24 hours before you start painting. I used the paint I already had at home, so my kitchen cardboard stand turned out red and brown :) Apply two layers of paint.
  • As my wallpaper was far from flawless (impatience! Enemy of perfection.), especially in visible areas at the front, I added a layer of Decopatch paper. Tear small bits of paper and glue, making sure they overlap and cover the entire surface. In this case, I outlined the front of the cardboard stand.

3. Finished! …Really?

  • The FINAL and ESSENTIAL finishing touch: waterproof coating. Never ever forget the waterproofing coating. This way, your piece of furniture will resist water and last longer. Use a sealant made for hardwood floors — a water-based clear sealant. You can find it shiny, satine or matte. I used satine and I like it. I expect a shiny finish would enhance the eventual flaws of the cardboard stand. Apply two layers, waiting 12 hours in-between. Gently dust all surfaces before coating, so as to avoid unwanted dust, cat hair, human hair, etc.
  • Voilà!

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Other materials you might consider:

  • Instead of white wallpaper: you could use a colored wallpaper you already have at home. For instance, some beautiful leftovers from previous DIY adventures you don't know how to use. That would be gorgeous, but you'd have to be excessively careful and precise when you glue it since it will be the only layer.
  • Instead of a wallpaper base: coating. Coating helps you hide the gummed tape and adds a protective layer. You can use a ready-to-use coating you find in DIY stores. You can also create one. To do that, you need: 9 measures of "Blanc de Meudon" (plaster from crushed chalk), 6 measures of wood glue and 6 measures of water. Mix everything and add a teaspoon of linen oil. Apply a layer of wood glue with the same measure of water. Let dry and apply your coating. This method is cheap and eco-friendly. If you add enough layers, you could even hide the creases of the cardboard.
  • Instead of paint and Decopatch: Nepalese or craft paper. tear small bits of paper and glue to the piece of furniture, making sure they overlap so that the cardboard disappears behind the paper. This paper allows for interesting textures. Decopatch paper gives the same kind of result, but is smoother, with a less handmade feel.
  • Mosaic with tile: for the patient and crafty Homies!
  • Instead of a waterproofing coating: you can go for the real shit and use a waterproofing deck coating, used for ships! This way, you can have outdoor furniture (as in "under a sheltered verandah" outdoor, not "out in the rain" outdoor).

There are many more possibilities — for furniture, but also for shapes and decor! –depending on your tastes, your imagination, what is available in your area. You can Google "cardboard furniture" to see some fine examples made by professionals, or try "meubles en carton" to see what you're more likely to obtain (for some reason, the French seem to be quite active in cardboard furniture). I trust you guys to come up with unexpected and beautiful ideas. Have fun and welcome to the fascinating world of cardboard furniture!

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About Audrey

I am a translator, a DIY lover, a cat lover. I live with my parter and slightly overweight cat in Lyon, France, where I enjoy city life most of the time. I paint Darth Vaders, DIY cardboard furniture, cook jams, write novels in my head, and try to grow vegetables indoors. Not much success for the vegetables, but everything else is fine, thank you.