craft DIY Home house

DIY: Giant Black and White Photo Wall Art

January 16, 2013

As soon as I posted pictures on Facebook and Instagram that showed my living room redo in the background, one of the constant questions I started getting was, “where did you get those giant canvases?” Want to know a little secret? They’re not canvases!

Instead, they’re essentially just copy paper glued to a large wooden board, and hung on the wall.
This is a relatively easy, inexpensive way to add some “pop” to your walls, especially if you have a large space to fill. Here’s how I did it:


The Process

The space above my couch was 8 feet long. I knew that Staples could print engineer prints for about $3 per paper, and I wanted to do each photo measuring a height that was double the width. Based on all those calculations (and the size of one large wooden board that I could get at Lowe’s), I chose to do prints that were 18″ x 36.”

FYI: An engineer print comes in black and white only, and the paper is very thin. The biggest print that Staples can do is 36″ x 48.”

  1. First, I went to Lowe’s to buy a board (my 4-year-old assistant is pictured here :)). I’d initially planned to go with MDF, but it was a bit thicker than I’d imagined. So, I went with a 4′ x 8′ particle board instead. Lowe’s will cut these pieces in store, and so I had them cut the boards to size (18″ x 36″) for me. (I even had some leftover pieces, which I’ll save for a future project.)
  2. After taking the 5 pieces home, I sanded the edges (make sure to wipe them off  wellif you use particle board–this creates a thick brown dust) and then painted the boards white, since I knew the photo paper was thin.
  3. I chose 5 photos that I though would show well in black and white, and went to Staples and had them printed. (It shows that you can upload them online and have them printed for pick up, but I tried unsuccessfully. The clerk assisting me noted that it wasn’t working at the time.) Interestingly the customers ahead of me were also printing engineer prints with photos…
  4. Prior to glueing the pictures to the boards, I mounted the hanging hardware onto the back of each board, and went ahead and hung them on the wall to make sure they were spaced like I wanted them. (Pictures are great, and make it seem like this was a 5-minute chore. If only… :))
5. For heavier frames and pictures, I’ve been using the Hangman Canvas Hanger, because it can hold up to 30 pounds, comes with all the screws you need, and has a built in level. (However, because these boards were so thin, I had to put a small nut in between the screw and the board to make it mount correctly.)
 6. I took the boards outside in a very ventilated area and sprayed the glue on them and added the photo over top of them. Using a dry washcloth, I rubbed out any bubbles. I did try to put some brush-on mod podge over the top to act as a sealant, but it warped the paper. (As it is, a few bubbles still showed up.)
And here it is, the finished product.
The total cost was approximately $46.45 (including mounting kits), or about $9.29 for each board hung. If you don’t use the mounting kit and choose a different mounting surface, you could potentially do this for much less. 

What I’d do differently if I do this again:

  • Costco can print 20×30 posters for $8.99. Since this is higher quality paper, I’d probably redo the pictures on this, and then mod podge over the photo paper. I’d have to cut my boards smaller (probably 15″x30″) or use the outside edges as frames. (I made the sizing decision (to make them bigger; I was originally thinking 15″x 30″) when I did some quick calculations at Lowe’s based on the size of the particle board–basically I went as big as I could given my wall size and the board size.)
  • Not use spray adhesive: the about step would also keep me from needing to use adhesive glue, which is highly carcinogenic and teratogenic (can cause birth defects)–a risk I’m not willing to take just to decorate my home or save a few dollars.
  • The boards I used were quite thin, and since they are already fairly heavy, I may use a thicker board next time, such as the thick MDF I originally declined.

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  • Kristen January 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Great tutorial! Thanks for taking time to share all the details. Hope to try this someday! 🙂 Also, think I mentioned my cousin did something similar but mounted hers on poster board. Has a different look but lighter weight and less expensive…

    • Keren January 18, 2013 at 11:33 am

      Thank you for the link, Kristen! I remember you told me about it, but hadn’t checked out her blog for a while! 🙂

  • Wendy March 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    If you weren’t to use spray adhesive, how would you glue the image to the wood? I think I missed something?

    • Keren March 18, 2013 at 11:07 am

      Wendy, my solution would be to print a picture on heavier duty paper from Costco (only a few dollars more per print) and then use Mod Podge. However, I did look and see if there are non-carcinogenic spray adhesive, and there are.

      • Wendy March 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

        Oh! I see! Thank you for your response 🙂