How to Seal Paper Mache for Outdoor Use


Paper mache is a vessel or container made by covering an object with paper strips dipped in a paste. The process of making the object is called paper mache because the finished product has a surface similar to that of an old-fashioned parchment lampshade.

Paper mache can be applied using either newspaper or kraft paper and other kinds of recycled paper products, depending upon what kind of design you want for your final piece. In this article, I will discuss how to seal paper mache for outdoor use. So let us get started.

The word “paste” may be used interchangeably with pulp, but technically, the pulp is created from wood fibers, whereas paste is created from flour or starch mixed with water. Finally, pulses are incorporated into some pastes to create various textures on the final product.

How to Seal Paper Mache for Outdoor Use

Guide on How to Seal Paper Mache for Outdoor Use:

1. Thoroughly mix the following ingredients to make a thin paste:

-One part water

-One part white glue (such as Elmer’s)

-Two parts flour

2. Cut two pieces of cheesecloth, approximately twice as large as your paper mache piece. Place one piece on top of the other so that they are double layered, then cut slits about 1/4 inch apart vertically and horizontally across both pieces of cloth. This will allow moisture to escape from your paper mache piece while protecting it from the elements simultaneously.

3. Paint or brush on a coat of paste onto your surface, making sure to cover every spot evenly. Allow this first coat to dry completely before adding a second.

4. Once the first coat is dry, apply a second coat in the same way as the first. Let this dry completely before painting with any acrylic paint or sealing with shellac. Paint your project whatever color you want, but remember that whatever color you choose will determine what kind of finishes can be applied to it afterward. Also, note that certain colors may not lend themselves well to some finishes, so be sure to test them on scrap pieces of paper mache if you’re unsure how they will look when applied.

5. Seal your painted paper mache piece with an appropriate varnish for outdoor use (such as polyurethane) and let it dry overnight in a warm place before using it outdoors or decorating it with any additional items (such as shells and sand).

6. Once your paper mache piece is parched, you can paint on more coats of varnish or apply more decorative elements such as sand and seashells. You may need to seal the new layers of paint or varnish over your decorations with another coat of varnish.

7. Apply a final coat of shellac to make sure everything is sealed. Shellac will “flash” (dry) in about 15-20 minutes, so work quickly once you’ve applied it.

8. After the final coat of shellac has dried, place your decorated piece indoors or cover it thoroughly before placing it outdoors. This will help prevent moisture from getting into cracks or crevices that the shellac may not completely cover.

Precautions While Sealing Paper Mache for Outdoor Use:

Precautions While Sealing Paper Mache for Outdoor Use

Seal paper mache art carefully with a high-quality exterior enamel for best results. Do it in a well-ventilated area – outdoors if possible, because the fumes from low-quality spray paint can be quite noxious.

Some people use a respirator while spraying their masterpieces, and that’s probably a good idea if you’re going to do a lot of spraying. If you need to seal your piece indoors, spray it on all sides at once rather than one side at a time. This way, the wet surfaces won’t stick together before the paint is dry, which could ruin your hard work.

Two or three light coats are better than one heavy coat of paint when sealing paper mache with spray paint. However, the more layers of paint you use, the longer it takes to dry.

Also, if you spray too heavily or thickly, drips and dribbles may form on your paper mache surface, which will interfere with future coats of paint – so always be careful when spraying near the edges.

The trick is to do very even, light layers until the piece has completely sealed up. Then give it a day or two to dry before applying another coat for protection against moisture damage. You can actually use just about any exterior enamel that contains no solvents but choose wisely.

If you want to seal paper mache art that’s really large – say over 5 feet tall – then plan on working in sections rather than doing one side at a time. If you spray too heavily, drips are more likely to form.

And if your paper mache project is extensive, chances are also good that the paint will take longer to dry. You might even want to use a hairdryer on the cool setting occasionally to speed up the drying process.

Alternative of Paper Mache: Paper clay

Alternative of Paper Mache Paper clay

Making paper clay is the same as making paper mache paste. You mix white 4 or 6 ply bond paper with water, using 1 part water to 2 parts paper. Once it is soaked, let dry out (flat on baking sheet) at least overnight before attempting to play with it.

If you want super smooth, use X-Press It Blending Tool for smoothing and blending textures into the project’s surface. One of the great advantages of paper clay is that it can be oven-baked, so you can do sculptural projects that are stable enough to hold their own weight.

Paper clay dries rock hard, making it strong enough for most projects, even being outdoors. Paper clay does not have to be waterproofed for outdoor use.

Just keep out of direct rain. Paper clay may have a slightly different texture than paper mache paste but also has the same characteristics in creating tactile artworks or figures with many layers.

Crackle paste used with paperclay will produce an old cracked authentic look on your finished sculpture, perfect for historical projects.


So, these were the tips and instructions you can follow to make a paper mache piece for outdoor use. Follow them carefully, and if you follow them carefully, they will be durable and last for a long time.

I hope this article has been beneficial for learning how to seal paper mache for outdoor use. Thank you and have a nice day!

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