How Many Layers of Paper Mache Should I Use?

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finished paper mache hill painted with acrylic paint

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Paper mache is an awesome medium for a lot of different projects. It is easy to use and awesome for kids. In this article, I will tell you exactly how many layers of paper mache you should use and why.

Normally, three to four Layers of paper mache is enough for the walls to support themselves. If you want to make something, that is bigger and more complex, like a mask for example, I would suggest using around fifteen layers. There is no upper limit on how many layers you can use.

How Many Layers of Paper Mache Should I Use For a Simple Project?

If your project is simple like for example a Paper mache bowl or another simple form then three to four layers of paper mache should be fine.

If your project is going to be used regularly though, like a holder for your glasses or a holder for keys, then I would suggest using a few more layers to reinforce the project and make it more durable.

If you are just using paper mache to smoothen out the surface of your project, then you won´t need more than two or three layers.

How Many Layers of Paper Mache Should I Use For a Bigger Project?

Anywhere between five layers and fifteen layers is good for bigger projects, depending on the type of paper used, the size of the project, and how durable it has to be. In general, a higher number of layers translates to stronger walls. Additionally, the choice of glue significantly influences the overall strength of the paper mache as well.

The kind of paper, that you use, is also important. If you are only using Newspapers and you need strong walls, then you should use quite a lot of layers, anywhere between fifteen and twenty. It is important to leave the layers dry in between. You can read more about that here.

For example, I used very thin toilet paper to make this little hill because I wanted to add some very fine detail to it and make sure that the hill had an even incline on both sides. I later reinforced the whole project with a final layer of fabric and glue. More on that later.

If you are using thicker paper, then you can achieve strong walls with fewer layers. Anywhere between six and ten layers should be more than enough. But thicker paper is also more difficult to apply as it doesn´t wrap around the base form as easily as thinner paper.

If you want to build a very detailed and complex form with paper mache then the amount of layers is an important factor. The more layers you use the more detail you will lose, but the fewer layers you use the “softer” the walls will be.

So you have to balance these two factors well to get a highly detailed sculpture, which is also strong enough for its purpose. You could also use glue, that is drying hard to reinforce your project while using fewer layers or apply a thin layer of resin or white glue with a layer of thin fabric as a final layer to make it stronger.

For example, I applied a layer of thin fabric that I drenched in a 1 to 1 mixture of water and white crafts glue (ModPodge for example) to make this paper mache hill more durable. This final layer was rock hard once it was dry.

Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.

2 thoughts on “How Many Layers of Paper Mache Should I Use?”

  1. I am making a paper mache pumpkin-shaped piñata for a children’s Halloween party, using strips of newspaper and water and flour paste. I want to put a fait amount of candy inside. How many layers do I need to put on the balloon?

    • Hi Sharon,
      I think four layers should be more than enough to hold the weight of the candy. Paper mache is surprisingly durable once it is dry so you won´t need more than five layers.


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