Aging is a process most mortals would like to combat, but when it comes to paper there is an archaic elegance to it when it is made to look old. The question asked is “how to age paper?”

It appears more authentic and sparks a spurt of creativity when engaged with arts and crafts.

If you are creating a paper-based project or making a card from scratch for your loved ones, then this technique of aging paper will definitely let you mesmerize the viewers.

The best part about the process is you can use materials available at home, in your vicinity.

Tips to Make A Paper Look Old

It may be a tad but tardy, the process… but hey hard work only breeds success, right?

So let’s dig into the art of eternalizing old age on paper!

How To age paper naturally?

Head’s up: If you find reading a tad bit tiresome, then just skip to the bottom of this article. There are videos attached that will help you get a better idea of how to make a paper look old using various techniques.

You can read through the article to understand how easy it to make a paper look old naturally. We are going to cover some very important and unique tips to make paper look old.

There are various organic ways to make a paper look old, with the most commonly used methods being via tea or coffee. This is the most commonly used and convenient way to age white papers available in the market.

1. Mimic of an 18th Century Paper That Survived a Massive Fire

In order for this method to work, you must have an idea about the following things so as to avoid any creatively catastrophic events:

  • The texture of the paper while using tea/coffee
  • Blended color – dark or light
  • Using an incense stick to burn out the edges of the paper

Materials required:

A teaspoon of tea/coffee powder, painting brushes (preferably thicker ones), a white sheet of paper, incense stick, a palette or ¼ of a cup filled with water and a matchbox.

Optional: Blowdryer

Beginner’s Tip:

If you are doing this for the first time, then it might be more convenient for you to blend the coffee with water and paint a few strokes on a rough sheet of paper.

This will give you an insight into the sort of texture you want, how dark/light you want the gradience to be, and also how you should stroke the brush across the sheet of paper to avoid color disruptions.

Or else the sheet may have patches of comparatively darker areas that will tamper with the overall appeal of the paper.


  • Take the palette/bowl of water and mix the tea/coffee powder as per your choice. The mixture should not be thick as a paste but watery.
  • Use the brush to apply the mixture to the white sheet of paper. It does not necessarily have to be evenly spread but avoid using too much mixture on one spot or it might tear the paper.
  • Leave it for drying. You can also use a blowdryer to speed up the process of drying.
  • Optional: After the paper is completely dry and blended, you can go for another layer of coating to make it appear more archaic.
  • Now, light the incense stick using a matchbox. For small kids and children, this process should be conducted under adult supervision.
  • Slowly start burning the edges of the paper to give it a slightly burnt look.
  • Continue the process for all four sides of the sheet, and voila! Your mimic of an 18th-century paper that survived a massive fire is ready.
  • You can use a black pen to do calligraphy on this vintage sheet of paper for aesthetic purposes.

2. Antiquing a Piece of Paper:

Now, this method takes the process of antiquing to a modern yet deceptively sophisticated journey. This is yet another easy method to vivify a plain sheet of paper and frame the walls of your home with a personalized touch of grandeur.

Materials required:

  • A regular sheet of white laser paper. Print out the text (poem, quote, a passage etc.) that you would like antiquated.
  • ¼ cup of hot black coffee or tea
  • A teaspoon of instant coffee or tea
  • A baking sheet that should be larger than the piece of paper you would like antiquated
  • Soft bristle brush or sponge brush
  • An oven


  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Crumble up the plain white sheet of paper. Now, smoothen it out and place it on top of the baking sheet.
  • Pour hot coffee evenly across the paper. Ensure that you do not pour too much or it might tear the paper.
  • Now, sprinkle the instant coffee powder over the paper.
  • Leave it on standby for a few minutes and let the coffee crystals blend in.
  • Now, use the paper towels and dab on the sheet of paper. Let it soak up in the remaining coffee-infused water.
  • Place the baking sheet into the oven. Keep an eye on the paper just in case it flames up.
  • Bake the sheet of paper for a few minutes, until dry. You will know it is dry when the edges start to curl up.
  • Your antiquated sheet is ready to be framed and treasured.

Well, if you still haven’t found that which you seek, then let’s polish up the game a little bit, literally.

For the next method to work, you would require shoe polish. There might be a lot of how’s and what’s encircling your mind right now. Let’s put all of those questions at ease by finding out how, in fact, can shoe polish be used to deceive modern youth.

3. Shoe-away the Distress: An alternative guide to age paper without an oven

You might have heard of distress inks, a collection of non-toxic, acid-free, and resistant to fading water-based inks. However, resorting to these dyes for artistic and aesthetic purposes might be a little hard on our wallets. Wouldn’t it have been easier if you could get the same distressing effect at the comfort of supplies available at home?

Well, here’s how you can.

Materials required:

  • Shoe polish (preferably black or brown)
  • Shoe-polish sponge
  • Stencil Brush
  • Sheets of paper


  • To begin with, take the shoe polish sponge and dip it in the shoe polish. Now, spread it across the edges of a rough sheet of paper. You will quickly and easily learn how to go about it.
  • Now that you know how to go about it, take the sheet of paper and dab the shoe polish sponge toward the edges of the paper after dipping it in shoe polish. Drag down the loaded edge of the sponge across the edge and try to stick to the edges.
  • Keep on doing this until all the edges are well polished.

Key tip:

The surface on which you continue the aforementioned process is akin to changing the texture of the paper being used. Thus, if you are:

  • Dragging the sponge toward the edges while holding the paper in your hand, will give it a softer edge as the color gets lighter as you move toward the paper.
  • On the other hand, if you are using a flat surface or a platform then the entire appeal of the paper would be softer, yet elegant.

4. How to make a paper look old without using tea or coffee?

The idea of aging paper using tea or coffee has long been in use, but if you are looking for other creative alternatives, or are trying to explore the limits of your creative acumen, then here are some more methods for you to explore.

How to make paper look old with coke?

One might be surprised to find out that apart from coffee and tea leaves, coke is a commonly used replacement for making paper look old and vintage. The process is simple and easy, and goes as follows:

  • Take a sheet of paper and keep it on a baking sheet.
  • Now, soak the sheet in coke by pouring coke over it. Ensure that you do not pour a lot or it might tear the paper.
  • Let it sit for some time.
  • Use paper towels to dab out the extra coke gently from around the paper.
  • Now, place the baking sheet into a preheated oven (at 200 degrees Celsius) and heat it for a few minutes.
  • Keep a watch till the paper is dry as there might be flame-ups. You will know when the paper is dry as it will start curling up.

How to make paper look old with iron?

Yes, you can also use iron to give a paper an archaic, ancient, and aesthetic appeal. Here’s how:

  • Take a sheet of paper and put the coffee infused liquid on it using a brush.
  • Ensure that you do not soak up a lot of paper.
  • Let it dry. You can also use a blowdryer for this process.
  • Now, heat up the iron mildly and straighten out the paper.
  • Ensure that you do not stay in one area for too long or it might damage both, your vintage paper and the iron.
  • Keep in mind that this process does not bring our darkened edges for aesthetic purposes, as in the case of an oven or incense.

Videos: Exploring another paradigm

If you would like to engage in the process of bringing in vintage into the modern, then here are a few YouTube videos that might help you boost your productivity.

Keep it simple. Keep it visual.

If you are looking out for easy-to-make and less time-consuming methods of giving a vintage appeal to plain and bland papers, then check out this YouTube video to simplify the process of your search.

Want to go organic? Check out this latest creation.

It is understandable if the idea of vintage does not seem to encapsulate enough for you. But don’t worry. We have it all set for you. If you would like to make handmade paper to spurt your creativity and personalize your gifts, then check out this YouTube video to simplify the process of your search.

tea is the key. Explore your design.

If you are trying to challenge your creative skills or just looking for something different… then here is how you can make the most of it. Make a vintage edition of your personal choice using tea dye-stained papers. Check out this YouTube video to simplify the process of your search.

Romanticizing the modern? Go vintage.

If you are more of a romantic and looking for a personal, intimate and authentic way to please your better half, then how about writing love letters?

This may sound like a cliche, a bit cheesy perhaps. But what better way to profess your Shakespearean love than quoting a romantic poem on a vintage sheet! Check out this YouTube video to simplify the process of your search.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is tea-stained paper archival?

Yes, tea stained paper is archival and can be stored for some periods of time. However, due to the acidic content in the atmosphere it might erode over time thus making it harder to store the same for years together.

How do you age paper with lemon juice?

Tear the edges of the paper to give it a ragged effect. Now, pour lemon juice in a bowl and use a brush or a sponge to splatter it across the edges. It can also be dabbed on the entire paper. Do try using a couple of practice sheets to get a better idea of how it works.

How to make paper look old with fire?

You can use incense sticks to make paper look old. You can also use candles but with utmost precaution as paper is flammable and could easily catch fire. After dabbing the paper with coffee infused water to give it an archaic appeal, you can burn the edges of the paper to give it an authentic look.

How to make paper look old with colored pencils?

In order to make a paper look old using colored pencils, you need to master the art of using colored pencils or else it will not give the desired effect. Use gentle strokes of warm colors such as red, orange and yellow. For the final touch-up, use brown and black colored pencils. Finally, use a swab of cotton to blend in these colors thus giving the paper an ancient look.

Can you put printer paper in the oven?

Yes, you can put printer paper in the oven. However, ensure that you do not do it for over a few minutes altogether. Paper is easily flammable so keep in mind to watch the paper while it is being ‘baked’.

Where to buy vintage paper from?

There are various websites online – including Amazon, Blumchen and Chumbak – that sell stacks of vintage paper for comparatively cheaper rates. These are reliable and would provide you with a hassle-free option of antiquating paper.

Are vintage paper dolls worth anything?

Yes, vintage paper dolls are an antique collectible. Their worth mostly depends on how vintage they are, and the condition one gets them in. They are worth anywhere between $10 to $300.

What is a vintage paper doll?

Vintage paper dolls were a rage back in the 1940s and 1950s for little girls. Now, they are commonly found as antiques and collectibles in homes of hobbyists and even museums. They are paper dolls dating back to as old as the 17th century, and are worth over $300 in some cases.

How to make vintage paper without coffee?

A commonly used replacement for coffee powder when making vintage paper is tea leaves. Another common replacement is shoe polish.

Where can I buy vintage paper napkins?

Vintage paper napkins are easily available online on websites such as Thabisa, HNDMD, Overstock. Etsy and Ellementary. They are available in extraordinary designs and borders. However, they could be a little pricey. On the other hand, if you would like to visit a store and check out the options for yourself then there are various cutlery stores that also sell vintage paper napkins. You can Google the stores nearby and prioritize as per your convenience.

How do you age a poster?

Posters can be made to look old with the following process:
• Put the poster on a baking sheet.
• Pour ¼ cup of hot black coffee over it.
• Sprinkle some coffee powder from the top.
• Let it soak.
• Use paper towels to dab the excess black coffee on and around the poster.
• Now, preheat the oven at 200 degrees celsius and place the baking sheet into the oven for a few minutes.
• Ensure that you keep a watch on the poster as the paper is easily flammable and might flame up.
• You will know when the poster is dry as it will appear a little curled up.
• You can also use various other replacements in case you do not have coffee powder, such as tea and even coke.
• Avoid using shoe polish in this case as it might tamper with the material of the poster.


This Guide On How To Age Paper And Make A Paper Look Old has covered many of the tips and techniques that you would consider trying when you want to age a paper.

In case you have some other unique techniques that you think would be worth a mention in this article, you can always update the comment section.

We will try to include it when we next update this article on “A Guide On How To Age Paper And Make A Paper Look Old.”


Avni Deopura

Content Writer

An SEO Expert, a Prolific Content Writer, and a dreamer currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in Master of Science in Psychology from St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science. She is working as a Content Producer and Social Media Analyst.

End of – “A Guide On How To Age Paper And Make A Paper Look Old”

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