5 Methods to Make Paper Look Old (8 Distinct Aging Effects)

You can make a paper look old in several ways, and each method provides different results. Tea or coffee gives a brownish antique look, whereas vinegar aging provides a yellowish tint. But the look and result you need will depend on how you want to use the aged paper. So, in this article, we discussed how to age paper following 5 tried and tested methods and ways of combining them to get 8 different aged paper effects.

How to Age Paper (5 Easy Ways to Make Paper Look Old)

In this article

  • Discover five proven methods to age paper, each offering unique effects for your creative projects.
  • Understand the distinct colors and effects produced by each method.
  • Learn safety precautions for methods involving flame (especially for kids and beginners).
  • Way combining methods for textured and one-of-a-kind results.
  • Benefit from practical tips for beginners.
  • Explore different creative uses for aged paper

Hello Craftaholics, As you probably know, I have been crafting for over 25 years, and in all those years I have had to create aged paper for many of my projects. I have been using tea or coffee stains for years as it is the best way to make paper look old. But sometimes I need a specific look that can’t be achieved by applying tea or coffee.

So, I gathered the 5 best possible methods to make a paper look old, analyzed the color effect it provides, and created a list of when to use which method. Here is the list (I also provided the process)

How to age paper for diffrent projects
MethodOutcome/EffectColoring EffectSuitable Use Cases
Tea or Coffee StainingCreates a vintage, aged appearance.Light brown tintAntique craft making, historical document replication, vintage-themed projects
Ink AgingEnhances text or illustrations, and adds character.Darkened appearanceHandwritten letters, artistic projects, maps or illustrations
Burn the EdgesEmphasizes a weathered, aged look.Darkened edgesScrolls or ancient manuscripts, pirate maps
Vinegar AgingAdds a subtle discoloration, yellowing effect.Yellowish tintHistorical document replication, vintage-themed artwork
BakingAchieves an antique, parchment-like look.Beige or light tanHistorical manuscripts, vintage-themed invitations, theatrical props

By applying these methods, you can get the aged paper look you want, but sometimes following a specific process does not provide the desired look. Therefore, we also provide tips for combining different methods so you can achieve the look you want.  Let’s get started.

Things You’ll Need

Basic Supplies for All Types of Methods

  • A square plastic box with at least 1-inch depth
  • Regular papers
  • A piece of cloth – to protect the surface you’ll work on
  • Some napkins – to keep your hands clean and dry if necessary
  • A tweezer (to pick the soaked paper)
  • Hair dryer (optional)

Different Tools You Can Use for Soaking the Paper

  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Paintbrush

Making Paper Look Old Using Tea/ Coffee Stain

Effect: Creates a vintage, aged appearance | Color: Light brown tint.

As you already know, this is my go-to method and the most popular method of making paper look old. This method involves using brewed tea or coffee to stain paper, giving it an aged appearance. The natural compounds in tea or coffee interact with the paper, creating a vintage look.

Step 1: Preparing Tea/Coffee, Box and Paper

Tea stains and coffee stains will give slightly different shades to papers. The stronger the tea or coffee the darker the stain will be. Bring water to boil and then pour a cup of water. Add 2 tsp of coffee or 2 tea bags for better staining.

Select a plastic box (big enough to fit the selected paper) with at least an inch of depth. Place a paper on the inner, bottom surface of the box.

Slowly add the brewed tea or coffee into the box. Adding the whole cup won’t be necessary; just add enough to soak the paper evenly on all parts.

Take the box and move it in a circular motion to spread the tea/coffee on the whole sheet evenly.  Leave the paper in the box and let it soak well for a few minutes (10-15 minutes).

Use a tweezer to take out the soaked paper from the box. Or, you can simply use your hands to take out the soaked paper from the box.

Place the wet paper on a dry surface and allow it to dry over time. You can also use a hair dryer to dry the paper.

how to tea stain paper

Making Paper Look Old Using Vinegar

Coloring/Effect: Adds a subtle discoloration, and yellowing effect.

If you are looking for a way to make paper look old without using tea or coffee, then this method is perfect for you. The yellowing effect of vinegar-aged paper will allow you to create the necessary atmosphere for projects replicating historical documents or works of art with vintage themes.

Tips: Use dark and concentrated vinegar, as clear vinegar won’t be very helpful in aging paper. For optimal results, we recommend using balsamic vinegar.

Select the plastic tray or box big enough to fit the paper selected for this method. Place the paper inside the plastic box.

You can add the vinegar directly from the bottle. Just add enough vinegar to soak the paper evenly on all parts. Leave the paper in the box and allow it to soak evenly and nicely.

Take the paper out of the box and place the wet paper on a dry surface. You can either allow it to dry over time or you can use a hair dryer to dry it. This should leave a vintage yellowish tint on the paper.

How to Age Paper Using Ink

Coloring/Effect: Enhances text or illustrations, and adds character.

Sometimes, we need to give a paper a darkened appearance to give it character, especially when creating things like old maps or any artistic project that requires a specific look. In such situations, ink aging is a great option.

But remember, Ink aging is relatively tricky compared to tea staining paper, coffee staining paper or even vinegar aging methods.

Tips: Use brown or dark brown ink for a vintage look. Or you can just use black ink. Lighter inks will leave lighter stains and darker inks will leave darker stains.

The tray and paper selecting steps are the same as the previous methods. Select the ink of your choice; we’re using black ink. You will need a cup of water as well. Add enough water to soak the paper neatly. The paper shouldn’t soak the whole amount of water, there should be enough water to add ink to it. 

You can use a thick paint brush or a dropper or a sponge to add the ink to the soaked paper. You can add the ink randomly to the paper or you can start from a side or an edge.

Once you’re happy with the added ink, leave the paper soaked for 10-15 minutes.

Ink Aging Steps (3)

Taking out and drying the paper is the same as the previous ones.

Making Paper Look Old Using Lemon Juice

Coloring/Effect: Imparts a faded, delicate appearance.

It’s another tricky method to make paper look old for advanced craftsmen. Also, this method involves flames. So be sure to take safety precautions or don’t use this method if you are not confident enough.

If you want to achieve a faded aged look without using a flame, you can use a heat gun. Using a candle is a relatively safe option compared to other tools.

Prepare the box by placing the paper inside it. Prepare a cup of lemon juice. You can cut out a piece of lemon and squeeze it directly on the paper.

Lemon Juice Aging Steps (4)

You can either dab the edges of the paper with lemon juice or you can soak the whole paper. The lemon juice added parts of the paper will look aged after the next step.

Use a heat gun, or candle or lighter to heat the lemon juice dapped parts of the paper. The longer you heat the paper, the darker the paper will become. You can dry the paper with the heat.

Taking out and drying the paper is the same as the previous ones. This method will slightly discolor the paper but won’t give a string vintage or old look like the tea/coffee or vinegar stains.

Lemon Juice Aging Steps (4)

Making Paper Look Old by Baking (Faster Method)

Coloring/Effect: Achieves an antique, parchment-like look.

The fastest and easiest way to make paper look old is to bake it in the oven. However, this method may not always give you the aged effect you are looking for. In that case, you can combine it with the previous ones. Here we combined baking with tea staining.

Preheat the oven at the lowest, for 5 minutes or so. Select your paper and place it on the baking tray. You crumple the paper beforehand.

Sponge or dab the paper with brewed tea or coffee until you’re happy with the stain marks.

Place the baking tray (with the soaked paper) inside the oven and bake the paper for 5-8 minutes at 200 Fahrenheit. Monitor the oven to check if the paper catches on flame.

When the sides of the paper start to curl up, that’s when you’ll know that the baking is done. Turn off the oven and take out the paper. Allow it to cool down.

Making paper look old by Baking

The baking step dries the paper. In the baking method, the paper turns out sturdier than the other methods.

Get More Variety by Combining the 5 methods with These

The five methods for making paper look will give you five different aged effects. But you can combine them in countless different ways and use a little imagination to create different effects. Here are three simple sub methods that you can apply with the top 5 methods and generate different styles.

  1. Take the paper and crumple it into a ball shape. Press the crumpled paper ball tightly and then smooth it out.
crumpling paper to make it look old
  1. If you soak or dab the crumpled paper, the stains will leave a cool crumpled texture after it dries.
Crumpling to age paper
  1. You can use a lighter or a candle to burn the edges of a paper.

  1. Then apply any one of the basic methods for soaking and drying. The burnt edges give the paper an ancient look when some tea or coffee stains are added.
  1. You can tear off a thin part from all 4 sides of the paper using your hand. The best way to do it is to use a wet paintbrush to wet the edges of the paper. Leave it for 2-3 minutes.

  1. Then tear the edges off smoothly while it’s still wet.

  1. When you apply a basic aging method to this paper, the edges will look darker, giving a vintage look.

Special Tips for Beginners

If this is your first attempt at aging paper, we’re hopeful that our post can be helpful to you. Go through the following tips to avoid probable errors during the paper aging process.

  • Make sure to use a plastic square tray with at least half an inch of depth. This will prevent the liquid items from spilling all over the working surface.
  • Cover the working surface with a piece of cloth before getting started. The paper aging methods can turn out messy at times!
  • Use a paintbrush or sponge to dab the paper with the selected stains instead of directly using your hands.
  • Keep some extra napkins near your hand to keep your hands clean and dry.
  • Use a candle for the burnt edge method instead of a lighter. A candle is much easier to handle.
  • Keep a wet brush near your hand when working on the edge burning method. You can quickly and easily brush off the burnt sides and prevent the flame from spreading
  • Use balsamic vinegar for the vinegar aging method
  • Use brown or dark brown ink for a vintage texture when using the inking method
  • For each method, leave the paper soaked for at least 10 minutes for the texture to set neatly
  • Keep the wet papers on a flat and dry place or use a hair dryer to dry them

Lovely Things You Can Make with Those Aged Paper

  1. Old/Pirate Treasure Map:
    • How: Make it look real with burnt edges and tea/coffee stains.
  2. Vintage Love Letter:
    • How: Bring back memories using torn edges, tea or coffee marks, or ink aging.
  3. Aged Artwork:
    • How: Add character by wrinkling it and using tea/coffee stains or vinegar.
  4. Ancient Scroll:
    • How: Make it ancient with burnt or torn edges, tea/coffee stains, and baking.
  5. Antique Wedding Invitation:
    • How: Show timeless charm with slightly torn edges, tea/coffee stains, ink aging, and a bit of baking.

And that’s all for aging papers. We hope you find our how to age paper tutorial helpful and easy to follow. Don’t forget to share your versions with us. You can share your picture with the hashtag #craftaholicwitch or just DM your picture to us on Instagram.

If you liked this tutorial on how to age paper then you may also like the following tutorials. Please don’t forget to check them out.

  1. How To Make Recycled Paper at Home
  2. How to Make a Notebook from Scrap Papers
How to age Paper Before After (1)

Update Info:

The blog post went live in July 2021. After receiving numerous requests from our readers for step-by-step tutorials on different paper aging methods, we decided to update the article.

Previous Images


  1. https://10digitdesign.blogspot.com/2016/05/techniques-for-ageing-paper.html
  2. https://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/pirates/mmap.html
  3. https://www.ehow.com/how_8222181_make-look-old-lemon-juice.html

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