Ana Ochoa
Ana Ochoa
  • Hometalker
  • Chula Vista, CA

How to Age Books

5 Materials
$10
2 Hours
Easy

If you've ever wanted to use books as decor, but don't want the often hefty pricetag of actual antique books - look no further than this easy tutorial! There are many ways to do this, but I will share with you what I did. You can also do this with any kind of book - paperback or hardback, just keep in mind your purpose for using them and how you want the entire thing to look. I used this process for aging the books I used for my book wall, so they were paperback and I had taken the covers off. If you are doing this on hardback books, which also often have fabric type covers, you may want to use the spray bottle method to avoid soaking the cover - see below!

how to age books

Aged and worn books just make me feel like a kid in an old library and I love it! If you do to, keep on reading!

how to age books

Step 1:

Gather all your books together - we got ours at a thrift store. Please keep in mind that THOUSANDS of books are thrown into landfills each year. Using these as decor is repurposing and upcycling, and I certainly am not destroying any literary masterpieces here!

how to age books

Step 2:

Start brewing up some coffee! I ultimately used 50 total cups (or 5 brews) to age about 40 of these books (I’ll get to the other 20 in a moment). This included watering down some of the coffee as well. Once your coffee is brewed, pour over your books (in a bowl or bucket, or even a paint tray) in sections. Allow the books to sit for 10-20 minutes, and then remove. Place them outside or in a dry place, and be sure to gently wring them out before you leave them to dry. Like I said above, you can water down the leftover coffee and reuse until you need more (a lot will be absorbed and disappear)!PRO TIP: While wringing out the books is very important in order to get them to dry, be very careful doing it – this isn’t a wet washcloth! I quite literally tore a book in half just like that trying to wring it out too hard!

how to age books

Step 3:

For the other 20 books, I filled up a spray bottle with water and just spritzed them all over to create a bit of crinkling in the pages. These 20 books already had more of an aged look to them, so I didn’t see the need to waste coffee or water trying to get them to look even older. I also wanted a variety of aging, so that all the books would go together, but still look a little different and have their own character!PRO TIP: You could also use the spray bottle with coffee in it - as I mentioned above. This will greatly reduce your drying time, and you will not have to worry as much about the possibility of mold. If you're doing this in the summer though and can leave the books outside in direct sun, even the saturated ones should dry quickly enough without a mold issue! However, keep in mind that using the spray bottle method likely will not result in as much aging as actually saturating them - I wanted my books extra brown, which is why I chose the method I did for a good portion of them!

Step 4:Let dry. Preferably in the sun. I didn’t have that luxury, and actually had to bring them inside due to rain. Many, like MANY, people warned me about mold while they dried, especially because they took quite some time. While a couple of my books did end up getting tossed because of this, overall I really didn’t have a huge mold issue. I will say that by day 4 or 5 of them not being fully dry though, I did start throwing them in the oven. I laid them out on baking sheets and put them in 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and would check on them every 15 to 20 minutes to flip the pages. About 20 (so half of the fully submerged books) ended up going in the oven, and about 10 of these TRULY needed it. The other 10 I just threw in to be sure they were super dry.However, if you DO notice mold, TOSS that book, and then throw the rest that aren’t dry in the oven ASAP – one sign of mold likely means more is on the way. I prevented more mold by doing just this, and ultimately only tossed 3 of my original books! The rest are great with no signs of mold - again, you can also use the spray bottle method if you are concerned about this issue at all!Also, the oven is actually kind of an aging technique in and of itself – your pages will turn up at the corners, which I loved! But, if you have the luxury of the SUN, use that! We were saddled with rain and humidity for days after I soaked the books, so I think that’s a big reason my books dried so slowly and ultimately resulted in me using the oven!

how to age books

And there you have it! Aged books! You can put them on the wall like I did (please see my other projects for the DIY book wall), or you can stack a few and tie them up with twine for a beautiful and vintage looking decor piece. The possibilities are really endless!

Happy book aging, friends!

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Ana Ochoa

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Christina
    on Mar 22, 2019

    I love the thought of recycling books. I really like the look achieved but since they are so crinkly I can’t imagine how they would look in application. Could you provide examples of how you’ve used them?

    • Ana Ochoa
      on Mar 22, 2019

      if you go to my other projects you can see - they were hung on the wall as part of a mural.

  • GMS
    on Mar 22, 2019

    what do you do with them after

    • Ana Ochoa
      on Mar 22, 2019

      you can go to my other projects to see - they were hung on the wall as part of a mural

  • KD Redlowske
    on Apr 3, 2019

    How do you "wring" out a book? They must be all paperback books, but even so it would seem quite difficult to wring one out.

Join the conversation

3 of 4 comments
  • Redcatcec
    on Mar 22, 2019

    Some examples of how you used your pages or books would be nice.

    • Ana Ochoa
      on Mar 22, 2019

      Please go view my other projects. The diy book wall is how I used these, but the tutorial was too long so I split it in two.

  • Amy
    on Mar 22, 2019

    Good job! I'm a painter for a career, (mixed media paintings). So, I can't put them in the oven, so I use a hairdryer. I'll try this!

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