How to Build a Home From Recycled Newspapers and Cardboard

How to Build a Home From Recycled Newspapers and Cardboard

How to Build a Home From Recycled Newspapers and Cardboard

Building a home from recycled materials like newspapers and cardboard may sound impractical, but it can actually be a fun and rewarding project. With some creativity and patience, you can construct a surprisingly sturdy and environmentally-friendly home using these discarded items.

Gathering Materials

The first step is gathering enough newspaper and cardboard to build your home. Here are some tips:

  • Check local recycling centers – Many centers will let you take discarded newspapers and cardboard boxes for free. This can net you a ton of raw building materials quickly.

  • Collect from neighbors – Ask your neighbors to save their old newspapers, magazines, and cardboard boxes for you. Offer to pick them up weekly.

  • Watch for curbside recycling – Drive around on recycling days and collect discarded bundles of newspapers and cardboard boxes that people have left out. Just be sure to only take items left out for recycling.

  • Use phone books – Phone books headed for the landfill make excellent thick walls when stacked. Ask around for old ones people are discarding.

  • Buy cheap boxes – You can also purchase bundles of scrap cardboard boxes and paper cheaply from many recycling companies and paper mills. This ensures you get enough.

Structural Design

Once you have your materials, think about the structure and design for your home. Here are some tips:

  • Start small – A single room or tiny home is likely easier to build than a full-sized house. Aim for no larger than 10×10 feet.

  • Use thick walls – Stacked cardboard and newspaper can surprisingly be very insulating. Make walls at least 12-18 inches thick for sturdiness and insulation.

  • Add wood framing – Use 2×4 lumber or similar pieces to create an internal frame for attaching walls, ceiling, and floor. The wood gives structural rigidity.

  • Use paper bricks – For a unique look, tightly roll newspapers into brick shapes. Secure with tape/glue and use like bricks for wall construction.

  • Incorporate windows – You can cut out newspaper “windows” and cover with transparent vinyl or plastic sheeting for lighting.

Construction Steps

With a plan in place, you’re ready to start construction. Follow these steps:


  • Lay the wood base frame and outline the wall shape with 2x4s.
  • Start stacking cardboard and newspapers flat inside the wood frame. Alternate direction between layers.
  • Use adhesives like wood glue or watered down paste between layers to hold together.
  • Fill the frame fully on all sides with 12-18 inches of newspaper/cardboard layers.


  • Add a wood frame across the tops of the wall frame to support the ceiling.
  • Layer newspapers and cardboard above the frame in the same manner as the walls until fully covered.


  • Lay plywood or old lumber sheets across the floor space for a base.
  • Stack cardboard and paper layers on top in alternating directions and adhere with glue.
  • Cover with scrap carpet, linoleum, or wood panels.


  • Build sloped rafters from 2×4 lumber so the roof peaks in the center.
  • Cover rafters with plywood or lumber roof decking.
  • Top with layers of cardboard and heavy tarp or plastic sheeting for waterproofing.

Finishing Touches

  • Add windows, doors, electrical and insulation as desired. Get creative!
  • Seal all seams and openings thoroughly with caulk and spray foam to prevent drafts.
  • Paint the exterior with inexpensive exterior latex paint for weather protection and aesthetics.

With some determination, you can construct a serviceable tiny home entirely from recycled paper products! Just be sure to make it sturdy and weathertight. Then enjoy having a unique and eco-friendly shelter of your own creation.