Cardboard House Art Project

What is most fun is the fact that this cardboard box house is an art project made of salvaged cardboard boxes (free) and old food boxes from cereal and crackers. Other than that it is just paint and glue!

Special thanks to Laura Ayars and her boys for this project.

*This project definitely needs adult supervision. Recommended for age 10 and above.

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  • Drawing paper
  • Pencils and markers
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Glue
  • Masking tape
  • Paint
  • Newspaper or other thin paper
  • Cardboard (from heavier boxes as well as thinner cardboard from crackers or cereal boxes)
  • Heavy books (weights for gluing cardboard pieces together)
  • 1/4″ dowels for supports for second floor, optional
  • Other decorations optional but fun!


1.  Think about and draw a basic diagram of the type of structure you want to build.  Try and draw it from different angles so you can see  how it will be structured.

For this art project, design your cardboard house on paper first. Will it have a porch? A sky light? A giant chimney?

2.  Starting on one side, start to draw pattern pieces, figuring out your measurements side by side as you work around the structure.  Pay attention to angles and remember to figure out where you want windows and doors.  In the one photo, do you see how the patterns correspond to each other?  The sides where the pieces meet will match in height.  Measure your roof pieces 1-2 inches larger to allow for overhang. You can see how we labeled each side of the structure.

Cut out patterns for each feature and side of your cardboard house. This art project will keep you thinking ahead!

3.  Copy pattern pieces onto corrugated cardboard.  Copy two pieces of corrugated cardboard for each pattern piece, except the roof pieces.  It is beneficial to plan your pieces with the grain of the cardboard in opposite directions.  This makes the structure stronger.  We get our cardboard from the grocery stores we patronize.  Cut out pieces with a utility knife, scissors, or on a band saw.  Yes, I let my 10/12 year olds use a utility knife, but they have been using knives since age 6, so they are fairly adept. *Supervision is recommended.

4. Glue the two identical pieces of cardboard for each pattern together (meaning you are just achieving a double thickness for strength for each side).  Making sure edges are even and weigh down with heavy books.  Let dry at least 2 hours or overnight.

5.  Using masking tape, tape your structure together to check the fit.  Check your roof fit.  We actually had to redraw and re-cut our roof pieces because they were too small.


6.  Collect paper–white paper or newsprint or scrap paper like envelopes or whatever you prefer.  Rip it in strips and pieces of various sizes.  You want “feathered” edges, rather than cut edges.  Using the paper pieces, remove one piece of masking tape at a time and use glue, a brush and the paper to cover over the raw, cut, cardboard edges.  This is how your structure is held together.  Use the brush to smooth the paper flat to the cardboard and create tight corners.  You can also apply glue to the cardboard where one piece is butted against another.  Fold paper pieces to create crisp corners, apply glue to both sides of the corner then smooth the paper over, brushing down the feathered edges nice and flat.  Work your way around the whole structure, inside and out.  Make sure to have your structure on a piece of cardboard, and use the glue/paper to firmly attach it to the base.    Use enough glue to create firm bonds, but not so much that it is drippy.  Let dry overnight.  Your structure should be rigid and firm.

7.  Decide how you want your exterior to look.  To achieve the brick look that my boys wanted, we started by painting the whole structure light gray (mortar color).  Then we took thin cardboard from cracker boxes, cereal boxes, etc. and using natural sponges, created a stippled effect with three shades of dark red (light red/brown, medium red and almost purple/black, and off-white).  We applied one color on the shiny side of the boxes, let it dry, then apply another color.  This enables you to glue the dull side of the cardboard which ensures better attachment.  I then measured the brick piece of 1/2″x1″ and we cut several dozen of them.  Measure and cut them as accurately as you can.

What will the exterior of YOUR cardboard house look like?

8.  Mix the different brick color patterns in a bowl.  Using full strength glue, brush on, and apply the various colored brick pieces starting at the base of the structure, spacing them 1/8″ apart to show the mortar color between.  Cut corner brick on every other row to create the typical offset brick pattern.  Work your way up the walls.  Around windows, just try and maintain the offset pattern, trim and cut the brick tiles around them the best you can, but you will cover the edges with window “frames”, so uneven edges aren’t super important.  Work your way around the whole structure and let it dry overnight.

9.  Roof–to achieve a shingled look, use more thin cardboard, and to achieve the texture look, paint with several shades of paint and a natural sponge.  We used light gray, gray/green, and dark green/gray, to contrast with our red brick exterior.  A blend of browns or black/gray would also look nice.  When they are dry, we measured strips that were 1 1/4″ thick and as long as the box pieces or cut to fit the roof.  Cut thin notches half way up, measured one inch apart.  Attach the shingle strips starting at the bottom edge, and overlapping the next layer.  I drew lines on the cardboard roof base 7/8 inch apart, on which I would apply the glue, and line up the edges of the shingle strips to achieve an even overlap of shingles.  Work up the roof.  Achieve offset pattern similar to the bricks by cutting the first notch at 1/2 inch of the second row.  See the diagram.

Art project tip: Don’t forget to make your roof big enough so it overhangs your house.

10.  Inside the roof pieces, mark where the roof sits along the bottom edge and glue cardboard strips to create a “stop” to keep the roof from sliding off.

11. Paint the interior colors of choice.

12.  We attached a fireplace chimney,  measuring and drawing patterns using the same methods as we did for the main structure.  We covered it in brick tiles the same as the rest of the structure.  This step is optional.

13.  Decide whether to create a second floor.  We purchased a package of wooden posts/dowels to create supports for a cardboard floor.  These we will drill out and pin them to the walls with wooden skewer sticks, glue in place, then trim them off and sand them smooth.  Measure cardboard pieces for flooring.  Glue in place.

14.  Decorate your house in your own style.  Use your imagination!  I have scraps of a coat made of wool, from which we cut a “carpet” to fit the floor.  Cut curtains from small pieces of lace or fabric.  My boys are going to use small sticks from outside to cut into “logs” for the fireplace.  We will make furniture from the package of wooden posts/dowels, scaled to fit the house.  We will make people from peg-style clothespins.  We may try to make a batch of “cold porcelain” clay to form things like a sink or toilet or other things we can’t make from cardboard or fabric, but we haven’t done that yet. But you can find this information online.  Have fun!

Thank you for this opportunity. Sincerely, Laura Ayars

No, THANK YOU, Laura for contributing this great project to Homeschool Christian Mom and its readers!

Do you need another art project? Join me on FB at Homeschool Christian Mom group for more art projects.

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