DIYdiy projects

diy project: recycled road map cork board

by The BBB Craft Sisters

A recent house clean-out yielded many items we had a hard time parting with, even though their very existence has become obsolete in the last few years. One of the most noticeable of the bunch: road maps. As our ever-advancing phones and computers take over our lives, we find what was once useful is now trash, yet we couldn’t part with these beautiful maps! They reminded us of our childhood road trips and later travels throughout Europe.

This month, we turned our junk into art and created these recycled cork board maps. We thought it would be an amazing project for a kids’ room to re-create the entire US using a road atlas. We didn’t get that far, but here is the beginning. — bbbcraft sisters

The full project instructions continue after the jump . . .


  • old maps or a Rand McNally road atlas
  • spray mount
  • scissors
  • X-Acto knife
  • cork squares or cork roll (depending on the size of the project)
  • painter’s tape, optional (for low-impact hanging)
  • double-stick foam tape, optional (for low-impact hanging)
  • pins and/or string to highlight important locations on the map


1. Cut out the state, city or country that you want to mount. You can freehand this, or print out and enlarge the outline of the state and trace it on to the back of the map.

2. Spay the back with spray mount and mount onto cork board. Our Michigan map was a bit too small for the cork squares, so we had to add a tiny piece of cork at the top of the state.

3. Begin cutting out the cork board to follow the outline of the map. Michigan, which has water on almost all sides, proved a bit harder than we had hoped. Something like Nevada might be easier!

4. Clean up the difficult peninsulas and islands with your X-Acto knife. If you find it easier and more precise, you could also use the knife to cut out the entire map.

5. To hang the map, we used our low-impact hanging method. Apply blue painter’s tape (which is easy to remove from most surfaces) to the back of the cork map as well as the wall on which you wish to hang the map.

6. On top of the blue painter’s tape attached to the wall, apply double-stick foam tape.

7. Attach the map to the double-stick tape on the wall. Voila! You will be able to remove or move the map at any time.

8. Using stick pins, embroidery thread or string, mark the places you love and have visited on your map.

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  • This is so lovely! I actually found an old New Jersey road map while doing a bit of cleaning this morning. Not being able to put it in the trash it went in the to-keep pile and now I have a perfectly good reason for it to be there!

  • love it! great idea – easy and fast and I bet a huge hit with little kids (with parental supervision of course). A great way to have the kiddos learn the states (do all 50 throughout the summer or school year). Fun learning project!! Thanks D*S team for this – keep them coming!!

  • What happened to the Keweenaw peninsula in the U.P.? A little slip of the exacto knife?;) Cool project!

  • As a Michigan Native I love love love this DIY! Great idea! Love the blog too – I’m a huge fan!

  • This is so clever! I might have to try this in a kid’s room (though I still use paper maps to navigate!).

  • WHOA. Where is the rest of Michigan?! The entire Western half of the UP is missing…that’s where I’m from :(

  • Very nice idea. I still love paper maps. You can see the big picture.

    One comment on the painters tape; beware of leaving attached on painted surfaces. We’ve had painters tape (that we had left on the wall too long) remove paint from wall board AND trim. I like the idea of this though…sometimes it’s tough to make holes in walls when you’re not sure of placement/permanence!

  • This is awesome! I’m a Michigander and I will be making this for sure. Is the pin on Elberta? That’s the first stop on the day trips my mom and sisters and I take annually up around the Leelenau Peninsula for galleries and shopping. It’s so pretty up there!

  • Just yesterday I found a bunch of maps from our trips to Europe and I was telling my Husband that we need to frame it or do something with it. This is so cool.

  • Great idea with the cork backing. However, I would like it in a frame of which I have a few……..recycled as our walls are gyprock which could be a problem. This artwork wouldn’t be for kids but for us! We travel around Australia and this would mark our journeys………………..a real conversation starter!

  • My husband and I recently moved away from both of our families back in Texas for his career. We miss it terribly, and this is the perfect way to ease our homesickness. Thank you so much for this little piece of home.

  • What a good idea! I have a heap of old maps I’ve picked up along my travels…such a nice way to have your memories surrounding you :)

  • I love it!!! I have a paper atlas from my real estate days. Great use for it. I love your low impact hanging method, too. No need for nails! hooray!

  • I am a Michigander and I just got a new place. I can’t wait to give this a try! Thank you.

  • Love this! But am wondering where the other half of the U.P. is? I hail from Michigan and have a lot of family who live in the Keweenaw and western portion that’s missing. Great idea though!

    ~ Jennifer

  • This is such a great idea! Whenever my family and I travel, we collect rail/bus/city maps and I never know what to do with them; I’m looking forward to trying this out!

  • Such a great idea! And yes, perfect for a kid’s room. I can also see it in an office setting (home or otherwise). You could pin areas your business has reached.

    I can even see doing this with prints or photos other than maps. Thanks for this!

  • While I also noticed a section of the UP missing, I chalked it up to the map-maker. They often cut off odd sections (panhandles!) and place them at a different scale or on the other side of the map.

    These will make great “off to college” presents!


  • Super idea! We just came home from a week in the U.P. And even if part of it (the part we were visiting) is missing, more often than not the entire U.P. is forgotten, so big kudos for including any of it. And that must have been some difficult cutting!

  • I’m with the other Michigangsters in the comments–cool project, but you left the BEST part of the U.P. off! :-/

  • This is great!! Would love to do this in my son’s room. We have maps all over his walls. This project is not only attractive but educational and GREEN!
    Can’t wait to try it.

  • cute! love reuse of maps!
    why does the UP end at Marquette? I think the 7 counties to the west (and Isle Royale) deserve their fair corkage!

  • I love this project but I just can’t get over the fact that you left off a huge section of U.P. (and what you did produce looks oddly shaped)! If I seem too offended it is because I and three generations of my family grew up there.

  • A friend who lives on the coast of England had her entryway wallpapeerd with large-scale maps of the area. I always wanted to emulate that but never had the space. Now, as a geographer, you’ve made it easy for me to memorialize my favorite maps of my favorite places! Thanks so much for the idea.

  • Just guessing about the UP issue? I bet it wasn’t on that side of the map. I have this same one and that part of the state is on the flip side. It’s too wide to fit all on one map. Even so, this is still a great idea! Love it!

  • Along with everyone else, I’m quite upset that half of the UP is missing. I am a proud Yooper and not seeing my hometown on this is saddening. This craft would have looked pretty great if you had not left out one of the most beautiful parts of Michigan.

  • Sorry, no excuses for leaving off the best part of the state!! I have lived in the western half of the U.P. most of my life! We get the short end of the stick too often. Otherwise, a nice project. Maybe someone can make a U.P. version of this :)

  • As a fellow Michigander, I’m so excited to see this project! I’m going to start as soon a I can! Great work :)

  • I live in Michigan and my Dad made this exact same project for my grandfather’s birthday when I was younger. Awesome!

    Also, I want this tacked to the inside of my car for when I get lost. :^D

  • I love this. Especially b/c it’s my beloved home state. I think I’m going to try this!
    For those who are confuses with the missing piece:
    The Michigan state road map cant fit the whole state on one sheet so they created a smaller inset for the west side of ‘Da U.P’.

  • to Laura at #1, sometimes, an old map should be thrown right away. don’t continue cluttering. unless you can proove that you intend to make something out of it.

  • Yup – like the project, but hate the you left off part of the state, makes the whole thing look incomplete. Maybe you should bring your tourist money to this area and see the wonderful things we have to offer, then you would hesitate to leave it out ever again!

  • Stopping at Michael’s on my way home from work to pick up some corks and adhesive! I have a kitchen wall screaming for a fun map. Thanks D*S!

  • I love this! I’m from Michigan as well, and it looks like a pin is in my sweet little piece of heaven, St. Joseph in the SW Corner! I’ve been looking for an awesome project for my son’s dorm room, and I think this is it!

  • My suggestion would be to spray mount the map FIRST then cut around so you’re not cutting out an intricate map twice. IT will also help your edges adhere better

  • i made this for my best friend for her birthday. it was fun and easy, though took more time that i originally thought. i did the city of philadelphia instead of pennsylvania. it was crazy hard because philly is bound by two twisting waterways. i suggest spraying the cork board AND back of the map. i had to resprav several times to get it to firmly adhere. overall, it turned out great! i’m jealous of her now so i’m making one for myself. :)

  • Fun project! It would be great to see the rest of the UP, but more than that, I’m ecstatic that my hometown St. Joseph has a pin!

  • Found this via Pinterest and decided to give it a shot. I went with foam board rather than cork because there aren’t really any hobby stores in the town where I live now. The finished project looks great and definitely adds character to what once was a boring brown wall. Great project! Thank you!

  • I just checked my AAA Michigan map I would need a minimum of three copies to get the entire state on- bothe the upper and lower peninsulas have chopped up parts

  • This whole project is amazing! But even if I only walked away with your blue paint tape trick, I would be thrilled! Duh! Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

  • I see it looks like you pinned St. Joseph. I’m from there! Hope you enjoyed your visit :)

    And awesome tutorial, of course. :)

  • I made a version of this for my friend as a going away present (She is studying abroad for 5 months in Australia). I used your tutorial to make the initial state cut-out, I did Massachusetts though because that is where we are from! But instead of just using the map I made a collage of pictures! I gave it to her and said, “So you have a little piece of home while you are away”. It cams out so wonderfully and she loved it!

  • is it difficult to cut clean edges on curves? i have a ton of 3/4″ cork left over but i’m wondering if it’ll be too difficult to cut cleanly….

  • One of my close friends asked for this for Christmas, and I am having a REALLY hard time getting the map to stay on the cork! I’ve resprayed and remounted 4 times now, but it just keeps peeling off. :( Any tips? Thanks! :)