How to make shoji paper doors

Updated November 21, 2016

Shoji screens feature thick, fibrous paper glued securely between hardwood grids. The paper is thick enough that it provides privacy, but thin enough to allow light to shine through. In Japan, rooms made of shoji screens require few lamps because the paper reflects a warm, cosy glow. You, too, can create shoji doors to divide rooms, replace doors, or simply decorate walls.

Measure the height and width of the doorway you wish to cover, using a yardstick. Include the door moulding in your measurements. If you want a truly Asian look, you'll want the door to cover the moulding as well.

Cut two pieces of cardboard matching your measurements, using a utility knife. A door 6 feet high and 18 inches wide with a 3-inch moulding all around requires a piece of cardboard 39 inches (6 feet, 3 inches) high and 30 inches wide.

Draw a grid on your cardboard consisting of 4-inch-wide, 6-inch-high rectangles spaced about ½ inch apart. Leave a 1-inch border of cardboard all the way around the edge. Cut out the rectangles with a utility knife. Work slowly to avoid wavy lines and torn cardboard.

Spray-paint the cardboard black. Spray-paint each piece on both sides. Let each coat of black paint dry for two hours before applying another coat or flipping the cardboard over. Let the totally painted cardboard cure overnight.

Lay one of your cardboard grids on the ground. Smear the grid with glue. Unroll a sheet of vellum parchment, rice paper or shoji paper onto the grid. Press down gently where the glue is. Glue the other grid on top of the paper so that the edges of the grids line up exactly. Allow the glue to dry overnight.

Spray-paint two pieces of aluminium U railing black. Allow them to dry overnight. U railing looks like a square tube missing one side. It's often used to create sliding doors.

Screw one piece of U railing into the floor at the base of your door. Screw the other into the wall right above the door moulding. Slip the top and bottom edges of the shoji door into the U railings. It should slide easily.


You may construct your grid from half-round moulding, dowels or bamboo to get a different look. Paint your paper with a watercolour print or use coloured or printed paper to create an ornate door. This also adds visual interest to a room full of shoji screens. Create a wall of shoji screen doors to hide shelving, bookcases and other utilitarian items.

Things You'll Need

  • Yardstick
  • 1/8-inch-thick cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Black spray paint
  • Vellum parchment, rice paper or shoji paper
  • White school glue
  • Aluminium U railing
  • Electric hand drill
  • Black steel screws
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