9 Things to Know About Using Pole-Wrap, 2022’s Hottest DIY Material
Our shopping editor, Blair Donovan, called it earlier in the year: Furniture with architectural flair is in big time, from fluting to curvature to textured doors and drawers. “The recent surge of DIY faux wall moldings and panels has given rise to new dimensional details, which you’ll also find trickling into … furniture,” Blair writes, adding that renters can get in on this trend easily, too — after all, it’s a lot easier (and much landlord-friendly) to add texture to a freestanding credenza than it is to your wall.
And one of the most common ways DIYers have added custom texture to their standard-issue pieces this year? Pole-Wrap.
What is Pole-Wrap?
Pole-Wrap was invented by Laurie Coleman, founder and co-owner of Pole-Wrap, Inc., in 1994, but it’s become a common catchall term among DIYers for sheets of fluted wood column covers, much like Kleenex and X-acto are almost synonymous with tissues and utility knives.
The material itself is preceded by its close cousin tambour, which you might recognize from the 1970s and ’80s. (Hello, roll-top desks and kitchen appliance garages!) The difference between tambour and column covers like Pole-Wrap? The former looks like half-dowels placed next to one another on a sheet, and the latter is completely flat. “We found that a lower-profile slat was more attractive and pleasing to the eye,” Coleman says.
Coleman invented Pole-Wrap, as the name suggests, to cover an unsightly support pole in her basement. “We didn’t want a big box around the pole as it takes up too much space,” she says. “We went in in search of a decorative wood material that would be flexible and wrap around the pole.”
Is Pole-Wrap only for poles?
Definitely not! Because of its flexibility, it has a newfound fame for wrapping around tables, drawers, table legs, and more. “It’s such a great material and is very versatile,” YouTube DIYer Katie Bookser says. “I’ve used it for table legs, door fronts, vases — the possibilities are endless.”
In fact, Apartment Therapy has posted 12 Pole-Wrap projects this year, and the material was used to transform everything from backsplashes to bathroom vanities to beat-up furniture. It’s no surprise, then, that Lowe’s has seen column wraps gain popularity this year, as confirmed by store spokesperson Stephanie Moody.
Why does it work so well for DIY?
As indicated above, Pole-Wrap is flexible — both literally and figuratively. It can bend, it covers lots of surfaces easily, and, Coleman adds, its veneer readily soaks up stain, and it’s moisture-resistant.
Where can you buy it?
You can buy Pole-Wrap and other column covers at most major home improvement stores, like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware. It’s priced between $70 and $270, depending on sizing. Bookser and furniture flipper Michelle McRae — a frequent user of Pole-Wrap in her projects — mostly buys it from Home Depot.
“It does tend to come in and out of stock quickly,” Bookser says. Her best advice is to type in your zip code online to check if the material is in stock, then schedule an in-store pickup if it is. McRae says she’s also seen the material available from online re-sale sites like eBay. You might also have luck buying other DIYers’ project leftovers on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
What size is it?
The trademarked Pole-Wrap brand comes in sizes of 12 x 96, 16 x 96, 12 x 48, 16 x 48, and 48 x 48 inches. You can find iterations similar to the medium sheets on Amazon, too, and a similar tiny $20 version from IKEA.
“It is a bit pricey, but I also find that depending on the size of my project, I can get multiple uses out of one roll,” Bookser says. “That makes it feel more economic to me.”
Does it come in different colors?
As of now, Pole-Wrap-brand column covers come in the blonde-ish MDF offering and three other wood-toned offerings (maple, cherry, and oak), but that doesn’t mean you can’t paint the MDF a more out-of-the-box color! While there are many great projects that leave the wrap au natural or use a simple stain, we’ve also seen some navy, black, teal, and purple painted pole wrap projects.
(There might be a future that includes pre-colored Pole-Wrap, too. “At this point the available sizes and wood type seem to satisfy most market demand,” Coleman says. “But, we monitor consumer feedback regularly, and carefully consider new products to satisfy new consumer preferences.”)
What are the best ways to paint column covers?
Speaking of painting the material, Bookser and McRae have some tips. Bookser likes to use a hand brush to make sure paint seeps in between each strip of wood. “Just a simple sponge brush works well for this; you don’t need anything fancy,” she says.
McRae likes to use a paint sprayer for an even coat. But both DIYers recommend a light sanding and a wipe-off with a lint-free cloth before painting, especially if your wrap arrives, and it feels a bit rough or fuzzy to the touch.
If you’re putting the column cover up against a wall or flat surface that’s also painted, “spray it with some poly and it will darken a shade and give you a beautiful contrast,” McRae adds.
What are the best ways to cut column covers?
Because of the vertical slats, cutting the column wrap vertically is fairly easy, Bookser and McRae say. If you’re cutting between seams, a utility knife should do the trick, and it’s best to cut from the back of the sheet, McRae says. The only tricky parts are cutting horizontally or cutting an actual slat in half, both of which are sometimes necessary depending on your project specs.
“The easiest way that I’ve found to cut pole wrap is to use a compound miter saw,” Bookser says. “It cuts it quickly and cleanly. Always be extremely careful cutting anything, regardless of the tool that you use. Wear gloves to protect your hands, and wear protective eyewear as well.”
This piece is part of Trend Month, our recap of the buzziest designs, decor, and more from 2022 — and what to expect in 2023. Head on over here to see it all!