10 Flatlay Backgrounds Under $10

When I was first writing this post I was afraid it would be a bit too... obvious? Many of my flatlay backgrounds are various types of paper. I mean, who would have thought that a flat, solid material would make for a perfect flatlay background? But on the other hand, some of these items are so in-your-face obvious that you don't realize they're perfect flatlay backgrounds unless someone points them out to you. And I'm here to be that someone ๐Ÿ˜‰

Also I realize that many of the photos I'm sharing as examples aren't actually flatlays, but the same principles apply so ¯\_(ใƒ„)_/¯

1. Poster Board/ Poster Paper
Poster board and poster paper are the two most obvious flatlay backgrounds so I figured I would get them out of the way first. Personally I like having both poster board and poster paper on hand as they can work in different ways.

I always have a white poster board on hand because it works as a great DIY reflector like I talked about in my tutorial here. I also like keeping floppier pieces of poster paper because they can be used to create a faux shadow box effect.

Here's a super sophisticated behind-the-scenes shot of my usual shooting spot. Brace yourself for the elegance of it all.

I used the poster paper to create a seamless finish and used one poster board to prop up the poster paper, and another one to work as a reflector.

Bonus: if you can't find poster paper or poster board in a color you fancy, you can always paint it! I wanted a sky blue background but for the life of me couldn't find any light blue poster paper. Instead of driving myself crazy looking for one, I bought some light blue paint and painted a white poster board. The available colors of paint are much more numerous than the available colors of poster paper.

Here's a shot I posted to Instagram using the light blue background:
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2. Wrapping Paper
While you can go wild and use all sorts of patterned and colored wrapping paper, I'm boring and stick to the white roll I bought at the dollar store. Like the poster paper, wrapping paper can also be used to create a seamless background.

One thing to keep in mind when buying wrapping paper to use as a background is its finish. If you buy a glossy wrapping paper, there's a chance that you'll get some unwanted reflections in your photos. For that reason I tend to stick to matte or slightly glossy wrapping paper. Thankfully the cheap stuff usually isn't very glossy.

Here's a shot where I used wrapping paper to create a seamless background:
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3. Contact Paper
Now this is one material I have yet to master but I had to mention it because it's a blogger favorite. You can easily get a roll of marble contact paper off of Amazon for under $10, adhere it onto a piece of cardboard and bam, you have a marble background.

Once you buy the contact paper you'll get to recognize the pattern and see just how many bloggers use it! It's a beauty blogger staple ๐Ÿ‘

Amelia from Amelia Says has the prettiest pictures using her marble contact paper-- here's one of my favorites from her feed:
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4. Wooden Slabs/ Plaques/ Pallets/ Crates
Wooden slabs are another background I have yet to master... mostly because I've been to cheap to buy one I like. Depending on how large of a background you're looking for you can check your local art supply store or home improvement store. If you're based in the US, Michaels has a bunch of various wooden plaques and boards. You can browse their selection online here but I've seen even more in stores! Plus they're always offering 40-50% off coupons so you can get one for a steal and well under the $10 mark.

5. Magazines
Moar paper backgrounds!

I regularly use magazines as a photo prop, but they can also work as your flatlay's background. You can layer several magazines atop each other or do what I do which is pick a random, pretty looking page and squash the fuck out of it.

Here's a shot where I used a pretty spread from Vogue as my background; it took some time to lay the magazine out flat but I eventually got it *huzzah*
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6. Faux Leaves, Flowers, Grass, etc.
Like magazines, faux leaves have become regular props in my photos but they can also work as backgrounds. You can layer them atop each other or you can buy 1 bigass one which will fit all your flatlaid items.

It's also the perfect time of the year to buy bigass faux leaves! As the weather is becoming warmer, art supply stores are releases more tropical faux plants + leaves and those are are usually the ones that are larger.

Alternatively I've also seen patches of faux flowers and faux grass which would make for perfect flatlay backgrounds! These are usually a bit pricier but if there's a sale or you use a coupon, you can still purchase them in the under $10 range.

7. Rugs/ Throws
When I first bought my faux-sherpa rug it was literally all I used to flatlay for about a month straight. It's so common it's become a blogger cliche.

The best part about using a textured material like a rug or throw is that your shit won't roll around. The fluffiness holds everything in place. While I've scaled back the sage of my own rug, it's still a frequent player on my instagram.

Here's my most recent shot featuring a faux-sherpa background flatlay:
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8. Sheets/ Bedding
On the days I wash my comforter cover, I like using my white comforter as a flatlay background. Of course a comforter runs well over $10 but I consider it a cost of $0 because I didn't buy it for the purpose of flatlay, it's something I already have and use. If you don't own any white bedding, you can always buy a cheap white flat sheet.

The great things about using bedding as a flatlay background is that they're so large area-wise. Even a twin sheet will provide more potential flatlaying space than the majority of poster boards and poster papers.

Here's a shot I took with my comforter as a background:
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9. Scrapbook Paper
To bounce on over to the other extreme, scrapbook paper is the smallest background in terms of area. But it compensates that for being ridiculously cheap! Even if you only have a dollar or two to spare for a background you can easily buy several pieces of scrapbook paper. If you wait, Michaels usually has a scrapbook paper sale every month or two. Usually the price drops down to 4 pieces for $1!

If you're like me and mostly like using plain solid colored backgrounds, it doesn't make sense to buy a huge sheet or poster paper of a fun color or pattern (also usually fancier patterns cost more moolah.) Scrapbook paper is the perfect affordable option for the occasional fun background photo.

Here's a shot I took with a piece of "rustic" blue scrapbook paper:
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10. Marble Pastry Boards/ Cutting Boards/ Cheese Boards
And of course I had to share the best for last. My white and grey marble pastry boards are my two favorite flatlay backgrounds.

While I would love to own a fancy marble coffee table in the future, a marble cutting board is about as much marble as I can afford. Even so marble cutting boards can also be a bit pricey so I buy mine from places like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Marshalls, etc.

And if your marble pastry board doesn't fill up your whole photo, don't sweat it. I've got a tutorial to for fixing that ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here's the photo I used for the tutorial/ an example of a photo with a marble cutting board background:
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Like I said in my intro, once you stretch your imagination a bit, you'll find that your potential flatlay backgrounds are endless. I've used sweaters, candle chargers, tissue paper, towels, newspaper, snow, grass and more as my flatlay backgrounds.

What's your favorite flatlay background to use?

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