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Flooring can make or break a home. The same can be said for your budget when it comes to flooring.
Replacing carpet every few years can get expensive and forget about the cost of wood, tile, or even bamboo floors! Are there any options out there that actually look good, are durable and won’t break the bank?
The answer is YES! You can actually make gorgeous floors using only brown paper bags and some polyurethane.
A brown paper bag floor is incredibly versatile. You can stain the bags for a variety in colors or use virtually any material you desire. A teen might like a floor covered in magazine pages, and a nursery would be adorable with colorful storybook pages.
Try using cloth, tissue paper, or even photography. There are virtually no limits to the possibilities. The look can even extend beyond the floors to the furniture, kitchen counters, and more.
Your material list for this project is fairly short with no specialized tools or machinery and even beginners should be able to tackle this project easily.
Step 1 – Tools and Materials Needed
1. Paper Bags, Magazine pages, or your choice of material
3. White Glue
6. Paintbrushes (These will most likely be disposed after this project so cheaper is better.)
Step 2 – To Strip Or Not to Strip
You’ll need to prepare your surface. If you can, you’ll want to remove the old flooring and adhesive as much as possible. Especially if it is textured.
If that isn’t a possibility you can leave the surface as is. Clean well after stripping it and let dry completely. Once dry, add a coat of polyurethane.
Pro Tip: Do not put the polyurethane directly on your paper during this step; only prepare your flooring surface. You’ll end up with paper that is dry, translucent and crumbles easily if you do not follow the steps in order.
Step 3 – Throw A Party
This next step in the brown paper bag floor process is time consuming. If you have any favors to call in from family or friends – now is the time to do it! Or throw a party….if you provide the food and drinks, they will come and crumble.
Take your paper bags, magazine pages, or desired medium and start ripping them into small pieces. Now is the time to decide if you want the printed side to show or not. If not, discard those pieces or place them print side down when gluing.
You’ll also want to separate your pieces with straight edges from non-edged pieces. Now take the paper and crumple it. Now smooth and crumple again. Third time is the charm, right? Smooth and crumple once more for good luck!
Crumpling the paper adds a textured look to the flooring but it will also soak up more decoupage and polyurethane than smooth pages would use.
Pro Tip: Children love crumpling paper. Invite all your kid’s friends over and put them to work!
Step 4 – Decoupage – A Pretty Way to Save Glue All Over
Now it’s time for your flooring to literally start taking shape. If you’re working in a small space, this will be a solo job but if you’re covering a large room – by all means – recruit help!
IMPORTANT: Tape off baseboards, counters, and anywhere you do not want covered in glue or polyurethane.
Mix white glue and water in equal parts and blend well.
If you’re covering a large space, now would be a good time to split up and assign someone to place the “floating stones” along the interior of the room and someone else to place the edge pieces flush with the exterior.
Dip your paintbrush in the decoupage glue mixture and paint the back of your paper piece.
Place your paper on the floor wherever you’d like to arrange it and now paint again on top of your “stone” with the decoupage glue mixture.
Do not hold back with your glue.
Continue doing this until you have covered the floor without overlapping any of the pieces.
Let it dry.
Once dry, cover floor with a coat of polyurethane. (If covering a large space you can use a roller instead, just buy extra polyurethane as rollers tend to soak up more of the polyurethane.)
Pro tip: Make sure that all pieces are sufficiently covered with the decoupage mixture and thoroughly dry before placing the polyurethane down.
Step 5 – Second Verse. Same As The First.
Once your paper floor has dried – you get to do it all over again, except this time – you’re overlapping. Make sure that you’re varying the pieces you use in shape and size. This is one of those places where uniformity won’t look good.
Make sure you’re also generous with your glue mixture. You want the pieces to adhere well and also be protected on top from the polyurethane. Once you’ve created your desired patchwork design, let dry.
Step 6 – Let It Shine
Once dry, it’s time to literally pour on the shine. You’ll want to add on at least 3-5 coats of polyurethane allowing the floor to dry completely between coats. The polyurethane layers will help protect your paper flooring and each layer will add additional durability and shine.
Pro Tip: Whenever using polyurethane, make sure you’re in a well ventilated area or using a mask. Water based polyurethane tends to work better than oil based. You can also choose polyurethane with different tints to change the look even more.
This tutorial, including images, is published with generous permission by Spyridoula Nemesis.
Upkeep and Repairs
You might be wondering about how to keep your floors clean and how to fix any blemishes or damage that might come up. Brown bag floors can be cleaned the same way any other wooden floors would be treated.
Vacuum on a bare floors setting or sweep and then mop using a slightly damp mop. Less is more when it comes to water and polyurethane coated floors.
As for repairing damage – it’s ridiculously easy. Rip up any damaged sections, decoupage a new piece of paper down. Let dry and cover with polyurethane!
Keep in mind that any polyurethane coated surface can be slippery. Use nonslip rugs for homes with children or pets to minimize the risk of slipping or skating across the surface.
Be sure to leave us a comment letting us know how your flooring project went and share the article with your friends as well. Don’t forget that we love to see and share pictures of your projects, so go ahead and show off your talents!