Sunday, March 4, 2012

Paper Bag Floor

When we bought our house in 2001, it had been neglected for a while. There were so many projects to do and not much money left after the purchase to do them. It took us a solid month to gt the house to the point that it was livable and most of that involved hauling trash, stripping wallpaper and rolling on gallon after gallon of paint. The carpets were a mess, but had to stay till we could afford to replace them. Which brings me to this post.

10 years after moving into the house, we were still living with the disgusting carpet in the dining room. No amount of shampooing could make it look clean, but it was going to be around $500 to carpet it and that just wasn't in the budget. One weekend, in a desperate attempt to find an inexpensive way to fix the floor that my husband would agree to, I came across the paper bag floor idea. I was amazed at the way it looked  in the photos I found and since anything had to be better than what we had, I convinced Ken we should do it. First, the old carpet had to go...

Layer upon layer of total grossness. And poor Ken had the rotten job of pulling up the carpet strips and the 3 billion nails used to put them down with. (Have I said lately how much I LOVE this man?!)


Next, we gathered a few supplies. The biggest expense was the Polyurethane. About $50 a gallon. We could have gone cheaper I suppose, but wanted to make sure the floor would have a well sealed surface.


We mixed plain water and glue to a 2:1 ratio. 2 cups of water to every 1 cup of glue.  This is where you need to put on the disposable gloves and get ready to make a mess...


Many of the articles we read used brown paper bags to do their floors. We went to the store and bought two rolls of brown shipping paper. The night before we sat and tore the paper into large irregular shapes and wadded them up and stored them in some big trash bags. The next day we took a handful of the paper wads and added them to our bucket. We mushed the paper down and squeezed it like a sponge until it was saturated.


Then we squeezed as much of the glue out of each piece of paper as we could, un-wadded them one by one and smoothed them on the floor. We over lapped the edges and turned the pieces this way and that to add a little interest. The straight edges of the paper were placed along the wall edge. And we used a sponge brush to dab some glue to a few edges that didn't want to stick.


It took a few days for our floor to dry completely. I loved the way that it looked when it was wet, but as it dried it went back to the color of the paper and didn't quite work the the other colors in our house. So we decided to stain it with a beautiful dark walnut stain. It was just a quick 'paint on, wipe off' process. You can see how the wrinkle marks and the edges of the paper stained a darker shade making the floor look almost like leather. It was so beautiful!


A few days later Ken started applying what would eventually be 7 coats of Polyurethane. He did one coat in the morning and one coat at night with about 12 hours in between to dry.


We love the way it turned out and after 10 months it's still as beautiful as the day we finished it. And it's durable too. We just use a damp mop to clean it. 

Supplies needed:
  • brown shipping paper (we used about one and a half rolls)
  • Elmer's white glue (we bought a gallon and had enough left that we'll have glue forever)
  • mixing bucket
  • measuring cup
  • paint stick to mix the water and the glue
  • sponge brushes
  • rubber gloves
  • stain in your choice of color
  • old t-shirts to wipe the stain
  • water based polyurethane (we used a little over a gallon)
  •  a strong back and the willingness to do some manual labor.
People are amazed when we tell them it's a paper floor. Total project cost for a 12" x 14" room? Under $100!



56 comments:

  1. Do you think this would work on concrete? Ready to put the hubby to work on this for our diningroom but, it is concrete under our carpet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of the things I read were done on concrete floors. They say that you just want to wash it down well with a de-greaser and fill any cracks. You won't believe how amazing it feels underfoot. Really warms a room up. Good luck!

      Delete
    2. yes, you can do this on concrete floors. I used polyurethane. no glue. Just brush on the polyurethane on to top and bottom of paper and apply like you would the normal way of doing it.. look beautiful..

      Delete
    3. I just did this on my 1637 sq ft grooming shop floor, it was concrete and not in good shape. We filled holes and big cracks with quickcrete crack filler and scraped up any paint drips and swept and vaccd the floor then went straight to the paper. We glued the paper on the floor with a 1:4 ratio, one part glue 4 parts water. This is not the recommended ratio but it worked fine for us. We used Elmer's glue all. Today I start the staining and hope to poly on Sunday (72 hrs from now).

      Delete
  2. awesome - i am doing this when i own property - wow

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just did it in the lake house. Looks AMAZING and turned out better than we ever could have imagined! Thanks so much for your fantastic step by step instructions & pictures. It was a huge help!

    Tina
    Lake Harding

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't you just love the way it feels Tina?! I would love to see pictures of your project. So glad yours turned out well. ~Wren

      Delete
  4. I love this idea but am curious....how well do you think it would hold up with 3 young and active boys and 2 medium-large dogs AKA heavy traffic? I have never heard of this type of flooring before. Great idea and so IN-expensive!

    ReplyDelete
  5. It actually wears great! It helps that you put 7-10 coats of poly over it, but it's been almost a year and I haven't done a thing to it and it looks great. If, for some reason you do get a tear you just slap another piece of pager soaked in glue down, stain and seal. They say that you should give it another coat or two of poly after a year, but we haven't done that. Had a few dog scratch marks and we just rubbed scratch cover on them. Love this floor!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just finished doing this on my big bay window sill. Really came out nice. thanks for sharing the how-to!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow your floor looks awesome. We are getting ready to tackle this task on Monday. We have gross carpet in office, supposed to be dining room. I will be looking to your directions for help. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just finished doing this on my concrete floor. It turned out Great!! It wrinkled a little but I didn't mind looks good that way. Going to try in the next bedroom to cut in strips to look like wood planks going to try & pratice for a while to see what happens. Wish me look.. Your floor looks great..DEE

    ReplyDelete
  9. I did this in my bedroom and used a satin poly and it was a little to shiny for me. But yours looks perfect. Did you use a matte or no sheen polyurethene? What kind did you use to get those results?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We used the Varathane brand of water based poly in a satin finish. It's a nice rich finish and not too shiny. We love it!

      Delete
  10. I love this. Can you do this over wood?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure can Jennifer! That's what's under our floor. We tore up the carpet and it was rough lumber underneath. We just went over the top. Such a great fix for all types of surfaces!

      Delete
    2. Wren, what about the tile floor we see in the first picture? did u also try this on ceramic? does it work? should look great!

      Delete
    3. Hi Olivia, the first photo shows the carpet that was under the carpet. Awful stuff with a print to look like tile. We tore it all out. I've heard that people have done it over ceramic tile but I haven't tried it myself.

      Delete
  11. I'd never heard of this type of flooring before, but I think I'm going to give it a go down in my basement! We've got outdated, hospital-grade linoleum tiles, with about 600 sq ft in the basement, and that would be too expensive to re-floor with any other options. Good job! :)

    Serena
    Thrift Diving

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to see your finished project Serena! Maybe we need to have a day of sharing here at For the Love of Lillian and see all the ways readers have used the paper bag idea. Good luck with your project!

      Wren

      Delete
  12. We bought a fixer upper & have had to really prioritize what gets remodeled first, second & third, Etc.! I am so thrilled to find this (via Pinterest) because, we have been stuck with 70s olive & orange FLORAL over cheap sub-flooring, over concrete in our dining room AND living room (!!) -- cobalt shag in master - hot pink shag in girls' room -- and orange shag in boys' room AND bathroom. We have been trying to figure out which to do first & which to just suffer with for two more years!!! (I think I love you)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my gosh! I can so relate to all of that! We just pulled the last of the nasty carpet out of our upstairs about a year ago. Two years of "suffering with it" turned into 12. I thought we would never get it all tore out! Would love to see your progress!

      Delete
  13. Which dark walnut stain did you use? Your floor is just beautiful :)
    We have lived in our new home one year and have lots to update and little to no budget to do it. This is a perfect solution and I my hubby is on board!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Krys

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We used Minwax Dark Walnut since it looked good with our old wood floors. But really you can go any color of stain. I would love to see pictures of your project. And don't you just love it when the husband is there to help make it happen! Hope you love your floor as much as we love ours.
      ~Wren

      Delete
  14. It is beautiful. Is the stain oil based?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We used water based stain. I try to always used water based since clean up is much easier. And anyone who knows me can tell you I'll all about the easy clean up! ~Wren

      Delete
  15. I'm really interested in doing this to our house. But I'm curious, how slick is the floor. We live in snow country and I don't want to walk in and watch my feet fly over my head cuz they were a little wet. TIA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, when we first walked on it, it was like a fresh waxed floor. Very slick. But now that we've walked on it for a while it's nice and worn and not too slick at all. We used a satin sealer. The great thing about it is that it's durable and stands up to a ton of mopping!

      Delete
  16. I want to do this in my kitchen,old linolium, would it work over that or would I need to pull it up? It would be a lot easier if we didn't,but if it wouldn't stay, double the work

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Though I've never done it over linoleum, I have heard it will work. They say that you just need to scrape and fill any loose spots to even it all out and give it a good wash with some TSP to get rid of any grease or other residue that might cause it to not stick.Good luck! ~Wren

      Delete
  17. Can you tell us how was the poly applied? Is it just "painted" on or poured on and wiped around? And does the poly have a lingering smell for a few weeks or anything?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure Maggie! We used one of those rectangular sponge paint applicators on a long handle and just kind of poured it and smoothed it out. Ken would start at one end of the room and just work his way back. Since we have to live in our "fixer" while we fix it we try to use things that are low odor. This was one that said "No Odor" right on the label and it was true. Didn't have a problem at all with it. ~Wren

      Delete
  18. I wonder, do you think you could leave the paper rolled and soak in glue, then unroll on floor? I have 4 young boys so time to do each piece would be tricky for about 600 square feet. Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, I'm just not sure how that would work. The great thing about this process though is that you can start and stop. Do a small section when the boys go to bed. Since it's a patchwork of paper, you can add to it even after a section dries. Good luck! ~Wren

      Delete
  19. I stumbled across this post via Pinterest. I'll admit I'm a little scared to do this, but your floor looks so great I want to try it! I was wondering if you could post a close up photo of the final floor, much like the one when you were staining. It's hard to see what it looks like up close. What does it feel like under your feet? Just like regular flat floor? I'm sorry to ask so much! I'm just really curious and want to try it, yet scared to at the same time! Thank you for your help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marion, I was scared too so I read every blog out there and then finally decided, "What do I have to lose? Other than gross disgusting bathroom carpet." I did and I love,love love it!! Everone who sees it is amazed that is actual paper bags. Bonus, it's fun to do.

      Delete
  20. Hi, Love the look of your floor and am considering where and when to do this...However the question on my mind is - how easy do you think it is to take this kind of flooring off in case the design/outcome is not as expected (after finishing the 7 coats)...

    thanks
    Vinu

    PS: I noted your origins in the bio above and got reminded of a wonderful road trip I did back in 1999 through the John Day fossil beds and the Painted Hills unit nearby :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I AM TRULY AMAZED BY THIS SITE AND WHAT PEOPLE POST :) I LOVE THIS STUFF!:) I WAS LOOKIN AT STAINING MY FRONT PATHWAY BUT I THINK IM GONNA TRY THIS INSTEAD! SO MUCH CHEAPER AND EASIER I THINK! :) THEN MY BASEMENT FLOOR TY

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am in the process of doing this in my family room, it's a pretty big space. I took my time and it looked flat when wet and now that it's drying there are spots that have big air pockets underneath. I went over it and patched up any openings and put more glue mixture down, but I am very nervous? Do u have any suggestions? Will the stain and poly help it adhere?

    ReplyDelete
  23. This looks great. I have done this on walls and love the look. I bought rolls of paper( the kind used for banners at schools) from Mannings School supplies. You can get it in colors for those who do not want just brown. You can buy stains in different colors also. Like others I wonder how it will hold up after time. I have acid stained some of my floors and was thinking of doing all of them but this looks easier. Will have to consider it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I really want to do this upstairs in my house. The one thing that has kept me from doing this is drying time. The area I want to start with is my main living area. It is the hall and living room. Unfortunately, my hallway leads to my office (where I work from home), my bedroom, my son's bedroom, our kitchen, both of our bathrooms and my kitchen. Yeah I know when I say main living area I mean our main living area! :) So my question is how would I go about doing this project with the dry time?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we are going to wait for summer and "camp out" still planning on doing one room at a time though so we can just move furniture from one room to the next as we go.

      Delete
  25. You and your husband did it over a 3 day period, just the 2 of you?

    ReplyDelete
  26. How does it fair with water spills or liquids if it were in a dining room ?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Believe it or not I did this back in the early 80's and have been back to the home I did it in and it still looks great. I was surprised they kept it. I have seen that it can be done over laminate counter tops as easy as on the floors. I have a master suite on in my upstairs that was two rooms and a kitchenette turned into the master suite. The wood floors under the carpet are fir and not worth the cost to have refinished. I don;t want to add more tile or laminate to my home. I have 3 dogs, 5 cats and refuse to ever have carpet again. I am conquering my "fir" floors upstairs in our master suite and looking forward to the results. I am trying to decide whether to use a semi gloss or satin finish. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use the semi-gloss first, then if it's too glaring, give it a coat or two of satin to tone it down. You can put satin on top of gloss or semi-gloss, but not the other way around.

      Delete
  28. You may have already addressed this but there are so many comments to sift through. I am doing a sample board and it is obvious the paper I have has two different textures. Any solutions/suggestions to figuring out how to get past this? I am not liking the variation. One side shows a lot of wrinkles and veining (Which I like) the "sueded" side does not show the wrinkles and veining as much.

    ReplyDelete
  29. The paper does have tow different textures for sure. We worried about that at first but then after it was all down and stained, it really did look great and the different textures wern't as obvious.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have weird cork floors circa???? do you think this method would work?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Did this over an irreparable wooden floor. Turned out great!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am thinking of doing this in a large living room/dining room area. The heat is in the floor and our house is on a slab (concrete floor) and pretty damp. Also, do you use only one layer of paper and does the paper have to be crinkled or can you just poly both sides? Do you think it will work for us? Thanks, Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mark! They say that you can do this on concrete, but I haven't tried it so not sure how it would do with the dampness. You don't have to crinkle the paper at all but I would probably brush or roll the glue mixture on both sides of the paper. Good luck!

      Delete
  33. Also, I read someone was going to do strips to look like wood-has anyone tried patterns with the paper to get a different effect and is the floor warm at all to walk on? Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen anyone that has tried the strip method, but it don't see why it wouldn't work. Any readers out there who have tried this? I actually love the feel of our floor underfoot. Almost like worn leather.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...