This summer I started redoing my guest room, and the first step was new flooring. I wanted to do paper bag floors, mostly because they’re cheap and beautiful, but also because I wanted the flooring to match in my boy’s room and the guest room (they’re right next to each other).
(If you aren’t familiar with paper bag flooring process then please read the original tutorial first. Links to the follow-up posts can be found at the bottom of that post.)
So, let’s start at the beginning.
I wanted this floor to match my boys floor exactly, so I used the same brown paper, same stain, and same technique. The only thing I changed was the sealer I put on top.
First, we ripped out the old carpet, filled the holes, and ripped and wrinkled the paper, cleaned the floor…all the prep work.
Then I started glueing. I used a 50/50 mix of Elmers glue and water and worked with my bare hands, dunking the paper in the mixture and smoothing it out on the floor.
After I finished and everything dried for a day, I stained. I used oil based Minwax stain in Provincial, mopping it on with a deck pad.
I let that dry for a day or so, then went ahead and sealed it. Here is where it gets interesting.
When I did my paper bag experiments this summer I had a clear winner when it came to sealers…Bona Traffic, hands down. It was bulletproof on my test board and I was excited to get it on my floor. I sealed the boy’s room with water based poly for floors a couple of years ago, and although it was holding up okay it definitely wasn’t doing great (you can read that update post HERE). I planned to reseal the boy’s room with the Bona Traffic as well.
The Bona traffic is a two-part sealer, it has the sealer and a bottle of hardener you mix in. When I was ready to get started sealing I went ahead and poured the entire bottle of hardener into the sealer and got to work. After I finished the first coat I started reading the back of the container while waiting for it to dry. Right there, on the back, in tiny letters it clearly said “The finish/hardener mixture must be used within 4 hours after it is mixed. Product properties are diminished after 4 hours.” OH SNAP (not the actual phrase that came to mind at that moment, but we’ll use it here). I had read that part before while doing experiments…how did I forget? There is no way I could use that whole bottle in four hours…that didn’t leave it nearly enough drying time between coats.
Luckily it was a Saturday morning when this happened and Adam was home. I told him my predicament and explained that we had to empty out the boy’s room RIGHT NOW so I could prep and seal it before my expensive sealer was rendered useless. He sighed, shook his head, mumbled something about “only you..”, and we quickly destroyed our house.
The first coat of Traffic sealer I applied to the guest room floor actually dried really quickly (in like 30 minutes) so I added another coat while prepping the boys floor.
Do you remember how I had that corner in the boy’s room where the sealer was flaking up? I never did figure out what was causing it. Anyway, scraped it up as best I could (and tried to pull it up with tape – fail) before adding more sealer on top.
My hope was that when I added the new sealer would kinda melt into the old and you wouldn’t be able to tell that was a problem area (spoiler – that didn’t happen).
Anyway, I went back and forth sealing both rooms in 30 minute intervals. The boy’s room received two coats (over the previous twelve of the original sealer) and the guest room received four.
Here is that problem area when the new sealer dried…it doesn’t look great.
Luckily the bed goes in that corner and we’ll never see it. The rest of the room looked amazing…
And here’s what the guest room floor looked like…
And both of them side by side…
I let the rooms cure for nearly a week before putting all the furniture back in, which I felt was more than enough time.
Since then (this was about six months ago) is when I have become pretty frustrated with the floors. The Bona Traffic is not holding up like I had hoped. It doesn’t scratch and flake up like the previous sealer, but instead it blisters.
When I tested this sealer it was bulletproof, I’m not even exaggerating. I dug at it with a fork and you could barely tell. I was sure I would be able to abuse my floors with no consequences…but thats not the case at all. I think the difference is that for my experiments I waited about 24 hours between coats of sealer, and with this I obviously rushed it and added four coats in about three hours. It’s likely that it never cured properly. Or maybe putting this on a concrete floor vs. a wood floor is what makes the difference (though I doubt it). I don’t really know, all I know is that I have delicate floors and they frustrate me. I still think the Bona is a great sealer, and if your going to use it just DONT RUSH.
Both floors still look great if you stand back a bit, and if the sealer blisters up I can just cut it out and add more sealer. It’s not the end of the world, I’m just done messing with them. I wish we could have extended the wood flooring into the bedrooms when we did our living room and hallway a few years ago, but we simply couldn’t afford to at the time. I’m not going to replace the paper flooring when we sell no mater how it looks, we’ll just offer a carpeting allowance for any buyers that side-eye the paper bag flooring.
I know this paper bag floor thing can be done and be tough (I’ve had people e-mail me and say they’ve had it in their house for ten or twenty years and it looks great). I haven’t mastered it yet though….and honestly, I never will. I won’t ever paper a floor again.
Anyway, after all the paper bag experiments this summer I thought an update was needed. I wish it was a better one!