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Paper Bag Floors; A Step by Step Tutorial

Welcome to the first post of my (seven-part) paper bag floor series! Here you will find more information than you ever wanted to know about installing paper flooring in your home. Let’s go ahead and jump right in, because I know you have questions.

What is a paper bag floor?

  • Paper bag flooring is a do-it-yourself flooring solution that is made out of paper, glue, stain (optional), and sealer.
  • Originally it was made from the brown paper bags you would get from the grocery store, but these days most people use a roll of Kraft paper.

Why choose a paper flooring?

  • The most popular reason is cost. Paper bag flooring is very inexpensive. I did my kids’ bedroom (10 x 12) for about $80, and I have enough supplies left over that doing my guest room will cost about $30. That’s dang cheap.
  • The flexibility. There are so many ways you can go with this project…brown flooring, grey flooring, colored flooring, patterns, wallpaper flooring, etc. If you can dream it, you can make it. My final product turned out great and looks like leather.

How difficult is it to install?

  • Not hard at all! This is a beginner project that anyone can do. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it is tedious and time-consuming, and you spend a whole lot of time hunched over.
  • Time-wise, installing my brown paper floor took about a week.

 

Here is what my floor looked like after it was finished (and before baseboards and furniture were added back into the room).

Brown paper floor

paper bag flooring, looks like leather

I know…it’s pretty nice looking. Especially for just being paper!

How to install a paper bag floor

 Materials needed

 

Steps

1. Prep your space and your floor

The first thing I did was empty the boy’s room and rip out all the trim. We were planning on replacing the trim anyway, but even if you aren’t I would remove it and then replace it when the floor is complete, that would be much easier than trying to work around it.  I wasn’t planning on starting the renovation that day, I just got a wild hair and started moving furniture and tearing stuff apart. Elijah got in on the fun, he actually removed most of the trim after I showed him how. How cool is that? His future wife is going to sing my praises, I’m sure of it.

prepping for paper bag floor install

Next I prepped the floors. I mixed up some concrete and patched the holes left from the carpet tacks, and then gently sanded.

*Prepping your floor correctly is very important*

I did my floor over concrete, but you can put paper bag flooring over pretty much anything…plywood subfloor, linoleum, even tile.  Concrete is probably the least desirable floor to this over actually, due to possible moisture issues. No matter what type of floor you have, make sure you fill any cracks (literally every imperfection/unevenness, crack, etc will show through), decide if you should gently sand for smoothness/adhesion, and make sure it is as clean as it can possibly be.

Filling holes with concrete for paper flooring

Pole Sander - prepping to paper bag concrete floors

 *UPDATE – I have been told by readers that paper bag flooring will not work on a concrete floor that hasn’t previously been sealed. If you plan to paper over raw concrete then you must first seal it with either a coat of poly or a coat of floor paint.* 

 

2. Rip your paper

What you want to do is rip the paper into natural-looking pieces, kinda like stones. Mine were about 12 inches or so in diameter.  Don’t cut them, just rip…you don’t want them to be perfect or even close.

Ripping pieces for a paper bag floor

What I would recommend doing is after you rip a piece, ball it up and wrinkle the crud out of it,  then flatten it out and move on to the next piece. You want to wrinkle them so that when you add stain the wrinkles will show through and give it that awesome textured “old leather” look, like this…

Paper flooring - looks like stones or leather

 

3. Mix your glue and start applying the paper to the floor

Then you are ready to mix your glue. For my paper bag floors, I did 50% water and 50% Elmers glue mixture. If you are doing this on a wood floor then I think a 3 to 1 water and glue ratio is the one you want. Don’t mix all your glue at once, gluing the paper to the floor will take longer than you think and you don’t want it to dry out.

Gluing paper floor to concrete

 I really thought in my head that I would be able to slap these puppies down and be done in a night. Truth is it took my husband and me five nights of both of us working to be complete. We just chatted, watched Netflix on the laptop, and had a jolly good time. That might be exaggerating a bit, mostly I just scolded him every five minutes for trying to glue a straight edge piece in the middle of the floor. He loved that, as you can imagine,

The easiest way I found to apply that paper is like so:  Take your piece of paper and hold it over the bowl. Use your hands to scoop up some glue and spread it evenly over both sides. Then lay your paper down on the floor and smooth flat, working from the inside out to remove any bubbles. Keep in mind that the paper will shrink as it dries, so give each piece a decent amount of overlap. Don’t be stingy with the glue, you want them wet.

paper bag floor in progress

paper sack flooring over concrete

How to make a paper bag floor by Domestic Imperfection

Paper bag floor before stain

 

4. Apply stain

You could leave your floor this “natural” color if you want and skip the whole staining process, but I think the stain looks great and really gives it depth and character. Plus staining is the quickest part of this whole process (if you do it correctly). I applied the stain with a “mop”, actually I used this by Shur Line. It worked great and went on really quickly… I snuck this in while my kids were busy watching an episode of Dinosaur Train (so less than 30 minutes).

Stained paper

Make sure and “feather” the stain so that you don’t end up with any lines, it will dry just like you put it on. Also be aware that you will get a little bleed under the edges of the paper, like this…

stain bleeding under the paper

I’m honestly not sure how you would avoid this, you are just going to have to embrace the imperfection.

5. Apply sealer

After I had finished staining I let it sit for two days before I added the first coat of poly, and even then it was slightly tacky. I added the polyurethane the same way I added the stain, but I was extra careful to make it a thin coat…at least I thought. When it was dried I came back and it looked like this…

Paper bag flooring problems

About 50% of it had dried white. Crap. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t know this when I started, but the “builders paper” that I used has two sides and they look different after they are on the floor. It looked as though the poly had dried white only on one side of the paper. I tried to sand it off on places, but that wasn’t working so I did something that I was sure was going to be a terrible idea…I stained over the poly.

Stain over polyurthane

It worked, and you couldn’t see where it used to be white and where it didn’t. So I “mopped” the stain over the whole floor again and let it dry for FOUR days this time. Even after four days it was still tacky and I couldn’t step on it to re-poly. So this time I worked backward…I started at the doorway and added a THIN layer with a small foam brush (by hand), let it dry, and then stepped on that to do the next section. I was terrified that after all that work it would dry white again, but it didn’t, not even a little. Phew.

After that, I added about ten more layers of poly with the mop. This didn’t take as long as you would think, it only needed to dry about an hour between coats and took about 20-30 minutes each coat. As an added bonus, the water-based poly has almost no smell at all, so your not going to need to air out your house or feel lightheaded while doing this. Now, you should let the final coat cure for about a week before you put anything on it, but I was so antsy to get the kids out of my bedroom that we put everything back the next day. We did get a few scratches, but I just added some poly over them and it looks fine. It looks better than fine actually, it looks freaking awesome.

Affordable DIY flooring solution - paper bag floor

Paper flooring - a tutorial

Paper Bag Flooring (done over concrete)

paper flooring tutorial

 

So there you have it! It’s a bit shinier than I would have liked, but I do think it has dulled down a bit since I took these photos (about two weeks ago.)

This isn’t the end though, no no….I have six more posts about my paper flooring. You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers! Links to the other parts of this series –

Links to the other posts in this series

budget-friendly flooring option: paper bag floors

Similar Posts

826 Comments

  1. I love this look! I love the price as well. I’m glad you posted your finished project and I love the “Hey Girl” blurbs…they were the best and really made me laugh out loud. :) I think I might try this in a small bathroom I have…do you think laying the paper around the toilet would work?

    1. Yes, I have seen it done successfully in a bathroom before. Actually another reader commented after you that she has has it in her master bathroom for three years and it is still going strong!

      1. I was wondering how this would work on a small kitchen, dinning room area. It is a very busy area, it goes to the back door. It would look sooooooooooo Cool if it would work..

        Kay

          1. I wonder if a person could use an epoxy type sealer instead of poly? Maybe would cost more but may hold up better… Just a thought

          2. That’s a great idea, I bet an epoxy sealer would be make the floor basically indestructible. It would smell terrible though…I just painted my shower with epoxy paint and hot dang, that stuff is potent!

          3. Vermont Natural Coatings make a floor finish that is whey protein based, It is virually odor less and dries very quickly. It is very durable and low to no VOC;s It is working great at my house with 3 kids, a cat, and 2 dogs.

          4. I wonder about the water-based poly, though. We used it when we refinished the center hall and kitchen of our house, and i’ve noticed that it 1) doesn’t hold up to chairs dragging across it and 2) it doesn’t hold up to acid-based spills (like orange juice, vinegar or dog pee). Seven years later, we have to refinish all the floors and use oil-based poly, even though it takes forever to dry and smells bad.

          5. I’ve found the same thing. It’s not holding up badly by any means….but it could be doing better. In a few months I’m going to do a follow-up post and try out a few new sealers, hopefully I come up with something that works better (which might end up being oil based poly.)

          6. I’ve never done a whole linoleum floor, but I think you could follow this tutorial as long as you sanded the linoleum with rough sandpaper first (if you don’t it will peel right off, like a sticker.)

      2. do you think this would work in a family room? i am concerned about scratches in a high traffic area, your thoughts?

          1. 30 years ago I did a bathroom in National Geographic pictures. I spent forever cutting out the pictures then put them on the walls with wallpaper paste. Then sealed it with Polly, I didn’t use stain. Makes me wonder if it is still there, or did someone paint over it?

          1. Thank you for this comment.. would have never thought of doing that especially the thin cloth.. I love that idea

        1. I would be careful what type of construction paper you use, it would have to be archival quality / have UV colour fastness or I would think it would fade. I’ve seen so many construction paper projects loose their beauty because they were so easily bleached by the sun!

          1. Once any kind of paper is glued to one surface then sealed under polyurethane it “should” be colorfast because it is sealed from the air, but it is actually the UV in sunlight that causes color to fade. Not sure if there is a UV polyurethane or not but if there is, that is what you’d want to use over any colored paper to be safer.

      3. Do you think the two tones are caused by different sides of the paper. IE. If you were very careful to only keep one side up, do you think you would have the same tone throughout?
        Do the wrinkles REALLY go away?
        Thanks, Katie

    2. I`ve been a professional wallpaper hanger for 35 years and I have done similar jobs like this on walls. I never thought about doing old worn out floors. I have a couple suggestions for you to cut costs and make the job go easier. Vinyl over vinyl wallpaper paste is the same thing as Elmer`s glue. You can buy a gallon for about $30. you just add water to it to make it more like thick paint. I suggest using a 9 inch roller on an extension pole to save your back. Same thing for the stain and poly. Use a couple fans to speed up the drying time. I`m positive that I could do a 12 x 12 room in a couple days with 10 coats of poly on it. Just make sure that the paste, stain and poly are completely dry before moving to the next step. I have a floor that I`m going to do this on and I`ll take pictures of before, during and after. Great idea!!!

      1. I love this Idea, I have been in the flooring business for a number of years and love to see new ideas. One thing I would like to recommend is NOT using Elmers glue. defiantly not on a concrete floor. It will never hold even if the concrete is sealed. This is due to moisture. concrete absorbs moisture from below and will rise to the surface of the floor. it will also sweat with temperature change. I would recommend using an adhesive for vinyl flooring. In particular one made for felt-back vinyl. You can find this at any flooring and most hardware stores. Just follow the recommendations for application.
        That said, on a wood sub-floor Titebond wood glue would be a good choice. It would be easier to work with Than felt-back Vinyl adhesive.

        1. I used 50/50 Elmer’s glue & water put over concrete floors, it did adhere to the concrete and it was there for 14 years plus, just covered with new flooring when we put house up for sale. I did however leave the paperbag flooring in the upstairs room just sanded lightly lauded down new paper where there were small tears and reapplied water based Polly and it looked brand new and everyone who viewed the home loved the floors. Over the years I have sent many people home with paper & instructions. I loved my paperbag floors. I did not use stain but when you Polly over it turns out beautiful.

          1. Thanks for sharing this! I’m always happy to hear that it holds up long term. Adam is a little nervous about selling our house with paper floors. They look good, so that’s a plus, but if we put “paper bag” as a flooring type in the MLS will people think it’s too DIY? Or maybe they will be so curious that they we will have a ton of showings, haha. Who knows, but it’s encouraging to hear your experience!

          2. Thanks, Ashley. I didn’t think about the water based stain soaking into the paper and water-logging it. It’s been a long time since I have done any wood working, finding this poly that works with oil based stains may be an answer for some other ideas that I’m thinking about.

          3. I don’t know what your other projects are, but my favorite finish ever is polycrylic my minwax. For furniture and stuff I always use oil based stain and polycrylic…it’s a lot like polyurathane but it’a water based (so easy to work with) and doesn’t yellow. I really should have tried it on my floors…totally didn’t think about that till just now.

        2. I was thinking this would look good in my sun room/porch, but it has cement floors that do get damp-ish when we have a moist year. I would think the water based Elmer’s would react to the dampness and I would have problems. Would the adhesive for vinyl flooring that, Tavis mentioned act. as a moisture barrier? Hubby also questioned mixing water based poly and oil based stain. Is a reason that oil based stain is used and not a water based one? I could use an oil based poly on the porch as it would air out easily. Anyone tried this?

          1. I really don’t have an answer for the first question. Sorry, wish I could help but I would just be shooting in the dark. As for the oil based stain and water based poly, that is what the blog tutorial I followed suggested. I tried the water based satin anyway (on a scrap) and it soaked into the paper and then the paper started to rub away (in little balls) when I spread it. So I just did oil based. The water based poly is specially formulated to go over oil based stain…any old water based poly won’t work. I would think oil based poly would hold up much better though…I just didn’t want to do it inside.

          2. The situation presented by your concrete floored sun porch raises a couple critical questions: first, is the floor a slab poured directly on the ground like a patio, or is it raised on a foundation like a traditional porch? Secondly, if it is on grade, does it have a moisture barrier underneath and good drainage? If the room is ground level and you cannot answer the moisture barrier/drainage questions, then I would not recommend this flooring technique. Moisture trapped under a clear finish will appear as white spots similar to water rings left by a glass or from hot pizza on a paper plate on your coffee table—these are both simply moisture being trapped directly beneath the wax surface, with a clear finish on a damp concrete floor, the same effect is likely.
            Tavis’ solution by using a vinyl adhesive will act as a moisture barrier; however, you are asking a glue to do a job for which it wasn’t specifically designed. Yes, many vinyl adhesives (especially exterior grades) are designed to inhibit moisture, but… reducing does not equate preventing.
            I would hate to see you invest precious time and effort into a project that would produce such beautiful results then risk the rewards to ruination by rain. You may consider a concrete stain finish that may be applied in layers and varied colors which produce a striking effect.

          3. My floor is a concrete slab right on the ground. It started as an outdoor patio that was inclosed. I was afraid that the moisture would create the problems you describe, Paint Pro. I think the answer will be the concrete stain if we decide to do anything with it.

        3. I there any kind of “glue” that you could use on peeling paint on a “lanai” (like a concrete porch up north)?
          I used a stain on the lanai and it peeled, I had someone come up and pressure wash it, what a mess! He re-painted it and guess what it peeled again!

          I need to “glue down” where the paint/stain is peeling then re-paint the entire area.

          Any suggestions?

        4. I papered my kitchen in a week and loved. We had Thanksgiving the weekend we finished with 12 family members. The floor stood up great!!!
          When I started on the living room, the poly and paper would not adhesive. So we did the glue down, then I stained it and then polyed it. The problem I have now is when I washed the floor with clear water, the floor has turned cloudy. Do you know what I can do about it!

          1. I don’t know what you can do about it, mine has the same problem in one corner. I’m going to be writing an update post in the next month and experimenting with a dew different sealers. I’m sorry you (and I) are having that problem, hoping to come up with a solution I can share.

          2. As for your cloudy problem I may suggest going to a near homedepot or a shop that will rent a highspeed buffing machine. I work in nyc for a restoration company and we do wax and wood floors with multiple kinds of finishes and sealers. Granted I never saw a floor in the city that was poly but I would suggest that a very fine steel wool buffing pad and a highspeed (1200rpm) buffing machine would be able to remove the cloudyness you see and then could allways re poly the floor.. hope all works out for you such a awesome idea and would love to do it in my house

      2. I would LOVE to see the finished product. We are NOT DIYers normally. {because I want things done correctly, lol} But we have a dining room, my office, and long hallway connecting them and possibly a kitchen and bathroom that all need floors. We’ve ripped up the carpet on all but the kitchen and it’s some kind of weird vinyl flooring. But now they all need to be redone. We were going to put down wood laminate, but I really LOVE the look of this flooring! Any more helpful ideas would be appreciated as well.

      3. Jeff Ebert, I would love to see your finished product!! Sounds a lot easier!! I am a DIYER, WITH MY SPOUSE, but as we age, some things get a little more difficult to do on your hands and knees, if you know what I mean, getting up isn’t that easy either!!!!

      4. I have to agree with Jeff. This is a great concept, and the wallpaper paste is the only way to go. The only thing I would add is that a good squeegee will help with the smoothing process, and a 10″ FOAM roller is the only way to apply finish like this. I refinish wood floors regularly, and have tried every applicator imaginable. Foam rollers are the ONE way to avoid brush marks and control your material flow. If you are using an oil-base finish, and doing multiple coatings, you can wrap the roller up tightly with a grocery store “t-shirt” bag or plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. It will keep fresh for several days, and you’ll only need to let it warm up (still wrapped) a bit before re-using. I especially like the Minwax Super Fast-Drying Semi-Gloss Polyurethane For Floors at Home Depot (about $44/gallon). I’ve done over a dozen floors with it, with great results. Just follow label directions regarding re-coating.

        1. I did the paper bag thing on my bathroom walls, and it worked fine. I used wallpaper paste to adhere it to the walls which were painted sheet rock, then after they were thoroughly dry, I painted over it with a water based semi gloss latex paint. When I first applied the paint, the paper started to form bubbles under it, but as it dried, it sucked itself back down to the wall. It lasted for several years.

        2. I have done several walls with this method. They have all turned out beautiful. My last project was a kitchen, where I used a almost olive green paper. The only thing I recommend is that if you have light colored walls paint them a darker shade first. It will affect the shade of the paper. It is truly beautiful.

      5. ohhh…Jeff, I can’t wait to hear how that goes… I would love to do this in m studio kitchen area which is laminate with some small holes in it, and gets beat up wit painting and workshops… but can not stay closed for days on end :(

      6. Hi. I am thinking of doing the walls in my travel trailer. In fact I am thinking of doing beaded board paneling on bottom and this treatment on upper to keep from being to dark inside. The walls are I believe vinyl. What would you recommend including any prepping.

    3. I would like to ask u can this be done on bathroom floors that has no tile it is a rolled up I will try to spell I know it will be spelled wrong Lanoleum can I just go over top of that

    4. Is there any way to do the floor with paper and make it look like a plank floor. And also to make it a darker color.pegbest

    5. There are ceramic floor coatings that are used to make sure that a hardwood floor doesn’t scratch. They are extremely hard when dry and can’t be sanded, but they would make an excellent hard finish for this. It is used by floor installers and has to be put on carefully. You cant have any dirt or sand or junk on the floor just the paper. Then you apply it, it takes 3 days to dry and it is hard as a rock. This would mean a floor that would last many years and not scratch, especially with multiple coats.

    6. I did this on concrete floor. I use gray paint then used the paper in random areas using wallpaper paste to put it down I dipped the paper wadded up in water and then slung it back out. when I was through, it looked like a stone floor.

      1. There shouldn’t be any gaps the the paper, you overlap it when gluing it down. It shrinks as it dries though so you have to overlap it about an inch on all sides.

  2. Looks fabulous, like ancient leather. I’ve done this on walls that had uneven textures and then faux finished over it, worked great. I may try this on a floor now, thanks for the inspiration.

  3. I am truly impressed…who new how good paper could look, you will be putting floor stores out of buisness..and take stock in the paper …and elmers glue…thank you for the reality and your kids are always the best part….

    1. I know, when I first read about this idea I thought it looked cheesy, but now I don’t think so at all :) And for whatever reason my kids think running on the new floor is the most hilarious thing ever!

  4. This is the neatest thing! When I first saw “Paper Bag Floors” in the email newsletter, I was like “Huh?” but it looks great. Thanks! Oh, and I don’t get the shoe thing either. Barefooting is the way to go. :)

  5. Turned out great! But was very time comsuming, huh? BTW, being a grandma, I did cringe when I saw your son “working” while barefoot! Lucky he didn’t step on a nail! Better to be safe than sorry! Great project though and great blog!

    1. Yes, it took much longer than I anticipated, mostly just because I had to ignore it while my kids were awake. And you are totally allowed to cringe, you (and my husband) are right about the shoe wearing. I just didn’t think of it. The nails were only in the baseboard though, and we carried them right outside after they were removed (if that makes it any better).

  6. Do you know if this would work over linoleum? We live in an old house. I pulled up the carpet. The old floors are worn, no longer shiny. I do not want to scrape that stuff off. I know the sub floor is pine, but pine splinters into bare feet. What do you think? Thanks, Marilyn

  7. Like how it has that “leather” look. Great job! Keep us posted on the wear factor. Showed my husband the pic with Elijah pulling baseboards (that’s to cute!), his first thought…no shoes…nails…
    Made me laugh when I saw the “Hey Girl” pics inbetween, love your sense of humor!!!

    1. Ellie, saw a comment above you that stated this person put this floor in her master bathroom 3 years ago, and it’s still going strong.

  8. Ashley, this is really cool looking and what an economical way to go! We recently pulled up ancient orange tweed carpet in a 1950s trailer that we renovated at the beach. We had no money for floors either and had good luck just painting the plywood subfloor with grey porch and deck paint.

    1. I’ve done that as well! When Adam was in the Army we rented half a trailer and it had the grossest carpet I’d ever seen. The landlord refused to replace or even clean it, so I ripped it all up and painted the plywood floor. Worked great!

      1. A couple questions. How do you rent half a trailer? Do I need to do something about the seams in the plywood floor before putting this down?

        1. Haha, the half trailer…yeah, it was bad. It was just a old mobile home and the landlord had added a wall in the middle so he could get a rental income out of his “vacation home”. It was one bedroom, one bathroom, and he threw some appliances in there and called it a day. When we ripped out the carpet and painted the plywood we didn’t do any prep because we didn’t care, but you could see all the seams. If you want it to look nice you would probably want to put some wood filler or spackling in the seams before painting.

      2. We have a trailer and wanted to play with the paint on the floor we made it where we did like tiles..used the blue stripe tape and painted in the blocks two dif colors and then the solid black..for the kids room then used made a frame on the wall and used the magnetic paint let it dry and then used the chalkboard paint it was fun :)

  9. I put a paper floor in my master bathroom 3 years ago. I love it so much I left it when we put wood in the rest of the house. We also finished a room upstairs and I put paper floor up there also. My bathroom was done like anoregoncottage.com and my upstairs like lovely crafty home. I have to say I personally like the look of the oregon cottage better than the lovely crafty home version. But that may be because my upstairs is 400 square feet, the wooden subfloor was in pretty bad shape, and they were a lot more work. Your floor looks beautiful. Linda

    1. I hadn’t seen the one at An Oregon Cottage, that one is beautiful as well. I’m glad to hear that it is holding up, especially in a bathroom!

  10. Laughing and speechless at the same time. I had never heard of doing this before, so if I was having a contest you just won! And I’m pinning it. And sending it to my son to see.

    Bliss

  11. I love it! I’m trying to convince the hubs that this is perfect for our staircases and hallway in our home. Do you think a light shade of stain would still give good results? Specifically something like Minwax Golden Oak- the staircase doesn’t have natural light and gets pretty dark so I want something to lighten the space up a little.

    1. Yes, I think a light stain color would work just as well. I would test it on a scrap piece of brown paper before you start on the floors just to make sure you love it…I tried five different colors before I settled on the one I used. But I think this would be a great solution for stairs!

      1. Help! I’ve just done my hallway and stairs, and stained them last night. This morning there’s several huge dark splotches, and they kind of have a “hazy”/dull look to them, whereas the other parts are shinier. Is this something to be expected, do you think? And will sealing them with the poly make them shiny, possibly? The color difference doesn’t look bad, I’m just worried about the dull finish on these parts versus the others. I haven’t read a tutorial yet that addressed that issue, so of course now I’m freakin’, thinking I just screwed up a week’s worth of work lol Thanks, in advance for all the help!

          1. Oil based- I actually bought all of my supplies from your links above ;) same color stain and everything

          2. Good girl :) It’s hard to give advice without seeing pictures. I had dark spots too (leakage under the paper) but none of them were huge and there were a bunch, so I just left them. If you have big annoying ones you could always cut them out with an exacto knife, glue down some more paper and restain that area. A for the shininess, I would probably choose a small hidden spot and add a THIN layer of poly and see what it looks like. It might just fix the problem.

        1. How did you navigate the stairs while you did this? I’d like to do this but stairs aren’t like a bedroom that you can vacate for a week…I’ve been wondering about doing one side then the other …like the road pavers do. Do either of you think that this would work (blending the two sides)?

          1. Julie- I did every other stair, so we could still get up and down (just had to stretch those legs, lol!) and didn’t have to worry about blending issues. Took a few extra days, but it worked out in the end.
            I will add, though, that paper bag flooring sadly didn’t work for us. It looks awesome! And we had so many compliments on it! But, then we got a dog… a big dog… a now 75-lb, active 6 month old puppy. Yeah. For us, the paper bag floor was about as durable as you might expect paper to be (even with a lot of floor sealer on it). On one stair, the dog’s nail ripped up the paper a little bit and then my toddler helped pull it up, so that stair is missing 80% of it’s paper. It’s custom ;) I have to vaccum my stairs a lot, too, and I’ve noticed that on some the paper is coming up in the corners, due to the vaccum hose sucking it up a little. My husband and I have decided we won’t bother fixing it (because it would be a weekly maintenance/touch up thing) and we’re debating what flooring options we want now. I don’t regret going it at all- it does look awesome! And I’m totally ok with spending so little to find out something didn’t work for us. Just wish there was a way to make it virtually indestructible, since I have a crew of little demolition men ;)

          2. Amy, thanks so much for sharing this! I keep getting questions about pets, but since we don’t have any I’m not sure how to answer them. This helps a ton.

      2. Hi Ashley!! I was wondering if you have heard of a way to make it bronze, gold, pewter, and or silver? I have been trying to find construction paper in those colors… but can’t. They must make some, right?? Thank you for your input!! :)

        1. You could try wrapping paper or scrapbook paper maybe…or perhaps you could mix some sort of watered downed metallic paint and “whitewash” it onto the paper floors before sealing. These are all just guesses and you’ll want to test them out first, but they could work!

  12. Hey Ashley, Love this look! Bet it would also look cool on a wall, using a tinted color of stain (blue, red, green). Love that you let Elijah help and I’m sure (knowing how much you care for your children) that you made sure to clear the floor of nails or anything that could harm him. Love to go barefoot as well! Love that every time I read your blog it makes me smile……

  13. Love Love Love Love Love Love Love! The floor looks fabulous! This is going straight to the man…I know he will veto immediately, but I’m just planting a seed. If I give it about 6 months, the idea will become his and these floors will become mine!

  14. I can’t believe how long it took for the floor to dry, but it turned out beautiful. When you factor in the cost of the entire room it’s definitely worth the time invested.

    1. I agree. I go barefoot as much as possible now. I’m even getting into running and hiking barefoot. It’s wonderful.

      Learn more about the benefits of going barefoot at Barefoot in Colorado Springs or Barefoot Living Society on Facebook.

  15. i would love to do this in my basement. Occasionally my basement gets wet when it rains heavy. Will this still work?

    1. I’m not sure. I read on a blog somewhere that a woman did it in her bathroom and it has made it through the toilet overflowing twice, so maybe. But I would hate to do all that work for it just to get destroyed the first time it rains heavily. So I don’t know…sorry!

  16. Wow, it looks great! I’m glad it worked out so well. Didn’t something similar happen with the penny counter top, where you used polycrylic when it dried unevenly? I’m glad you were able fix the problem fairly easily. Good thing you are adventurous!

  17. I did this in my kitchen on the walls to give it the old world european look. I put a coat of thinned paint followed by a colored glaze and some brush work and it looks so fabulous, its not just for floors!!You did give me an idea for a small floor I have been thinking of doing tho, thanks!!!

    1. I did this to my kitchen cabinets. I was tired of painting them and wanted a rustic look. They turned out great!

    1. If you want to use this over ceramic tile in the bathroom, you can use the same technique but with paper but do not wrap it with your finger like older leather beacuse will be very difficult to clean, looks like texture and you need in a bathroom plane or flat texture.

  18. Found you through Pinterest. These floors are amazing! REALLY wish I had the guts to do this. Can’t wait to check out the rest of your blog =D

  19. Wow…incredible…imagine, paper on floors. Sounds very strange, but boy does it ever work!! I’m pinning this…I love it!!!
    Debbie :)

      1. Yes, you can just mop wit water it. I used once this technique in my steps to the second floor and it was awsome

  20. Great job who would of thought this as a floor my ? do you think this can be done on stairs and did you just cover the back of the paper with the glue or did you put the glue on the floor first i did see the paper in your hand which way is better please let me know thanks so much for taking the time to read this Donna from Ma.

    1. Yes, I think this is a great solution for stairs! I covered both the front and the back of the paper with glue and then laid it down and smoothed it out.

    1. I have heard of this done on both furniture and countertops. It would work…though I’m not sure I would use it as my main kitchen workspace. I think bathroom countertops would be great though.

  21. I think the color difference in where the paper showed white against where it didn’t (after the re-staining) is fabulous. Adds depth and flow. Really nice job!

    1. Yes, I think that is where it started, then people just switched to using rolled paper when it got harder to find paper bags. Just make sure to put the printed side against the floor and you’ll be good to go!

  22. The floors look amazing. I have done two floors so far. Once over linoleum and on concrete as well. I find that no matter how long you leave the stain it remains tacky. I just put on an old pair of sock to walk over it when applying the polyurethane. This summer we plan on doing our master bedroom also.

  23. You did a great job. I love it. And as said before, the price is right! Thanks for taking the time to do the tute.

  24. So which side of the paper do we not use then that caused the white?? love, love, love! And fyi, I’m always barefoot!

  25. Wow! I’d been thinking about this for months… you’ve pushed me over the edge! :) You’re somewhat right… it looks WICKED AWESOME! I cannot wait to try it this summer when school is out and I’m bored out of my mind… the thing is… I’m doing the kitchen. Small space… but there’s appliances involved. After reading this… I’m! Doing! It! :)

  26. Hubby and I are looking to buy a home soon. We have looked at a few and those that we can afford all need new flooring. I probably wouldn’t do an entire house like this, but would absolutely do several rooms like this. I’m always looking for inexpensive ways to update a home and this is a keeper. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. On second thought, maybe I would do an entire house with floors like this and then use area rugs to give the rooms their own character. And use different colored stains to keep the rooms separate, but still cohesive. Yes, that’s what I would do.

  27. Ashley….I did my kitchen counters similar to this and they have lasted 4 years and are still beautiful. My concern with the floor though is would it scratch easy when walking on it, like dog toenails, people in high heels etc. Let me know your thoughts.
    You did an awesome job!!!
    Donna

    1. I’ve got dogs as well and have the same question. What about accidents they make? Would it hold up to it?

    2. I have also done my countertops but the poly had not held up. Its bubbled and come off in several places. I did 8 coats of a water-based poly. I absolutely love the look but hate that the finish is coming off which means the paper is also tearing and coming up. Any help or advice would be great. I’ve considered epoxy but that would be extremely messy or require completely redoing teh counter with an edge like Ashley did with penny bartop.

  28. First, I have to say that I have been so undecided on whether to do this kind of floor style in my new shop or planked plywood. Gosh, I love the way this looks!

    But, my favorite part of this post is your take on the “Hey Girl” quotes! ROFL!! I love YOURS the best! I may have to make my own sign using that one. It SO fits me too!

  29. Hi Ashley, I found you on Hometalk and wanted to come over and tell you that I absolutely love this floor. I’m scheming out ideas for my basement re-do (probably far in the future project) and I think I may have found just the what to do with the floors! Way helpful tutorial with lots of details and Hey Girl! humor. Great post!! – Amy

  30. I love the way your floor came out! I’m recovering from surgery now, but I’m making a list of things to do when I’m well. This is going on the list! Thanks for sharing!

  31. I have seen this done in a magazine well over 10 years ago and have wanted to do this for a long time. I just don’t have a floor to do it on in my house. That’s not to say I won’t ever have a floor to do…we do have a rental house that I may be able to do this on.

  32. That is very beautiful, I would love to do this in my basement but how do you know which side of the paper turns the poly white?

    Thanks

  33. This is fantastic! You so sound like me in taking on so many projects at once. And having this project take way longer than you planned, is also something I end up with on quite a regular basis. But the results… so worth it!!!!
    By the way, I have stained concrete floors in my basement, and this looks so much like that it’s kinda eerie! Again, major props for this awesome project!!

  34. In 1968 or so, a church memnber hosted a garage sale at her home. She had applied this same process to her kitchen floor and it looked great and lasted years.! This idea has been around a loooonnnngggg time.

  35. This is really wonderful! I love all of the texture and color variance. It looks like it was quite a bit of work, but it really is beautiful! It sounds like it’s really durable, too, so that is perfect for a boy’s room. I’ll be pinning!

  36. You did an amazing job!! I have a 4 year old son and 3 year old grandson that will be assisting me :o) I was thinking about using scrapbook paper (river rock look) instead of the paper-bag. I wouldn’t crumple it, not sure of all the details, just thinking about different paper. What do you think?

  37. I did this to my floors but instead of staining it I added some liquid brown rit dye(1 capfull to 2 cups glue and water(distilled). This was easier than staining and removed one whole step. I used a piece of cardboard to test my pieces on til I got the recipe I wanted. I’m sure red rit dye could be used as well as other colors. I will be doing my bedroom next and will experiment with a border.
    Your floors turned out great!

  38. My wife discovered this and I’m contemplating it for a basement kids room. Since it’s a kids room, I’m actually contemplating putting down the paper and letting them paint/draw/whatever all over it then doing the poly. A few questions for whoever might know:

    How hard is it to rip up when I need to get rid of the kids’ art in favor of something more traditional at sale time?
    How durable is it? Kids room with a play area for a 3 year old and a dog who walks around there. Also my treadmill is in the corner.
    Can you vacuum it or is the a sweep only floor?

    1. I’m not sure how easy it would be to get up, we are planning to leave ours (even when it’s time to sell) so I didn’t really consider it. For being a floor made of paper it is actually really durable, though I guess anything with 12 coats of poly would be durable, haha. But the beauty is that even if it scuffs of scratches, you just sand a bit with fine sandpaper and add more poly. I have had comments on other places I shared this saying that people have had this as a floor in their house for 20 years! As far as cleaning I have vaccumed, swept, and damp mopped the floor with no problem.

  39. I have spent the past two weeks on this very project! I began by pulling up our old carpet and discovered that under the carpet was chipboard and not plywood. I hadn’t come across anyone who has tried this project on top of chipboard so I was hesitant but I went for it anyways and it turned out great! I too had several spots where the stain left dark splotches that to me resembeld an ugly grease stain. I couldn’t embrace them so I took some more of my crumpled up brown paper and reglued pieces over the areas I didn’t like and then stained my new “patch jobs”. Problem solved!!

  40. I did this treatment to line the inside of my sons’ dresser drawers. I would never have thought of using it on the floor! Neato!

  41. Am I understanding correctly that by putting the poly on a little at a time it saved the whole “turning white” business? Or should you just pay attention to what side of the paper you place facing up?

    1. It’s hard to say exactly. I would thnk that putting on a super thin first coat of poly would solve it, but I already had a coat on so I can’t be sure. And putting the same side of paper up would be nearly impossible cause they really do look exactly the same. I have read that if you buy “Kraft” paper rather than the “builder” paper it isn’t two sided. Here is the link the the Kraft paper http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001AZ9RJY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001AZ9RJY&linkCode=as2&tag=domestiimperf-20

      1. The whiteness is most likely caused by too thick of a cost of glue drying too quickly. Don’t rush. Make sure there are no drafts or fans used. This is an old theatre technique. And as a scenic artist I made the mistake of rushing too many times

      2. I also have read that if you are using a semi-gloss or satin poly that the shine inhibitors can cause cloudiness if not mixed properly and frequently. What kind of finish did the poly have?

      3. I used Kraft paper and they’re is deff a difference on either side. Then I had to go get more and a whole area looks lighter than the rest. I put a circle on each piece top mark which way is down. Now not sure what to do about the different shades. So obvious.

  42. Love the floors and have been contemplating do the treatment to several rooms. My question is what do you do for a room that may lead into a different flooring type and maybe a little higher. Hope that makes sense. I would like to do my office that has a concrete base but the hallway outside the door has tile so there is about 1/2 inch difference. Thanks

    1. This room has the exact same thing going on, the hallway that leads up to it has a wood floor that sits 1/4 or 1/2 an inch higher. I have’t gotten around to it yet, but I plan on adding a quarter round piece of trim (like this, thought it will need to be trimmed to the right height http://www.homedepot.com/p/Woodgrain-Millwork-WM-106-11-16-in-x-11-16-in-Pine-Quarter-Round-Moulding-PNE0106/100321565#.UU9iJhxQHIc ) and staining it the same color to blend the two floors a bit.

  43. I did this to my son’s floor probably 15 years ago. I love it still….so glad it is still hanging around! I have cowboys that I live with, so we put an image of a saddle with wings on the floor in random places! So cute for the little cowboy’s room! He is now grown, but his Dad is moving his office in there….still looks GREAT!!!! It has lost a bit of the shine, I’m sure where the overlaps have been, but maybe a new coat of poly before we move the office in would perk it right up! I love bare feet, little boys(I had four!), and husbands who try to get in digs! lol!

  44. This floor is awesome!! I want to try this in my bedroom. Do you think (I truely don’t no anything about poly or stain, etc.. thats why God invented husbands!) that the stain could be added to the poly, as long as it was mixed really well and then applied as one step instead of two?

    1. Hmmmm…probably. I mean, I don’t see why not but I’m going to guarantee success either. I’ve read about people adding RIT dye to the poly and having it work. But just so you know, doing the stain separately was the easiest part of the whole process…it’s the gluing paper that will kill you :)

  45. What is the sound like? Is it loud & “echo-ey” like laminate flooring, or concrete? Or does the paper kind of muffle sounds?

  46. This technique works well on walls, floors and even ceilings — and will stick to just about any kind of material. I did this more than 20 years ago, and it’s nice to see that it still has the WOW factor!

  47. This looks fabulous! I did a PB floor in my daughter’s room, but didn’t stain it. May have to go back and fix that. Hmmm. But I do have a hint to combat the shininess and slipperyness (?) Behr makes some stuff that you mix with your top coat or paint to help prevent slips on their porch paint. I painted my studio floor and loved it, except it was a bit slippery for a while. When I painted the bathroom floor, I added in the Behr stuff (I figured bathrooms are slippery enough as it is), and it worked great! It is just like a very fine sand that you stir into your paint or clear coat. Might want to give it a try to knock down the gloss. :)

      1. I was worried about that too. That’s why I tried it in my teeny weeny 5×8 bathroom first, figured I could sand it down if it was a total fail LOL. It doesn’t feel rough at all, but it didfeel a tiny bit textured at first. The first few days I could tell the difference in my socks but not bare feet. Now I don’t notice it at all. I didn’t add as much as they suggested since I did it in the clear coat and not the paint. So far I am happy with it. If you are looking for it, it is in a little bag next to the porch paints at HD. I think a bag is about $5-6, so you could do a test board for only a little investment.

  48. It’s looks Great!! I done this same technique in my home about 15 years ago, only I done it on the walls in my kitchen. I loved this look so much I did it again a couple years ago in out new home, only in the laundry room this time. Like you mentioned I made balls all crushed up then smoothed out. When I applied it I didn’t worry that some of the edges didn’t glue flat down, once the poly was on it gives a nice crisp finish. Just beautiful!!! You did an awesome job!!!

    1. We are doing this in our dining room right now and the paper isn’t sticking flat everywhere. Will the poly make it stick up or will it lay flat one we have a coat or two on it?

      1. Do you mean that it has wrinkles or bubbles? This is the one problem I actually didn’t have, so I can’t really give you any advice from experience. The paper does shrink as it dries, so if you give it a day in two it might even out a little. I don’t think putting poly over it will make it any flatter, but if you have some really big wrinkles you could always cut them out and add a new piece of paper over them. Sorry I’m not more help…did you read through the comments on Lovely Crafty Home? There is TON of information there.

  49. I am originally from Kentucky….so I totally get the barefoot thing! I would love to do this in my den and hallway (which are the main walk through areas of the house). My problem is pets and how to keep them from walking on the floors and how I can manover around the house if it takes that long to dry.I am currently painting the concrete floors in my office (which I can completely close off), and yet when I opened the door to put on the first coat of poly….yes there were little kitty prints all over the paint (dang kittys are so clever in sneaking in places). Lucky for her the prints wiped off with a paper towel and I did notice a few of their hairs are now saved forever in the poly coats.

  50. Ashley,
    IT’S AWESOME!!!! I have wanted to do this on the wall for many years. I KNEW it would work but my hubby said NO WAY! I can’t wait to show this to him. I am going to skip the staining process to keep it lighter brown. What are your thoughts on paper bags from the grocery?? That’s what I had thought I would use. Again it looks GREAT!!!
    Lisa :)

    1. Thanks Lisa! I think paper bags would be great, just make sure and put the printed side down. And how can your hubs say no to a practically free floor where you do all the work?

  51. Hey Ashley! I recently found your website by doing a search for DIY counter top makeovers and found the penny countertop (which I LOVE btw) I am currently working on a project similar to the paper bag flooring except I am putting it up on my walls. I found a forum about the brown bagging wall treatment by doing a search on how to cover paneling…anyway….I have started the project and notice that when the paper dries over night, some of the paper lifts up. I have been using zinnser wall sizing to “glue” the lifted pieces back down, but I was wondering if this happened when you did it for the floors? Based on the forum I saw this in, the gal said she left the walls “oh naturale” so that is kind what I had in mind. I am think that maybe if I poly the walls this would help those loose spots, so that I wouldn’t necessarily have to go back and stick each little corner that has lifted back down. Any ideas, or suggestions?

    1. I actually didn’t have any corners lift on me when they dried. I was SURE I would get some so I SOAKED my paper, seriously pressed it down, and smoothed it out.
      So you were planning on not sealing the wall at all? I would think you would need some sort of sealer or else the paper will just soak up any humidity in your house and eventually fall off. My guess would be that if the corners aren’t big lifts you could paint on some poly and they would be okay. Then if they are not you could go back after the fact and use poly to glue down the corners, but that may not be needed. Hope that helps!

  52. I love the look and would love to try it in our soon to be converted garage. We are going to convert the garage and I will be using it as a home business. Rather than apply the glue to both sides of the paper, do you think you could just use a paint brush and brush a good coat of glue to a small section of the floor (say about a 3′ square at a time), place your paper down, then brush a coat of glue over the completed section? Thanks.

    1. It might, but I would recommend you dip the paper in water for a bit to soften it and allow the glue to soak in. Also, air pockets might be a factor. I do a lot of paper mache and you have to saturate the paper to get really good strength and adhesion.

    2. I’m sure that would work just fine, though it would probably take longer. Also, you will need to use your hands to smooth out any bubbles on the wet piece.

  53. I’m ready to begin but realized that I didn’t know which side of paper to put down so that it doesn’t turn out with white fog……do u know which side to use??

    1. No, I don’t. Sorry, I know that’s not the answer you were hoping for. I didn’t even realize it was two sided until after I stained and polyed it. If you bought the Kraft paper its not two sided…if you bought the builders paper, well, I wouldn’t really worry about it. I really think it clouded over because my first coat of poly was way too thick and that is where you are going to have to be careful.

    1. I’m not sure about this one. I’m guessing you would want to lay it down in long strips (instead if ripping into smaller pieces) so that it looked like an old wood floor. It would probably work but you would have to be really careful (and probably use a partner) to lay it down so that you don’t get any bubbles.

  54. Hi, I love this idea and just have one question. Did you have to match up the edges to each other? I know you said you overlapped some but doesn’t that make it so you can see and feel the overlap underfoot? Bare foot of course :)

    I do a lot of fabric work where I have to match the edges up exactly so that’s why I ask. I’d post a pic but don’t see where I can do that.

    Thanks!
    Di

    1. I didn’t match up any edges, every edge has about an inch overlap. The paper shrinks as it dries so overlapping is a must. You can see it plainly (I don’t really notice when I walk on it), but since everything is overlapped so much it doesn’t look weird, it kinda just looks textured.

  55. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing the tutorial and pictures. I have been researching to do this myself. This is so far my favorite look!

  56. Can you mop and bleach these floors just like you would any other?? I love this… I want to try it in my kitchen!!

    1. Hi there! BIG emergency!!!
      Finished gluing down the paper a couple days ago. Look ok, a little wrinkly. Read somewhere they would disappear. Applied the first coat of poly last night and they are worse than ever!! Also after the poly was applied, the paper now had a lot of dark splotches on it! I didn’t use stain, just brown kraft paper. Now it looks horrible! My husbands saying he doesn’t think the splotches or the wrinkles are going anywhere:(. Any suggestions? Should I sand? Or what???! Any info would be greatly appreciated!!!

  57. Hi Ashley
    This looks awesome!

    2 questions:

    Could I do this with a light color, non brown color? I am thinking turquoise…. or robins egg blue?

    Also, could I do this on a sub floor of a mobile home? it is some kind of mdf..

    Thanks
    Julie

  58. How would a white colored stain work? Maybe look like white washed..? Looking for a brighter look. Love your floor, it rocks.

  59. I was wondering if anyone has used different colors of stain I really like this idea but have just had my kitchen painted a blue gray, with white chair rail done. I would love a mingled look with browns, little grey mixed in so would blend in with what I already have done to my walls?? any ideas? Thanks

  60. We just did this the other night on a concrete floor and are on our 4th coat of poly but our edges are starting to come up just a bit. Any suggestions for how to keep it from coming up and ruining our floor? We thought maybe about putting silicone around the edges to hold them.

    1. I actually don’t have an answer to this. We took off our trim before we did the floors, so when we put up the new trim it holds everything down. You might try e-mailing some of the other bloggers that have done this (I linked to them in the post), they might have more insight. Sorry!

  61. I recently started my floor. I am having a problem with large wrinkles once the floor dried. Will they go down a little after staining and putting on the poly? Do you think I should cut them out or patch them?

    1. No, staining and poly-ing won’t fix your wrinkles. Not the answer you wanted, I know. I think cutting them out and adding new paper on top would be the best solution…it should be pretty easy with an Xacto knife or something similar.

  62. Hello! I love this idea. I would love to re-do our utility, kitchen, and both bathrooms which have ceramic tile on them. Can I do this over the tile? (I don’t mind the “tile lines” showing, it gives it a neat look). These are high-traffic areas, considering it’s myself, sweet “hey girl” hubby, and our 5 boys. Thanks!!

    1. If you don’t mind the lines then I say go for it. Actually, try it on a little section first just to make sure, but I don’t see a reason it wouldn’t work. Just make sure to let it cure completely before you let everyone walk on it. So like a week, which I know is hard if not nearly impossible. The good news that it is easy to do touch up when needed!

  63. We have a laminate wood floor. Should the laminate have a light sanding before starting this project?

  64. I love the paper bag flooring!! I made sure to share on Facebook. I have a house to sell and carpet is just too expensive (even the cheapest), so I am going to do this for the living room, hall and 3 bedrooms. Thanks for such an ingenious and inexpensive idea!!

    1. Thanks for sharing Alma! This is a great solution instead of carpet…it’s going to take you forever to do, but it will look great and be cheap for sure :)

  65. Looks great. Personally though I dislike polyurethane. I have never understood sealing wood and other natural surfaces with liquid plastic. I wonder if there is a natural alternative?

  66. Your floor looks beautiful! I did this to my walls a few years ago. Instead of glue I used poly-acrylic. I crumpled up the paper and dipped it in the poly-acrylic and spread it on the walls. It stuck great and I didn’t have to put anything else on it. Just let it dry. Of course I didn’t stain it, but it looked great. The color had variations from light to dark. It looked like worn leather. Everyone that sees it loves it. I may have to try it on my floor. I wonder if it would work to put it over existing vinyl.

  67. Great tutorial. I am a fellow paper floor lover…….here is my floor on you tube http://youtu.be/IDoVCl94uLU or you can google “we love paper flooring”. I just wanted to add that the builder’s paper that I used had a definite difference in the 2 sides…..one side was darker than the other and I put the darker side face down for a more uniform look. I also used a credit card to smooth out the paper on the floor and that worked great so I didn’t have any wrinkles or excess glue. I ended up doing three bedrooms, one hallway and entranceway….we absolutely love our floors. I love how you added the male perspective into your tutorial. I chucked when reading about wearing the same clothes for 3 days ……I could really relate to that as well………LOL.

    1. Oops, typo……..I “chuckled” when reading about wearing the same clothes for 3 days. Anyhow, thanks for a great tutorial Ashley.

    2. Your floors look great! I love how you can take this technique and make it totally your own, our floors look pretty different. I plan on doing our guest room at some point but have to admit that just thinking about starting over makes me cringe a little :) Nice work doing so many rooms!

  68. Nice job, Ashley. I used to do shabby chic furniture and I once used this technique with tissue paper. My husband and I saw the penny treatment on the Congress Hotel floor in Tuscon. We loved it! We have converted our two car garage into a bar. We were going to do the penny thing.
    I just showed him this and we both want to try it.
    One question. Any reason why you went with a clear latex acrylic rather than an oil based polyurethane? I would think the poly would make for a harder surface. I know poly does yellow over time and the latex doesn’t. Just curious?
    Our bar/garage still opens like a garage so it will get a fair amount of sun (we are in AZ) and whatever weather blows in – lol.
    Keep up the good work. I am off to find your penny countertops.
    Maria aka Barefoot Mama!

    1. I used that water based stuff because when I researched other websites about it each one said that oil based didn’t work, and in the comments section people were saying the same thing. I can’t remember exactly why…I think it ruined that paper or made it super blotchy…something along those lines. I decided not to push my luck :)

      I was going to leave you a link to my penny countertop post, but I see that you already found it!

  69. Holy crap! I heard of the paper bag floor a while ago but thought to myself “ya like I would ever do THAT!” but I am stunned at how gorgeous your floor is! maybe it’s the stain step that makes it stand out more to me. I LOVE this, fantastic job!

    OMG I am so impressed!

  70. Note to others—unless you have an unlimited amount of time and patience–a smaller room is the way to go. I decided to do this to my (800 sq ft) basement. HOLY MOLY. Maybe it is just me, but it is taking forever. I spent 6+ hours just putting paper in the hallway. (One more small area and another hallway to go!)
    My cement floor was BAD–I’m using RIT dyed water base poly as my adhesive–more expensive but it sticks well and I am getting the staining and first coat done in one step. I’ve used FOUR gallons of poly so far and am still papering. (Again, 800 sq ft)

    Thanks for the great idea.
    I did use the Home Depot paper and have not had a problem with the sides.

      1. No. I scraped and cleaned the floor (I had glue, tile adhesive, vinyl float…all over–the floor was bad) just to get a smooth surface) and I didn’t use the Elmer’s glue at all. I stained the poly and dipped paper directly into it. I did a few coats of tinted (with RIT dye) to even out the color and a few coats of clear poly on top. The floor is great, almost a year later. It took forever but was worth it. I did fill in holes and cracks with a cement patch. Smaller holes, I just dripped some poly into and let dry before I papered over.

  71. wow that was a really good job. well done. i own a pub and was thinking of changing floor tiles as i am refurbishing but it gonna cost me a fortune. Can you put paper flooring on top of tiles please ? thanks

  72. I’m considering doing this in my entire house about 1200 sq.ft. What do you think? Will this be too overwhelming to look at?

    1. Charlene, I have paper flooring in 3 bedrooms, a hallway and an entranceway. The only rooms that I haven’t papered are the kitchen, living room and bathrooms. I cannot express enough how much we love the paper floor……and I plan on doing the living room as well. Here is what ours looks like or you can go to YouTube and search We love paper flooring…..here is a link……..http://youtu.be/IDoVCl94uLU
      Our house is about the same size as yours and I decided to use a different finish in one of the bedrooms just to create a little bit of variety……I used a satin finish instead of semi gloss and it changes the entire look of the floor. If you purchase your paper at Home Depot, it has two distinct sides and putting all of the lighter side down will also create a different look than putting all of the darker side down first. So if you want to, you can create unique looks for each room.

  73. Hey there! I love this idea for my home and have a couple questions. I have a 2600 sq ft “frank Lloyd wright” style home with almost all painted cement floors. They were painted a dark brownish red like some of his homes have. When we bought, we were thinking we would strip the floors and stain them. This has the same feel to it and would save a lot of money. I have multiple levels throughout the house so I can do it in sections. 1st question is, how is it sticking to your cement floors and how long has it been since you’ve done it? 2nd question….I have 2 outside patios that are painted the same as the inside and I would like to do those as well. I live in Florida so there’s a lot of humidity, other than using outdoor stain and sealer, have you heard anything about how this would do outside in humidity? Last question….my husband wants me to figure out how to remove it, so if I do a section and he doesn’t like it, that we won’t be stuck since we won’t lay flooring over this. Have you seen anything about removing it? Thank you so much, this looks great!! -lesly

      1. 1) they are sticking perfectly, I did it about 5 months ago. The edges did curl a little, but we added the trim back on which sealed it down. 2) I have NO experience with this, but I don’t think it would hold up well in outdoor weather. I could be wrong, and if you do try and it doesn’t work then it didn’t cost you much. 3) I also don’t know anything about removing it, but I read in a comment somewhere that you remove it just like you would wallpaper and it isn’t hard.

        Good luck!

  74. Hey! This looks great and I’d love to do it in my home. Couple questions….I have a 2600 sq ft “frank Lloyd wright” style home with multiple levels. Almost all the floors are cement painted dark brownish red, which he did in some of his homes. When we bought we planned to strip the floors and stain them, which would be labor intensive and expensive. Tis is a great alternative. 1st question – you said people were not having luck with cement floors, how long ago did you do this and how is it holding up? 2nd question – I have 2 outside patios that are painted cement like inside, have you seen anything about how it does outside in humidity? I’m assuming I would need to use outdoor stain and sealer, but otherwise…??? 3rd question – have you seen anything about removing it? My husband, who knows my projects are never as easy as I claim they will be…haha….wants a “out” if it doesn’t look the way he wants….have you seen anything about how to remove it? Thanks this is awesome!!!

  75. Aloha! This ideas is so awesome that my husband & I are going to try it out at our back house. Thank you sooooo much for sharing this fantastic idea!!!

  76. I absolutely LOVE this technique. I used this on a wall behind my stove about 30 years ago in an apartment I lived in. It was very durable and looked awesome. Everyone was shocked when I told them it was paper bags. :)

  77. Hi there! Awesome job. I was just wondering if you think its possible to do this with different colored paper? Like construction paper…. I would love a mosaic paper floor……. what do you think?

  78. I love this i found you on pinterest. I am going to pitch it to the hubz and see what he says. I found several papers on Amazon is table cover the same as what you used? It’s a 300×48″ Roll i believe. thanks fOr sharing this.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by table cover, but 300 by 48 sounds about right. I think as long as it is “kraft” paper you should be good!

  79. The floor looks great!! Just FYI. When I redid my old wood floors the suggestion for the poly was to put two coats of glossy poly on, followed by a coat of satin. They looked fabulous! Instead of being shiny, they glowed. I also waxed them, but that makes them very slippery.

  80. I am in love with this idea. I was hoping to do this with white paper. I am trying to restore my retro pink bathroom and looking for a cheap flooring solution. Do you think white paper would work? Would I need to do multiple levels of paper to avoid translucency? It’s a small bathroom so this would be a quick project (6’x7′)

    Thanks!

    1. This would be quick and easy in that small of a bathroom. I think white paper would work, not sure about the translucency…it depends on the type of paper and current flooring. But since it’s so small it wouldn’t be a big deal to just keep adding layers till you’re happy!

      1. If you were doing this on top of linoleum, would you need to adjust any of your steps? I have linoleum glued to concrete, and if I can avoid having to pull it up, I would be one happy lady!

        1. I’ve read blog posts where people papered right over linoleum, but in my experimenting (which you can read about here) I didn’t have much luck with linoleum. I *think* that if you sand it with some really rough sandpaper before you begin it would work pretty well though.

  81. Now that you have completed this project, what would you have done differently? Any ideas to speed up the process? I love the look but if a project takes me too long, I tend to abandon it so I need the fastest, most effective process there is.

    1. I plan on doing my guest bedroom floor the same way and I have to tell you, I’m kinda dreading it. It’s super time consuming. It actually wouldn’t have taken me nearly as long, but I have two”helpful” toddlers to try and work around. Anyway, I’m not sure how you could really speed it up… maybe use bigger pieces of torn paper. You could skip staining it, but the stain and poly were quick and easy compared to gluing down the paper. I would just recruit help, that would be the best.

  82. I am seriously considering doing this on all my downstairs flooring and then up the stairs. I am curious about the wear, and thinking spar poly even in a million coats…wondering how it mops to keep it clean with spills and dogs. Any input would be more than welcome!

    1. I don’t have pets, so I can’t tell you how it would hold up to claws and whatnot. But it is easy to clean with a damp rag or swiffer, no problems. My biggest piece if advice is to let it cure FULLY (like a week) before you put all your furniture back in and let people and pets start to abuse it. It put everything back the day after because it felt 100% dry (and I was impatient), and it scratched and chipped and I need to do another coat or two of poly because of it.

  83. One year ago I did the floor using paper from Ikea, cream colored, came on a roll for kids to color on and use in crafts. I did not crunch it up, just applied torn and flat, using the poly as the glue on both sides, no brush, rubber gloves on hands and wipe on. Over lapped if it looked like it needed it in any areas. Four coats of latex poly, one in am and one before bed. I did put a few notes on a sheet in one corner of the room for the fun of it. ONE FLAW: toe nail polish on my toes left little red line here and there.

    1. Yup, you can do this on furniture! I haven’t done it personally, but I’ve had plenty of readers tell me they have successfully done this on tabletops and whatnot.

  84. I am so excited to try this in my bedroom. If is goes well and I like it, I’m pretty sure many more rooms in my house will have this flooring!

  85. so how durable is this floor ?? i see u said u put this in young boys room, so how well does it stand up to them and there playing, cars, legos, etc… it looks great !!!!!

    1. It is holding up really well actually. I do have some spots that need more poly because I didn’t wait the full week for it to cure before putting everything back in, but that’s it.

  86. To avoid the Bleeding problem, I have seen another tutorial where they roll the glue mixture out in sections with a roller, lay the paper pieces down and roll another layer of glue over them. Roll glue, lay down piece, roller over it, lay next piece, etc..
    The edges are all stuck down and to each other, no bleeding. I want to do this as well and I a so grateful for everyone sharing their successes and their problems. It will help e a lot when I get ready. Hopefully before Christmas.

  87. This is a great idea. I wonder if it can be done in stages? I have an area of just under 300 sq. ft. and I can fit things into half the building, but have no place to remove those things to.

    1. I was right in the middle of one of my paper flooring projects when I had a death in the family and had to leave town for 3 weeks. I didn’t have any issue at all with returning to the project but you have to remember what ratio of water to glue that you used as this will make the paper lighter or darker in color depending on that ratio. I did not stain my floors so this may not matter if you are going to stain them. What is so awesome about these floors is that you can be so flexible while creating ….I was originally going to put thresholds between the hallway paper floor and each of the 3 bedrooms that I had papered but decided just to go back and paper the entranceways to each room and it looks great and blends in well with the previously papered room.

  88. I just want to say I LOVE you! Not in a weird stalker way, in a ‘I totally do the same stuff’ kinda way (Not as awesome though). The penny counter top and, now, this paper bag flooring is on my MUST do list and my husband has you to thank! ( He wont really ;) ) THANK YOU for the awesomness that is this blog! Once I have finished my 30 or so (slight exaggeration there) other projects , who am I kidding? I am not gonna wait, I am doing this.!!

  89. I used the builders paper and waiting for it to dry. I have my stain and poly but thinking of doing something different. Wondering if you have heard of anyone doing the same. Want to poly first and then stain and poly again. Thinking that this might prevent the edges from soaking up more stain and I have a lot of tiny parts that are coming up. Would have to go back over with glue and let it dry costing another day. Hoping that this would skip a step or two if I am gonna have to cover up the white and re glue before applying stain.

    1. I did the stain over poly (not on purpose) and I don’t recommend it. It might work for keeping things from bleeding, but stain over poly does not dry. Mine was still wet after four days of “drying”. If saving time is what you want then I would do another layer of glue over a layer of poly.

      1. Thanks. Have a spot where I started laying the paper down at night and then finished in the morning. It has a different color to it that is easy noticeable now that its dry. But maybe thats because I did it and there is nothing in the room to draw attention away. used a measuring bucket to get the same water/glue ratio. Maybe putting a layer of glue on before stain will help even out the color without trying to do it with the stain. I tend to second guess myself so I try to find the most “fail safe” way to do things.

  90. Gotta say this sounds exactly what I would do. Start projects randomly, gripe at hubby for not doing it “right” how many projects can I do and they are all imperfect lol! Looking forward to reading the rest of your blog. :)

  91. Hi have started this project of covering my stairs with the paper bag effect and I have a bleed is there something I can do to cover up or get rid of or not? I have stained and applied polyurethane . ?? thankyou helen

    1. I had bleed too and ended up just leaving it. The only solution I can think of would be to cut out the bad parts with an exacto knife and add more paper, stain, and poly.

  92. Ashley, you may have saved my life! Our basement flooded this past spring and no money to replace carpets (of COURSE, insurance didn’t cover it….). A friend of mine did this over his plywood floor. I was dubious about concrete. You have convinced me its possible! My question is this, do you think we’d be in the old folks home before we finished a pretty darn big basement? Many thanks!

    1. Dang insurance! My only advice for papering a large area is to turn it into a party. The actual papering part is what sucks up all your time and a whole lot of extra hands would make quick work of it. Plus I bet people would be willing to come help just to satisfy their curiosity!

  93. Those “Hey Girl” photos are amazing. And I’ve heard of paper bag floors before, but never quite understood it until now. Way to be descriptive, but also entertaining! I read every word. :-) (And the finished look is dynamite by the way, and well worth the effort!)

  94. I love this! I used this idea years ago to make boxes that looked like old leather. I also took a beat up cowboy hat and covered it, IT LOOKED LIKE A REAL LEATHER HAT. Now you have given me a new idea to use this on. I used paper bags from the grocery store and that made the cost even less. Thanks for the great idea!

  95. Did you have any bubbling after it dried? Our paper went down without bubbles, dried without, and the stain dried without, now that I polyed it it has bubbles :/

  96. The poly wasn’t dried when I asked you about the bubbles. We went to dance and came back to the dry poly and the bubbles were gone!! Thank goodness because I was quite heart broken when the popped up!

  97. I’ve done this many times on walls before but not floors yet. Looks great!…We call it cigar leaf or elephant skin…You can also use tissue paper that is used for gifts, (cheap at the dollar store) always tear off straight edges of all papers, wrinkle and roll it on overlapping edges with the appropriate paint color or clear poly (or tinted) for stained translucent look…Color stays thicker near wrinkles and gives a cracked look… rather than using glue, the clear or the paint bonds just like glue and saves that step….Roll it on then lay paper on it while wet and roll again…I find foam rollers work great…Tissue is very fragile don’t try to move it or roll too much…if it messes up just scrape it off or roll another piece over it. Any paper that’s not too thick can be used for patterned finishes with clear or tinted for antiqued look. *Another trick for additional depth is after its dry, you can lightly skim an accent color over wrinkles with a metal or plastic trowel. If done right the color catches only or mostly the wrinkles.

  98. I was just wondering about cleaning the floor when all is done. Wanting to know how easy it is to keep up , if it’s easy to Mop. Thanks Tammy

    1. It’s easy to maintain. I sweep it and hand mop it with a water/vinegar mix. I has gotten peed on quite a few times and it just sits on top until I find it and clean it up, no damage. It does have some scratches and places that need repair from the kids dragging their cribs around. No damage to the paper, but it does need more poly.

      1. Ashley, I have a question when you lay the paper down do you glue both sides ir just one side? I plan on doing the master bedroom next week. thanks!

    1. Any water base product will eventually fail if exposed to moisture for too long. I would not do it on the basement floor if it were me. I was recently working w a product on a restaurant floor called “Tuf-Top Duraplate 289”. They custom mix the color and I did a 3 color marbling effect…it is water base but its the toughest floor paint I have ever used.

    2. We don’t have basements here in Texas so I’m not familiar with basement sweat…but I would think that it would probably be a bad idea. To me it seems like it would eventually just peel up or get moldy, since the moisture would be coming from the underside and not the sealed top.

  99. This is great! would paper mache work inplace of the elmers glue?.. Since you’re sealing it with stain AND acrylic on top..

    1. I have no idea. I would think so for the reason you stated…but really, I’m just guessing. You could always try it out in a corner or closet and see how it does.

    2. Hi, did you try this with paper mache glue and did it work? Many thanks – I LOVE this idea and want to start on my bathroom right now. Also, I am struggling to find polyurethane online in France …

  100. First off I’m going to say is I’ve been in tha construction business for 15 years. And I’ve never seen such a weird, crazy, cheap floor like this that looks like a million bucks girl. It looks absolutely freaking amazing. It actually looks like stained concrete and I love it. Btw I just had to put all new plywood down in my kitchen in my trailer. And ofcourse flooring is so dang expensive I haven’t had tha money to finish it up. So I’ve had a plywood floor for several months now. But now thanks to your idea I’m going to put this down in my kitchen. Hell I might even go as far as putting it in my living room and down my hallway so I can replace my nasty looking dark green carpet. So thank you for posting this freaking awesome flooring idea.

  101. My basement floors are painted with a grey oil paint now. Do you thing this process would work on that kind of finish?

    1. I just mean not to leave any hard edges. The stain soaks into the paper pretty quickly so you should pull it out from the center so that it’s more of an ombre effect rather than a straight line. Does that even make sense? I know you’re going to cover it all up, but any stain lines you leave will show a lit in the final product.

  102. So, I didn’t find your blog until after we laid the paper. Using the same kind, I’m worried that the hazy whiteness will appear because all the other blogs that had this project listed, never described the difference in the two sides. Supposing that the cloudiness does appear, do you recommend filling in your foot steps and staining over the poly?! Would you use the same exact steps with the same materials?
    Thanks!

    1. Hmmm, tough question. I think I would, but I don’t really know what else I could have done. It was mostly just a pain because stain over poly doesn’t really dry…but I was slow and careful and in the end it turned out great. You may not even get the cloudiness at all, I don’t know what caused it and I haven’t heard if it happening to anyone else. I would just make sure that your first coat of poly is REALLY thin. My other 10 coats I wasn’t overly careful with the thinness and those were fine. I think that first coat just a little fickle.

  103. WOW! PAPER BAG FLOORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never heard about this before and absolutely LOVE the idea. My problem is, I am an artist and I love design. However, I am totally inept when doing this myself…….in other words, I am good for nothing when it comes to putting my ideas into action. I usually hire a talented handyman to make my dreams come true.
    Guess what my question is? Are you possibly interested in doing my floors, of course with my help? This would be a project DIY or HGTV would love to air. You could get the recognition you deserve, and I would have a FANTASTIC floor.
    At the moment, I have 12 x 12 old terrezzo flooring (211 sq feet) which was white at one time, and the grout is no black and gross! I spend my days rescuing special needs dogs. I have 5 now. They are my children and my life. Now I just need a new floor I can love……..just like yours! I live in Woodland Hills, California 91364
    Francesca 818-992-1200
    Hope to hear from you soon and God Bless.
    [email protected]

    1. No, you are not inept, you can totally do this! It is tedious and takes awhile, but it isn’t difficult. You can even do it right over the tile floors, though the lines in the tile will show through. I don’t have any pets so I can’t guarantee it will hold up to toenails and whatnot. I also have a post coming up in the next week about redoing grout if you would rather do that, my grout is (was) black and gross too. I can’t come help you, but really, you don’t need me.

  104. WOW! PAPER BAG FLOORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never heard about this before and absolutely LOVE the idea. My problem is, I am an artist and I love design. However, I am totally inept when doing things myself…….in other words, I am good for nothing when it comes to putting my ideas into action. I usually hire a talented handyman to make my dreams come true.
    Guess what my question is? Are you possibly interested in doing my floors, of course with my help? This would be a project DIY or HGTV would love to air. You could get the recognition you deserve, and I would have a FANTASTIC floor.
    At the moment, I have 12 x 12 old terrezzo flooring (211 sq feet) which was white at one time, and the grout is no black and gross! I spend my days rescuing special needs dogs. I have 5 now. They are my children and my life. Now I just need a new floor I can love……..just like yours! I live in Woodland Hills, California 91364
    Francesca 818-992-1200
    Hope to hear from you soon and God Bless.
    [email protected]

    ps. When I went to post my commet, I got a message: Duplicate question?????? I have never written to you before.
    Now what?

  105. I was wondering after you do it, if you don’t like it or get tired of it, can you just cover it or have to rip it up?

    1. I’m not really sure. I’d imagine you could just leave the paper if you were having carpet installed. You MIGHT be able to leave it for floating wood floors, but that’s just a guess. I had one reader comment that it wasn’t difficult to remove, you just remove it like you would wallpaper.

      1. How do you keep it clean. we have a high traffic house,pets included.. but small ones, so I am not sure toe nails would tear it.. is this pretty tough though.. I am more worried about my adult children. they are rougher then the dogs sometimes.. LOL. so how do you clean it.. damp mop.. or can you really Mop it good.. I like clean

        1. I don’t have pets so I can’t comment on the toenails ripping the paper, but I can say that my boys have drug their bed across the room and while it did put a giant long scratch it, nothing ripped or tore. I was impressed. As for cleaning it, I mop it with a water vinegar mix. I do it by hand just because it is a small room and it doesn’t take me long, but I would say you could mop it. I wouldn’t dump a bucket of water on it or anything, but it’s pretty durable. Just be careful not to let and moisture seep under the paper (like on the edges of the room).

  106. Just found you through Deanna on FB. Someone had used this technique on a piece of furniture and Deanna provided a link to your floor tutorial. AMAZING and very impressive. The floor is gorgeous!!

  107. I was wondering if someone has tryed it with White paper and then a gray stain. I was looking at the gray laminate wood flooring but I love the paper bag flooring idea to. If any one has please let me know.

    Thanks
    Trace

    1. I haven’t done this, but it seems to me it would work just fine. I would try it out on a sample board or something first to make sure it looks like you want it too.

    2. Hi brillant lady,
      Just wondering if any one responded to the question regarding using white paper? If so, what kind of white paper should be used, can you mixed stains (camels and greys and maybe a little teal?) Also, can paint be used instead of stain, sort of like poured paint over concrete………just a thought.
      I would love to hear from you……..your ideas a magnificient!!!!!!!!!
      God Bless,
      Francesca

  108. I’ve been working on my paper bag floor in a bedroom on wood subfloor. Some of it is going great, but some of it is shrinking so much I have what can only be described as waves of paper. I’m not ready to begin staining or using poly because I realize this can’t be right. It’s moving almost 2 inches once the glue dries. Anyone have any ideas why? For now, all I can think of is to cut parts out and try again. Any help would be appreciated!

    1. I want to do the same thing. Did you do anything to seal the wood subfloor?? If not the wood might be soaking up extra moisture. Please let me know if this helps or what you do to fix it. I am hoping to start my floor this weekend

      1. I did not seal the floor. I wonder if that would help.Dang, I’d hate to have to start over! It’s weird though, some areas hardly moved at all. I’ll post again if I figure this mess out!

  109. Hey there.. i had a question.. i’ve tried this technique in a closet for very uneven walls and i couldn’t stop the paper from crinkling up.. how did you manage to get such a flat look? i’m considering trying this again for the top of a piece of furniture.. beautiful!!

    1. I’ve had quite a few readers ask the same question, but I didn’t have that issue at all. I did mine over concrete, soaked the paper, and smoothed each piece out very thoroughly. Anything that was slightly wrinkly flattened as it dried (and shrunk). I would think that a flat piece of furniture would be much easier to do than uneven walls and it’s likely you won’t have the same problem.

    1. I think it started back in the 70’s when people did this treatment on their walls and actually used paper bags. Then the name just stuck, even though the process changed a bit.

  110. Hi. I love this idea. I built my house and moved in 18 months ago. I have not been able to afford to pay for floor covering in the bedrooms so I’ve been living with smelly 2nd hand carpet. Blah! This is such an amazing idea.

  111. I love this idea! who’da thunk? Paper bags for flooring! And its beautiful when finished. And girl, you are
    hilarious! I very much enjoyed your tutorial! They should put you on tv with your DIY projects.I’d so watch! Thanks for sharing this with us :)

    1. I’m wondering the same thing as I have a husband in a wheelchair and a dog. And I was thinking about it in my entrance so would get some traffic. Thoughts?

      1. I’m honestly not sure. I would think it would be fine as long as you add plenty of poly, but once again…it’s just a guess. If it’s not a big area then you wouldn’t be out much time or money if it doesn’t hold up.