DIY Friday: Stained Paper Bag Floor

by Lindy on May 11, 2011

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D-O-N-E spells done!

My frugal floor, that is…

Kraft paper floor

Here are the materials and costs:

  • Giant roll of kraft paper from the paint section at Home Depot – $9.50
  • Gallon of glue from the teacher supply store – $15.00
  • Minwax Polyshades (to achieve that non-paper bag look) – $12
  • Minwax Clear Polyurethane for floors – $42

Total cost: $78.50

Plus, I have enough materials to do a second room.  So technically the cost for this one room is only $39.25.

The time factor however, was a different story.

  • Scraping off the old carpet goo – 8 hours
  • Cutting and wrinkling up all that paper – 2 hours
  • Gluing the paper to the floor – 7 hours
  • Two coats of tinted poly – 3 hours (it was fiddly)
  • Two coats of clear poly – 1.5 hours

Total time: 21.5 hours

I mostly used this tutorial, but here’s what I did differently:

  • I cut my paper into equally sized strips and laid them in a brick pattern.
  • I was laying this paper on a concrete sub-floor, so I had to work a lot harder to get each paper strip to lay flat and not be so wrinkled. The best method I came up with was pulling each paper strip flat while it was still wet. After painting on the glue and securing it to the floor, I grabbed one edge of the paper and peeled it up, gently pulling it straight while the other edge remained affixed to the floor. I then continued to gently pull it straight as I secured it to the floor again. It’s kind of like re-stretching it after the initial wrinkling.  The pieces wrinkled back up again after this step, but in the end they dried flat.  I did not use this method on my first row, and it never flattened out. Definitely worth the extra effort.
  • After the glue was dry (about 12 hours later), I painted on the first coat of Minwax Polyshades (I used the color Tudor) with a foam brush.  This step took some extra care too. You can’t just slop it on, you need to finesse it to get a nice even coat.
  • When the first coat of Polylshades was dry, I rubbed the floor with steel wool, and applied a second coat of Polyshades to get it even darker. DON’T skip the steel wool step between colored coats. I started without it, and learned my lesson. The steel wool helps the second coat go on smoother and darker.
  • After the second coat of Polyshades was dry, I followed up with 3 coats of clear, floor-grade polyurethane. I used Minwax brand just to make sure the two products were compatible.  I chose a satin finish, but I wished I had chosen gloss. I think it would look richer.

Extra tips:

  • Have a lot of wide foam brushes on hand, they are really useful for all that polyurethane, and you won’t ruin your expensive paint brushes.
  • I tested several methods of staining before I decided to use the Polyshades.  I tried mixing regular stain with glue in a cup, I tried applying regular stain directly to the dry paper, and I tried applying regular stain on top of wet glue…but the Polyshades worked the best for an even color coat.
  • I had to heavily patch my concrete floor before doing this. There was a crack down the middle of the room, and divots around the perimeter from pulling up my carpet tack. The paper didn’t adhere as well to the locations where the concrete patch was. Just a warning.
  • This project made my house very stinky. My husband did a lot of sneezing.  It was all in the name of my frugal floor.  I’m glad he loves me. If you’re sensitive to smells, you may want to use a low-voc or no-odor polyurethane for the clear coat.

The faux wood look was not my intention, but I’m not complaining! I’m really quite happy with the results.

[Update: my son has been living in this room for six months now and the floor is still holding up great!  We learned to be delicate with it when moving the furniture in – a few scratches occurred, but nothing tragic.  He pretty much only sleeps in here, so it doesn’t get a lot of wear and tear, and we have a rug in the middle of the room covering a good portion of the floor. In theory it should be easy to repair if it does get torn, just touch up with poly or throw another piece of paper down. I’ll let you know if we get to that point. All in all I’m happy we chose this route, though I still haven’t found the motivation to tackle room #2 :)] 

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any questions.

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  • It looks so cool. I love that it looks like wood, good technique(with the brick pattern)

  • It looks great. Nice work.

  • Chrystal

    It looks just like a wood floor! Wow!

  • Nifty!

  • Thanks guys! I’m glad it’s done.

  • Shellie

    Did you also crumple the strips like she did with the torn squares?

    • Lindy

      Yes I did. It gave it a bit of texture, but not too over the top, and I believe crumpling it helps the paper absorb the glue (but don’t quote me on that).

  • Dana Sharp

    This is AWESOME! I’ve searched high and low looking for a tutorial on how to do this technique on a concrete floor! The only question I have is what shade of PolyShades did you use? I love the color you ended up with! Thanks again!!!

    • Lindy

      I used the color Tudor, two coats.

      Good luck, and remember to pull the paper tight to avoid wrinkles. :)

  • monika

    how long did you cut the craft paper

    • Lindy

      My strips were 8″ wide by 18″ long. It was an easy dimension to work with. For future rooms though, I’ve considered going a little bigger. Maybe 12″ x 24″ or so. Thanks for the question!

  • monika

    12×24 do you think it may be tricky to glue. I know some people said they would keep it small. What do you think.

    • Lindy

      Though I agree keeping it small is a good idea, I think 12 x 24 is still a manageable size. Another benefit is that you’ll be done faster with bigger squares.

      You could always do a test run with a few pieces. Let us know how it works out!

  • Norma Sanchez

    I really love this idea just one question before I do my bedroom, did you use glue straight out of the gallon or did you mix it with water?

    • Lindy

      I mixed it with water, same as in the linked video.

  • Lindy

    Hi Tracy,
    As for the sizing, I used all the same size. It was mostly a matter of convenience since I was doing so many cuts. I cut my roll of kraft paper into 8″ widths, then cut each one of those in half lengthwise, making each one 8″ x 18″.

    I don’t see why a wood grain stamp wouldn’t work. The only thing that would cause me to hesitate on this is the extra work involved. But if you’re up for it, I’d say go for it!

  • Jeanie

    Hi there! I think your floor is the prettiest paper floor I’ve seen! I’m about to do this (I think) on my concrete floors and am wondering how much you overlapped your strips of paper. Also, do you think that laying the paper strips straight took a lot more time than laying them randomly like most others do? I think this would have taken the most amount of time. Thank you for sharing this beautiful project!

  • Beth

    What do you think about cutting the paper in to brick sizes and laying them out like brick tile? I know it would take longer but my area is small.

    Do you think a reasonable old brick looking pattern could be made or would it just look dumb?

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