There is nothing more exciting than adding floors to a room to finish it off. That is exactly what Russ and I did a year ago when we built my craft room (blog post soon to come on my craft room).
We researched the heck out of flooring. It was important for us to keep it as inexpensive as possible. Flooring wasn’t something we wanted to really pay for, but it was necessary. The solution we chose was Paper Bag Flooring. It cost us less than $100.
There are countless tutorials on the subject, and most seemed fairly simple. The tutorials that are on the web are detailed, but we felt, they left out some steps that we wish we knew before rolling up our sleeves and finding out the hard way.
WHAT IS PAPER BAG FLOORING:
A flooring that is made of brown kraft paper torn in pieces and glued down onto the floors to make it look like leather.
- Brown Kraft Paper
- Wall Paper Adhesive (some tutorials use Elmer’s glue, after researching, we chose the Roman Wall Paper adhesive for ease – you don’t have to add water to wall paper adhesive, Elmer’s glue can yellow over time, and the price was comparable)
- 2 Paint Tray liners (one for glue, one for Polyurethane)
- Paint Brushes (We used chippy paint brushes – cheap and disposable)
- Paint Roller
- Universal Extension Pole
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Rolling Pin
- Verathane or a floor grade Polyurethane
- Knee pads/Gardening Pad
- Disposable gloves
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PREPPING FOR YOUR PROJECT:
1. Prep your floors. Disclaimer: This technique was done on Sub floors in our home. It worked very well. Vacuum the floors with a shop vac. You can tape the edges of the room such as the baseboard and cabinets to be on the safe side from making a mess. We did not do this, and didn’t have an issue. FYI: If you have carpet or linoleum that you have ripped out, it is important to take out staples and scrape glue.
2. Tear pieces of kraft paper from the roll. This is tedious work, so plan on doing it while watching tv, listening to a podcast or an audio book. We tore the pieces in 8-12 inch pieces randomly making 2 piles, one pile that is torn all the way around the piece, and one that has one straight edge which is used for the outer dimensions of your room). The pieces will look like different sizes stones and they don’t have to be perfect.
3. Crumple the torn paper, and flatten it out.
4. Glue the pieces down (use a chippy paint brush) with the wall paper adhesive.
5. Squeegee the pieces of Kraft paper with a rolling pin (picture below with the style we used) to get the bubbles out.
4. Use the straight edge pieces of paper for the edges of the room. Be sure to work on the far end of the room and work your way toward the door so you don’t get trapped.
5. When finished, let the glue set overnight or until the floor is dry.
6. Pour the Polyurethane in a paint tray and use a rolling paint brush to over the glued down paper bag floor. Wait an hour (or whatever the recommended time on the polyurethane can says – each brand can be different) and repeat the process 4 more times. The more coats on the floor, the better it will stay protected.
That’s it! Easy right? Not quite! There were a number of fumbles along the way, and tips we are sharing below that we wish we knew before we started.
8 Tips I wish I knew before I started our Paper Bag Floors
TIP #1: At first, I tried to do this process by myself. I learned quickly that having a crew would make the process go way quicker. Russ and Bailey were recruited. Bailey crumpled the paper then straightened it out, I glued it down, and Russ used some kind of tool that I won’t even mention (why? Look at tip #4) to get the bubbles out.
TIP #2: After awhile, we learned quickly that using a spray bottle and lightly spraying the paper before Bailey crumpled the paper, would help the crumpling and because of that, the paper wasn’t as stiff. Huge time saver.
Tip #3: Using knee pads saved my knees from hurting. However I didn’t realize this until a few hours in. I used the one pair of knee pads we had and gave Bailey my gardening pad.
Tip #4: Using a rolling pin was way quicker and easier to use than the tool Russ was using on day 1. If you don’t want to use your rolling pin from your kitchen (which I don’t blame you), invest in one. They are inexpensive.
Tip #5: We tore a big piece of Kraft paper (approx 24″ x 24″) and laid it down near our work area. That is what we used to glue the pieces of torn paper on top of to keep from making a huge mess.
Tip #6: DO NOT shut the door to the room you just spent many many hours laying the paper on the floor without considering the temperature. We did this project in February. My craft room is in our shop and thhe shop is cold. I do have a heater in my craft room (thank you Russ), however when I am not in there, we keep it to 55 degrees, just to keep my craft paint from freezing. GLUE dries clear when the room is 65-77 degrees, not 55. At least the glue we used so look at your bottle and make sure the temperature is set correctly!
Tip #7: If you have bubbles, use a pin and poke a hole. If it’s a big bubble, cut it out of the floor, and re-glue a torn piece of kraft paper in that area. We didn’t have many, so this didn’t take long.
Tip #8: Don’t think this is a project you will finish in a day. It took us 4 days. Should have taken 3, but because we had to redo a lot of spots where the glue dried white, it slowed us down.
FYI: If you are worried about water spilling on the area, don’t worry. This did happened on our floors and there wasn’t any damage.
The floors are now a year old, and they still look like they did last year. I am very pleased with them.
I hope reading the 8 tips of what I wish I knew before I started the paper bag floor process was helpful.
Enjoy your floors!
Until next time friends…
Great tips! Changing the floor or wall color is seriously life changing. 👌🏻
I had never even heard of paper bagging a floor until this post. What a unique idea!
What a good guide to paper bag flooring! I didn’t know about it until this article – great stuff!
Oh my goodness, this is amazing! We are thinking of buying a fixer upper and were just arguing over how expensive flooring was – never thought about paper bag flooring! The tips you provided are great too – I honestly wouldnt have thought of half of those things! Thank you for sharing!
You should try it. We love ours. If you do, please tag me on insta or fb and let me know. I would love to see your pictures. H~
I didn’t even know that was such a thing! That’s an impressive task to tackle, so kudos for a job well done!!!
wow! i’ve never heard of paper bag floors before but they look really cool! it sounds like you’re a pro now having done it.
This is the first time I am hearing about brown paper floors. it looks like a lot of work but the finish looks amazing, great tips.
Before this, I have never heard of paper bagging!! Thank you for the post, I really want to try it now!!
I wonder if I could do this over tile on our sunroom. I hate the tile but I am terrified to rip it up. Thank you for the tips!