Paperbag floors

1.Tear brown paper bags or painter roll and make sure edges are torn – not cut.
2. Crumple for texture and dip in a bowl of 50/50 elmer’s glue and water.
3. Spread on floor and smooth-out any air bubbles.
4. Apply up to six coats of Polyurethane making sure to completely dry between coats.


Idea sent by Tania Leslie !

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  1. Cherie Hall - July 24, 2012

    This looks awesome! Can it be done over existing vinyl flooring?

  2. Tania Leslie - July 24, 2012

    Aloha Cherie, we found that by slightly roughing a surface with sand paper – the glue/water will adhere very well.
    These floors were done over a year ago and are exposed to the outdoor elements (including a naughty dog). They have been flooded too! When they get wet, they look like the second picture and you might think they’re ruined – but they dried back to normal!

  3. Brian - July 24, 2012

    We LOVE this idea!

    We did wonder about the use/safety/green-ness of using a polyurethane…these folks don’t seem to think they’re bad, though.

  4. Tania Leslie - July 24, 2012

    Yes Brian – I wondered about that too, that’s why it is important to let each coat completly “cure” or dry between coats. In Hawaii, we have humid, hot and even very cold nights (we live on the mountain). The polyurethane really protects our outdoor lanai from all the elements.

  5. it is what you make of it via Facebook - July 24, 2012

    Let’s look to Zero VOC when we DIY;

  6. Peggy Arend via Facebook - July 25, 2012

    My daughter Tania and her husband Dustins lanai floor in Kealakekua, Hawaii! It turned out so awesome!

  7. Peggy Arend - July 25, 2012

    Awesome my beautiful daughter! You and your floor!

  8. Karen Poulson via Facebook - July 25, 2012

    I did this years ago and covered a partiption

  9. Nancy Shiverdecker via Facebook - July 25, 2012

    I have done this technique for years, it just never dawned on me to do it on a floor…..

  10. Barbara Hodgin - July 25, 2012

    Tania, I can’t believe it’s the same lanai. It looks like a cork floor. Sooo clean. Beautiful.

  11. Jen - July 25, 2012

    Will it damage it to walk on it if it gets wet? Clearly it will stand up to areas with dampness issues, but what about high traffic area with moisture problems?

  12. Tania Leslie - July 26, 2012

    Jen – Our outdoor lanai is a high trafic area – it is our only dining area. We have 4 boys and 3 Boston Terriers with sharp nails that trot trrough this area often. The flooring has held up great except for when we were having a giant treadmill delivered and scrapped the floor. The paper tore, but i just put more elmers glue under it – let it dry – and brushed a little polyurethane on the tear. Can’t even tell :-)

  13. Tania Leslie - July 26, 2012

    And I must mention that we did the whole surface for about $60.00 total!

  14. Nancy - August 6, 2012

    I have hardwood floors (would cost to much to repair) I would like to do this over them…Do I need to fill in all cracks of the boards (flooring) first…? thanks

  15. Tania Leslie - August 9, 2012

    Nancy – You’ll be fine without filling in the cracks if their tight. The nice thing about this is the paper has a cork like texture when it dries that allows for minor flaws to look natural. The glue mixture settles nicely and dries well.
    Also, if you find you have air bubbles in the process under the paper, simply cut a thin slit in the paper and spread it flat.

  16. Tanja - August 18, 2012

    I’ve been wanting to do this for months! What’s the best way to smooth out the air bubbles? How thick or thin should you do the layer of glue? I saw in an earlier comment that you can lay this over hardwood, what about linoleum? Sorry so many questions!

  17. Bianca - August 19, 2012

    I’m wanting to do this for an art installation. How would i remove it after?? Would the floor underneath remain decent?

  18. Kelly - August 20, 2012

    I see a paper roll in 1 pic…did it work better than grocery bags? Did you do a lot of overlapping i.e. how thick is the paper floor with paper when you were done. This is spectacular and I am planning on doing this in my kitchen over vinyl tiles. Thanks!

  19. Tania Leslie - August 24, 2012

    Tanja – I honestly dont know about linoleum since we have never tried it. 
    I like to saturate the paper, but not to the point where the paper wound rip easily. if you find you have an air bubble – just make a small slit and smooth it out with your hand and more glue/water.
    @Bianca – not sure what it would do to the floor under since I have not removed mine. But the solution going on the floor is only water and elmers type glue. I think if it was wet enough, the glue could easily be removed.
    @Kelly – we’ve done 2 rooms. One with actual paperbags from the supermarket and the other with a craft roll since we didn’t have enough bags to cover the large area. Both types work very well, just make sure you tear and not cut your paper so the torn fibers overlap smoothly.
    One thing that is great abot this is that prior to the polyurethane, you can fix any missed spots or bubbles even when it’s dried.

  20. Cayora - August 25, 2012

    This is really cool! I’m building a tiny house and looking for ways to cut costs. Any idea if one could stain it black first? Perhaps with something like tea staining in the water and glue mixture? Does it feel nice to walk on?

  21. GraphicDesignNY - August 26, 2012

    This is fantastic and I would like to try it. My main concerns are 10 how long does it usually take to dry (I know it depends on area, but on average how long) and how hard is it to pull up? Never know when I might want something different.
    I really like the idea of having different colored paper also so if you know of any examples please leave a link.


  22. Michael - August 26, 2012

    What type polyurethane? Water or solvent based? Great idea!!

  23. Henry - August 26, 2012

    I am wondering about insects. I live in Connecticut, and we have silverfish and other insects that love the paste used for wallpaper and drywall. I’m thinking that the Elmer’s glue might make some good meals.

  24. Trae - August 26, 2012

    How durable is this … would it stand up to computer rolly chairs?

    I want to do this in my computer room because I had foundation problems and now have ugly tile and this would look so much better.

  25. Extremo99 - August 26, 2012

    That floor is cool.
    It would be cooler if cutted in squares an then half staining it black and laying it as in a chess board.

  26. Justin - August 26, 2012

    I am very interested in things like this as I am around a year away from buying my first home.

    How easy is it to remodel over this? I would imagine going back to bare concrete would be pretty difficult compared to pulling up wooden flooring, carpet or vinyl.

  27. Paula - August 26, 2012

    Looks awesome!!

  28. Max Well Smart - August 26, 2012

    Have you figured out your cost per square foot, we sell this same look for 99 cents per square foot all you have to do is roll it out no drying time. Remember your time is money include your pay scale in the material cost.

  29. Sarah - August 26, 2012

    Hi …

    I love this idea; it’s beautiful!

    I’m wanting to do a large area of vinyl tile so I’m wondering, how long did each coat take to dry and would it work in sections to allow for walking during a multi-day process or does it all need to be done at once? Also, would it be a good idea to lay down some sort of particle board as a base and do the treatment over that, to allow for easy removal? One last question, can it be mopped or Swiffered like any other non-carpet flooring?

    Thank you so much!

  30. German Serrano - August 26, 2012

    Very nace idea, floors, doors, walls, tebles, and many more. Thanks, will keep it in mind

  31. Curiosity - August 27, 2012

    This looks amazing! Two major questions:

    1) How long does the paper-floor last before it peels off?
    2) Is there any way to remove the paper-floor completely after, say, a year?

  32. Jason - August 27, 2012

    As a “greener” alternative, you might be able to use a shellac (though I don’t know how it’d respond to moisture once cured).

  33. gabricci - August 27, 2012

    Love this idea. Since I rent, I am going to try using this on canvas to create an area rug.

  34. Trae - August 29, 2012

    @justin I don’t know because I haven’t tried it yet

    BUT I have experience getting to bare concrete with tile/linoleum/wood(glued and nailed) and that is positively a nightmare. The adhesives used in those applications is not meant to be removed easily. I imaging once you get under the poly this would com up rather easy with a scraper based in the adhesiveness of the elmers glue.

  35. Tania Leslie - August 30, 2012

    Aloha everyone – sorry I haven’t seen these questions till now.
    We did try using red craft paper with brown paper bags originally, and they did dry with glue/water and pre-polyurethane ….. However I thought the red craft paper looked like slabs of raw meat and we removed it with a putty knife.
    Any type of fibrous craft paper will work, even construction paper that is black ….. However – trust me when I say that straight edges don’t seal good and you will find air bubbles and lifting. Just tear a straight edge so that the edges are a little frayed. The glue will hold much better.
    As far as the durability – well it is a daily living space for us. It is our only family dining area. We skoot our chairs (with no wheels) back and forth several times a day for over a year and have had no tears. The only tear I have is when a treadmill was delivered and it was pushed hard and ripped the paper up. I simply made a cup of water/glue and ripped a new piece of paper to cover the rip. When it dried – I brushed 5-6 layers of polyurethane over the patch and you can’t even tell!
    We have also covered a friends kitchen floor and a table top.
    We do a quick sweep daily, and once a month I use pinesol or bleach with water as I also mop the tile floors next to it.
    The drying time for each coat of polyurethane was about 4-6 hours. We live in Kealakekua Kona Hawaii at a high elevation which tends to be moist air at night, but warm during the day. Our lanai is outdoors with a covered lanai. One section gets wet whenever it rains – the paper gets wet each time and shrivels up – but when it dries it looks like all the rest. It feels like you as walking on leather!

  36. Pam - August 31, 2012

    Is this flooring slippery?

  37. Julie Bailey - August 31, 2012

    Would this work on a ceiling too?

  38. Tania Leslie - September 5, 2012

    Gabricci – Love the area rug idea!!
    @ Pam – not slippery at all :-)
    @ Julie – not sure how you would prevent the layers of paper to stay on the ceiling while they dry, but I’m sure once they dry, they will stay put.

  39. Shanna - October 4, 2012

    Would this work in a basement that is a little damp? We have concrete but there had been vinyl on the floor prior. Will I have to do anything to the concrete before I put this down?

  40. David - October 8, 2012

    you might have a problem if your Polyurethane top coat gets wet. You can get water spots and eventually water damage, same reason you use coasters on a table top.

  41. michelle - October 8, 2012

    When do you apply 1st coat of Polyurethane? B4 or after glue dries? Great idea!

  42. Tonya - December 6, 2012

    How long does it take the glue water to dry. Will it do good in a bathroom or kitchen?

  43. J. Campbell - January 18, 2013

    Thanks to you and others, (Oregon Cottage and the lovely crafty home sites)….I decided to give this a try and my hubby and I love our floors….we did three rooms plus an entrance way and hallway. All for $165 which came out to be $41 per room. Thanks for sharing about your floor.

  44. gonerustic - January 26, 2013

    Love this idea – thanks so much for sharing this! =D

  45. Melanie - March 6, 2013

    Hi. Your floors are beautiful. I have ugly tile in my kitchen. Can I do this over tile…if so what about in indents where the grout is? Thanks

  46. Melanie - March 6, 2013

    Hi. Your floors are beautiful. I have ugly tile in my kitchen. Can I do this over tile?

  47. Tiffany - March 10, 2013

    I just did this, using book pages instead of brown bags and I am in love with the result!

  48. Pintz - March 10, 2013

    Hey … Thanks for this great idea. Guess what? I just did this on an existing plastic mat (that I hated) on the kitchen floor and now, not only it makes my kitchen look cool but I can move it to wherever I want in the house. It’s been a rave since I did it up … T.H.A.N.K.S!!!

  49. luann worstell - July 29, 2013

    Do you think it would work well on a garage floor?

  50. Malinda Bills - March 10, 2014

    I actually did this and I love the final results. I however had several challenges, which required me to repaper 3 different times. It was definitely a learning experience and I sure wish I had known some of the things before I started. :) I actually wrote a blog about my experience in case anyone else is thinking about doing this. I learned a few good lessons.
    Enjoy! I hope everyone can learn something from my mistakes!

  51. Beth - May 22, 2014

    I did this process on one wall, I love the look, the only thing I am not 100% crazy about with this is that though I did not stain I just let it natural, and of course did a protective poly coat, but it is much darker in color than I expected… now I just completed mine yesterday so I am not sure if as it continues to cure, if it will lighten or not???… but I am going to proceed to finish the rest of the room walls with the same process, then on to the floors, however I seen another technique for the floors where you use a yard stick and cute the paper into long strips with straight edges… looks more like wood planks, for the flooring… I am however considering trying to find another type of paper for the floors so it will brighten the room… any suggestions?

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