Paper bags? On a floor?? You betcha!
To make a floor that’s recyclable, durable, and beautiful read on.
What You’ll Need:
- A floor (the uglier the better)
- Paper Grocery Bags, Packing Paper, or Kraft Paper
- White Glue (not washable) purchased by the gallon
- Water Based Polyurethane for Floors
- Bucket or bowl for glue mixture
- Paint stirring stick
- Applicator pad (made for stain or paint)
- Broom handle or paint roller extender-optional
Prep the floor.
Prepare your floor surface. This means something different for everyone. For me, it meant scraping up broken ceramic floor tiles and grout. Removing a floor I have too long referred to as “Laceration Alley” revealed linoleum underneath. Who knew?
Whatever your situation, please use common safety precautions for all demolition. Maybe you are starting with linoleum or a wood floor. If it’s shiny I would recommend roughing it up with fine grit sandpaper.
I imagine that you have an ugly floor, or are down to the wood or concrete if you are reading this. Perfect.
You MUST fill any gaps or holes, and make sure there are no protrusions. It MUST be smooth because any uneven areas will show through your finished floor.
Also, make sure there are no stains because they WILL bleed through the paper. Clean the floor well and consider applying Kilz if necessary.
Prep your paper
Spend an evening ahead of time tearing craft paper or paper bags into irregularly shaped pieces. Watch TV, and tear away. If using paper bags be sure to remove the doubled areas and only use bags without writing on them, unless that is the look you want.
Be aware though, that even writing placed face down will bleed through to the top, only backward. Not very Diva.
Be sure to use paper of the same thickness.
Make two piles; pieces with straight edges and random pieces. I used similarly sized pieces about 12”.
Size is totally a matter of preference. You could use much smaller pieces or even larger. They can be similarly sized or a mishmash.
The important thing to remember is you will need about twice your floor’s square footage to account for overlap. Get the whole family involved, tear and CRUMPLE TIGHTLY.
The magic is in the crumple.
Test your application in an inconspicuous place. I started inside the pantry. If you can, do a bit the night before you intend to do the whole floor. That way you can be sure the paper will properly adhere.
Let’s get started!
Take a bowl or bucket and make a glue mixture. I wound up with about half glue, half water. Stir with a paint stick. The glue I used was “Elmer’s Glue All”.
Dunk a piece of crumpled paper into the mixture. Make sure it is completely coated but don’t wait until it starts to break apart. Squeeze the excess glue back into the bowl.
Apply flattened paper to the floor. Overlap pieces as you work your way around the room and out a door. Use square edges where the floor meets the wall. Smear glue all over the top. I don’t think you can use too much glue. Smooth out all bubbles and wrinkles with your hands. This is messy.
It is best if you have someone with non gluey hands to be your helper. You can wear rubber gloves of course, but I found the glue washed right off and did not dry my hands out.
Let your gluey wet floor dry completely, at least overnight. Drying time depends on the weather, ventilation and humidity. Be sure it is good and dry before continuing.
After the glue layer dries any unfortunate gaps can be covered with a brown sharpie before applying the polyurethane.
You could add stain at this point. I chose to leave the paper au naturel, because that’s the look I liked. If you did choose to add stain it would add another day of drying, some added cost, and another step, but you could get some very cool effects.
Poly, poly, poly! I used no less than 10 coats of Polyurethane for floors.
I could have saved about $15 a gallon if I went with the regular polyurethane. But, a Diva knows when spending a bit more makes a big difference!
Use an applicator pad on a stick to save your back. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the can but as a general rule apply an even thin coat and work your way out the door. Do not go back over the poly once it starts to dry, you will get drag marks. If you miss a spot, you can get it next time.
Allow it to dry several hours between coats but not more than 24 hours or you will have to lightly sand it before reapplying. To avoid sanding, I kept an eye on the clock.
I made sure to wait at least four hours between coats, but was sure never to get close to that fateful 24 hour deadline.
Step back and admire your work. Sigh, what a pretty floor. Now the hard part. Keep off. Don’t walk on it for at least 24 hours. Then, wear socks. Allow the floor to cure completely before placing your furniture back in. I waited 10 long days. This part is painful, but worth it.
Enjoy your awesome one of a kind floor. YOU DID IT, DIVA!
This would also make a neat wall covering. You could use other types of paper as well. So far, it appears to be quite durable even in a kitchen application. I have a theory that damage could be covered up with a little sanding, a bit more gluey paper, and some poly.
For Reference: My kitchen is 180 square feet. I used about 300 square feet of paper, 1.5 gallons of glue, and 2 gallons of polyurethane. I used about twice as much of everything as I estimated. Plan ahead. Price things out. I thought Home Depot would carry glue by the gallon, but not in my small town. I have found that Lowe’s and Michael’s craft stores have it. Also, Lowe’s seems to have the best price for large rolls of kraft paper. Gather your coupons and gather enough supplies in advance. My total cost was about $160. It looks like a high end, designer floor. I would pat myself on the back…but my hands are gluey.
Special Thanks for this amazing post from guest Diva Stormy.
Update – The floor is now three years old and looks just as beautiful now as it did when it was first created. It’s definitely stood the test of time in a busy kitchen. Brava Stormy!