DIY Paper bag flooring

Okay so in the process of renovating with very little money I had to come up with flooring that was durable, beautiful, and unique but most of all CHEAP. After surprisingly little net surfing I stumbled on several people who had used brown paper bags to make amazing floors. As soon as I saw the first photo I was sold. now I had to convince my dear "Do it the right way and do it once" husband of my plan. He hesitated at first but as soon as I showed him the photos he too was sold. And the best part is that we could do it all for under $100 and some elbow grease. Here is what we started with 9X9 asbestos tile

Because our tile was cracked, broken and uneven we decided to remove them, but this method of flooring is designed to go over your exsisting floor. But fear not we wore the proper gear and disposed of the tile properly, I promise.

Here is Jessie, my husband, removing the awful tile, and scraping the adhesive off the floors.

After filling the screw holes

the wet paper after having been laid down

Here is the first layer. It is so easy to apply all you do in brush on a coat of WATER based poly and then lay the paper down and brush another coat of poly over it. I ripped all my pieces before I began laying them down I had a trash bag of pieces with a straight edges, and bag of crumpled pieces, and bag of non-crumpled pieces and a bag of pieces that I had hand painted with acrylic paints. All the different textures makes for a more interesting floor but you can do them all the same if you wish. The crumpled paper absorbs more poly than the regular paper. Also as I went I dipped some pieces in the can of poly so they would really soak it up. The more poly that is on a piece the darker it will dry.
When I laid the first layer down it was perfect and took only about 20 minutes. But when I came back in a while later to peek at it the floor was covered in ripples and bubbles. While I had done a lot of internet research on this before I started no one had ever mentioned this. I freaked out and instantly began re-smoothing the floor. My delusions of a beautiful and cheap floor were shot. of course, I spent the rest of the evening pouting. But then when I woke up the next morning the bubbles had all sucked back down and my perfect floor was dry and beautiful.

Next I took out my acrylic paints and mixed them with some poly. I made a brownish sludge and added some metallic paints to give the floor some more depth. I brushed this over the cleaned and dried first layer and it really changed the overall appearance of the floor. Lastly I added 6 more thin coats of poly. The more you add the stronger and smoother the floor is. We live on the coast with 100% humidity so things take longer to dry and cure here. It took our floor about a day to be dry enough to walk on and about a week before we felt comfortable bringing our rugs back in

In all we are very happy with this floor. with 2 small children, 2 cats, and a dog it can be very difficult to keep a floor clean. This floor is easy to clean and actually hides dirt rather well between cleanings. I have already dropped dishes, knives, food, and all sorts of stuff on this floor with even making a scratch in the floor. And the best part is if you do get a hole all you have to do is lay another piece of paper over it and add some poly. Plus if we ever decided to upgrade the flooring all we have to do is lay it right over the paper floor and it acts like more insulation. If you were trying to decided if this is the floor for you I say go for it. Since our installation we have convinced many other low budget/green budget renovators to give it a try and they have had fantastic results too.
Have a great day!

Lilliedale: Paper bag flooring


  1. this is soooo coool!!!!!!
    I love it!! I featured it on my Facebook page "art is beauty" this morning.

  2. I have a friend that did this treatment on a wall in her home. Fun to see it on a floor!

  3. I just discovered this flooring! Soooooooo excited! Already bought my paper! Going to start this weekend! Wish me luck!

  4. NancyjoCroftLarsonDecember 3, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    I ripped up tiny pieces of paper bags, and poly-ed them on small cardboard boxes. when dry they looked like old leather. then we took a full sheet of plywood and cut it in 1/2, added a piano hing, so we could fold it in 1/2 when not using it. Also covered this in small torn ed up pieces of paper bags. then poly-ed the little pieces of paper bags all over the plywood. This took several days. ha The look was wonderful. WE would put this open on top of our pool table when we wanted to play ping ball, or at Christmas time, set up Bob's small train with my miniature houses. This was over 13 years ago & it still looks the same.


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