Introduction: Paper Bag Flooring Instructions

This is an amazing DIY project is sure to enhance the appearance of your home. It's a crazy cheap flooring project that only cost me $60 in materials to achieve a beautiful, durable floor. I laid it in my high traffic, 10x10 entrance and 12 (four foot wide) stairs! This flooring has been installed for 2.5 years now and is still beautiful and durable... despite my 4 children & their wet snowy boots, all kinds of friend traffic, and daily abuse.

Step 1: Clean and Prep

Clean & prep the floors. You can’t expect a nice finished product without prepping the area. It doesn’t take long… but DO IT.

•if you are planning to apply paper bag flooring over plywood, seal the cracks between the sheets of wood(see photo... seems are filled). If not, the seems WILL show through so fill the cracks. •we also applied paper bag flooring over hard vinyl tile with success. In this case scrub the floor with TSP to remove any dirt and grime that will hinder the paper from adhering. •vacuum thoroughly

Step 2: Method of Application

Decide on your method of application. Do you prefer a plank style, wood floor look? A tile look? A slate look…the sky is the limit… But for this instructable we'll just be looking at traditional slate style paper bag flooring(see photo). To see wood plank style paper bag flooring go to my website http://paperbagflooring.com

Step 3: Tear the Paper

Tear the paper...Notice the randomly torn pieces of paper in the picture above ;they are less than 12" x 12". I was diligent not to have a bunch of straight pieces. The torn edge, all the way around blends better. I tore the paper in advance. Once torn, I bunched it all into a ball and flattened it out again. This gives the floor more texture as well as it helps the glue to soak into the paper and adhere better. NOTE: it is good to have some straight edges for against the wall.

Step 4: Lay the Floor

Now it's time to mix your Elmer's Glue All and water. 1 part glue/2 parts water. Stir. Submerge a few pieces of the paper in the glue mixture and squeeze the paper to get the most of the glue out...It will still be saturated. Lay it on the surface and smooth it with a brush and even run your gloved hand over it to make sure it's adhered to the floor. Lay the next piece, overlapping over the previous. See photo. Also, notice the variation in color... no need to panic... that's just the difference in drying. It completely evened out when dry!

See http://paperbagflooring.com/slate-style-paper-bag-floor/ for the rest of the instructions, videos, supply lists and more!

Comments

author
JacquesG19 (author)2017-01-17

Hi there. I love the idea. What kind of glue other than Elmers glue will work? I am from South Africa and Elmers is not available around here. I am looking at doing it on a concrete floor. Thanks for sharing all your hard work and tips

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Pwhann00 (author)2016-08-26

I love this

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AreEmBe (author)2016-05-14

It seems you have seams and seems mixed up. Seems to me that seams might show up between the sheets of plywood. ;-) Got it?

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gtharris1 (author)AreEmBe2016-05-25

Yes! Thank you ;)

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Brad I. (author)2016-04-19

This looks great. I have a couple questions 1. How long does the polyurethane smell last? I am thinking about doing it in my kitchen where the tile is worn after 22 years. But. My fam tends to get nauseas from that smell.

2. Where do you get all the paper bags?

3. Would this be suitable for a kitchen floor?

author
gtharris1 (author)Brad I.2016-04-19

This product is water based and I did not find it strong at all!

I bought a roll of the brown paper... I have a supply list on my website http://paperbagflooring.com/how-to/.

I have even seen this applied to kitchen counters! I have it in my high traffic entrance and it is exposed to my family of six, Canadian winters and tons of friend traffic! It had been on my floor in this area for 2.5 years and it still looks fantastic!

author
Brad I. (author)gtharris12016-04-27

thank you for your replies. I am definitely tempted to try this. Maybe I'll start with a small bathroom and move on from there

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gtharris1 (author)Brad I.2016-04-23

Water based polyurethane, at least Varathane brand (the one I use) does not have a strong smell, at all!

As JoelB32 mentioned(thank you), there is no need to try to round up paper bags... you can buy the paper in a roll.

As far as using this on a kitchen floor... I would, for sure. I have seen it applied in bathrooms too. We have it in our high traffic entrance where wet, snowy boots walk in on it.

Hope this helps! You can visit my paper bag flooring website. I have tons of info on the subject. http://paperbagflooring.com

author
FireMed (author)Brad I.2016-04-22

I can put in my $0.02 in on some of these.

1. I don't remember the smell lasting all that long, of course we were still in construction when we applied.

2. My wife bought rolls of brown paper (uline.ca/com). She ripped sections off, wrinkled them up and applied them.

3. We didn't, but I don't see why not.

author
ArtS13 (author)2016-04-24

Great idea! I think this should work on walls as well. Maybe I'll do my den in comic strips. Hmmmmm?

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gtharris1 (author)ArtS132016-04-26

Whatever you tackle with this technique...I believe it adds more texture if you crumple the paper, then smooth it back out again, to ad some creases. The glue mixture absorbs better, the stain (if you decide to use it) adds some beautiful character to the creases...

author
FireMed made it! (author)2016-04-22

My wife found a similar article somewhere so we put this in our new house. Unfortunately some of the flooring was exposed to the weather and shows some "texture" through. It has to be smooth. We also used a bit of a variation and placed book pages in the library. Adds a nice effect.

Another version of brown paper flooring (book pages).JPGBrown paper flooring.JPG
author
gtharris1 (author)FireMed2016-04-23

Interesting! In an area where your floor is exposed to weather, I would suggest applying a coat of Varathane once per year to give your floor lasting beauty!

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0zzy (author)2016-04-20

hi I love this flooring but will PVA glue work the same ?

Please can you let me know

Thanks

Ozzy

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gtharris1 (author)0zzy2016-04-20

Hi Ozzy!

I personally would not use it... I have used Elmer's Glue All, with great success to lay almost 1000 sq' of paper bag floor. I really appreciate that it is non toxic and safe for kiddos seeing as I have four.

I found a helpful response online where a fellow was responding about PVA glue and Elmer's. Here it is. Hope this helps you. :)

~Technically, Elmer's Glue-All is a “PVA-based glue”, but it’s basically like all regular PVA glues. There isn’t much difference between Elmer’s and the regular PVA adhesives, in my experience. Elmer's Glue-All was probably modified from regular PVA glues to enhance its properties (strength, tackiness, viscosity, odor, etc.), ease of use, and safety.

As far as the mild acidity of Elmer's Glue-All, this shouldn't be a problem when used with paper. Cellulose, the main structural component in paper, wood and cotton, contains several hydroxyl groups on each of its monomers. This is ideal for acidic PVA adhesives because the PVA's acidic hydrogen ions (H+) will strip away hydroxide (-OH) groups from the cellulose molecules, and create water (H2O) molecules. With the H+ and -OH molecules removed, the PVA polymers will create strong bonds with the cellulose polymers. This is why Elmer's Glue-All is *mildly* acidic: the acid helps drive the PVA-cellulose reaction, but it's not acidic enough to adversely affect the cellulose or the PVA.

The acid will not break down the cellulose over time. Any remaining acid will become neutralized as the glue dries out and therefore the reaction will be complete.

Acids with pHs above 4 are considered to be mildly acidic. Elmer’s is designed to be safe for children. Listed below are the approximate pHs of many common substances. (Sources: various pH charts on the Internet while Googling for "common substances pH" and “beverage pH”)

pH = 7: pure water

pH = 6: milk, tea, well water

pH = 5: yogurt, brown sugar, Perrier, Aquafina, purified water, distilled water, coffee, Pepto Bismol, rain water

pH = 4: tomatoes, orange juice, grapefruit juice, red wine, Gatorade G2, Snapple Red Tea, acid rain

pH = 3: many sodas (Coca-cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, Mt Dew, Red Bull, etc.), beer, Vitamin Water, Dasani Plus, vinegar

pH = 2: lemon juice

pH = 1: stomach acid

pH = 0: battery acid

I've used Elmer's Glue-All on many paper projects for years, and there's never been any degradation of the paper. If anything, Elmer's has made the paper STRONGER. (Note: Elmer’s Glue-All slightly “clouds” the paper but ALL glues do this. The slight clouding isn’t due to acidic deterioration. The clouding is because Elmer’s Glue-All is opaque white in liquid form, but it’s ~99% clear when dry. The clouding is barely noticeable.) I use Elmer's Glue-All because it's safe, inexpensive, strong, easy to use, and it can be found at many stores (Wal-Mart, Michael's, Office Depot, etc.). I've used several different PVA brands, but their properties are fairly similar to one another, so I tend to use Elmer's the most because it works well and it's inexpensive.

I don't claim to be an expert on PVA adhesives but I have a Materials Science background (B.S. and graduate school; my emphasis is in alloys and ceramic materials, but I've taken some polymer courses). While I’m not a PVA adhesive expert, I understand the chemical mechanism as to how Elmer's Glue-All reacts with cellulose. In addition, I know Elmer’s Glue-All is safe with paper because I’ve been using it for years.

Btw, I don't work for Elmer's (nor have I ever worked for any PVA adhesive company), so I'm not trying to sell Elmer's Glue-All. My main point of this message is that Elmer's Glue-All is a good, safe, general-purpose adhesive for paper projects. If you're afraid of Elmer's Glue-All because you think it's harmful or because you thinks it’s a cheap kids glue, then don’t use it. Also, if Elmer's Glue-All is in fact harmful then PLEASE PROVE IT with facts/science/experiments/experience/whatever.

(Note: The reason my message is long is because I wanted to write a full explanation as to why I think Elmer's Glue-All is safe for use with paper. Seeing as how I've come across this thread six years after it was created [via Google] and seeing as how this thread has been viewed over 170K times, this thread will continue to be viewed for many more years, with thousands more views. I don't have any interest in checking on this thread so I wanted to post my opinion and move on.)~

author
0zzy (author)gtharris12016-04-20

Thanks for your in-depth and very informative reply I live in the UK and I have look at the price of Elmer's glue-all in the UK it's £ 42.34 that's $60.63 and for the same amount of PVA is only £6.50 that's $9.32 so you understand why I was asking if it will work the same but I will shop around to see if I can get it cheaper somewhere else as it dose sound like the better stuff to use plus I also have kids and I don't want to risk using PVA if you don't think it's not as safe and as good as Elmer's glue-all
Thanks again for your quick reply
Ozzy

author
gtharris1 (author)0zzy2016-04-22

I went through the same thing when i was trying to find the gallon of Elmer's Glue All. I have to order online at $44 per gallon. I was scared to try anything else... it seemed to be one of the common denominators that led to success. Also, the glue to water ratio. I use 1 part Glue all, 2 parts water. In my first project, I only used have the gallon... it was 100 sq' and 12 stair treads. Hope this helps!

author
gtharris1 (author)gtharris12016-04-22

I will say... for those in the US, Elmer's Glue All is super cheap...

author
jmnyquist (author)2016-04-21

For those of us avoiding the linkbait, there's another fine instructable that takes you through the entire process without being an advert for personal profit.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Paper-Bag-Floors/

author
gtharris1 (author)jmnyquist2016-04-22

My search for a durable, beautiful and cheap flooring option is how I stumbled upon the idea of paper bag flooring. I researched like crazy and came up with a plan to accomplish the DIY. I succeeded! I recorded video of the process to share with a friend the "how to's" of it all. The easiest way to share the video was via youtube. After over 2 years of the video being on you tube, I was shocked with how many other people wanted to tackle this project but they were left with tons of questions. I decided to create a website to share all the info I collected, the videos I made, and the advice I have after laying almost 1000 sq' of paper bag floor on concrete, plywood, tile and wood. Yes, there are amazon links for the product. It's easy to order from them, great for rural folks like me that don't have all the supplies at their fingers and yes, I do earn a VERY small portion, which at this point, barely covers the hosting fees for my site, domain fees and not to mention the crazy amount of hours I have spent/spend on this project.

It's no cash cow. I'm a passionate DIYer that likes to teach and share ideas. I'm thankful so many people have appreciated and found helpful all the info on the site.

author
dozyb (author)2016-04-22

How would you remove it if needed

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gtharris1 (author)dozyb2016-04-22

You could lay flooring right over it. The texture isn't too raised to cause a problem.

I do hope this helps!

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BevB8 (author)2016-04-20

Love the look & the idea!! Thanks for sharing??

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gtharris1 (author)BevB82016-04-21

No problem!

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pmkaer (author)2016-04-20

Wow! I will do this in our out-back cabin! Thanks

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gtharris1 (author)pmkaer2016-04-21

Glad you like it!

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anapsix (author)2016-04-20

the amount of ads and pop-ups on a site with rest of instructions is ridiculous

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gtharris1 (author)anapsix2016-04-20

Hi there!
I'm not sure why you are experiencing this... There should only be one pop up and it is for a free eCourse on paper bag flooring!

As far as the adds... are you referring to the product links for the supplies required?

Sorry to hear you are frustrated with the site... I am doing my best at making it user friendly and loaded with helpful information!

author
anapsix (author)gtharris12016-04-20

I think you should disclose that you are participating in Amazon affiliate program and every time someone buys something following your "product links", you are rewarded.
Also, you are driving visitors to external site that you can monetize (through ads, etc) using an incomplete instructable as a click bait.

author
dbenedetto (author)2016-04-20

Awesome! Wish I had seen this before we remodeled our floors.

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gtharris1 (author)dbenedetto2016-04-20

Too bad! I have seen this applied to RV's as well with much success! ;)

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p.t1 (author)2016-04-20

Love it

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gtharris1 (author)p.t12016-04-20

Thank you!

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nitesurfer (author)2016-04-20

Pretty cool instructable. In case you all didn't know formica board/laminex/whatever name you give it is just patterned paper impregnated with resin..(well a bit more technical but thats the basics). so no worries about durability as long as you use a gooogood sealant.

author
gtharris1 (author)nitesurfer2016-04-20

Interesting!

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p.t1 (author)2016-04-20

Love it

author
DIY-Guy (author)2016-04-19

Is this a "teaser" or an instructable?
It's nice when one can see the whole thing in one place. :)

author
Sundevildaddy (author)DIY-Guy2016-04-20

I agree: this is a Teaser to bounce readers to another website.
Common (and extremely shady) tactic. Flies in the face of the spirit of Instructables.
I was excited to see this project, to be sure, but I won't reward this kind of behaviour by visiting that website.

author
gtharris1 (author)DIY-Guy2016-04-20

I have so much info on this DIY! I have tons of videos & tips that I trust are a great resource on the website. I also highlight two different paper bag floor techniques. When I set out to do my first paper bag floor project I had to search high and low to collect and research every aspect of this flooring DIY. That's what I do... I don't jump right in with our doing my homework and making a plan. It's a ton of info to share as well as my insights gained from laying almost 1000 sq' of this flooring in my home.

Hope this explains... It's hard to pick and choose when there are so many helpful things... :)

author
MakerBoysACE (author)2016-04-19

That's cool! My mom loves projects that save the environment, so I sent this to her.

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gtharris1 (author)MakerBoysACE2016-04-20

Thank you!

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Bluemonster (author)2016-04-19

I have done this in my bathroom, it looks really cool and everybody loves it. Prep is so important, I agree.

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gtharris1 (author)Bluemonster2016-04-20

Thank you for your comment and for reiterating that fact that prep is not to be over looked!

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shellyscorner (author)2016-04-19

WOW! Who knew!?! It looks GREAT!

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gtharris1 (author)shellyscorner2016-04-20

Thank you! It's so durable too! :)

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privatier (author)2016-04-19

I guess the cost is in the Varathane - how much did you apply? How much is needed per square foot area for long lasting coverage?

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gtharris1 (author)privatier2016-04-19

I purchased 2 gallons for 800 sq.'

I applied seven coats with a 4" brush taped to a broom handle... at that point I was happy to be able to stand for the remainder of the work. I have video showing my technique on my website. http://paperbagflooring.com

Hope this helps!

author
WendyH16 (author)2016-04-19

The process works on furniture too (mom and I have done it many times) and required a lot less protective coats (depending on use of course). On furniture, we have rubbed stain or paint into the wrinkles and ridges for a more crackled effect. Once we found bags that had a drawing/print of flowers on them, and we used them on a side-table in a design on the top. Good stuff!

author
gtharris1 (author)WendyH162016-04-19

The sky is the limit!

author
StefanL3 (author)2016-04-17

Really well done. Nice website too.

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Bio: I love accomplishing DIY projects. When things go well I like to pass on the information.
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