Introduction: Paper Bag Floors

Create the look of a custom floor in no time with nearly no expense! I did not create this technique, you can find tons of references to it via a quick internet search. However, never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever think the end result would look as good as it does. 

There are loads of variations you can do.
  1. You can stain (or tint) individual pieces of paper.
  2. You can use different KINDS of paper (magazine pages, photocopied pictures, the only limit is your imagination).
  3. You can use other materials; fabric, tiles, whatever. 
  4. By controlling the size and shape of your paper pieces, you can create just about any look you want. Tile, stone, cork, et cetera.
Since this is a basic découpage technique, you can use this on floors, furniture, just about anywhere. If you're looking for a super-flush finish, you can omit the polyurethane and use polymer resin. (But, that would be a different Instructable.)

Step 1: Supplies Needed

You will need:
  1. Paper Bags (If you want a more uniform look, you can buy rolls of craft paper. Personally, I liked the look of collecting lots of different bags from different stores. It gave different variations to the final project.)
  2. Polyurethane
  3. White Glue
  4. Water
  5. Tape
  6. Paintbrushes (The cheaper the better, we don't need fine brushes for this project.)
  7. (Once again, the cat is optional, be prepared to sacrifice some of your paper balls to give yourself some peace if you choose to use one.)

Step 2: Prepare Your Surface

I did two bathroom floors. Fortunately, these are both more along the lines of "water closets" so the space was fairly small. 
On the "taupe" floor, I removed the peel and stick tiles completely.
On the checkerboard floor (also peel and stick) I couldn't get the tiles to come loose, so I went over the top of them. Fortunately, they were not "textured" tiles and the process worked well.

So, either remove the tiles or not, then clean your surface. When all is dry, cover the floor in a coat of polyurethane. Now you are ready to begin the tedious part. 

(Pro Tip: DO NOT polyurethane the paper, it turns the paper "crispy" and translucent, and you don't want that, just trust me.)

Step 3: Prep Your Paper

If you have Tendinitis or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, enlist help. (I'm not kidding.)
  1. Rip your paper into small pieces. I tried to use the pieces that didn't have any print or only had light print. (Be sure to put the print side down on your floor, unless you want it facing up.)
  2. Separate your pieces with straight edges from the pieces that are non-edged. 
  3. Put on a show, or a movie, or better yet hit that entire season on Netflix you've been meaning to catch up on. (You'll be here awhile, unless you can sucker in some minions. If you have kids, even better. I've found the cats and the dog really don't cooperate well when given tasks.)
  4. Crumple every piece.
  5. Straighten every piece out and then crumple it again.
  6. Straighten every piece out and then crumple it one more time, just for good measure. 
  7. Massage your hands, you deserve it!

Step 4: Remember How to Découpage?

This is where the fun starts!
  1. Tape off your floorboards, counters, anywhere you DON'T want to get messy. 
  2. Take your white glue and mix it 50/50 with water (the stuff from the tap is fine) and blend it well.
  3. Using a paintbrush, "paint" the back of your first piece of paper with the glue (découpage) mixture. (Don't start with the edge pieces, start with the "floating stones" first.)
  4. Place your paper where you want it on the floor and paint over the top of it with the découpage mixture. 
  5. Repeat until you have covered the floor, but don't have any overlapping "stones" on the floor. 
  6. Wait for it to dry.
  7. Once dry, give it a coat of polyurethane.
(Notice the "texture" the crumpling gives the "stones.")

(Once Again.... Pro Tip: DO NOT polyurethane the paper, it turns the paper "crispy" and translucent, and you don't want that.)

Step 5: Let's Do the Time Warp Again...

So, that thing you did in the last step, without overlapping? Now that it's dry, overlap it!
  1. Don't be shy with your glue mix!
  2. Let it dry.

Step 6: Make That Floor "shine Like the Top of the Chrysler Building!"

Almost there...
  1. Polyurethane your (now dry) paper floor.
  2. When that coat is dry, do it again.
  3. And then... When that coat is dry, do it again.
  4. And, maybe, just for good measure... When that coat is dry, do it again.
  5. Maybe even one more time, especially if you're doing this in a kitchen or bathroom.
  6. Also, just ONE additional coat; well, trust me when I say, it really wouldn't hurt anything.
Yes, I know I have more than one MASSIVELY straight-edged piece right at the front of this picture. (Don't follow my lead, thank goodness the floor mat covers it!)

Step 7: Step Back and Enjoy Your New Floors

Just some before and after shots to give you a better idea of the change. 

Papercraft Contest

Second Prize in the
Papercraft Contest