Paper Bag Floors

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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. 

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82 Discussions

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JessicaW198

Question 8 months ago on Step 5

How long should it dry before the next step applying polyurethane

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jtysinger

3 years ago on Introduction

I just did mine in the rose colored paper and it looks amazing! I just need to let the spots I patched dry and polyurethane it!! Kind of looks like mahogany or marble... or both... lol

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Nsaneldyjtysinger

Reply 2 years ago

This post is over a year old, but I hope jtysinger gets this...

what type of paper did you use? This is absolutely stunning!

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lwbuchholz

2 years ago

I have seen this done but not with glue. The person used the poly and tinted it and soaked the paper in the poly then put it down. Then squeegeed it out and let it dry well then poly over it all. It might eliminate some to the problem I have seen in the comments below. I don't remember if the poly was thinned for the paper placement but it might be worth experimenting.

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BridgetL7

2 years ago

Gonna have to try this! You did a great job & thanks for passing it on!

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IsaacV1

3 years ago on Step 7

That came out pretty dang cool. I might have to give it a shot in my garage when I finally get my lazy butt out there to redo the flooring.

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Faultytooth

4 years ago on Introduction

I am going to have a go at this. I've been wanting a unique style of floor for a small WC. Instead of paper bags though I'm going to use the pages from comic books, larger pieces to allow for some of the page to be read.

5 replies
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Still not got round to doing this yet. It's proofing to be more difficult than I expected to get hold of old fashioned comics. Not given up hope though.

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Bookrestore

3 years ago on Step 6

this is a very cool idea! I've laid carpet, tile, hardwood, concrete - marble and Corean counters and shower installations and this strikes me as very clever! Perfect and infinitely repairable for a rental property floor that you know will require repairing between every rentor (no one treats your property like you...(?).

I have only one note of experiential caution now that I was in such a hurry to get a place done.. That is simply.. 'Don't try to do ALL THE BATHROOMS at the same time!!!' You end up spending an inappropriate amount of time in potty runs to nearby shops and fast food places... (Oops! First time mistake)

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Lee Wilkerson

3 years ago on Step 7

I had heard of people texturing walls with paper bags before (looks like leather), but not floors. Great Idea.

Lee the Geek

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attyschack

3 years ago on Introduction

Did this on our kitchen floor a few years ago. It looked great for a while but didn't remain waterproof. Even though we thoroughly applied many layers of urethane, I think that small particles under foot create pinholes. Any moisture on the floor finds its way to the paper underneath which then softens the paper under the urethane. We ended up replacing the floor with ceramic tile. I wouldn't suggest this for a floor that gets any real foot traffic and that has any exposure to water or moisture unless you're willing to take the risk that it won't hold up more than a few months. It could work better and look great on a wall. Wrinkling the paper up and then smoothing it out when applying it can create a surface that looks like leather.