DIY Budget Flooring: Brown Paper Bags

Years ago, I saw a technique on a television show in which a homeowner used ripped paper bags as a floor covering. I remember looking for examples on-line but couldn't find any, until now. Gwynne and Michael used such a technique to cover

 a drafty pine-plank floor in a back room of their 1793 "honeymoon" Cape. 

They opted to use contractor's paper, which is heavier than paper bags to create 'stones' that they glued into place using a 50/50 mixture of water and Elmer's white glue.  A few coats of Rust-Oleum's Verathane Diamond Floor Finish over the paper stones finished it up. To get a 'mottled' effect, I'm thinking you could even stain the paper.

In all, the project cost about $100 bucks. Evidently, caring for the floor couldn't be easier and, according to Gwynne, it feels lovely to walk upon. Soft against bare tootsies! Read more about the project after this jump. 

If a floor seems a bit ambitious, how about trying something smaller first? A stool seat, perhaps? Here's a tutorial that explains how to do it, using the very same techniques it will take to do a floor.


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Anonymous on Sep 25, 2012:

Does the technique, prep or durability etc, change If you are doing this on a concrete slab?We would like try this but live on a slab.

DEb on Jun 22, 2012:

Hmmm have popcorn ceilings, I wonder???

Donna on Mar 02, 2012:

How is this floor holding up? and how do you clean it? Also how did ya get the darker lines in the paper? Did you stain also? Thansk a bunch!!!

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DIY Maven on Aug 28, 2010:

Thanks for the info ej. I don't know about how it holds up, but I've been thinking about maybe testing the technique on some plywood and see how it wears. 

elseajane on Aug 28, 2010:

Any idea how this is holding up with pets? I have 4 cats a huge dog and a messy husband!

elseajane on Aug 28, 2010:

I do use the contractors paper sence my supply of brown paper bags has deminished, (went with all reusables ;-)). And I don't add near as much elmers, maybe 1 bottle per quart of paint. The latex in the paint is a pretty good glue on it's own, I just boost it a little. I don't even put a top coat on sence there is very little wear on the ceiling it doesn't need it. I have found that flat or eggshell paint works best, the gloss just looks wrong. It is really fun, but it works best with 2 people, one to dip the paper and one up on the ladder, also don't put too much paint on the paper, it just drips off. I've done 2 ceilings so far and will be doing 2 more down stairs, then up to the second floor. But that's after I'm home, toward the end of November.

KD on Aug 27, 2010:

This looks like it would be great for a modern bartop. Opposed to having tile (which doesn't always look quite right) or expensive finished wood. I'm adding this to my file for future ideas in 10 years when I'm able to afford a home.

DIY Maven on Aug 27, 2010:

ej--That's a great idea. What kind of paper do you use? Paper bags? Contractor's paper?


DesigningMom on Aug 26, 2010:

Elsa Jane, I've seen it done on walls for a leather look I like the idea of it done on ceilings also. It makes me think of elementary school art class, when we made "leather" things with brown paper bags by wetting, wrinkling and drying brown paper bags.

elseajane on Aug 26, 2010:

This is very simular to what I've been doing on my ceilings. It works great to hide any little imperfections, or even big ones. I mix the elmers with what ever color paint I want and go to town, It looks like leather when I'm done.

DesigningMom on Aug 26, 2010:

I love this idea. Now I have something to do with all the Whole Foods bags we've been collecting since we rarely remember to take our own bags anymore.

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