A Simple Guide to Inexpensive and Beautiful Floor Techniques

Paper bag flooring on concrete and wood is a technique that can transform your floor from boring to bling. Brown paper bag floor designs can cover plywood or concrete sub-flooring with gorgeous results!

Paper bag flooring -- also known as paper bag floor or brown paper bag floor -- may be a little time consuming, but it's well worth the effort and there are some tricks that can be used to make the applying process go a little more hassle free. Grace Lauer has perfected this technique and shares step by step directions via her unique and informative blog.

Paper bag flooring is a low cost DIY alternative to buying hardwood floors or expensive tile. The imperfection of the torn bag look can be very attractive whether your d├ęcor is rustic or contemporary and it can even resemble a stamped concrete stone effect by applying in various size pieces.

Prepping a Wood Sub Floor

If you have removed existing flooring such as carpet, linoleum or tile from the floor, its important to use a floor scraper to get all glue or stuck on padding from the surface of the floor first. It may take a little elbow grease, but with the proper tools you'll make quick time of the job.

When applying directly to a plank wood surface, clean the floor thoroughly with soap and water and then sand any raised portions of the floor making it as flat as possible. Doing this will help the paper adhere later when your trying to apply your decoupage. After sanding, make sure to fill in any gaps or holes in the floor with wood filler and re-sand. Vacuum up any remaining dust and your ready to get started with the fun part.

Prepping a Concrete Sub Floor

When working with concrete floors to put paper bag flooring over concrete, make sure to fill in any cracks or chipped areas around the edges or perimeter of the room.

paper bag flooring

Applying the paper bag technique to concrete is a little more challenging than a wood floor simply because of adhesion snafus and dampness factors that can promote lifting of paper edging. This can be avoided by following the proper steps.

Once any filler has dried and been swept up, you will want to apply a thin layer of clear polyurethane and let dry for about 12 hours.

This first layer is critical as it provides a smoother base for the paper bag pieces to stick to and it seals much better. While you're waiting for the floor to dry you can even enlist the aid of more helpers or purchase some knee pads at your local hardware store.

Applying the Brown Shipping/Craft Paper

The next thing you need to do before you start applying the brown paper is to decide what kind of brown paper bag floor designs you're going for. If you want your paper bag floor to appear stone like, then you should use various sizes that range from large to small. If you want your floor to have more texture, use smaller overlapping pieces with jagged edges.

paper bag pieces

The jagged edges and torn crumpled paper give the floor more interest and depth. Save the pieces of brown paper bag with the straight edge for the perimeter of the room. You can even sort these in two bins before you begin to make it more convenient.

Application Technique Option 1 (No Pre-Staining)

crumpled paper

There are several techniques you can use when applying your brown paper to your floor surface. They all involve using Elmer's glue as one of the prime tools for adhering the craft paper to the floor, but this technique focuses on putting down your raw brown paper without staining it first.

First you will crumple your paper once, then dip it into a mixture of one part glue and one part water. Crumpling the paper will help the glue mixture soak into the paper and make it more pliable to work with. Stick to doing about 4 to 5 pieces at a time. After dipping in the glue once, crumple the paper again before removing from the glue for application. You can either brush glue on both sides of the paper and let sit to allow the glue to soak into the paper or dip them. It does work better if the glue has time to soak into the craft paper before starting to arrange your paper pieces.

After laying down your pieces and slightly overlapping them to prevent future gapping when dry, use a crafting brayer to smooth down the paper with a light touch only moving in one direction.

paper dipped in glue
crafting brayer

Application Technique Option 2 (Pre-Staining the Paper)

This technique involves using the same tools and ingredients and the only difference is that you will be pre-staining the craft paper with Minwax polyshades Polyeurthane color stain prior to dipping it into the glue. Some people prefer to prestain the pieces rather than come back later to mop or brush on the stain. There are advantages to pre-staining the pieces in that some people have reported achieving cloudiness in certain areas of the floor due to an abundance of pooled stain or glue. It gives the pieces a more uniform and seamless color and can help you avoid discoloration and bigger messes.

Finishing Touches

After sealing your floor with a minimum of 12 coats of polyurethane, you may want to add some fancy finishing touches by using a Shimmer mist (which is an alcohol based liquid) that contains beautiful flecks of mica crystals in it.

Using the shimmer mist just makes the floor pop and adds a boatload of dimension without making the floor too shimmery. Whether you're applying a paper bag floor on concrete or some other surface, have fun making your paper bag floor!

shimmer mist
finished mist

Finished floor with Antique Gold shimmer spray