Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Paper bag flooring



Okay so in the process of renovating with very little money I had to come up with flooring that was durable, beautiful, and unique but most of all CHEAP. After surprisingly little net surfing I stumbled on several people who had used brown paper bags to make amazing floors. As soon as I saw the first photo I was sold. now I had to convince my dear "Do it the right way and do it once" husband of my plan. He hesitated at first but as soon as I showed him the photos he too was sold. And the best part is that we could do it all for under $100 and some elbow grease. Here is what we started with 9X9 asbestos tile

Because our tile was cracked, broken and uneven we decided to remove them, but this method of flooring is designed to go over your exsisting floor. But fear not we wore the proper gear and disposed of the tile properly, I promise.



Here is Jessie, my husband, removing the awful tile, and scraping the adhesive off the floors.


After filling the screw holes




the wet paper after having been laid down


Here is the first layer. It is so easy to apply all you do in brush on a coat of WATER based poly and then lay the paper down and brush another coat of poly over it. I ripped all my pieces before I began laying them down I had a trash bag of pieces with a straight edges, and bag of crumpled pieces, and bag of non-crumpled pieces and a bag of pieces that I had hand painted with acrylic paints. All the different textures makes for a more interesting floor but you can do them all the same if you wish. The crumpled paper absorbs more poly than the regular paper. Also as I went I dipped some pieces in the can of poly so they would really soak it up. The more poly that is on a piece the darker it will dry.
When I laid the first layer down it was perfect and took only about 20 minutes. But when I came back in a while later to peek at it the floor was covered in ripples and bubbles. While I had done a lot of internet research on this before I started no one had ever mentioned this. I freaked out and instantly began re-smoothing the floor. My delusions of a beautiful and cheap floor were shot. of course, I spent the rest of the evening pouting. But then when I woke up the next morning the bubbles had all sucked back down and my perfect floor was dry and beautiful.

Next I took out my acrylic paints and mixed them with some poly. I made a brownish sludge and added some metallic paints to give the floor some more depth. I brushed this over the cleaned and dried first layer and it really changed the overall appearance of the floor. Lastly I added 6 more thin coats of poly. The more you add the stronger and smoother the floor is. We live on the coast with 100% humidity so things take longer to dry and cure here. It took our floor about a day to be dry enough to walk on and about a week before we felt comfortable bringing our rugs back in





In all we are very happy with this floor. with 2 small children, 2 cats, and a dog it can be very difficult to keep a floor clean. This floor is easy to clean and actually hides dirt rather well between cleanings. I have already dropped dishes, knives, food, and all sorts of stuff on this floor with even making a scratch in the floor. And the best part is if you do get a hole all you have to do is lay another piece of paper over it and add some poly. Plus if we ever decided to upgrade the flooring all we have to do is lay it right over the paper floor and it acts like more insulation. If you were trying to decided if this is the floor for you I say go for it. Since our installation we have convinced many other low budget/green budget renovators to give it a try and they have had fantastic results too.
Have a great day!

31 comments:

  1. OMG! This is AMAZING! By Poly, do you mean Polyurethane? Please email me at donnab6464@gmail.com. I am sharing your blog with my daughter and sister. I am also following you and putting your link on my blog! Awesome, awesome, awesome!

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  2. Wow this is fantastic! So awesome! Glad I found your blog on pinterest!

    Courtney
    I Can Be Many Things

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  3. Same as above! Just found you on Pinterest--good stuff! Subscribing now :-)

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  4. Question, if you use water based poly, don't you have to worry about splashing water from the sink or a dropped glass messing up the floor?

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  5. Stasi- Thanks for asking. Yes, water can be a concern with water based poly. If water is left on the floor for a long while it will turn the poly white and soften it slightly for a few hours. I had a few ice cubes melt on the floor one time and I totally freaked out when I saw the white spots. when I checked again a bit later they were gone and left no damage or trace whatsoever. Mopping does not seem to cause a problem either as long as you don't leave actual puddles. With that said, I do not recommend this flooring for a bathroom where water from the shower could go unnoticed and damage it.Hope that helps!~Merrilee

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  6. Does it have to be water based poly? Also, I have two dogs - one young beagle that I am concerned of scratching. Would you think this would be a problem.

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  7. Anonymous- Yes it has to be water based poly to get the paper to stick down. My husband could bore you to tears explaining with chemistry why that is but believe me I tried it with a very high quality oil based and all that does is saturate into the paper but not hold it down. My black lab, cats, kids and boot wearing husband and I all abuse this floor on a daily basis and it is holding up beautifully. I even drop knives and pans on it regularly! The more coats of poly you apply (I think we did 5 or 6 total) the thicker your floor is and therefore more protected from doggie talons, or in my poor floor's case knives and pans. As I have said many times, because the flooring was so inexpensive we chose to invest in a very good quality poly. I like to think that it has made a substantial difference in the durability and scratchability of our floor. I hope that is helpful. Have a great day and pet those puppies for me!

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  8. Is your floor 100% smooth or are there wrinkles and unevenness?

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  9. Have any of your friends tried a whitewash or white/ivory stain to make the floor lighter in colour? I suppose a lighter coloured paper could be used. I would love to see completed floors with other colour options before I dive in and try this fantastic technique.

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  10. Anon- Yes I imagine since I added a darker color to my floor that you could also add a lighter color while applying the poly. Also you can use any color heavy weight craft paper you'd like. I've seen where people even used cook book pages!
    I would recommend that you do your own sample board on a scrap of plywood and play around with all sorts of papers and colors to find what you really like. That is how I decided to add a coppery-gold metallic sheen to mine along with the hand painted papers. Hope that helps! ~Merrilee

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  11. I love pinterest for leading me to your blog!
    Thanks!

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  12. This is so very awesome! I've been searching for a low cost flooring option since tile will blow our budget. I like the idea of adding a metallic sheen. What did you use to achieve that look?

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  13. Wow..............the floor.............I know the wallsssssssssssssssss but the floor?! Awesome and I have everything to do it!!! 5 stars!

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  14. We did the same thing in our extra bathroom with this on the top half and wood under. Than a wallpaper border we liked. It is great ,I used the rolls of paper you buy to send packages. It is a wonderful idea. We used wallpaper paste to put it on the wall and poly over it. About 5 years now and still looks great. We ran out of paper over the back of the tub surround about a foot size piece so I used lunch bags done triple thickness. You can not tell the difference. It is a wonderful idea although I never thought of it on the floor. Great idea.

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  15. This is a great idea, although water based polyurethane is not recommended for floors. One solution would be to use a water based two part clear epoxy as your top coat. Use the poly to place your flooring down. Wait for the floor to dry completely. Lightly use fine steel wool to etch the floor. Vacuum. Apply the epoxy, and allow to dry. You should have a much harder surface.

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    1. thank you so much for this advice - I was wondering if it was possible to use the water-based for the first few coats, then apply something more durable over it :O)

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    2. We are thinking of trying to add oil based poly over the water based to see if it would make a suitable finish for wet areas like a bathroom. I'll try it out on a piece of scrap wood and get back to you.

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  16. Do you know if you can do this on a cement floor---My laundry room is right off the garage with stairs and the floor is cement--I this would be a great idea instead of tile . I love this idea and like you know if I could get my husband to love this idea :) thanks for the idea Anonymous

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  17. As someone above mentioned, can you use it on a cement floor? I'd love to do it in my basement. I'm worried about that "basement moisture" in the cement floor. It never gets "wet wet," but what about that basement moisture?

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  18. As for doing this on a cement floor I'm pretty sure this would work just fine. As I mentioned before I've only ever done this on sub floor so I'm not positive but I'd be willing to bet the result would be great! If you really wanted to test it out you could always just do a small corner of your floor and wait and see how it does say in the middle of winter. I know I have seen other people who did their whole basments and really been happy with the results even years later. Hope that helps, at least a little :)

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  19. Doing this now (literally on a break). Im on the garden level condo with a concrete slab subfloor. I used water/glue mix, stained a dark walnut. Next I plan to add a few coats of poly & then a coat of epoxy for good measure. So far I love & im not even done! So worth it to rip out the disgusting carpet. I didn't have funds for wood floors & also wanted something unique. This technique is amazing!

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  20. Actually there are many water-based polyurethanes meant for floor use now. One in particular is a German product called Berger Siedel. It's available at Benjamin Moore. They used it on my hardwood floor and it has held up well.

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  21. This looks great!!! I was wondering if the floor that you start with has to be smooth? I might have missed this but do you have to roll something over it to make it lay down or will it do it on it`s own? I would like to do this in our bathroom.. I love you picture!!

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  22. I like it!

    Looks a lot better, amazing what a difference it can make!

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  24. I have been thinking about this...first in the bedrooms (unstained, unfinished wood floors, but water damaged), then I thought...kitchen and hallway! I just wondered how well they would hold up to a 75 pound Irish Setter who gets a tad excited when we come home :). I thought about removing the three layes of floor and scraping down to the wood, but I am terrified of the asbestos (grandfather passed away with mesothelioma)!!! This is the first post I saw regarding asbestos floors. Thanks for sharing :).

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    1. Teresa- I think how well the floor hold up would depend on how many layers of poly you finish the floor with, and how excited your puppy gets. As our paper bag flooring is only in our kitchen and our black lab isn't allowed in the kitchen I'm not sure what kind of damage her toenails would do. I believe it would be pretty similar to what doggie toenails can do to hardwood floors, which is to scratch 'em! I can say however that things have been dragged, dropped, and scraped across our paper floor and it has held up no problem. As far as scraping down three layers of floor to your hardwood it is totally possible as long as you wear goggles and some kind of asbestos rated face mask, it is however a ton of work! Hope that helps! ~xoxo Merrilee

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  25. Another way to consider doing this same flooring if you're concerned about water based poly not lasting - use elmer's glue to put it down first and THEN floor grade poly over the top.
    I've researched this flooring alot and it seems like most people use a mixture of 1/2 glue 1/2 water to stick the paper down first, let it dry, then stain it, then poly over the top.

    I'm curious how long your method took? The other method I've heard can take up to 36 hours to dry! Was this a shorter process?

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  26. Love it! I've been searching, searching and searching for a low cost floor! I'm going to try it this week! Thank you thank you thank you!

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  27. Hi, please tell me, can I make this on wood floor?

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