Floor Treatments Using Paper Bags

Attractive flooring options are expensive and often require calling in professionals to complete. Create your own faux leather floors using common brown-paper grocery bags. Easily available grocery bags teamed with polyurethane and minimal work will transform your floors into something you can be proud of. This is a perfect home-improvement project that you can complete in less than a weekend.


Use paper bags over existing vinyl floors or concrete. Damage may occur, so avoid using the method on wood or other floor treatments you may want to revive some day.

Remove any furniture and apply painter's tape to cabinetry and baseboards near the floor to protect them. Sweep the floor thoroughly. Mop the floor and allow to dry completely. Sweep once more to remove any other debris.

Prepare your bags. If paper grocery bags aren't available, purchase rolls of kraft paper from a postal supply store. Tear the bags into flat pieces and discard the seamed bottoms. Pieces should be irregular and varied in size. Keep them small enough to handle easily. Crumple the pieces up, then smooth flat to give a textured look to your finished floor.

Basic Technique

Start in the centre and work out toward the walls, planning to finish near an exit. Open windows for ventilation while working.

Pour clear polyurethane directly onto the floor where you will be laying the first piece. Smooth the poly into an even coat with a brush or your hands. Lay the torn paper on top and apply a second thin coat of polyurethane to the top. Smooth out any bubbles. Continue laying paper in this fashion, overlapping the edges slightly.

Use scissors to trim the edges around the room so they are flush to the wall. Allow the polyurethane to dry for hours, then apply a second coat. Apply a total of four to six coats, letting each dry for one hour before applying the next. Allow the final coat to dry overnight to 24 hours.

Sweep and mop the finished floor as usual. Apply additional coats of polyurethane as the floor dulls with time--approximately one to three years, depending on use.

Decorative Elements

The basic technique looks like faux leather. The finish can be altered with stain, stamps and paper choice. Alter the preparation of the paper for additional design choices.

Stain the floor with wood stain prior to applying additional coats of polyurethane. The torn areas of the paper absorb more stain and add a weathered, natural look to the finished floor.

Create decorative borders on the flooring with stamps and paint. Purchase stamps created for stamping walls. Dip them in an oil-based paint of your choice and apply to the floor. Allow to dry completely before coating with polyurethane.

Kraft paper is available in colours other than basic brown. Choose one colour or combine several. Keep in mind the torn edges will be darker than the original paper colour.

Cut the paper into standard shapes instead of tearing. This will give the look of stained concrete or tile. Cut into equal-size squares. Make allowances for the overlap when laying them to keep the floor symmetric. Use one colour of paper or alternate colours for a checkerboard effect. Or, cut a design from a contrasting piece of paper and apply over the faux leather-finished floor, such as a yellow star burst as a focal point in the centre of the room.

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About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.