Dirt Road Designs Brown Paper Flooring Project

Brown Paper Bag Flooring

Anyone who knows me, knows how crazy I am about the color Kraft. (Is it a color? As the Queen I say it is, so it must be!) Quite often I wrap presents in Kraft paper with a plain bow. There is something so simple and beautiful about Kraft paper.

kraft gifts

Shhhhhhhhhhh……Here is another thing that is our little secret, it’s super inexpensive!

The Husband and I had been debating what to do our living room floor over with. We both agree on hardwood with the exception of the dogs. My Cooper buddy is getting older and having a kinda hard time of things. With his accidents we don’t want to put down something permanent yet.

Fast forward a couple weeks…..I was in the workshop working REALLLLY hard and it caught me outta the corner of my eye~ a giant roll of Kraft paper! Hmmmmm What to do ~What to do? Before hitting The Husband up with my idea (I have to ease him into the really crazy projects) I had to research. Come to find out there are other crazies just like me, others had covered their floors with Kraft Paper! My people, My Tribe!!!

“seeeeeeeee, they did it, why can’t we?!?!?!?!!?”

Fast forward another couple of weeks, a little pouting, nudging, coaxing and planning and I got my way! (of course, let’s be honest I usually do)

Here is how things work at our house: The Queen wants it done right now; no prep just throw that shit together and hope for the best! The Husband needs to think, plan and prep~Grrrrrrrrr. Between you and me his way always turns out better; but don’t ever tell him!

Here we go; these are The Husband’s directions not mine (so you are safe to follow them):

Tools and Supplies:


Throw away clothes if you are anything like me~  Glue was everywhere and when it dried my clothes were stiff-Yuck-even after washing

4” Spackle knife

Floor Leveling Compound

Sanding paper or block


Elmer’s Glue (One Gallon does approx. a 14’ x 14’ room)

Warm water equal to glue


Big bowl for mixing and dipping (Dish Pans work great; we have a ton)

Brown Paper ~Uncoated~ Approx. One and a half times your room’s square feet

Stain~ I use Minwax “Provincial” for EVERYTHING!

Rubber gloves

Rags for stain and glue

More Beer

Bucket big enough to fit the entire face of the wool applicator (Dish Pans work great for this as well)

Lamb’s Wool Applicator (This is a must, trust me)

lambs wool with border

Polyurethane (Water based is easiest to deal with)

Aaaaand according to The Husband: More Beer!

First let’s talk about flooring types. I put this on bare plywood and it worked perfectly with a little prep. A good friend saw ours and did his concrete floor after it was cleaned really well; it gave him a beautiful finish. I have heard of people putting this over old laminate flooring; if your floor is shot and has to be pulled up anyways you’ve lost nothing for trying! I only recommend going over laminate that is still secure in place. Peek underneath the laminate, you might have a great subfloor to work on instead.

plywood floor with border


Brown Paper Bag Flooring Step 1.

Clean everything outta the room if you can. Sweep and vacuum really well. Get all the cracks cleaned out well

Step 2.  (according to the rule follower blah blah blah)

For a plywood floor this is where your leveling compound comes in handy. Mix according to the package directions. Fill any seams, screw holes and imperfections. Same goes for concrete and laminate.

Your goal is to have a flat surface to lay your brown paper down on. Screw holes and cracks will suck your paper in when it dries so you will see them through the paper. TAKE YOUR TIME ON THIS STEP!

Let dry.

floor leveling compound on floor

Floor Leveling Compound on plywood sub-floor

Step 3.

          Take a sanding block or sand paper and smooth out the dried leveling compound. If necessary, give it another coat of compound to fill in anything you may have missed the first time. I know this sucks but you will be so much happier if you do!

Repeat sanding if needed and clean up really well.

Step 4.

While you are waiting for the floor leveling compound to dry it is time to start ripping paper, WooHoo! You want to end up with two types of paper pieces: Straight edges and torn edges. The straight pieces work so well for going up against a wall or hearth, etc. Don’t worry about ending up with too many straight pieces you can cover up the straight edge when you lay it down if you need to.

Most of your pieces should be about 8-12” circle-square-ish pieces.

Smaller 4-6” circle-square-ish pieces are good to have as well.

Don’t stress too hard about your paper pieces there is no right or wrong way to do this. It’s your floor and your rules ~Be Bold! I mean Geeez you are putting Brown Paper Bags on your floor, you’ve got this covered! If you are married to a spouse like mine, they already think you are a little touched so you have nothin’ to lose!crumpled paper with border

Now you need to take all those circle-square-ish pieces and crumple them up in to “medium-tight” balls. You are looking for lots of wrinkles but don’t destroy them. Wad them up then semi-flatten them out.

I recommend working ahead on this step otherwise you end up with glue hands trying to rip up paper, not a pretty picture!flattened paper with border

Step 5.

          Here is where we get MESSY!!!!!! It’s time to start mixing glue and water, use equal parts and mix well. Warm water just makes this a better experience. If you make too much it will keep for a few weeks back in the bottle.

What you do is throw your pieces of paper into the glue and water mixture one at a time. When you pull the pieces out, give them a squeeze and kinda flatten out. This step is a lot faster if you have help but it not necessary if you are impatient and don’t want to wait for help. You know…..like me!

While one person is dipping and squeezing the other can start laying them down. Take the flattened pieces and smooth out across the floor, layering edges as you go. Your hands are going to be covered in glue so they will glide right across and make the paper lay smooth.

Start in one corner and just work your way out. Don’t worry about keeping a wet edge. If you have to stop for something, it’s not a big deal.

Start with your straight edged pieces. Lay them right up close to the wall. Lay down a couple of feet at a time, then go back with your torn edged pieces and start filling in.

If you are putting baseboard down it doesn’t need to be perfect since it will be covered. I’ve done this in areas where we didn’t pull up the baseboard up for a quick fix; you just need to take your time and slide it right up as close as you can and it will look fine. You can always add Quarter Round molding if needed.

Brown Paper Bag Flooring DIY Instructions

Your goal is to see absolutely none of the original flooring peeking through. With all pieces, you want to be sure to overlap the edges of the pieces before it.

If you are doing it right you will still see where the paper was crumpled up, there will be lines. These are what give the floor awesome texture!

Keep looking back over what you have already done; as the glue dries you might start to see holes that you missed. No worries! Just take one of those smallish pieces, get it all glue, and slap it right over the hole even if all the pieces are already dry. When the little piece dries it won’t show up.

Brown Paper Bag Flooring DIY Instructions Dirtroadesigns.com

The holes are hard to find : (

Work your way across and out of your room. If you need to you can split the room into sections; just don’t use super straight edged sections or there is a chance it will show.

Brown Paper Bag Flooring DIY Instructions Dirtroadesigns.com

Dry with no stain

My floor dried in just a couple of hours. I of course turned the heat up and put fans on it…. You know… no patience.

Step 6

          Once your floor is completely dry it’s time to apply the stain. Even if you already love the color you still need to stain the paper to make the edges pop, this will give it the look of leather. Just pick a lighter stain if that is your choice.

Like I said before I always use Minwax Provincial for basically everything that will stand still. This color gives everything a nice rich, country look and feel. Stain color choice is totally up to you, go crazy!

Brown Paper Bag Flooring DIY Instructions Dirtroadesigns.com

Staining is super simple. Grab some rubber gloves and old rags. (Have an old tin can with an airtight cover ready to dispose of your rags when you are done; they are highly flammable)

Start in the far corner and work your way out again. Try to do your staining all at once if you can. Dip your rag into the stain and rub in a circular motion across the dried brown paper. Grab another rag and wipe the excess stain off. If it isn’t dark enough go back over it again.

Do this all the way across the floor, working your way towards the door. Be sure to corral the animals and humans for this step; the stain is not very forgiving of foot prints.

Let dry, overnight is probably best. I know, bummer right!

Brown Paper Bag Flooring DIY Instructions Dirtroadesigns.com

Step 7

          Once the stain is dry it’s time finish your floor : ). Don’t let the “Poly” scare you, it’s really not as bad as I once thought. Grab your lamb’s wool applicator and screw it onto an old broom handle. Find a dish pan and have a shopping bag ready to store the applicator between coats.Brown Paper Bag Flooring DIY Instructions Dirtroadesigns.com

Pour your polyurethane into your container, being very careful not to get bubbles into it. Pouring slowly helps.

This is the payoff step, the first time you spread the poly across: WOW!!!

Take your time and coat the floor well with a nice even coat of “poly.” You want to try very hard to keep a wet edge to work with; it’s not hard because it goes on very fast and easy. If you notice you missed a small spot, don’t stress, you will get it on the next application.

It takes all my effort and restraint to not move right in after the first coat has dried, to be perfectly honest. Put on the big girl panties and put down at least 3 coats of “poly”. It really is worth it. Wait for each coat to dry completely. All 3 coats can usually be done in one day so it’s not too terrible.

Brown Paper Bag Flooring DIY Instructions Dirtroadesigns.com

If you have a high traffic room, lots of pets with sharp claws, kids with cleats, husbands with no clue; you may want to go for a few more coats of poly to ensure a long lasting finish on your brown paper bag floor.

That’s it! Easy! And relatively inexpensive for the payoff. I did a 13′ x 24′ room for less than $200. That comes to $.64 per square foot installed!

Also when the time comes to put down hardwood it can right over this temporary fix with no prep needed.

poly on floor with border


  • R Dave Pritts

    Wife and I are working on floor in bathroom and living room , paper is down in bath but leveler is showing threw . Just wondering if you seen this and if stain will fix it ? Thanks

    • dirtroadesigns

      Hi there! You can put another layer of brown paper right over the spot to make it blend better. Also, when you apply your stain play with it a little. Go darker in some places and lighter in some places near the spot where the leveler is showing through. This will mask the spot so it won’t be as noticable. Good luck! Send pics to our facebook, we would love to see!!!

  • dirtroadesigns

    HeeHee, Thanks Mindy! I drive The Husband absolutely crazy!

  • Mindy Campagna Miskuff

    Love this! And soooo funny. Good to know I’m not the only one impatiently setting up fans, or holding a blow dryer on a project, and thinking blah blah blah when it comes to rules!

  • “Supplies: beer”. Bahahahaha!

    • dirtroadesigns

      : )

  • Aarika Chilson

    This is such a great post! I learned so much, and it was fabulous to discover another DIY flooring option. Thanks for sharing!

    • dirtroadesigns

      Ohhh, thanks Aarika!

  • Candy Kage

    Love this, there is no way my husband is going for this idea. Sigh.

    • dirtroadesigns

      My entire family thought I was crazy! We have gotten so many compliments and so many “oh my gosh this is brown paper?”

Sponsored Links

Country Living Show Rhinebeck NY June 2016 16-1

Country Living Show Road Trip

Meet Kelly and Lary Gell

Sponsored Links