Wednesday, November 2, 2011

DIY Wednesday - Paper Bag Floor Finish

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(show with our Emerald City heels)

I have to say, of all the DIY posts that I have made so far, this one is my favorite!  While the kiddos were little and learning to walk, we were quite happy to have carpeted stairs.  However, imagine running up and down the stairs coffee in hand or little kids carrying sippy cups full of chocolate milk and after awhile--the carpet on the stairs was in sad shape.  We have wood floors through most of our home, so I wanted to replace the stairs with a solid surface and lose the carpet.  However, to have pre-finished wood risers professionally installed would probably be around $6K, and we don't want to invest that much in this house, since we don't think we'll be in it much longer.  Plus, if I wanted to spend that amount of $, it would be on a trip to Sinta, Portugal.   

Pinning on Pinterest, I stumbled across this photo from Lovely Crafty Home of stairs refinished with paper bags--that's right--paper bags!
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I tend to gravitate towards unusual things and was really taken with her paper bag floor finish.  Anyway, the next Saturday came around and before I knew it, I was up to my elbows in torn out carpet.  {That's sort of my modus operandi.  One day, in our old home, Robert came home from work to discover I had knocked down half a wall.}

Back to the paper floors, I am absolutely thrilled with the results!  At one point in my 20's I worked at a flooring store doing marketing and interior design.  I had always loved cork flooring from Portugal, and the brown paper steps looks quite a lot like that.  First, I tore out the carpet, pad, tac strips, and all nails and staples.  Next, I bought a gallon of elmer's glue, a big roll of brown paper, water-based polyurethane, a couple sticks of trim, liquid nails, and 3 rolls of white wallpaper border.

I brushed each step with a layer of straight glue.  Then I dipped pieces of crumpled brown paper in a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part glue.  Once they were crumpled, I would apply them to the step and smooth them out--a la paper mache.  What is really important, I think, is to lay the paper on a floor brushed with straight glue.  If you look at the brown paper floors at An Oregon Cottage, the floors are really light and really look like paper.  When I was putting the paper down, I was afraid it might come up if applied with only the watery glue mixture.  As it turns out, laying down the paper on straight glue turned the floors much darker, which I really love.  I thought I would have to stain them, but I actually love them just like how they turned out.

After all the treads were covered with paper, I let them cure for a day.  The risers of the subfloor had a lot of knicks and dings in them--and I wasn't too keen on having to apply 3 coats of white paint to get the risers looking good.  So, I brushed a textured wallpaper border {called anaglypta} with more elmer's glue, and applied to to the risers.  I love anaglypta because looks so much like vintage painted copper ceilings.  It also has a really clean look that still has textural interest.  It was a very fast and inexpensive way to give a clean look to the risers.  To make the steps extra clean, I finished the bottom of each one with white trim.  I am not sure what kind of trim exactly, but it was thinner than quarter round.  I broke the chop saw trying to cut a pillar {really stupid on my part} and this trim was so light and thin, I was able to cut it with shears.  I attached them with liquid nails.  After that, I applied 4 coats of water-based polyurethane.  I have to say--this project way exceeded my expectation!  The steps look great--in fact, better than anything more traditional.  It's a shame that I don't have the right equipment to take pictures that do them justice:
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the up close pic again:
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If you like this look, definitely visit An Oregon Cottage or Lovely Crafty Home for lots more tips on this technique.  I love it!  I think it would even be interesting to do something non-traditional in a studio space... like sheet music or vintage book pages.  Anyway, hope you enjoy!

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

ACK! I must do this now! they look so good! would you be able to post a little update in a couple months and let us know how the "wear and tear is"?

Jessica Haley said...

Yes--send me a reminder if I forget :)

Ruthie said...

Amazing! Do you think this technique would work on a dresser or bookshelf? Also, where did you get the amazing painting at the bottom of the stairwell?

Jessica Haley said...

I am really pleased with them. Also, running Joyfolie has it's stressful moments, and it can be therapeutic to do something methodical--sorta like a giant paper mache project :)

Jessica Haley said...

Ruthie,yes--it would definitely work on a wall or on furniture. In fact, my mom did this to a console table in her living room. She used paper that was a bit more manilla colored and the table looks like leather. Again, how cool with vintage book pages be in this application!

The painting is from TJ Max :)

Marcelle @ Mimi & Mum said...

Do you think this method would work on concrete? I am getting ready to redo the flooring in my office, I am thinking using book pages would be really fun!

Jessica said...

Marcelle, I think it would. I think you might want to etch it first or clean it really well, so you get a really good bond. If the concrete is really moist, though--like in a basement, then I might not. But we are in Houston, and our whole house is on a slab {no basement.} I think it would hold up just fine in those circumstances. I would not use this finish in a place that will see a lot of water.

Heather :: AFD Jewelry :: said...

Beautiful!!

Chantal Bergeron said...

Wow--that is amazing! I must say that I much prefer the look of your application relative to the application at the Oregon cottage...

My husband just might come home one day to our carpet all ripped out and reams of kraft paper strewn around (I've actually got a stash from packages shipped to me that I've been trying to find a way to reuse)--can I blame you for it? :)

Simon Says said...

http://carlaandpetersimonsays.blogspot.com/

I love your stairs, may try it on mine!

I did this in my kitchen and stained a checkerboard pattern in, it was Fabulous!

Jessica said...

That's awesome, Carla! I love the narrow border around it, paired with the checker pattern. I did a painted checker board floor on our wood floor in our old house on the porch and I always loved the look. How long have your paper floors been in your kitchen? How do they hold up to water? If, say, a kiddo spills something and leaves it for a bit? I did 4 coats of poly, but I have read that some people did 10! After 4 coats, the floors were plenty smooth, and I felt more than that was unnecessary. It's interesting to see how light your unstained floor turned out compared to mine.

Jessica said...

Chantal,

Ha! Go for it! Sure, blame me! You will be so happy! Your creative--I bet your husband is used to unexpected projects. When we were first married, Robert was shocked and a little taken aback at my home demolitions. Now, he trusts me and knows if I commit to a project, it will turn out. Good luck! If you do it--post pics! Or better yet, give me some tips on good indoor photos. They stairs look so great, but I can't photograph indoors with poor lighting well to save my life!

Sandy said...

Wish I know of this before I painted both by stairs shabby white!
I love this!
Now I don't have stairs,but maybe a floor? hmmm

Dear Lillie said...

Been meaning to comment on here for days - LOVE how this turned out, Jessica!

juliawithag said...

This is the best example of paper bag flooring that I have ever seen, and I do a lot of decorative floors. Fabulous!

CMW said...

Beautiful!! About how big of pieces of paper did you use?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering how well these floors will hold up to a good bit of foot traffic, like for a entry way in my new store/boutique? We would be moving furniture out regularly (using hand trucks etc). I would go with the darker stain look to minimize the visual effects of scuffs etc. I'm worried about it tearing? I guess with enough coats of poly that should not happen right?

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the look of this! It almost looks like marble! I also love the color that it turned into without having to use messy stain. My question is this...Did you let the paper dry on the straight glue before putting your glue mixture on top? Also, about what size and shape did you rip your strips? I am thinking of doing this in a bed room. I also had seen on another site about the floor getting scratched by dog claws. Have you had any trouble with the durability on your stairs and how many coats of poly did you use? Thanks so much for the lovely pics and tips!

Kyrstin Zimmermann said...

Did you poly the wallpaper you glued on as well as the brown paper bags or just the brown paper bags?

Anonymous said...

WOW! Was it just one layer of paper? How about the wear and tear? Does it hold up well? It just looks AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!! When we end up in a house of our own one day, I want to do this!

marla said...

So, this project is two months+ old. How is this holding up? I have the perfect place to do this but need to know what others have asked. Poly? and if so, how many coats? and one layer of paper? I can't wait to do this!!

Jona said...

I just did my office in this brown paper bag floor finish and it's gorgeous. I can't wait to do the stairs but I'm totally in love with your wallpaper idea so that's going on my list! Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I tried this method yesterday but when the stairs tried, there were white glue stains. If I put polyurethane on top will it hide the glue or will I have to redo those stairs? thanks for your help!!!

Anonymous said...

Did this to a wall in our old house and it looked just like your stairs. IF YOU WANT TO SAVE A STEP then instead of glue, after your paper is crumbled (the more crumples, the more character the paper has), put it in the Polycrylic (the water based top coat you will be using anyway), squeeze it out and apply to wall or floor. It acts as the glue, absorbs into the paper better and is your first coat of sealer all in one. It is water based so clean up is easy, no odor and dries fast.

Sonia Spooner said...

How big were your pieces of ripped paper?

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions my Poly coat is flaking off. It looks absolutly beautiful. Except for the fact in a few spots it is flaking off.

Lana said...

We have the WORST stairs in our new house (previous owners put down coblestone looking lino with rubber nosings, and left the old carpet on the runners. UGLY!! Luckily the lino only appears to be held down by a bit of glue- definitely wasn't installed well.

I saw this on another blog, and it was my original plan for the stairs- but our nosings are squared off. I hadn't seen another staircase with squared off nosings, and I was really worried about how it would look. But you have square nosings and it looks awesome!! So I'm just going to barge ahead and DO IT!

I work on the school year calendar and finish work on Thursday. Who wants to make a bet that the lino's gone by the weekend?

Carolyn said...

Just finished my stairs. They do look great! One question, they are very slick after the polycrilic, I put four coats on. Slick as in if you walk on then in socks you will wipe out. Any suggestions?

mnmkohlify said...

Looks amazing! Where did you find the paper ?

Carolyn said...

You can use grocery bags. I bought a role of carpenter's paper from the local hardware store--> it is basically paperbag paper on a role. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Did u poly over the wallpaper on the risers?

Anonymous said...

Hi!!! I did my stairs!! The poly has been drying for like 3 days!! I'm curious what grit sand paper to use!?

Anonymous said...

They're beautiful, but i'm curious about how they're holding up. I'm considering about doing this, but I want to make sure it will last a while before I begin.

Anonymous said...

How are they holding up to traffic & spills? I would love to do my kitchen floor with this idea. Does anyone have any answers for these questions?

Anonymous said...

how smooth do the floors have to be? I am redoing my stairs to the basement. Pulled up the carpet and the dried adhesive/foam residue are remaining. I plan on sanding them down but I don't think i can get them perfectly smooth.

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John Decker said...

This is a great article. I love this decorating style it is very unique but traditional at the same time. I enjoy light colors as well. I also really like the dark hard wood flooring. My wife and I just had our house re-done and we decided to get a Spiral Staircase for our basement. We also had the step bases made out of dark wooden flooring, sort of like this.

Anonymous said...

What products do you use to clean your brown bag floors?

Btolan said...

Did your stairs need any repair? I love this look but our stairs have visible cracks in them and need some TLC will this stand up or is this something only good for perfect stairs? Do you know? How are they holding up how do you keep them from being slippery?

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