Paper Bag Flooring

Give your old basement floors a cozy yet affordable new look with this paper bag flooring!

Our peaceful Saturday morning had gone awry. My husband ran downstairs for an errand only to find dripping wet carpet, soggy drywall, and the smell of dampness permeating the air . . .

Our once cozy finished basement had turned into a disgustingly cold and drippy mess thanks to a broken sump pump. After hours of hunting on Pinterest for inexpensive flooring ideas I was intrigued by a possible solution. Paper bag floors! I was convinced this was the solution for a cozy yet inexpensive and more water tolerable basement floor covering.

After a few more hours of researching tips and tricks, I was ready to begin my project. Covering 600 sq. feet of concrete floor with brown paper.

You can find countless tutorials on the internet but my personal favorite was  this one. I love the look of the unstained paper as well as the process of tearing the paper to look like rocks. A quick search on the internet will yield countless variations, even some that are done to look like wood planks. The possibilities are endless.

The basic supply list:

  • Heavy contractor’s paper (from the paint section at Menard’s).
  • Weldbond glue. Although Elmer’s works for laying paper on top of the wood, we were laying on concrete. Several people shared struggles with adhesion on concrete and they said that using Weldbond instead minimized the problem. It worked amazingly well.
  • Varathane floor finish in satin. The floor finish is the most expensive part of this project, but this particular brand applied super easy, dried quickly and it had very little odor. It’s also water-based so it cleans up easily as well.
  • Inexpensive paintbrushes.

Basic process:

  • Clean the floor thoroughly with soap and hot water.
  • Sand any rough areas and fill in gaps. We were covering concrete slabs in the basement, so I filled in the grooves between the slabs with DAP filler and sanded again.
  • For the ‘rock’ look, tear the paper into random sized ‘rock’ formations. Always tearing, never cutting with scissors. *An important thing to note is that the paper has a front and back. If you want a uniform color pattern, mark the underside of the paper with a pencil so you know which side to place towards the floor.
  • Crumple each piece of paper into a ball and set aside.
  • Prepare your glue by  mixing 1/3 part glue to 2/3 parts warm water (if using Weldbond). If using Elmers you would use a 50/50 ratio. I mixed my glue in a bucket and then poured a portion into a paint roller tray and dipped my paper pieces in the tray, using a paintbrush to make sure every portion of the paper was covered. Then placed the larger ‘rocks’ down first and then filled in with smaller. I also made sure to have some straight edge pieces to use along the floorboards.
  • Using the paintbrush, gently brush out any large air bubbles before moving onto the next piece.
  • After the floor is completely dry coat with several layers of the sealer (we did around 5 layers). Although this project stretched out over a period of time we could still walk on the finished portion without damaging it.

The end result?

We absolutely love the paper bag flooring! We love the look of the floor, it cleans easily and for some reason, it’s super soft to walk on. It has been 4+ years and it is holding up very well. We placed some cozy hand-me-down area rugs over a portion of the floor as well, as concrete can be chilly to sit on.

What has been a favorite project you have done in your home that was inspired by something you found on the internet? We’d love to hear about it!

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