Kraft Paper Floor: A DIY Alternative to Wood Floors {Video Tutorial}

*UPDATE: Check out the definitive FAQ for the Paper Floor Technique where we answer all the many questions we get about this cool solution for any floor issues you may have!*


Brian and I have created a video tutorial that shows all the steps needed to create a do-it-yourself floor using brown kraft paper and glue like the one we did for both our son’s room makeover and our daughter’s recent room makeover. It’s a great alternative to wood floors and creates a cool leather look.

We are unanimous in our love of wood flooring and our hatred disgust dislike of carpet. Bear with me a minute as I get on a little soap box about wall-to-wall carpet. Carpet is:

  • expensive
  • not an easy DIY project (more money for labor)
  • hard to clean (pets? children?…hello?)
  • “filter is full after 5 years” (exact quote from a carpet professional- translation: there’s no amount of cleaning that’s going to get it clean)
  • dusty, dirty edges even with regular vacuuming
  • an unchangeable color
  • not great for certain allergies
  • and, since we moved rurally, shows all of the dirt, mud and other dark things that routinely come in on people’s shoes…

OK, I’m down from the box and obviously you can guess where we stand. And while I know plenty of people who love their wall-to-wall, this video is for those like us who’d like to get rid of it, either because you can’t afford new or because you, too, don’t like carpet.

Needless to say, we are slowly getting rid of the carpet that came with the house we are living in and we are down to two rooms left: the master bedroom and the sunken living room. They will probably get some sort of wood, but for the kid’s rooms, we used this decoupage torn-paper technique that we’d used in our other house with great success.

This paper floor technique is easy, inexpensive and creates a (sort of) leather-look with minimal effort. It’s coated with polyurethane so it wears well, although I wouldn’t recommend it for high traffic areas. How inexpensive? A 12′ x 11′ room cost just $65 total, or about .50 a square foot, which is super for new flooring.

Here’s what it looks like in our daughter’s room:

I love seeing this from the hallway now instead of the brown, stained carpeting. It looks a lot airier, too, and makes the room seem bigger.

Now we can get any color of carpeting we like and when it’s old and stained we can just buy a new one (and since this was just $25, it’s not a huge investment).

Here you can better see what the floor looks like. The pieces of torn kraft paper all came from the same roll, but they dry light and dark (I don’t know why), which I think creates a more interesting look than if it was all one color.


The best part for a kids room? Nice and airy under the bed- no “cleaning up” by pushing everything under there!

Interested in replicating this flooring option in your house? This tutorial video shows you all the steps and tools you’ll need.

Click here to see video full size on YouTube.

And please let us know if you use the technique- we’d love to hear (and see!) how it turned out for you!


This is linked to:
Favorite Tutorials for 2010
Remodelaholics Anonymous
Frugal Friday @ The Shabby Nest

Friday Inspiration
Favorite Things Friday
Frugal Friday @ Life As Mom


  1. Primrose says

    Great job Jami (and Brian):) It’s very cool looking and very impressive for the time and cost. I’ll look forward to the in-person tour next time we’re in OR!

    We LOVE love love not having a carpet in sight in the apartment we’re renting now! It has laminated wood flooring which is not quite the real deal, but it’s close. Most importantly, it’s very easy to clean and easy to keep clean. And, like you said, it makes the place look bigger and brighter.

        • Karinne Kennedy says

          I read your previous comment about your floor drying with the wrinkles in it. I had the same thing to happen to my floor. (I’m actually installing it now). Where you able to get the wrinkles out and if so, how did you do it? Thanks

          • says

            The wrinkles mostly went away when the floor was completely dry, Karinne. It gets pretty flat when the glue dries and then wrinkles up a bit again when the poly is added, but that relaxed when dry, too, though it took about a week for it to completely dry.

        • Marci Collins says

          what brand of polyurethane did you use on the floors? I tried this before on a test area and it didn’t turn out right. I’m wondering if it was the kind of poly i had. Thanks!

          • says

            We’ve used mostly Varathane brand poly, Marci, though I think we tried Minwax too and it was okay. The key is to get water based so it doesn’t leave oil marks on the paper.

  2. says

    i have yet to watch the video, but just wanted to say i share your hatred er, disgust, i mean, dislike for carpet. awful for allergies, they create dust and as the underpad breaks down with use, you end up breathing all that in!

    ok, off to learn more about your technique. looks interesting…

  3. Denise says

    This is amazing and the tutorial looks great. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m not sure I’m ready to pull up my carpets just yet but should we ever move to another house (which I want to one day) this will be great to remember.
    Your bedrooms look awesome :)

  4. Amanda@The Hand Me Down House says

    WOW! This is so interesting. You guys put together a really wonderful video tutorial, too! I would have never thought of doing this — so I’m absolutely amazed. I think I’ll be imagining this in my house the rest of the day. :)

    Thanks for sharing! The room looks great!

  5. mpierce says

    My sister-in-law used this same technique on one of the walls in her house and it turned out great!

    You could probably do this on furniture and all types of things!!

    Love your site!

  6. Angela (Cottage Magpie) says

    I’m so with you about carpet! We went ahead and ripped ours out even though we didn’t know what we were going to do to replace it–right now we have painted subflooring because it was better than carpet! So I watched your video and immediately got my husband to watch it too and we’re thinking about using your technique! Great stuff, thanks so much for sharing!
    ~Angela :-)
    (A fellow Oregonian)

  7. AngieB says

    This is the most fabulous idea! The floor in my pantry is HORRIBLE, but I just haven’t been able to scrape the money together to tile it. I’m giving this a try ASAP!

  8. Kira says

    What a great technique! I am planning on renovating my tiny half bathroom (15 sq. ft. – seriously!) this Fall, and might give this a shot. Question: do you think I could do this right over the vinyl flooring I have now? (It’s in perfect condition, just a dated pattern.) Or do you think that’s too much of a shortcut and would really impact the quality of the results?

    • David says

      I doubt it would stick very well on the vinyl flooring.
      Before you start and waste time and money on the floor, if you have a small piece of the vinyl try it on there first and if it sticks well, go for the short cut.

  9. says

    Did you say you did this in another house? How well did it hold up? Also, I would love to know if it was okay for resale? Email me if you get the chance, I would be really thankful!

    Either way, we love this party link and I wanted to let you know that we are planning on featuring it. We hope that you get a bunch of new visitors. (tomorrow @ 12:00)

  10. andwhen says

    I wonder if you could use white paper to give it a more modern look? Or, perhaps you could forgo tearing the paper and lay it out in big rows. Anyone ever try something like that? Great post and video. Thank you

    • Zoe Jussel says

      Another idea is that the heavy butcher paper DOES come in colors if you want a different look. I have found burgundy, mustard and other colors, so might try a color technique on the wall after doing a floor. Can’t wait to get started!!!1

    • Joanne M says

      The polyurethane may yellow your white paper idea…be careful. I made a table in college and painted it white and then polyurethaned it to protect it but it yellowed it.

  11. says

    Wow- so glad you guys are liking this idea! Here’s some answers to your questions:

    Kira- I probably wouldn’t do it over vinyl- it doesn’t seem like it would stick as well to the glossy surface.

    Lisa- I clean it like I clean wood floors: vacuum regularly and mop with just water when needed. The polyurethane covers the paper completely.

    andwhen- I think it would look great using white kraft paper! You’d just have to vacuum more often (and not have black, hairy dogs…). I’ve not seen it in strips, it gets harder when the pieces are bigger, though, so keep the pieces easy to handle and glue down. The torn edges and random sizes allow for easy application- more room for mistakes! :-)

    Remodelaholic- Thank you! It lasted well and was received well by our buyer of our last house (I emailed you as well).

    Amanda- Thanks, I’ll be sure to stop by!

    El Marginalio- yes, it would work just the same on plywood as particle board, I believe. You may want to sand first if it’s not smooth, though.

    • Hillary says

      I have a loft with plywood floors and was wondering if the fresh (never sealed or painted) plywood needs to be treated or sealed first in order for it not to suck too much of the glue when the paper and glue is applied. And about wear because of rough areas… did you just “patch” those areas as the paper wore through?

      I am very excited about doing this, but just want to do it right. I am with you about carpets – more so after tearing up a few! Thank you!!!

      • says

        While we haven’t done a whole floor on plywood, Hillary, we’ve done test areas (for the magazine spread) and found it worked great – almost better than our particle board floors, with less wrinkles. So no need to prep the floor with a sealer first. We have always tried to get the subfloor as smooth as possible, sanding and filling where needed to minimize the rough areas. But if an area wears down, yes, it’s easy to apply a paper patch over the top. :)

  12. Amanda says

    I just wanted to stop by and let you know that I linked to this post today from the new Home & Garden channel at Craft Gossip. :) My hope is to share many of the fabulous projects I see everyday with the vast CG audience. I hope you will not only stop by and subscribe to CG, but will tell your friends about the new category! Hope you see some traffic from it!

    Your feature will appear in the main Craft Gossip RSS feed, on the main home page and can be found directly here

    If you would like a “featured by” button, you can grab one here!

  13. Brandy says

    I’m a new follower. This is amazing, something I never would have thought of!!! Wow!

  14. Karlie says

    Oh Jami, you may have just saved me. I love the idea. We need to re-carpet before we put our house up for sale. My kids have a small room and I think this might work. I’ll let you know!

  15. Nancy :) says

    Amazing! I have seen this done on walls using tissue paper but never on floors. I’m going nuts right now trying to figure out where I can do this! What a great idea!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing it.

  16. says

    Jami – Maybe crazy is the wrong word … truly this is one of the niftiest things I’ve seen in a long time! I am going to be doing a remodel in our home office soon and I told my husband that this is what I’m doing for the floor. Thank you for the inspiration! (BTW – love the blog – it has become one of my favorite reads!)

  17. says

    Idfritz- I think that’s one of the nice things about this- if you ever want to install wood (or, heaven forbid- carpet :-), it would go right over the top with no problem. About the only thing you couldn’t do would be to paint it- but not many people do that to subfloors, anyway. I’ve never even imagined it with fabric- I think you’d have a problems with edges fraying and not laying smooth. Probably wouldn’t have that leather-look also. Interesting idea.

    As far as renovations go, this is a pretty inexpensive one, even if it’s just for a few years before you can afford something else. But as I said in another comment, we sold our other house with this flooring in the upstairs and the new family thought it was cool. Again, though, even though I’ve been surprised at how well it’s worn, I still can’t recommend it for high-traffic areas as there are still some bumps that with a lot of traffic can get worn down. That said, it’s easy to fix areas with a piece of paper and more poly! Best wishes on your upcoming marriage!

  18. ldfritz says

    I saw this post on remodelaholic and I thought it was a super cool idea. I’m getting married in three weeks and my fiance and I are seriously thinking about doing this in the main portion of the house we’re going to be living in. We do have a couple questions:
    1. How hard is this to undo – if we ever decide to do something else is this going to be a bear to cover over/rip up?
    2. Have you ever tried using a different material than paper? Do you think this technique would work with fabric? I know it would be more expensive to buy fabric but we want to be smart about what “renovations” we make to the house.

    This is an amazing idea! Thank you so much.

  19. ♥ Calamity Anne ♥ says

    What a fantastic idea!!! I finally got fed up with our carpeting a few months ago, and yanked it all up. Since then I’ve been looking at concrete floors, but your idea may be something for the interim until we can afford to put down wood flooring! Thanks for sharing!!!

  20. Tracy DeLuca says

    My parents did this on the floor of our house when I was little! But, they just used brown paper bags from the grocery store! It held up really well, it was still in perfect condition when the house was demolished about 7 years later.

  21. Hog Wild Jewelry says

    i did this years ago with it on my bedroom walls! it looked amazing. i painted the pieces shades of pink with gold accents and then wrinkled the paper. I put it on the wall with wallpaper paste and voila! what a great idea for the floor though. Thanks!

  22. says

    What a great idea! My husband and I own a faux painting company and we have done this technique many times for walls and ceilings, but would have never thought about it for floors. To add a little more depth and character you might consider rubbing on a wood stain before the polyurethane. Great post! I’m sharing it on facebook.

  23. info says

    Hi Guys!

    Myself and my wife tried this brown paper flooring in our sunroom which has a smooth finish concrete floor and am a little worried that we have done something wrong but yet have followed all your directions.

    Our floor still has the wrinkles and it’s been just about a week since we did it…we haven’t put the finish on it yet as we wanted to see how it was going to look before putting the finish on it, I guess my question is, do you know if some of the wrinkles will pull out when we apply the finish? or should we try and take it all up and start again? Thank you!

  24. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Info- I’m sorry! We’ve never tried it on concrete, and my guess is that the concrete is not acting the same as particle board or plywood. On these surfaces the paper should smooth out as it dries- and then wrinkle up again after applying the finish before drying completely. It then has a few bumps here and there, but is mainly smooth.

    Since this doesn’t sound like your experience with the concrete, maybe there’s too much moisture in the concrete?(I’m just throwing out guesses, here…) I’m not sure I can recommend anything for you, not having experience on that surface other than to try some other flooring. Ugh, so sorry.

  25. says

    Hey Jami, thanks for your comments on my stairs! I basically bolt for B&N and read all the current issues over a Starbucks latte before they cool down from the press LOL. I actually have to refrain from reading the ones I get in the mail- there is such a delay!

    I hope you’ll check out my upstairs (with stain)…hopefully I’ll post on that this week!

  26. says

    I just love this idea. I used it on my bathroom counter top and it came out just fantastic! Thank you. I will be doing some floors with this idea.

  27. says

    Someone asked about fabric… this should work just fine with fabric. The fraying mentioned shouldn’t be a problem as the the edges are sealed first with glue, and then with Polyurethane. The paper that goes down doesn’t tear after it is finished, thus the fabric wouldn’t fray.

    In regards to vinyl flooring … this should work just fine. Anything that can be decoupaged normally (think glass jars that we all made in Kindergarten, wood boxes, etc.) can be decoupaged as a floor. If sticking is a concern, there are primers made that are “super-stick” that could be applied ahead of time.

    People have asked if the floor can be removed … If you installed vinyl or hardwood or laminate or ceramic or any other type of flooring, it would have to be pulled up before reflooring (or covered over). This is just the same. You just can’t re-expose whatever the subsurface of the floor you covered (i.e. if you did this over vinyl, you couldn’t ever re-expose the original vinyl).

    Have fun with it!

  28. says

    Jami, Thanks for the inspiration to try this project! Here are a couple of things that I learned while covering our 370 sq. ft. room. After you crinkle the paper, it will go down much easier if you iron each piece with a clothes iron. If you have a floor that already has a coat of poly on it (we had a painted floor), you can use poly for your glue and it works very well! If you use a squeegee to squeeze the air and excess glue from under the paper after gluing it to the floor (but before putting glue on the top), the floor will dry with very few wrinkles. I’m not sure how to place a pic of our floor on this post, but if you want to see the result, you can visit our blog. Again, thanks for such a $ saving idea! You rock!

  29. says

    This is a great idea, and I’d like to try it, but we have a concrete floor in the room I’m considering. I would be really interested in anyone’s experience who has tried this successfully on a concrete floor. I did read the comment above about the folks who tried it on concrete, but it sounds like they applied it to bare concrete. I’m wondering if we painted the concrete floor first, and then tried to apply the paper technique, if that would work better. Or I wonder if applying a coat of polyurethane directly on the concrete first, and then applying the paper technique would work. Or is there something else we could or need to do to prepare the concrete in advance of applying the paper to it? Anyone have any experience with this in terms of concrete flooring? Thanks for any suggestions! It’s a fantastic idea, Jamie, and I’d really like to try it!

  30. Anonymous says

    Okay, I’m in the throws of talking my husband into doing this to our ENTIRE HOUSE, all 2100sqft upstairs and down PLUS the stairway. We have crappy 2003 whitish/super light beige carpet with stains galore and ugly dated linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms. Do you think it would look better to do a uniform color throughout the house or do you think doing a variation color such as a lighter creme color paper in a bathroom or transition to kitchen would look okay? We’re also going to paint all of our trim white during the process as it is this horrible light brown color that looks like a mix of grey and brown. Ick.

  31. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Southern Belle- Great tips! The squeegee one is especially appealing…

    Athena- Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner- I think the main issue with concrete is if it’s on top of dirt or not. Moisture will come up from the dirt, so that will always be an issue, I think. If it’s not directly on dirt, I don’t think it would be a problem, but sealing it first would be a good idea, too.

    Anonymous- Goodness, that’s a lot of work you’ve got ahead of you! I’m of the firm opinion that as long as there’s a door or some line of change, the floors in all the rooms can be different- do what you’d like! Also a couple of readers have had great success with applying a floor stain after gluing the paper (but before the poly) to create a cool, darker look. And the white trim will look great- I think you’ll be very happy (once all the work’s done). :-)

  32. Anonymous says

    I have just finished my staining and there are blotches. I was especially careful to spread the stain evenly and not drip as I pulled the brush from the can. Oh well…this is a learning experience. I do love the squeegie idea also as I have some wrinkles that I don’t think will go away.
    Thanks for this idea. I’ve been walking on (and getting splinters) on particle board for a year. I just never had the money to refinish. This is the perfect solution.

  33. Marie says

    What a innovative idea..Considering this for my son’s bedroom which has icky carpet and we have no $$$ to replace. Wondering though, what happens when furniture is scooted and moved around on it.

    Also, someone mentioned doing this to their bathroom counter. Is it really durable for a bathroom counter?

  34. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Anonymous- I haven’t tried staining myself, yet, though I plan to- sorry! Wonder what the difference is?

    Marie- The floor is not as bad as wood floor in terms of scratching, but you still need to be careful- we use felt on the bottom of furniture and basically treat it like a wood floor.

    And I have no idea about a bathroom counter top. My gut says paper + water = no, but I’ve heard from people who’ve tried it in unconventional places with success. It all boils down to how desperate you are to get rid of what you don’t like! If you see it as a quick, cheap, temporary fix for something ugly, then I always say to go for it. :-)

  35. D @ Shady Porch and Sweet Tea says

    I’ve done this to a wall before but I would have NEVER thought of the floor. It looks great!

  36. Anonymous says

    Love this idea! I have kids with horrible allergies and we have wanted to get rid of the nasty carpet. Your idea is amazing!

    My questions are…I have never walked on a subfloor before. Does this technique make your floors/stairs cold? How would you transition the subfloor to tile? (Our great room goes from tile/carpet/tile.)Do the wrinkles “stub” toes or feel uncomfortable on the feet?

    These are all questions I have to ask so I can get the hubby on board! Thanks for the ideas!

  37. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Anonymous- The subfloor isn’t usually the only layer of flooring, so I’ve not noticed it being cooler at all.

    When we transition from one flooring height to another we simply use wood thresholds you buy from home improvement stores- stained, if needed, and sealed the with poly.

    Hope that helps!

  38. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Beth- So glad you like it! If you use the water-based polyurethane, the smell is minimal – truly. Oil based poly smells awful and I would’ve left the house, too. :-)

    Still, everyone’s different, so I’d suggest trying a little somewhere to see how you think it smells. It doesn’t bother me at all.

    Hope that helps!

  39. Beth says

    1st of all, I LOVE this idea! Thanks for taking the time to make the video as well. It’s really boosted my confidence in trying this myself. Before I do, I need to know if the polyurethane smells. We tried painting the floor with a urethane paint, but the house smelled so bad that we had to vacate for 3 days. I just had a baby, so that’s not an option. Any chance this isn’t going to run us out of our home?

  40. KellyinNC says

    Love this idea and I am dying to try it. We are getting ready to move to my Mother-in-laws childhood home that my husband recently inherited. The house has beautiful original hardwood except in one hallway and the kitchen/breakfast area, which are an AWFUL 1970’s old yellow stained linoleum. I know you don’t suggest high traffic areas but I was wondering if this would work as a quick temporary fix until we can afford to tile or lay more hardwoods?? The linoleum is killing me! Also! Along with the old linoleum I am also inheriting old stained cabinets and RUST ORANGE formica countertops and backsplashes. Any quick temporary fixes for those issues?!?! Paint??

  41. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Kelly- This would be perfect for this! I think I said in the video that it held up great on some stairs that I didn’t think it would. I still can’t recommend it “officially” because everyone has to take the chance on their own, but I had great results with it and this is tailor-made for temporary fixes.

    And yes- paint the cabinets AND the counters!! Google painting counters and you will find folks who did it successfully and their recommendations of what worked best. I’ve seen some great things done for little money (but lot’s of elbow grease!) that totally transform a kitchen. Go for it- I think you’ll love the results!

  42. says

    Lottsa comments! I don’t have time to read them all right now but I’ll get back to it. I love this application for the floor! I live in an old travel trailer by myself and no pets. I’m thinkinking of doing this to my floor. Problem: the old vinyl is one piece all the way under the cabinets to the outer walls. I think it would be a big job and maybe a disaster to try and take the vinyl out or even to try and cut it along the cabinet base. So I think I’ll try to do it on top of the vinyl. You have any thoughts on that?

  43. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Laswan5- I think this would be a great solution for your vinyl. Maybe do it in a test spot first, just to make sure it adheres, but it’s glue, so I think it should. :-)

  44. says

    I read where someone put some tea in the glue and water mixture to give it some color. What do you think about tea or coffee? Or maybe some wood stain? That would be easier than staining it before the poly. Not the same but non the less some color. What do you think?

  45. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Laure- I did just hear about someone who tinted the glue with water-based stain and they really liked the outcome. They did a number of tests first to get the color they liked, which I always encourage people to do. Definitely easier than staining separately!

    Do try test patches with your different ideas- and don’t forget to let us know how it came out!

  46. says

    Jami & Brian, I saw this video and excitedly told my husband we were gonna try it in an upstairs bedroom! I cut the old carpet up and threw it right out the window….THAT was a welcome sight….I absolutely despise carpet and with only 2 rooms in the whole house with carpet, I’m thrilled to get rid of it. We just finished placing the last piece of paper…literally, just about 10 minutes ago. I kept your video up on my computer for inspiration. And boy am I glad I did! I started last night and was immediately disappointed because of the bubbles in the paper…I wasn’t expecting the bubbles so soon and feared I was doing the application entirely wrong. By this morning, that area had dried and looked FABULOUS!! Soooo, we jumped right in on the remaining bare floor and I am almost paralyzed from being on my hands and knees all day…….but we are so excited to see the transformation. Now, we’re just waiting until tomorrow evening to apply the first coat of polyurethane. With the high cost of hardwood flooring, we are very appreciative that ya’ll posted this video. Thanks so much!!

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      Kimberly- I SO know the feeling of seeing that carpet leaving the house- always a welcome sight to us as well. :-) I’m also very glad to know this is working for you- thanks for letting us know!!

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      I’ve never done that, but since it’s just glue and poly, I would think it could be done- if the linoleum is in good condition and there aren’t a lot of bumps and raises in the surface design (most things show up when the paper dries). I recommend to do a test patch in an out-of-the-way spot and see what it looks like!

  47. Anonymous says

    I love this it looks so amazing , and I was wondering if it could be on concrete also or should I just go over the old floor, its old sticky tile (very old), I guess what im really asking is do you think it would stick better to the old tile or concrete? Help please I really want to do this for my guess room , Thanks !

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      I’ve only done this on plywood subfloors, so I don’t know for sure. I know that others have used it on concrete and they’ve had success using just poly to glue the paper down (by-stepping the watered glue) which apparently adheres better to the concrete. It may go over the tile – if you could do a test somewhere and see the results, that would probably be best!

  48. Anonymous says

    Hi Jami: How would this hold up to pets? When they run and play would that damage the floors? Also, I am wanting to do this in my bathroom, have u put it in your bath or kitchen?

    please reply
    Thank You

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      I’ve been asked this a lot. I think it’s “your mileage may vary” kinda thing – depending on how your dogs are and everything. Some dogs don’t do well with anything, lol.

      Our dog hasn’t been on the floor- he’s not allowed in the bedrooms – so I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that the coats of poly cover pretty good- you can always add more coats, as well. AND if there is a spot that gets torn, it’s easy to repair: tear a new piece, crumple, and adhere with a brush full of poly (no glue). Let dry and add another coat or two and you’ll never know it was there. And THAT’s something you can’t say about any other floor, except maybe painted! :-)

  49. Anonymous says

    This looks awesome and the video is great!! I was thinking of doing this with white paper, maybe adding a little stain to the glue..

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      Yes! I’ve just heard from a reader who used the stain in the glue and they said they really liked how it turned out. It was with brown paper, so I’d do a test on a piece of wood to see if you like the white with the stain look.

  50. says

    I wonder if you used wood grain paper (saw some at paper mart that comes in 100′ rolls)and cut it into rectangle strips to create a wood plank look? Also after seeing your tutorial I did some research and noticed that some people who have done this don’t use glue at all and just use the poly for the whole thing. Have you tried that? Also can you do this over a fake wood vinyl floor?

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      Hmmm…I’ve never seen paper like that. I think as long as it isn’t too “fake looking.” Also, the paper develops crushed-type marks with this method, so…?

      Yes, I’ve read that people have by-passed the glue and just use the poly (I guess it really helps when using it over cement) but there’s one reason I don’t: cost. The glue is a LOT cheaper than the poly. :-) Your choice.

      I’ve only tried this on subfloors. My advice is to try a test area (or piece if you have leftover pieces somewhere) on anything that’s not plywood/particle board so you can see what it does.

  51. Anonymous says

    When I saw this on, I was thrilled! Our 1920’s bungalow has old wood floors that are in terrible shape, but we don’t have the budget to refinish them. I love the leather-look of this remodel and can hardly wait to head over to Home Depot for my brown paper, glue and stain. Thank you so much for an easy, inexpensive–yet beautiful idea!

  52. Anonymous says

    Loved your video tutorial, great tips. You have inspired me to rip all of our carpet out and begin the task. Prep is always the hard part. We finished one room, well we are on coat four of poly. We seem to have a bunch of wrinkles left. Three days post glue. Our sub floor is plywood. Is this normal? Just wanted some reassurance before we begin room two! Thanks in advance

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      I always think it looks awful, too at the beginning. The wrinkles always subside for me after coating with poly and letting it sit for a week. They continue to relax even after that, though there will always be a couple of wrinkles- though nothing that bothers us. :-) Hope that helps!

  53. Anonymous says

    Thanks a bunch, my husband was relieved to hear it. The wrinkles have been weighing heavy on his mind. Again thanks for all your helpful info. It’s really great.

  54. Anonymous says

    I just did this for my boys room and it is wonderful! Thank you for sharing this video, my daughters room is next.

  55. says

    I LOVE this idea! We already have hardwood flooring throughout our house (lucky I know, 1950’s cape cod!) but I HATE the concrete in the basement. We were thinking of doing the epoxy, but I don’t really like the look. So…I’m going to do a test, where I put down epoxy to seal the floor, then do the kraft paper and poly. I’ll post and say how it turned out!

    • Anonymous says

      Lisa- I’ve been waiting for another post to see how the epoxy on the concrete worked for you. We want to do this for our sons room but our floors are concrete and I want to “go to school” on you before we start! Someone- please let us know how this is working on your concrete floors! We’re scared but desperate too get rid of this nasty carpet!

    • Anonymous says

      I’m anxious to know if the epoxy worked! Please let me know! I want to do my son’s room but don’t want have to redo! This sounds perfect for this room!

    • says

      I wrote on our FAQ for the floors (link in sidebar) that I know of people who’ve successfully applied this to concrete. The key is to only use the poly- no glue/water. Just brush on the poly like I do with the glue in the video, apply paper and brush over, let dry and then coat with coats of poly. While I haven’t done it myself, I’ve had a couple of people tell me it worked for them. Good luck! :-)

  56. Clayton W says

    I’m in the thick of a home remodel and already tore out the hideous carpet in our master bedroom. I’ve had several ideas about alternatives to traditional flooring but love your approach. I did a proof of concept test in the window ledge/alcove and my family is so impressed I got the green light to do more…however…the subflooring isn’t remotely flat and has soft (weak) spots. I’m about to tackle that, and thought I’d relay another useful website I found for others in my situation. It involves putting down an additional layer of plywood (blah), but the floor will be flat and if I do it correctly, quieter for those downstairs (I plan on adding an underlayment, like when putting down wood floors upstairs):

    If it looks and works half as good as the alcove, I’ll be happy. Thanks for your blog! -Clayton

    • says

      Glad your family is letting you proceed, Clayton. :-) Thanks for the idea and link about fixing the subfloor – our first house had a pretty uneven floor, but not so bad that we couldn’t prep with some sanding and filling. Love to hear how they turned out!

  57. says

    Love this idea – just wondering if you have ever tried cutting the craft paper into strips much like wood floor planks and putting it on the floor similiar to a wood floor application in appearance?

  58. Ksteagall says

    I’m sad :(. I did this in my 200 square foot dining room after watching your video literally ten times! Anyway it is a complete failure. I did everything exactly as the video showed and the only thing I can think of is maybe I didn’t press down enough when gluing the paper. Even though I really thought I did? It’s been almost a week and four coats of polyurethane and it’s wrinkled terribly! Any advice Jamie?

    • says

      Ugh! So sorry you are sad about this. First off- don’t give up yet. Wait a couple more weeks and see if the wrinkles disappear – that’s what happened to me when I did our son’s room. I even wrote a post here called “Floor Failure” and then had to retract my words later! Go ahead and read it for encouragement. :-) What was your subfloor? I think pressboard (what ours is) takes longer to fully dry than plywood.

      Second, I have found there are less wrinkles when I use smaller pieces of paper. But then it takes longer…

      My fingers are crossed for you!

  59. Ksteagall says

    Your right about the paper size because when I started I used smaller pieces and by the time I finished I found myself using much larger pieces. I am so not giving up just yet though! After I posted my comment I happened upon your “floor failure” blog (as I remembered it being mentioned in the video) and it made me feel so much better! My floor looks just like that so I’m waiting two weeks before tearing it up. And I am going to do it again! Yes I am a determined woman lol! I’m remodeling an entire kitchen (500 sq ft) for less than a grand is my goal, just for fun! I’m calling it my faux kitchen complete with painted countertops (to look like granite), paper flooring, painted “tile” look linoleum and faux glazed maple cabinets. So far the cabinets look amazing, thank you for your blog I LOVE IT!

  60. says

    Hello! I found your video when I was searching for creative things to do on top of subfloor, and I LOOOVE this technique! We applied it in my kids room last week and I LOVED the look of it… until we did the polyurethane. :(
    Before, it looked like a beautifully textured floor. Now, it looks like wet, wrinkly paper. I know you mentioned that the wrinkles should come out, but I was wondering about the poly shine that makes it look wet. Is there a brand of poly that you recommend? We’re thinking about doing this in our other two bedrooms (even a shiny wet paper floor is better than the alternative!) and I’d like to make sure we do it right, this time!

    • says

      Hey there, RinaMarie! I’m glad you tried the technique – I hope your wrinkles will continue to relax, as mine did.

      As for poly, we use the Varathane brand and always get the satin finish. We’ve not noticed a “wet” look when using the satin finish. What finish did you use?

  61. says

    Thanks for responding so quickly, Jami! We used RustOleum ( It says “clear gloss” so I wonder if that’s where we went wrong. This is the second day since we applied the poly, and the wrinkles are already relaxing and I’m definitely happier with it (although we can still practically see our reflection in the floors!) Will definitely try the varathane next time! Thanks so much!

    • says

      Oh, that’s it- the clear gloss finish is always shiny and ‘wet’ looking. You’re OK with the brand – doesn’t matter if it’s RustOleum or Varathane – just make sure to get the satin finish.

      So glad you’re happy with the results – SO much nicer than nasty flooring, huh? :-)

  62. says

    Hi, Jami! I used this same technique on my entry stairs and it completely transformed the space. The stairs were previously covered in carpet but I knew I wanted them to be wood with a runner. However, hubby was not thrilled with replacing the treads, possibly the risers, and for sure the balusters so I had to find something to do to the existing stairs.

    Hop over to my website to take a look at the transformation that ended up being under $150!!!! Soooo excited : )

    I linked your page to it as well, thanks for the help!

  63. dee says

    Thanks for the tutorial! Could I do this in my tiny bathroom? Would you recommend oil-based poly for a bathroom or kitchen instead of the water-based that you use? Both my kitchen and bath need help, and they are so small that I wouldn’t mind ‘fixing’ spots as they wear…I was just worried about water, especially in the bathroom, softening huge areas etc. Do you know a solution?

    • Jami says

      I’ve never tried it, though in crafting, decoupaging fabric creates a texture – and I remember the edges would fray…so I guess I don’t know. :) My suggestion would be to try it on a piece of plywood or something.

    • Jami says

      I haven’t done this technique in a bathroom, Hollie, but I’ve heard from a couple of readers who have. The water-based poly will seal just as well as an oil and won’t leave the greased spots that oil-based can. I would only ever use water-based.

  64. Sharon Hastings says

    Just recently discovered you tube and found many videos to learn different things I can do on with brown paper as have been working with the paper for many years. I hane a suggestion that is more work but worth it. I use several glazes to paint the paper and dry. Tear the paper and put in water, let it get good and wet then wipe off excess, paint the glue on and lay on floor, with a rag smooth out wrinkles and you will get a flat surface. Let dry thoroughly and seal. …I started out doing vases, walls, have a secret ingredient instead of wallpaper paste that can easily be removed and will not damage your walls. For that reason I do not seal it and has been on the walls for many years. Will send pictures if I can figure out how to. Maybe you can help. You might try this on samples first. Let me know, anyone who reads this at, please post in the heading re paper as delete if I think it is junk mail. Sharon

  65. Bill Espinosa says

    WOW! We have been living on sub-floors for a year and a half now. Just didn’t have the cash to invest into the floors. I googled alternative floors last Tuesday, I showed my wife Stephanie and we dove in. This truely was a God send for us, Thank you sooooooo much! Saturday morning Steph and I started tearing paper and crunching them up in to a barrel. By Saturday at 5:30pm the dinning room was papered.. We used smaller paper which took a lot longer to put down, Steph instead of using a brush used her hands to smooth out the paper/glue mixer. The sub-floor is OSB so it’s not as flat of a surface as plywood but we like the effect. We were going to stain it however when we woke up on Sunday it has turn a chocolate brown with darker veins. We loved the look! So no stain. I have put 2 coats of water based poly on it yesterday. The living room is next! Had kinda of a kraft paper crunch party yesterday afternoon, which yielded 4 rolls of crunched paper in to a 55 gallon trash sack for use this Friday and Saturday ( 4 more rolls to go sometime this week ). Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

    • says

      Awesome, Bill!! This is so good to hear – and we totally felt the same way when we first did it years ago. :) I’m cheering you on as you finish – enjoy your new floors!

      • Bill says


        608 sq ft completed! Dinning, living room and Steph’s office. Steph papered all the rooms, I am very proud of her. It looks great, my wife is so happy. Moved furniture in this morning. We used 850 sq ft of paper, 4 gallons of glue and 5 gallons of poly. We applied 6 coats of poly. We used smaller pieces of kraft paper approximately 8″. For less than 400.00 and a lot of time (4 days total), we have a great floor.
        Thank you again Jami!

        Best regards,
        Bill and Stephanie Espinosa

        • says

          Wow, it sounds great, Bill – congrats! And it sounds like a ton of work all at once – all I’ve ever done is one room at a time. :)

  66. Krista says

    I know this is an older post but i must say i love the idea, i wanna try this in my bathroom i think it would look with my frogs and bamboo thats in there

    • says

      It’s still super popular, Krista, and I get lots of comments and emails on this diy project! Go for it, it sure is a conversation starter, too. :)

  67. Karlin says

    I’ve never been overly adventurous but am stepping out into new territory here. I’m thinking of using this technique on the back side of glass as a tub surround. Any comments or advice?

    • says

      It’s basically decoupage, Karlin, so it should be okay as long as it’s sealed behind the glass with no chance of water leaking in. Sounds very interesting!!

  68. Nicole says

    I really want to do this in my house. However, the one thing that is holding me back is the dry time. The problem is I want to do my hallway and living room. The hallway leads to my own bathrooms, two of my bedrooms, to my stairs and my kitchen. I don’t know how I can keep my family away from all these areas for a long period of time. Any suggestions or answers would be appreciated!

  69. Mandy says

    Hi, I have tried this with old scores of music on a wall and it looks amazing. Im also wanting to use on my house in france but unfortunately our floor is concrete. The other issue is Im not sure what the French equivalent of polypropylene – any ideas anyone?

    • says

      Hi Mandy! Have you checked out the FAQ page linked at the top here? There’s a section about doing this technique on concrete – readers have had good luck with it when they use only the poly to glue the paper down and then coat. Is there any type of home stores there where you can see what they offer for coating wood floors? That’s what you need – in a water-based application, though. Here’s hoping you can find something! :)

  70. Jen says

    Has anyone with neighbors below them (I’m in a top floor condo) done this? My big concern other than how time consuming this will be is noise. I only plan to put it in the bedroom and den, but I do have dogs that wrestle and play in the bedroom and I worry that there may even be additional noise (creaking/squeaking) from walking. Would love to hear from anyone on how noisy it is.

  71. Kelly R says

    Hey just wanted to thank you for this tutorial I am about to start gluing down the paper in my daughters new room less the nasty white carpet!!! Crossing my fingers!

  72. April says

    Do you think you could do half of the room and later do the other? If so, would you do the poly all at once or can you completely finish one side then the other?

    • says

      You probably could, April, though I don’t know if a line would be visible. If your goal is to be able to set furniture on one half of the room, you’ll need to poly half, let cure, move furniture and then repeat the process. Other than that, I’m not sure. :)

      • April says

        My thoughts were to do a hallway to completion, then move on to the adjoining room without using a threshold. Just wondered if it would turn out ok. If I overlapped the adjoining areas, I guess it wouldn’t be much different than repairing a tear….as far as appearances. Thoughts?

        • says

          You can certainly do that, April – I think it would look fine. My one suggestion if you know you will be overlapping an area later is to leave the edge with uneven pieces of paper – not a straight line – so when it was time to join the two areas, it will look a bit more seamless. ‘Course, you probably already though of that. :)

    • says

      Sorry to hear that, Jeanette! That has not been our experience – our floors in this house are 3 and 4 years old and look the same as the day we finished them. They are, however, in low-traffic bedrooms which is what I recommend in the video.

      Many readers have told me they’ve done it in higher traffic areas (some whole houses), but I don’t have any experience with how that would hold up. I do know, as I stated, that we had stairs done in our old house that were used quite a bit and looked great. I can only testify to how they hold up for me, applied like I described. Again, sorry your flooring didn’t hold up as well. :(

  73. Becky says

    What about countertops?
    My decor throughout is very country,and I was wondering if it could be applied to countertops

    • says

      I have not done that, Becky, so I can’t recommend it or comment on it’s durability. I can say, however, that a few readers have told me they’ve done this and that it held up fairly well and was easy to fix the places if something did come up with use. Diy projects are often a matter of trial-and-error. :)

  74. Sharon says

    Can I add color to the paper before I put it down? What did you use at the door frame or threshold? I am totally going to do this when it gets warm. My daughters carpet is disgusting. I want a little bit of color though. What about dogs? Do they scratch the floor?

    • says

      Lot’s of people stain the paper before sealing, Sharon. Read the FAQ page for more info on that. We just used an oak molding stained to match our wood floors as a threshold – anything that works for you is good. I think some people with dogs have commented about how it holds up, but if you put an area rug, there’s not much floor left to show in a bedroom. :)

  75. says

    Have you ever heard of anyone doing this in a home that has wheel chairs in the home? We are very hard on our floors. We live on a farm and take in and adopt special needs children. (five still at home) I home school so we are home all day every day on our floors. We recently got money back from a local store for flooring they sold us that was supposed to hold up for 15 years and didn’t even come close to that in holding up. I just didn’t know if the moving around of the wheel chair would tear it up as when one turns their wheel chair it kind of pulls on the floor. Great idea and post. Am going to do this on a few walls in the home and as a back splash in the kitchen. Would like to do a few floors as well but wanted to check if anyone with wheel chairs has tried it and how it held up. Thanks so much! Blessings!

  76. Laura G. says

    There are so many different Kraft papers out there! I’m having an issue figuring out which one to use. Is there a certain weight I should be looking for? Some are 40lbs while others are 60lbs.

    • says

      I’m sorry I don’t know about the weight, Laura – I just always buy the ‘builders paper’ that Home Depot sells. One time it was thicker than normal, though, and the floor didn’t turn out well, so I would suggest the lighter pound kraft paper. You want to be able to easily crumple it, as it’s the creases where the interesting lines and texture come in to play.

  77. Sharon says

    I added an oil based stain to my glue by mistake (home depot guy told me it was water based). I want to know if I can cover it or should I rip it up? Just in closet, not whole floor. How do I rip it up?

      • Sharon says

        Thanks so much. I’m so excited to do this. My niece is doing it and now so is one of my co workers. Three different approaches. My niece let her daughter and family members draw on the paper first. I am using a stain and cut out lettering of my daughters name and my coworker is planning on putting paw prints on hers. All should look good. I’m considering the hallway and stairs.

  78. claudia alvarado says

    Hi! Just getting started on prepping my son’s floor. I am noticing a lot of grooves and such from the staples. Did you use wood filler at all, or do you think it would work fine without. Thanks!

  79. says

    This is brilliant! I saw your video on this last year and kept it on my mind. Now that I have the opportunity to redo our floors I’ll be using this! Thanks!

  80. allison says

    Hello! I have a quick question. I did this to a floor – concrete base.. and I used a water-based Polyurethane..- alot of coats. But, now, when you walk on the floor with rubber soled shoes, it makes that awful squeaky sound. Have you heard of this issue? I am now afraid to do this in other areas that are even more high traffic than this first bedroom.

  81. says

    I actually did this and I love the final results. I however had several challenges, which required me to repaper 3 different times. It was definitely a learning experience and I sure wish I had known some of the things before I started. :) I actually wrote a blog about my experience in case anyone else is thinking about doing this. I learned a few good lessons.

    • says

      Sorry, the paper we bought at Home Depot is just called “painter’s paper” and doesn’t have a poundage on it that I could see. Wish it did, as a few years later they changed brands and the new stuff was thicker and harder to crumple, which resulted in a look I didn’t like as well. So go for the lightest you can that is still kraft paper so it crumples nicely – that’s what gives all the leather-like texture after drying.

  82. Claudia says

    Hi Jami! I did this to my son’s bedroom this weekend and I love it! I actually don’t mind the wrinkles, I think they give the floor personality. If they end up going away, I won’t mind either. I do have a question, there is a spot that had tiny bubbles from the Verathane, is that fixable? thanks!

    • says

      Hmmm, I always use a brush rather than a roller in order to not get bubbles in the poly – and I haven’t had this problem, Claudia! Maybe if you google it there is a solution? So glad you are liking it – my son loves his floor. :)

  83. Kor says

    How cold is it though? We tried to do just concrete in TX but when the snowy winter hit we froze in the house and succumbed to buying wood on loan to cover it over. If we do several layers of paper/glue with days in between to dry, do you think it stays pretty warm?

    • says

      It seems to me the temperature of wood floors, but then we’ve always done it on plywood or pressed wood, Kor. I wouldn’t say it’s warm, though, so not sure that’s your answer. What about laying area rugs that you roll up for the summer?

  84. Miguel says

    I’ve looked over and over for paper floor at application . On new wood sub flooring , so fair only your on you tub , hit my need , know hear is my question , I won’t this look all throw my beach home , in other applications going over concrete , clam you can stain the paper peices to a D sire shade other then keeping the natural color of the brown paper , is this the case also with your application if desired ? And should I stain each Peice first befor I lay them on the wood sub floor ?

    Thanks very much
    Sincerely Miguel S.

    • says

      If you want to stain the paper floor, Miguel, you can apply it after the first step: applying it with the glue-water mixture. Let that dry completely and then stain the entire floor using a staining pad. Let that dry completely and then coat with the polyurethane product. Hope that helps!

  85. Laurie says

    I did this to my entire upstairs and it looked fantastic at first however after several weeks I ran into a problem. I have an old house with old wooden floors where the planks were separating a bit (you could fit the side of a dime in the cracks). After the paper settled all the lines from the floor boards show thru the paper. Also I did not have time to do the entire upstairs at once so I had to do it one room at a time so in the doorways it is starting to peel. I love this technique and plan on doing it to my downstairs but have a few tips. Fill in lines, small holes etc before hand and us extra glue in the mix if you have to do rooms separately.

  86. Laurie Hamitlon says

    Hey guys!
    I seen your video/s and read your blogs….inspired me (and all the other video’s that talk about paper floors and websites) to try the paper floor tech on concrete. We (my husband and I) first did my son’s room that we had originally painted over the concrete w/a concrete paint. We did an equal part glue to water and had did the “wood plank” look. Turned out AH-MAZING “BUT” it has a TON of wrinkles!!! It’s been 3 weeks since we did the floor and the wrinkles has gone down a little…..but, they still remain everywhere. If we were going to stay here in the home, I wouldn’t mind keeping the look but because we will be moving in 6 months I figured not everyone would want to keep that look. So, my question is: I would LOVE to keep the paper floor but if I go over w/more paper won’t it continue to wrinkle? How can I fix the problem??? Any suggestions?
    Paper Floor Lover,

    • says

      Sorry Laurie! I’ve read that for concrete it works better to use the polyurethane to glue the paper down as well as using it as the topcoat. Something to do with the porous nature of concrete, maybe? Going over top coated paper, you’d do the same thing, too. I would take a putty knife and cut through the wrinkles that are big and then try redoing it, but in a test area to see how it looked (closet or something). I also think the wrinkles are less when the paper pieces are smaller, from my experience. Good luck!!

      • Laurie Hamitlon says

        TY for responding so quickly! We would have to take up the whole floor due to EVERY piece has a wrinkle it. Some a lot worse than others…..We just moved all my sons furniture back into the room and decided if the wrinkles don’t go down before we move we’ll just cover w/carpet. We have one more room we would like to try the paper on. It’s concrete also. We previously painted over the concrete (same as the other room)…..what would your suggestions be? I’ve heard sand it first. I’ve heard polyurethane instead of glue (as you mentioned)…
        Thanks so much!

        • says

          I’m not sure it matters that the concrete is painted, Laurie. I’d use the poly-only method and try using smaller pieces of paper to minimize the wrinkles. Sorry to hear that your first floor has so many wrinkles, I wonder if it’s from the longer pieces of paper – I haven’t tried that wood plank look with it. :(

  87. Nicole says

    We did this in our son’s room, our pantry, our kitchen, and a friend’s dining room. We used Trader Joe’s bags for our son’s room, because the patterns made an interesting little detail to his pirate themed bedroom. Then we stained it with a walnut stain, which made a much richer, deeper leather look. The kitchen is all black and white, so we did a dark black stain, and our kitchen floor looks like black glass. Unfortunately, our dishwasher malfunctioned, and we didn’t thoroughly seal enough under it, so when it flooded the entire kitchen, the super hot water got under the flooring, and lifted it, creating bubbles and weak spots even after it dried. However, because the floor pattern is so simple to repair, my husband is able to patch and repair with little difficulty. Our friends dining room is stained an ocean blue color, and even with children and heavy traffic, it has held up beautifully.

    • says

      This is wonderful to read, Nicole – the different colors and papers you used as well as how it’s held up and ease of repair! Thanks so much for sharing.

  88. LaDona Chao says

    Hi! Thank you so much for your blog and videos. I was talking to my husband about the use of polyurethane on butcher block counters and paper bag floor. He was concerned about it getting sticking when the weather gets hot. Do u have this issue? Is there away to avoid that? Thank you!

  89. Ellary says

    I did this project in my home (over concrete, no stain) and I am BEEEEEEEE-YOND excited with the outcome. I can’t say THANK YOU enough to all of the people before me who did this and took the time to share what they learned. They were my supporters and encouragers and didn’t even know it. This has changed my whole outlook on my home, and yeah…carpet! If you ever have to pull up your own carpet, you’ll never put down more again. I join Jami on that carpet soap-box.
    I did a TON of research before I started this project (but not before ripping out my carpet and baseboards and painting myself into a corner, no pun intended. Ok yes it was.) and I tell you, I honestly don’t understand how this could have become an epic fail for some. I really really don’t. I am in NOOOO way a DIY-er….I am the epitome of NOT being a DIY-er, the ANTI-DIY-er, NOT the person people call even if they’re drawing stick figures. However, I do carry a bit of common sense and I seriously think that is all you need to accomplish this project successfully. Well, and a bit of patience…because when you’re done it is best to let the floor “cure” for a while before putting any furniture on it. So I lived very sheik-ly for about 2 weeks climbing over my entire bedroom as it sat patiently in the living room waiting for me to finish. Oh and it takes some hutzpah…because it is DEFINITELY a lot of work. Once the paper is down, you’re looking at this beautiful floor that now requires another 8-12 coats of Varathane. After the 3rd coat all you really want to do is cry. But you’re committed at this point and MUST go on!
    With that said, I don’t have a video to share nor do I know how to post pictures in this blog, so feel free to email me with questions at I am happy to share my experience because of what it has done for me and my home. This is a long read but I hope that it answers all of those questions that weren’t answered for me, even after reading over 15 sites regarding this project. So many questions and fears that I almost didn’t do it.
    Materials used:
    Blood, sweat, tears, sleeping hours, family time, and old fashioned get-up-and-go
    Hammer and chisel to remove baseboards
    Muscles to remove carpet, pads and carpet tacking.
    Mapai Planipatch to fill carpet tacking holes.
    Broom, small broom & dust pan, vacuum, mop w/water only, and scraper to “prep” the concrete
    Good ol’ normal Butcher/Contractor Paper
    Water-based Clear Satin Varathane (about 3 gallons total for a 200 square foot room)
    Cheap 4 inch paintbrush
    Box of powder free latex free gloves (no idea if powder and latex would make a difference and I’m not revealing how I came upon a box of them. A girl never gives up her accomplices)
    Beverage of choice (mine was wine)

    Where to begin? At the beginning…Prep the floor. I think the hardest part of this entire project was prepping the floor. I read blog after blog after blog that gave tons of info on the project itself but all that was said about prepping was just that – prep the floor. What the heck does that mean???? I’ve never seen the underside of a carpet in my entire 40 years of life! Well I figured out that GREAT care should be taken in getting all of the dirt off of your concrete floor. It will save time in the long run. I’m serious – ALL of it…even the little pieces UNDER the sheetrock and behind the baseboards. Yes, I removed my baseboards…I’m EXTREMELY anal and all of my baseboards HAVE to match and I had NO intention of putting up shoe baseboards (or whatev the heck they’re called) throughout my entire home. I really needed to sand and repaint mine anyway and sanding is much easier if they’re not on the wall. So down they came and with that ALL of that sneaky dirt that’s been hiding in my walls came out – YUCK!!! Next, I scraped all of the glue from the carpet off of the concrete and I scraped with great care. I am CHEAP CHEAP so I didn’t buy some high dollar scraper, nor did I purchase some remover or stripper or whatever the Home Redo stores call it. Just a cheap ol’ scraper that resembled a razor blade doubled in length, clipped at the end of a foot long pipe. Come to think of it, I may just duct tape a contraption next time, seriously. Anyway, so I scraped like a crazy woman because I still wasn’t fully confident that I understood what “prep” meant. And throughout prepping I was REALLY nervous about these areas where the builders had obviously had a fight with the concrete and the concrete won. Or where I had not done the greatest job with the Mapai Planipatch filling in the carpet tacking holes. I was terrified that these lumps were going to show or be felt but for the life of me I couldn’t get them up with the scraper. I considered not being so cheap and taking a trip to the Home Redo store, but in the end cheap won out and I figured I’d just see what it did. Now mind you, this is my Master Bedroom, my sanctuary…so I’m not sure what I was thinking but there you have it. Well, come to find out now that all is said and done, you really can’t see or feel the carpet glue or concrete imperfections or Planipatch mess through this floor. Even pretty major imperfections. BUT, you can feel a tiny speck of dirt – go figure. Princess and the pea effect I guess. So I am now glad that I VORACIOUSLY swept, vacuumed, and mopped. But it still wasn’t enough because even after all that I STILL had to have a small broom and dust pan beside me throughout the whole process. If I had it to do over again, I’d sweep, vacuum and mop MORE. Oh and I wouldn’t use Planipatch. It is WAY to liquid-y. I would just use something that has a dense enough consistency to push it into the carpet tacking hole, spatula it smooth, and move on.
    So, on to the paper. I used good ol’ butcher paper from Lowes. I think it said Contractor Paper on the label and is actually meant as a paper drop cloth or something. Anyway, it’s perfect and cheap. Some sites said to take note of the underside of the paper by drawing on it…I didn’t. Some said one side of the paper would look and feel differently than the other. It didn’t. I’m a 4 ingredient kinda cook – the easier the better. While that makes me a horrible cook (truly) I think it came in handy with this project and could be why some pieces are darker than others. But to me that is part of what makes this look AWESOME. I had also read that the smaller the piece and the more wrinkled the paper, the more “leather-y” the floor would appear. This proved to be true for me. I am glad that I went with random pieces. Some 6 inches, some 10 inches, some 12 inches in size. Some very wrinkled, some lazy wrinkled…because yes, it gets exhausting. I didn’t tear everything I needed at once, there was no way my math skills were going to tell me how much paper that was. So I just went with a big pile, definitely keeping the straight edged pieces separate from the inside pieces, as you would if you were putting a puzzle together. Some pieces were torn with a rounded appearance to them, some pieces were torn into squares, some were torn into triangles. Friends helped. There was no consistency or uniformity. I think the definite takeaway here is to NOT be anal about the shape and size of your pieces. Otherwise, I would think it would look too contrived, too conformed, so you lose that “look”. Just tear…sip some wine or other beverage of choice…repeat. Make it fun. Seriously, because as I said, this is a long project!
    Next…how to apply it? OMG, I read site after site and varying opinions on this process too. Enough to almost scare me away from this project entirely but I had already ripped out my carpet and baseboards so what was a girl to do? Again, my cheap and lazy side won out. I did not use glue !GASP! I used Varathane only. Let me tell you, all worked perfectly. So forego the glue and save yourself some money. Oh and yeah, most importantly – a step in this process because you’ll have plenty. One website, I think her name was Karen, was doing her basement, and she simply applied the paper to the floor using the Varathane. So there you have it – that’s how I applied the paper. This was after much research and much fear so hopefully I can save you some trepidation about not using glue. I did decide to go with the expensive water-based Varathane and I am happy to say that I did because I don’t know if I could have smelled 12 coats of the oil-based, seriously. Oh and I went with Satin. I don’t know if that makes any difference in the grand scheme of life or not, I’m not a DIY-er as I’ve said, I think it’s just a preference. I know some used Semi, some used High…but I’m not into seeing my reflection in my floor, the mirror is enough. I really wanted it to have that “leather-y” look to it yet not too flat, hence why I also chose not to go with the Matte. Like I say, I think it’s a matter of opinion. And I used a cheap ol’ 4 inch paint brush. It was one of those paintbrushes found on the bottom shelf with no pretty packaging and barely a price tag but I tell you, that paintbrush worked PERFECTLY in all its fake synthetic glory. I am VERY proud of my little tenacious paintbrush who is still shining, even after 12 coats. She will be with me when I start the living room. Cheap is also good so that you can buy 3 and make your friends help! Grab your BFF (she owes you right??) and make it a girls’ night in. Grab your Varathane, grab your paintbrush, grab your gloves, grab a small broom and dust pan, grab a small trash bag, grab your scraper, grab your paper, grab your drink and plop yourselves down in the corner furthest from the door because as I’m sure you realize, you’re going to have to work your way out of the room. Or else it will get lonely when the drink is gone and you have nothing to do but wait 12 hours for it all to dry. Put your gloves on and paint a…oh wait, let me stop here and let’s talk about this Varathane for a minute, which I had NEVER even heard of in my DIY-free life. In all of my frightening research, I came across sites that talked about epic fails – cloudy, bubbly, streaky, brush slowly, brush quickly, don’t use too much, don’t use too little. Again, I almost quit because seriously, what the heck does that mean “too much or too little”???? But I have to tell you…this Varathane stuff is THE most forgiving substance I have EVER used. On the spectrum of Unforgiving (10) to Forgiving (1), I consider Stain VERY unforgiving, a 12! You know what I mean right? The crap dries so fast that if you have a bubble or a drip or don’t like the streak you just created, you’re pretty screwed, because if you try to go over it again to fix it, you end up with this gooey gunky over-staned mess. Not with Varathane! My rating of Varathane comes in at a -5 …NEGATIVE FIVE! To me, you might as well be working with water. It’s so easy and smooth and even if there are streaks or bubbles or it looks cloudy at first (come on folks, it’s white…it’s going to look cloudy at first) it’s all gone in seconds flat. So have no fear, if I can do it, you can do it. So with all your stuff around you and your pretty gloves on, get to putting this paper down already! Remember, I ripped my baseboards off so I didn’t have to be too careful about using “edge” pieces around the wall but I would suggest being careful about this if you’re not taking your baseboards down. That way you have a nice straight line. So grab your piece of paper. Dip your paintbrush in the can about a ½ inch and paint an area that’s slightly bigger than the piece of paper you’re about to put down. Plop your paper on top of that and use what’s left in your brush to brush the top of the paper. There is no reason to be specific here, I just say that because it’s the process I used. Some people said to spray the paper with water, well I couldn’t find a spray bottle, so I just went with seeing what happened. Using what was left in the brush was enough to get the paper slightly damp enough to keep it in place while you go to dip your paintbrush, again about a ½ inch. This 2nd dip should be enough to saturate your piece of paper. Just brush it on there – get at it! Don’t be formal or worry, just do it. Use your gloved hand to push the Varathane around and into the paper and flatten the paper to the concrete. Using your hand also helps because you can feel if you’ve missed any areas that should be scraped better or any dirt that needs to be picked up. If you feel any of these issues, just pick up the paper, fix the problem, put the paper back down, and use your hand again. The good news, this process is NOT like putting a sticker on a kid’s tiny Hot Wheels car where you get one shot to get the dang thing on straight. Just make sure each piece is good and wet. And flat. If it feels smooth enough and you feel like the air is out and it’s good and flat, then brush over it to even out the Varathane you were “finger painting” with and start your second piece. I don’t think I took more than 15 seconds putting down each piece, really…it can’t take a lot of talent because I tell you, I don’t have any. On your second piece, slightly overlap it with the first, or go crazy and crazy overlap it. You can’t feel the overlapping once the floor is done so you don’t have to be particular in how much you do or don’t overlap. This was another concern of mine which remained unanswered until all was finished. As I said, I’m very anal. But I wasn’t familiar with this so I didn’t know what to be anal about. I just had to tuck Anal Her away and ignore her screaming and brooding. She is of no use in this project. I think she’d make it worse honestly. So continue on with piece 3 and 4 and so on. As you’re doing the rest of the floor, look up at what you’ve done every once in a while (smile at your accomplishment) and see if there is any MAJOR “lifting” going on. Lifting, as if the corner of a sticker were curling up. Like really curling up. I’m not talking about little gaps in the edges here and there, that’s going to happen at this step but will disappear in later steps. But a major curl at a corner should probably be addressed before going on. I did anyway, though no research I did really said I should or shouldn’t. I was too frightened not to though. So, if you see lifting, just Varathane the corners back down again. It’s that easy. Continue on til you’re done. I didn’t stop in the middle of this process so I can’t tell you if it would create a line or not. I wouldn’t think so and here’s why. When you leave your floor to dry that evening, it pretty much looks at this point like it’s going to look in the morning. I read on some sites that their floor looked a mess and had lifts everywhere and so forth as they left it that evening. Well, mine pretttttt-y much looked the same the next morning. Except there were a few lifting areas that snuck in on me in the middle of the night. No fear, follow the same application process to put another piece of paper down over the lift and you’re good to go. You’re not going to be able to see this “patch” later, I promise. And remember, tell Anal to ignore the small gaps in the edges or you’ll be there all morning and waiting another 12 hours for the floor to dry again. These gaps WILL go away, pinky-swear. And don’t panic that this step will take the entire first can of Varathane and a bit of the 2nd can. You’re using A LOT this first time around and I personally counted this as Coat #1. And now we’re on to the rest of the coats.
    As for the coats…from what I have read, the number of coats depends on you and how much traffic the floor experiences. My Master Room, for some unknown reason, perhaps because it’s supposed to be Mommy’s Haven, is the center of the dang house. Every child, adult, and animal that visits is in my room, my bathroom, my clothes, my closet…it is high traffic. So I went with 8 coats. I don’t know yet if 8 coats is enough…I haven’t been using the floor long enough to say. But that used the remaining 2 cans of Varathane and looks amazing so I’m happy with my choice. As I said in an earlier paragraph, this Varathane stuff is so easy and nice and sweet so I wasn’t the least bit careful in my application of the coats. I dipped my brush (same good ol’ cheap brush) about an inch in and used what was on the brush to cover an area about a square foot. Scooted my butt (and my drink) and did the next square foot. All 200 of them. A friend of mine duct taped his brush to an extension pole and that seemed to work just fine too. And I’m sure his back isn’t hurting as badly as mine. But I personally liked being up close and personal for a couple of reasons. First, no matter how clean you are, dirt seems to always find its way in but if you’re up close and personal you can see the dirt and sweep it up BEFORE you put your brush into it. No fear if you paint the dirt, just use your finger to pick it out of the Varathane and move on. Secondly, I liked being up close because it allowed me to see what was going on with this enigmatic Varathane stuff. I kept expecting that epic fail at any moment – for it to suddenly bubble or lump or turn cloudy or the paper to just totally curl or entirely self-combust – you never know! But it didn’t. And thank goodness it never did because after that first coat and counting down to 7 more, I just knew I would cry and need a confessional if this floor went wrong. There were only 2 things I chose to be anal about when it came to the coats of Varathane. The first of which was painting each coat in a direction opposite from the one before it. For example, if coat 1 was painted east to west, then coat 2 was painted north to south. And so on, repeating this for the other coats. I read on some site somewhere that doing this would make it smoother and decrease the potential need to sand the floor in between coats. No way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks was I EVEN about to pull out my 8-inch sander on 200 square feet. I can’t tell you if it helped, I don’t know. All I can say is that my floor is dang smoother than a baby’s bottom and I didn’t sand once. The second thing I MEANT to be anal about was doing each coat no more than 2 hours after the previous coat dried. Again, I had read this would help with not having to sand the floor. This intention flew out the window at 4am in the morning due to extreme exhaustion at this point. I woke up at 10am in a complete panic, totally expecting to take a trip to the Home Redo store to rent a sander. But cheap (and exhausted) won out and again I decided to take the “see what happens” route. There was no need to worry and I tell you, there’s no need to sand a THING! Just do your coats, get ‘em all in that you can and as quickly as you can. Quickly helps to reduce fighting with the dirt that collects. And quickly, because now you will have to wait.
    And wait, apparently for it to cure. The amount of time is really up to you. The Varathane can says to wait 3 days but who knows if this is true for 8 coats. The can only instructs to use a minimum of 4 coats. Many sites I researched said 5-7 days. I went with 5 days and also followed the suggestion to put felt pads on the bottom of my furniture because it sounded like good, sound advice to me. All seems to be absolutely perfect!
    Yes, I’m exhausted. But I’m so happy and so proud of my work, especially being such a newbie to all of this. I’m very glad I didn’t try to add staining to this process. There were WAY more than enough steps without it and I tell you, the color of the floor when it’s done is a BEAUTIFUL camel/caramel color. So I say for the last time – just do it. Try it. You can. If I can, you can!

    • says

      WOW. What a comment, Ellary – thank you for taking the time to leave such details for others who are wanting to do this floor technique! I’m so glad you are happy with the outcome – and very impressed that you took this on without being a “DIY-er.” Kudos! And some of your thoughts have made me want to go back and revisit some of my directions – I thought I had been pretty clear on the floor prep, for one (cleaning, filling holes, smoothing bumps and plywood edges, etc.). I love it when readers give such great feedback so I can see it through their eyes. :)

      One thing I did want to mention, though, is the glue vs. varathane for the first step. We’ve only done it on pressboard/plywood subfloors and the glue mixture was a way to keep the expense lower (a $10 gallon bottle of glue vs. a $40-50 gallon of varathane….) and replicated the decoupage technique I was basing this DIY project off of when I first did it 15 years ago. After I blogged about it and it was featured in Cottages and Bungalows, people with concrete wanted to do it, and since concrete is often porous/moist/different than wood, the consensus has been to go with straight varathane and forgo the glue-water mixture. Anyone is free to use the varathane for all the coats no matter the subfloor, though, and it may lessen the wrinkles, since it wouldn’t have the water content. And if all you can find is a heavier paper (which happened to me on one of my floors – same paper I always get was noticeably heavier and didn’t wrinkle as easily), I recommend using the Varathane for all the steps, as it seems to do better with the heavier paper.

      I, too, love the normal color – plus I never am up for another time-taking step at that stage, either, ha!

  90. Maureen says

    I wanted to let you know that I used this idea in my upstairs hallway a couple of years ago when I pulled up a nasty, stained carpet. I used a box cutter to cut the paper into “planks” and laid them out as if it were a wood floor. Then I painted it with actual wood stain. The brush strokes look a lot like grain, and the stain highlighted the seams between planks so that it really looked very much like a wood floor. With several coats of wax, it really was impressive. I only wish I had taken the time to sand the nasty particle board subfloor so the lumps wouldn’t have shown through the paper. When they came to measure for the laminate I’m putting in now, they actually thought it was vinyl flooring. In many ways I preferred the look of the paper to the look of the laminate. Someday I’d like to try to do this and paint the strips white, then do a checkerboard pattern or paint on a faux rug. The paper floor was comfortable to walk on and easy to repair when necessary. It was an excellent answer to a vexing problem, and it was fun to do. Thanks so much for the tutorials.

    • says

      I love reading this, Maureen, and am so happy your method turned out (I’ve never thought of waxing the paper floor!) – thank you so much for sharing. :)


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