Paper Bag Floor

Paper bags?  On a floor??  You betcha!

To make a floor that’s recyclable, durable, and beautiful read on.


Here’s the BEST step by step tutorial on DIY paper bag floor. We got a high end look for a low end cost. Like a cross between leather and cork. Beautiful! This floor has been down for 3 years and still looks GREAT! In the kitchen, no less!


What You’ll Need:


  •  A floor (the uglier the better)
  • Paper Grocery Bags, Packing Paper, or Kraft Paper
  • White Glue (not washable) purchased by the gallon
  • Water Based Polyurethane for Floors
  • Bucket or bowl for glue mixture
  • Paint stirring stick
  • Applicator pad (made for stain or paint)
  • Broom handle or paint roller extender-optional


Here’s How:

 Here’s the BEST step by step tutorial on DIY paper bag floor. We got a high end look for a low end cost. Like a cross between leather and cork. Beautiful! This floor has been down for 3 years and still looks GREAT! In the kitchen, no less!


Prep the floor.


Prepare your floor surface.  This means something different for everyone. For me, it meant scraping up broken ceramic floor tiles and grout.  Removing a floor I have too long referred to as “Laceration Alley” revealed linoleum underneath.  Who knew?


Whatever your situation, please use common safety precautions for all demolition.  Maybe you are starting with linoleum or a wood floor. If it’s shiny I would recommend roughing it up with fine grit sandpaper.


I imagine that you have an ugly floor, or are down to the wood or concrete if you are reading this.  Perfect.


You MUST fill any gaps or holes, and make sure there are no protrusions.  It MUST be smooth because any uneven areas will show through your finished floor.


Also, make sure there are no stains because they WILL bleed through the paper. Clean the floor well and consider applying Kilz if necessary.


Prep your paper

Here’s the BEST step by step tutorial on DIY paper bag floor. We got a high end look for a low end cost. Like a cross between leather and cork. Beautiful! This floor has been down for 3 years and still looks GREAT! In the kitchen, no less!


Spend an evening ahead of time tearing craft paper or paper bags into irregularly shaped pieces.  Watch TV, and tear away.  If using paper bags be sure to remove the doubled areas and only use bags without writing on them, unless that is the look you want.


Be aware though, that even writing placed face down will bleed through to the top, only backward. Not very Diva.


Be sure to use paper of the same thickness. 

Make two piles; pieces with straight edges and random pieces.  I used similarly sized pieces about 12”. 

Size is totally a matter of preference.  You could use much smaller pieces or even larger.  They can be similarly sized or a mishmash. 

The important thing to remember is you will need about twice your floor’s square footage to account for overlap.  Get the whole family involved, tear and CRUMPLE TIGHTLY. 


The magic is in the crumple.


Here’s the BEST step by step tutorial on DIY paper bag floor. We got a high end look for a low end cost. Like a cross between leather and cork. Beautiful! This floor has been down for 3 years and still looks GREAT! In the kitchen, no less!


Test your application in an inconspicuous place.  I started inside the pantry.  If you can, do a bit the night before you intend to do the whole floor.  That way you can be sure the paper will properly adhere.


Let’s get started!


Take a bowl or bucket and make a glue mixture.  I wound up with about half glue, half water.  Stir with a paint stick.  The glue I used was “Elmer’s Glue All”.


Dunk a piece of crumpled paper into the mixture.  Make sure it is completely coated but don’t wait until it starts to break apart.  Squeeze the excess glue back into the bowl.


Here’s the BEST step by step tutorial on DIY paper bag floor. We got a high end look for a low end cost. Like a cross between leather and cork. Beautiful! This floor has been down for 3 years and still looks GREAT! In the kitchen, no less!


Apply flattened paper to the floor.  Overlap pieces as you work your way around the room and out a door.  Use square edges where the floor meets the wall.  Smear glue all over the top.  I don’t think you can use too much glue.  Smooth out all bubbles and wrinkles with your hands.  This is messy.


It is best if you have someone with non gluey hands to be your helper.  You can wear rubber gloves of course, but I found the glue washed right off and did not dry my hands out.


Let your gluey wet floor dry completely, at least overnight.  Drying time depends on the weather, ventilation and humidity.  Be sure it is good and dry before continuing.


After the glue layer dries any unfortunate gaps can be covered with a brown sharpie before applying the polyurethane.


You could add stain at this point.  I chose to leave the paper au naturel, because that’s the look I liked.  If you did choose to add stain it would add another day of drying, some added cost, and another step, but you could get some very cool effects.


Poly, poly, poly!  I used no less than 10 coats of Polyurethane for floors.


Here’s the BEST step by step tutorial on DIY paper bag floor. We got a high end look for a low end cost. Like a cross between leather and cork. Beautiful! This floor has been down for 3 years and still looks GREAT! In the kitchen, no less!


I could have saved about $15 a gallon if I went with the regular polyurethane.  But, a Diva knows when spending a bit more makes a big difference!


Use an applicator pad on a stick to save your back.  Be sure to read and follow the directions on the can but as a general rule apply an even thin coat and work your way out the door.  Do not go back over the poly once it starts to dry, you will get drag marks.  If you miss a spot, you can get it next time.


Allow it to dry several hours between coats but not more than 24 hours or you will have to lightly sand it before reapplying.  To avoid sanding, I kept an eye on the clock.


I made sure to wait at least four hours between coats, but was sure never to get close to that fateful 24 hour deadline.


Step back and admire your work.  Sigh, what a pretty floor.  Now the hard part. Keep off.  Don’t walk on it for at least 24 hours.  Then, wear socks.  Allow the floor to cure completely before placing your furniture back in.  I waited 10 long days. This part is painful, but worth it.


Enjoy your awesome one of a kind floor.  YOU DID IT, DIVA!


Here’s the BEST step by step tutorial on DIY paper bag floor. We got a high end look for a low end cost. Like a cross between leather and cork. Beautiful! This floor has been down for 3 years and still looks GREAT! In the kitchen, no less!


Diva Tips:

This would also make a neat wall covering.  You could use other types of paper as well.  So far, it appears to be quite durable even in a kitchen application. I have a theory that damage could be covered up with a little sanding, a bit more gluey paper, and some poly.


For Reference My kitchen is 180 square feet.  I used about 300 square feet of paper, 1.5 gallons of glue, and 2 gallons of polyurethane.  I used about twice as much of everything as I estimated.  Plan ahead.  Price things out.  I thought Home Depot would carry glue by the gallon, but not in my small town.  I have found that Lowe’s and Michael’s craft stores have it.  Also, Lowe’s seems to have the best price for large rolls of kraft paper.  Gather your coupons and gather enough supplies in advance.  My total cost was about $160.  It looks like a high end, designer floor.  I would pat myself on the back…but my hands are gluey.


Special Thanks for this amazing post from guest Diva Stormy.


Update – The floor is now three years old and looks just as beautiful now as it did when it was first created. It’s definitely stood the test of time in a busy kitchen. Brava Stormy!


You may also like – Why Can’t You Decant?     11 Cool Uses for Pillowcases     Ribbon Bookmarks – An inexpensive and thoughtful handmade gift



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About the author

I’m penny pinching, party planning Diva Patti AKA Patti Diamond and I’ve been saving the world one dime at a time for years.

Divas are rich even when they’re broke because they know life isn’t about money. I’m here to show you that you don’t have to spend a lot to live a life filled with style, elegance and grace.

My spirit animal is bacon and vodka. I can have two animals, right?

51 comments on “Paper Bag Floor”

  1. Rochelle Reply

    Hi! How did you walk on the poly between coats? Was it tacky or totally dry? Also, what kind of craft paper did you use; artsy craft paper or the construction site paper?

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hi Rochelle! Sorry it took so long to respond!

      As for walking on the floor between coats, we didn’t. Well, we tried to walk as little as humanly possible. And then only with socks on. We let it dry for 6 hours between coats but no longer than 24 hours between coats, this took several days to complete. But SO worth the time. We set up a temporary “kitchen” in another part of the house so we didn’t need to walk in there.

      We used rolls of heavy brown paper from a home improvement store. It was about the same thickness as a paper grocery bag, like from Trader Joe’s. I imagine you could use any kind of paper as long as you poly the heck out of it.

      I hope this helps! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. Margaret Reply

    I noticed the bathroom linoleum had black diamonds, did those bleed through your paper???

  3. Margaret Reply

    I stated my question wrong….The linoleum has dark colored diamonds. Did they show through your paper when done?

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hi Margaret!

      The pattern on the floor didn’t show through at all 🙂 Just be sure you’re using heavy paper if that’s a concern.

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      YES! After the floor was done the same technique was used in this very kitchen. She used shades of aqua and green to create spectacular countertops. Just be sure to poly the heck out of it!!! Especially near the sink. Hope that helps 🙂

  4. Audrey Tuck Reply

    How slick is the floor? I am concerned about slip/fall issues in kitchen/bathroom scenarios.

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hi Audrey! You’re so smart to be concerned but I think you’d be pleased with this floor application. When the floor is completely cured/dried this floor is no slicker than any other smooth flooring (like linoleum) and less slippery than shiny tile. We haven’t noticed any unusual slip and fall issued with the floor in the post but as with any flooring near water you’d need to show appropriate caution. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  5. kristi Reply

    Omg!!!! Thank you so much for posting this!!! I’m aiming to buy a plain box house so that I get to do all the modeling myself and when I was reading this, a million ideas came popping thru my mind. Definitely gonna try this out. Love to hear that it’s lasted for three years and counting!!!

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Thanks for the lovely comment, Kristi. What fun to have a blank canvas to decorate! This technique is so versatile, I hope you enjoy putting to work for your creative vision. 🙂

  6. Alisa Reply

    I am thinking of using gray kraft paper. My question is this, any idea how it would be if I layer comic book pages randomly on top of the kraft paper than sealed the floor?

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hi Alisa! I think it would look great! The best part, if you don’t like it or change your mind – just put more paper on top of it a reseal it. I’ve wanted to try using children’s art mixed in with the paper. Cool stuff! Enjoy!

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hi Tina! LOL! We’re messy, too! I feel ya.

      As long as you follow the directions and use tons of poly you can use just about anything. This floor belongs to my dear friend Stormy and she uses washing soda for most of her washing but also uses Lysol or Murphy’s oil soap at times. She also used the technique on her counter tops so it gets daily cleaning. It’s been 4 years and it still looks great.

      I hope that helps. 🙂

  7. Kate Cooper Reply

    I am totally in love with your floor and would love to have a similar flooring. I now have a saltillo tile floor that is teracotta color and the tiles are 6 inch squares with about one third of an inch grout between the tiles. My concern is the slight difference in height between the tiles and the grout, so the floor is not exactly smooth and even. How do you think that would work? Thank you much in advance.

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hi Kate, I’m sorry for the slow response. The grout lines would definitely show as depressions in your flooring. Here’s the answer and you’re not going to like it; you need to remove the tile if you want the floor to look like ours. We had to remove a layer of tile to do this floor and it wasn’t easy. Luckily, we found linoleum under the tile but some people go down to the plywood sub-floor. (Now I’m ducking and running because I’m pretty sure that’s not what you wanted to hear) Thanks for your question! <3

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      I’m so sorry, I didn’t see your comment come in. I don’t think you want it completely smooth. The texture is what gives this it’s unique look. Kind of like leather. Of course I can’t see exactly what you mean, is the paper wet enough? I hope when you worked with the paper and eventually polyurethane over the top it smoothed out to your satisfaction. Thank you for your question! <3

  8. Sandy Reply

    Hi Pattie, many thanks for your detailed info… I am thinking of doing his in my studio but using wrapping paper instead of bags. My issue is that the paper is reasonably thin, I’m talking about the paper furniture removaliats use. Your thought on weather it would be suitable..plz? Thank you!

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hello Sandy! I’m going to have to guess as to the thickness of your wrapping paper. If it’s very thin like tissue, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if it’s thicker, it might work. There’s only one way to find out – try it in a small area and see! You could do a layer of heavy white paper and top that with the thinner paper. You must use plenty of poly over the top. Let all of us know how it turns out and send me some pix! Thanks for your comment 🙂

      • Sandra Johnson Reply

        Thanks Pattie, I appreciate your comments.I am guessing the paper I would like to use is around 60+gsm. Printer paper being 80gsm….Do you have any thoughts? Could I use 2 layers then poly over the top??
        Cheers, Sandy

        • Patti Diamond Reply

          Here are two points to ponder; 1. If you dip this paper in the glue mixture is it strong enough to be wrung out, placed and smoothed out without disintegrating? And 2. If the paper has a pattern, will two layers bleed through and make a mess of the pattern? Maybe a trial run is in order. When we did this project we started with the floor in the pantry and left that over night before we did the rest of the room. This project takes about 10 days and you’ll live with the floor for many years to come. Adding an extra day to be sure it’s what you envision is totally worth the time. I hope you’ll send me a photo! Thanks so much!

          • Sandy

            Thanks Patti, I think I might try in my pantry first also… O will let you know when I attempt the process…. Cheers

  9. Vena Reply

    Hi Patty, thank u for ur beautiful, n easy instructions to this DIY project. I live on a small budget n my carpet is trashed (not by me, lol). And i truly need a change. I love to do things around my home. And your tutorial is great. Im gonna try this!

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hello Vena! Thank you for your kind words. We appreciate it. I totally know what it’s like trying to create a space you love on a budget. It forces you to be creative! Best of luck with this and please send me a pic! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  10. Stephanie Clark Reply

    I so want to do this project for my living room and dining room my question is my dining room floor is uneven. I have a very old house I’m remodeling. Will polyurethane help even it out make it sure the floor is level?

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hello Stephanie! I can’t guess how uneven your floor is, because I have no idea. I’m going to be cautious and say the poly won’t be enough to even out the floor. Perhaps you can add a layer of thin plywood to even it out before you apply the paper bag floor? One good thing, this floor will stick to the surface even if it’s uneven. Much easier than other flooring, like tile. I adore old houses! But I know the difficulties in remodeling an older home. So many variables. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer for you. Please let me know what you decide and send pix. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  11. Andrea Reply

    I did this on peel and stick tile. It looked beautiful when it was 3/4 finished. Then—- I looked at it the next morning…. IT HAD ALL COME UP. Please tell me what I did wrong.
    – I cleaned & dried the floor
    – I used the Elmers Glue All
    – I mixed 50/50 glue/water
    – I crumbled up grocery bags & brown
    wrapping paper
    – Kept the cat from walking on it (kind of)

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      OMG! Andrea! How awful! I’m going to contact you directly. I got together with Stormy and brainstormed what might have gone wrong. I’m going to assume you didn’t get as far as the poly so there must be some problem with the gluey paper adhearing with the tile. If the surface is super shiny you need to rough it up by sanding. Although, Stormy has used this exact technique on all kinds of surfaces, even very slick shiny surfaces, with great success. Is it posible you needed more glue on the paper? Was each piece totaly saturated? Now – to fix this. Try going back with more glue, perhaps a 75% glue to 25% water ratio. Add more right over the uplifted places and let it dry. I’m sending you an email!

  12. Cindy Reply

    Has anyone ever made strips or planks to make it look like an old wood floor?

  13. David Taylor Reply

    I love the way yours looks with the darker/lighter pieces…did you do anything special to achieve this? Or did some pieces just turn darker than others on their own somehow? Thanks! Also, thank you so much for the ‘for your reference’ section! Huge help which I have not seen added to any other paper bag floor guide.

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hi David,

      The darker/lighter pieces happened naturally. Just different paper bags. Thank you for the kind words, glad to know it’s helpful.

      • David Taylor Reply

        Thanks for the reply, Patti.

        Nice benefit of using actual paper bags then. I just finished covering my 100 sq foot tiny house with builders paper and of course it’s all the same color. Still very happy with the look! Perhaps the varied color look could be done by staining some of the pieces before gluing them down, like with tea or coffee. Guess I could still do that…

  14. Stephanie Miller Reply

    I really want to do my kitchen floor like this but I simply can’t go that long without walking on it! Os there any way to do this in sections? Half and half maybe and then the poly all at once?? Please help me my floors are horrible !

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hello Stephanie!

      I completely empathize! It’s really difficult being without your kitchen that long. I suppose you could do it in sections but you’ll really have to watch where the sections meet together. It’s the poly that takes the time to really cure so you’d be adding time if you had to do it more than once. If you do try to do this in sections please keep me posted. Email me at and let me know how it goes. I’m sure others would love to know, as well. Good luck!

  15. Melynda Reply

    Great advice, I have dogs that are sloppy water drinkers. Have you noticed any water spills with your floor?

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hi Melynda! I didn’t see your comment come in,I’m so sorry for the delayed response. I would suggest putting a mat under your doggie’s water dishes just to be safe. Or add a few extra layers of poly in that area of the floor for extra protection. Thanks for you question!

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hello Tanya! I don’t see why you couldn’t use glossy magazine pages or covers. My only concern would be that the colors may blur when you dip the pages in the glue solution. You might want to test this out on a few pages you don’t care about before you do your floor. I imagine your idea would be stunningly beautiful! Please let me know how it goes. Thanks for your question!

  16. Deborah Fuller Reply

    Your floor looks amazing.
    I did the brown paper wall and the color was pretty uniform. How did you get the multi shaded effect? I am redoing that wall and want my floors a little different. I even bleached some of the paper but like the look of your floor for my…well, floor.
    Thank you for the detailed info!

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      Hello Deborah! Thank you for the kind words. I wish I had an amazing trick to share but we didn’t do anything special to get the multi shaded effect. It just happened that way. We used several rolls of brown heavy craft paper found in Home Depot. I suppose it could be possible that different rolls had different dye lots. I hope your floor comes out just as you hope it will. Please let me know how it turns out. Thank you for your comment!

    • Patti Diamond Reply

      We used an applicator pad on a stick. I highly recommend this because of the number of layers of poly you’ll be spreading. It’ll save your back! Thanks for your question. I’m sorry it took so long to respond.

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