The Amazing Floor Makeover

I’ve been working on the floor in the area that is going to be our new living room. After a whole week, it is finally finished and ready for you guys to see! Take a look and see if you can figure out how it is made.

           

Like it? Thanks. Ready for the big secret?

IT’S MADE OF REGULAR OL’ BROWN PAPER

You know, the kind of brown painter’s paper you can buy in the big roll from the painting section of your local home improvement store. It reminds us of a mixture between stone and stained concrete.

We priced every type of flooring know to man, and on our budget, all of the prices were far more than what we were willing (or able) to pay. In our 370 sq. ft. room, low-end laminate wood was going to cost at least $450. Carpet and installation was going to cost $1000 (and we don’t even like carpet). We didn’t want vinyl. After hours of research, I found a technique for using painter’s paper and polyurethane as flooring. The best part is that it cost TOTAL (are you ready?)… $225. That’s less than half of any of the alternative flooring. Do you want to know how this works? Great, I want to tell you!

After doing such a large room, I finally got this technique down to art (with a little advice from my hubby). Here it goes…

Want you need…

*enough painter’s paper to cover your floor (Our roll said it would cover 400 sq. ft but because you will be overlapping the paper, you will need more. For our 370 sq. ft. room,                                   used a roll and a half.) Here’s a pic so you can make sure to get the right stuff!

Brown painter's paper

*Enough polyurethane to apply your painter’s paper and top with 4-6 coats (Our 370 sq. ft. room used 4 cans with 3/4 of the 4th can left over. Consult the can                                   instructions to  make sure you buy enough.) I used Minwax water-based, oil-modified polyurethane. The can will say “great for floors”  on the front. This will be your                     biggest expense at around $50 a gallon.

*paintbrush made for water-based polyurethane

*small plastic squeegie  (These can be found in home improvement stores or in some packages such as a package of Bondo.)

small plastic squeegie

*clothes iron

1. Tear the painter’s paper into sections. These sections can be as large or small as you want.  Some can be bigger and some smaller. Make it interesting by mixing sizes!

This is the average size paper sections I used.

2. Crinkle each section of paper into a ball. Unfold the ball. These wrinkles create darker “veins” in the paper after they are placed on your floor.

 

*Iron each section of paper. This makes it easier to keep the paper flat when you place it on the floor.

*Starting at the far corner of your room, place down a few sections of paper without the polyurethane. This allows you to know which pieces of paper you will use in advance. The pieces with a edge are great for placing around the edges of your room. For corners, you will have to cut a 90 degree angle to fit into the corner of your room. This project is kind of like a big puzzle. You’ll be finding the pieces you feel fill each spot the best.

*Using your poly brush, place a thin coat of poly on the BACK of the section of paper you will use in the corner of the room. This will act as glue to keep the paper on the floor. Place the paper in the proper spot (Not that I think you would place it in the improper spot…)

*Using your squeegie, squeeze all of the air and extra poly from underneath your section of paper. You don’t need to press extremely hard. You don’t want the paper to tear (I found the paper to be very tough and it didn’t tear too easily).

*Coat the top of this section of paper with a thin coat of poly, concentrating on the edges. The purpose of this coat is to help the paper stick to the floor. We don’t want curled edges!

*Congratuations! You’ve finished your first piece of your brand new floor!

*Continue this process until you have covered your entire room. After your last piece of paper has been laid, allow the pieces to dry overnight.

*After your pieces are dry, put down your first official coat of polyurethane. Want to know an easy secret that will save some back pain? Tape your poly brush onto a shower curtain rod, wooden dowel rod, removable long paint handle, PVC pipe, etc. Now you can use your brush without sitting in the floor or bending!

*Allow at least 2 hours between each coat (but don’t wait longer than 24 hours before recoating). After your last coat wait at least 24 hours for light traffic and 3 days for regular use.

That’s it! You’re done! Okay, so I make it sound so simple. It is simple, but it’s not easy. If you have a bad back like me (yes, I’m only 25 and have back problems :(…) this is going to aggravate those types of problems like crazy. I was in SO much pain after my first day of working on this project. This is especially true in such a big room. It’s been worth it, though. I got a great floor for a fifth of what carpet would have cost. How well does it hold up to everyday life? I’ve read that it is very good at handling what we dish out every day. I can’t yet vouch for that personally, however, because this is our first official day on our new floor. I’ll try to keep you updated on how it wears!

One great thing about this floor is that if something does knock a big chunk in it, repair is as easy as placing another piece of paper on the floor.

UPDATE: You can check out this post to see the results of my first patch job.

Want some cool additional ideas?

*Try using floor glitter on your last coat (available at home improvement stores). It’ll add a little jazz and glimmer to your floor.

*Cut out shapes such as colored paper leaves to place on the top of your paper sections. I plan to do this and I’ll let you know how it works.

* If you want a darker colored floor, use a light coat of wood stain on your paper and allow it to dry before adding your first coat of poly.

*Using a yellow tinted poly will cause your floor to be warmer colored (like ours). A clear poly will keep the floor a lighter and cooler color.

If you guys try this project, I would love to see pictures of how it works for you!

I found information about paper floors from many places, but a special shout-out goes out to Jami at An Oregon Cottage for her DIY video. Thanks Jami!

As always, if you have a question, leave a comment at the bottom and I’ll be glad to get back to you! Thanks! Bye ya’ll!

UPDATE: After 3 days of officially being able to use our new living area, the floor has yet to peel, crack, or tear. That’s good considering that Ava and Kyra love to play in this room and I have been scooting painting supplies around the room all day today! So far, so good!

UPDATE AGAIN: After over 2 months, this floor has more than exceeded my expectations. We are really hard on this floor and it has been terrific. I have had to patch one spot because we were moving in our couch and it dropped and made a couple of small holes. It probably would have scratched our laminate flooring too if it had dropped on it though. The difference is that these two small holes in our den were super easy to fix. This floor is worth every dollar (not that you’ll have to spend near as many of those precious dollars on this project!)

UPDATE: After 3 1/2 months, our floor is still in tip-top shape! We are almost certain we will be using this method in our new home eventually.

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4 thoughts on “The Amazing Floor Makeover

  1. Hmm, this turned out really nice – I see you followed all the steps I laid out in the video we did of this technique – http://www.anoregoncottage.com/2010/08/video-diy-alternative-to-wood-floors.html. I liked the way you added the squeegee, though there’s no way I’d take the time to iron each piece, lol! Oh, and I think the cost would’ve been a lot less using the watered-down glue I suggest to adhere the paper instead of the poly? Sure would be nice if there were a link to where you got this idea…

    • Of course! Where are my manners? My apologies to you, Jami! I was very new to blogging when this article was written and had no idea how to link. There are still some little kinks like this from a couple of months ago that I need to sit down and work out!

      The watered-down glue would have been much cheaper to use than the $40 worth of poly we used to lay the paper. However, since our original floor already had a coat of poly on top, I was afraid that the glue would not be strong enough to attach it securely to the slick floor. On any other type of floor, I would be an advocate of using the watered down glue. Ironing the paper is a chore but it wasn’t the hardest or most time-consuming part of the whole project. I think it made the paper stay down a little easier, but I wouldn’t consider it mandatory. I really enjoy your blog BTW! You have a beautiful home!

  2. What a fabulous job. Thank you so much for sharing. I wiould like to do my kitchen floor which has a shiny vinyl/laminate floor now. Any advice or opinion would be very much appreciated.

    • Hi Kate! I have heard of people using this flooring in their kitchen. If you clean up water and liquids fairly soon after they are spilled on the floor, you’ll never even know they were there. If they are left a while (and you’ve used a water-based polyurethane) the water might seep through and get the paper underneath wet. However, this has happened to me a couple of times (leaky water heater and girls spilling drinks) and the water dried from the paper the next day. You would never even know it got wet! You could also use oil-based poly, which repels water instead of adsorbing it, but II read that the water-based is softer, which makes it more resistant to chipping. My concrete floor had been sealed with poly before I put down our paper floor. That is why I chose polyurethane as my “glue” (instead of school glue). You could experiment on a small area with a school glue/water mixture because it will save you a lot of money. If it seems like it will stick well, I’d go for it! Then just use the poly for your 4-6 topcoats. When you get done applying the topcoats, the floor will be almost like a vinyl floor in that the individual pieces will turn into one gigantic piece. You shouldn’t have trouble with pieces noticeably coming up in the middle.

      I hope this has helped! If you run into an unlikely problem, just pop back in! -Mindy

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