Paper Bag Floor Instructions


Clean & prep the floors.  You can’t expect a nice finished product without prepping the area. It doesn’t take long… but DO IT.

•if you are planning to apply paper bag flooring over plywood, seal the cracks between the sheets of wood. If not, the seems WILL show through.

•we also applied paper bag flooring over hard vinyl tile with success. In this case scrub the floor with TSP to remove any dirt and grime that will hinder the paper from adhering.

•vacuum thoroughly

Decide on your method of application. Do you prefer a plank style, wood floor look?  A tile look?  A slate look…the sky is the limit…

Paper bag flooring, wood plank style, see below OR  paper bag flooring, slate style, click here.
•cut the strips of paper. I chose to use a straight edge across the full length of the paper roll (36″). I chose a plank width of 5″. I made a template with a piece of scrap plywood drawing a line measuring 5″ so there was no need to measure repeatedly. Use a utility knife to cut the planks. You will need to have calculated your dimensions to know approximately how many stripes you need to cover your space.

Paint the wood plank effect on the strips of paper. Let me explain…
The wood grain technique is very simple providing you buy a wood grain tool (see shopping list). I watered down dark brown paint (add water slowly until you feel less drag with your stir stick). Quickly brush it on one paper strip at a time, then immediately, while the paint is wet, drag the wood graining tool over the paper using the “teeth” side.  Next, turn the wood grain tool over and use a rocking motion while pulling the tool down the strip of paper, to achieve the desired grain. It may sound hard… but it is very easy!

This step will requires a dark brown paint, a paint brush as well as the wood grain tool.  This step is quite fun and rewarding. As I painted the strips of paper I carefully laid them flat to dry (I used the room I was about to makeover as my drying spot). They dry very quickly since the paint is watered down.

Now it’s time to apply the floor. I suggest you watch these short these videos to learn the process.


Dry time. Yes…you get to relax and wait for 24 hours. No complaining here…lol


Apply stain. I prefer to to use a lint free rag and rub the stain on. It dries faster and I found I had much more control with colour. Simply rub on the stain and wipe excess off as you go.

DRY TIME. Warning, the stain will never really feel completely dry. I was very careful at this stage. I only wore thick socks and walked softly. After drying approximately 1.5 days I proceeded the the next step.

Varathane. I applied seven coats. Yes, seven. Don’t panic. This went fast as I was no longer on my knees. The water based stain I used dries crazy fast so I was able to apply a coat every couple hours! After the varathane is applied, remember that this product may feel hard and dry however it needs time to cure and harden completely. If possible, leave for it for a day or two to harden.

I hope these instructions serve you as a helpful aid before you install your own paper bag floor!