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A visual guide to slate style, paper bag floor:

I laid this paper bag floor in my high traffic, 10×10 entrance and 12 (four foot wide) stairs! This flooring has been installed for 2.5 years now and is still beautiful and durable… despite my 4 children & their wet snowy boots, all kinds of friend traffic, and daily abuse.

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First of all tear the paper (not from actual paper bags but from a roll of paper)… Notice the randomly torn pieces of paper in the picture below; they are less than 12″ x 12″. I was diligent not to have a bunch of straight pieces. The torn edge, all the way around blends better. I tore the paper in advance so I was ready to tackle the project. Once torn, I bunched it all into a ball and flattened it out again. This gives the floor more texture as well helping the glue to soak into the paper and adhere better. NOTE: it is good to have some straight edges for against the wall.  Knee pads are a must for this job! They make this job so much more enjoyable. 

Now it’s time to mix your Elmer’s Glue All and water. 1 part glue/2 parts water. Stir. Submerge a few pieces of the paper in the glue mixture and squeeze the paper to get the most of the glue out…It will still be saturated. There are some great videos showing how I handled the paper in the glue mixture (the paper in that video resembles wood however the principle is the same). Lay it on the surface and smooth it with a brush and even run your gloved hand over it to make sure it’s adhered to the floor. Lay the next piece, overlapping over the previous. this adds nice texture and beefs up the thickness of the floor.


The old loose tiles are torn up, the seams are filled and I’m finally making progress!


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I was careful to pick a corner and work back from it…that way I didn’t have to step on the freshly laid floor.

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This floor has great texture!

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Below: You can see that the paper is beginning to dry as I work. The variation in color, is the variation in drying.

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Still drying… you can see the variation in drying here as well.

You can see the difference in the 2 photos below… In the top picture, the floor is not dry. It looks patchy.  It will take 24 hours to dry. The 2nd photo shows how you achieve an even tone in the floor is when dry. DO NOT RUSH THIS. Let it dry.

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Below: Completely dry. All ready for stain!Paper bag floor, before stain and varathane

Now it’s time to stain. I rub it on with a lint free rag to have full control of the colour and ensure an even colour. This part is personal, however I like and use dark walnut from Minwax.   You can see all of the various stains you can choose from Minwax by clicking here.

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After stain and varathane! Beautiful!!

After the stain is applied (above), let it dry for 1.5 days. It will not feel super dry… it’s an oil stain. Don’t use water based…. its streaky and cheap looking.

After the drying time apply Varathane.

This Varathane I used was great.  It was water based and dried really fast. I applied a coat every couple hours… brace yourself, at least seven coats! You want to protect this beautiful creation, trust me. This part isn’t a big deal. It “feels” finished after the first coat and the result is so rewarding! It goes on very fast. I painted my stair fronts for contrast but that was just a personal decision.

Tada! Beautiful!!

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You can see a supply list of all the items needed to complete this project by clicking here