How To Install Paper Bag Floors

Are you looking for a unique but low cost flooring option? If you have a concrete or plywood sub-floor, paper bag flooring may be a good option. This method uses paper bags, or brown packing paper, and polyurethane to create a floor finish that has an almost leather-like appearance. The following guide can help you complete the project.


  • Brown packing paper or paper bags

  • White glue

  • Bucket

  • Wide paint brush

  • Polyurethane

  • Poly mop pad

  • Gloves

Optional items include wood stain and a lambskin stain pad, if you will be altering the natural color of the paper.

Step 1: Prepare the Floors

Begin by removing the old flooring material, along with any glue, staples, or nails. If you have plywood floors, fill in any cracks or joints with wood filler. For concrete floors, you can use a concrete filler for any damage. Allow it to dry before continuing.

Step 2: Tear Your Paper

Tear the brown paper into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the more variations in the floor, while larger pieces result in a smoother appearance. Crumple up each piece of paper and make a pile. You will need to tear and crumple enough paper to cover the floor. Keep in mind, if you use paper bags, dispose of any areas with printing on them.

Step 3: Mix and Apply Glue

Pour your glue into the bucket and then add water until it is about as thick as heavy cream. Dip a paper piece in the glue and then lay it on the floor. Paint over it using more glue and the brush to adhere it flat to the floor. Repeat for each piece of paper, overlapping the edges so that the subfloor doesn't peak through. Allow the floors to dry overnight.

Step 4: Finish Work

If you want to stain the floors a darker color, apply the stain now with the lambskin pad and then allow it to dry before continuing. Once the floor is ready, apply a thin coat of polyurethane with the mop. Allow this coat to dry and then apply additional coats. The number of coats is up to you, but the goal is to have a thick gloss that protects the floor and prevents damage. Just make sure each coat is thin, or you may end up with cloudy results.

Contact a local flooring shop or contractor for more ideas on how you can finish the floors in your home.