Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pinterest, Paper bag floors and pictures...

Ah... the toy room.

Technically, it's a "bedroom", 16 years ago it was my Master Bedroom but with wanting to keep all of us on one level it became the toy room.

It's served it's purpose as the place to play Wii, play on computers, drag out every toy imaginable room.  Which was not the worst thing in the world, as - it was a bedroom with double doors - that I simply kept mostly closed.

Over few months, one of the cats has decided that the back corner of the toy room would make the most awesome litter box! Nothing I did was fixing this problem.  The 16 year old carpet was already nasty, after 2 dogs, 2 cats and 2 kids... it was really nasty.

I knew pulling up the carpet was inevitable so I started researching my options.  As a single mom on an extremely tight budget I knew that hardwood was definitely out, carpet was out - not just because of the budget but also because I seriously dislike carpet at the moment.  After some dedicated Pinteresting, I discovered the "Brown Paper Bag Floor" - and I was sold.  I read what I could about it and started saving back.

While my heart was ready, the rest of me was not.  Until Parker had a little bit of a meltdown and one of the doors was removed from the toy room.  That was all it took, within a few minutes I had both doors removed and quickly fell in love with the open concept leading into this room.  It makes it more inviting and pulls it in with the other rooms on this level.  That was all it took for my mind to jump into gear and start to visualize what I really wanted from this room.

It took a lot of time, extremely dedicated work, and the stars lining up for great result (and I'll post the how to below) but... I am thrilled to say this is my before and after (after for now - I still have more to do with accessories but I have to save for that to happen and, honestly, am not in a hurry!)

So......... Here you go..... Before and after side by sides...

Our old toy room and new family room!

So... here is what my Facebook friends have been waiting for - the start to finish including the how to of the paper bag floor!

First, everything had to be cleaned out of the toy room -

Including the carpet *Insert cheering here*

Except it was a major job and a bit of a pain.  Thank you so much SE for your help with this! 6 hours - YES, SIX HOURS later the carpet, tack strips and staples were finally all out!

 This ridiculously long process is very necessary as you HAVE to get ever single staple out, if you don't you will be able to feel it through the paper bag floor.  Trust me, after about 3 hours of pulling out staples you each time you see this -

 You will hear this song in your head

and yes, it's true.  When you close your eyes, you will dream about these staples.  No lie.

The first thing I did was spray the corner(s) of the sub floor where the cat was bathrooming with the most incredible stuff... Nature's Miracle

while I wanted this to work, I honestly didn't think anything would remove the smell.  But it did! I am so impressed with this product and highly recommend it!

I prepped the floor, which I also recommend, filling in every staple hole and more importantly, if your sub floor is like mine - these massive gaps. Some people lay new sub floors, that simply was not in my budget so I did the best I could to repair this one.

I wanted to paint before I did the floor and went with tangerine for the accent wall, sand for the other walls and a white pebble for the trim.  It was important to me that the rooms flowed - which is why the accent wall is on the back - pulling in the yellow and red from the other rooms.

Paint: $45  Results... exactly what I had hoped for!

With the paint on (and the world's most awesome curtains up - thanks to Amy Z for talking me into the pattern versus the plain!) it was time to start on the floor.

Here is your how to for the paper bag floor:

My room is 14x16, I used exactly one roll of the paper ($12) and 2 jugs of glue ($24).  I bought both of mine at Lowe's but the paper and glue can be found in most any home improvement store.  The paper (called Contractor's paper) is in the paint section and the glue was pretty close by near the stain.

As you unroll the paper, you'll want to mark the paper, while it looks exactly the same on both sides - it's not.  While it won't look like it when the paper goes down, you'll notice it when it dries.  I marked mine with a pencil - all over.

Then Allison and I went to work ripping it into pieces and crumpling it up.  I kid you not, this took us 3 hours.  In-sane.

Allison bailed on me after about an hour - but, I give her total props for sticking with it so long, it really was not fun at all.

I read several different mixture ratios for the glue to water.  I finally went with 50/50. The most important thing I read was that you need to be consistent with the ratio each time you mix. 50/50 was easy to be sure I would be consistent (and others had used it.)

I had read that the best way to apply the bags was to use a thick paint brush to put glue in the spot you plan to put a piece down, lay the piece and then using the brush dipped in the mixture "paint" over it smoothing out the bubbles.

I also read that the best way to apply the bags was to dip the bags in the glue mixture and use your hands to smooth it out.  I tried both ways and for me, dipping it was the best.  It was the only way I could feel if the bubbles were out and really smooth down the paper.  I started in a back corner and did the outer edge 3/4 of the way around leaving the door way open.  You learn fairly quick the right length of time to dip them - too much wetness leads to the paper tearing.  You want to be sure both the top and bottom of the paper is completely wet and covered.

While I didn't wear knee pads while doing this project, it is recommended.  My knees bruised but that paled in comparison to how my back felt. It was really hard on my back.. I'm still recovering from that.

The ripped paper will have sides that are straight from the outside of the paper, use them as your outside wall pieces, they line nicely up against the wall. I separated all of my crumpled pieces into 2 garbage bags at a time, one with all ripped edges and one with straight. You also want to be sure all of your pieces overlap.

About 4 hours into laying the floor, I started to freak out.  It could have been the lack of sleep or the overwhelmingness of how much was left but I decided to start using the brush and doing it the other way.  It was very difficult for me to get all the bubbles out and the pieces smooth using the brush, so I went back to dipping the pieces.  I can tell now, looking at the floor, where I did each kind.  It looks much smoother on the places I dipped it in the glue versus using the brush.

I was happy to see the glue drying, especially since I had read that it didn't for some people - I will say be sure to really smooth out the glue, if there is a bubble - it will dry a bubble.

What became difficult (besides the extreme pain in my back from crawling around on the floor) was after the paper was dipped was seeing the pencil marks.  I was exhausted, I couldn't see the pencil marks on the wet paper so I started just putting it down.  Once it dried... I could easily see that some pieces were facing the wrong way.

The awesome thing about doing a floor like this is that if you make a mistake you can just put a new piece over it!  However, I didn't want to do that , I liked the contrast and I planned on staining the floor so I left those spots as they were but checked for any places I missed and filled them in.

It took - no kidding, no breaks - 10 straight hours for me to put the paper down on the 14x16 room.  TEN hours.  I was not sure I would ever stand up straight again but I loved the finished look!  Now that I know how to do it, if I do another room, I will definitely call a friend or two to come help with this part. If we all started in separate corners and worked our way to the middle and out of the room it would go much quicker.  I just couldn't do that for my first floor.  I wasn't sure what I was doing and it if wouldn't have turned out I didn't want anyone to feel responsible.

I actually debated staining for awhile.  It's important to wait until the floor is completely dry, I waited 24 hours before putting the stain on.

The stain was $8 and when I first put it on - I couldn't tell a difference at all so I went back and read more.  Thankfully my friend, Julie, had lots of articles to share with me on this.  It's very important if you are putting on stain that you let it set for 2-3 minutes before wiping/blotting it off.  If you just put it on and wipe/blot it off it won't do anything.  I have no idea why this is but it is what it is.  *It is important to get the oil based stain!

I loved the results!  LOVED them!  And it only took an hour to do - so total plus!

Everything I read said the floor, after being stained, would never "feel" dry but sticky.  I didn't have this problem.  I waited 24 hours and it felt fine.

Then it was time for the polyurethane, everything I read and everyone I talked to say 8-12 coats.  So I planned on 12. In the end - I did 14 as that is what used up every ounce of the poly I bought.  It is very important that you get a WATER BASED polyurethane.

I used this:

at $40 a can it was the most expensive part of my floor (I used 2 cans) it's also fast drying, allowing me to do a new coat every 2 hours.

I bought a lambswool applier and the universal pole to go with it.  And here's what I learned about that...

"Universal" pole

 "Universal" lambswool holder

The only way to make them fit together?  DUCK TAPE.  Because otherwise, it certainly does not fit together.  At all.  Not even close.

But this worked beautifully!  

Here's the thing about the "every 2 hours" polyurethane - if too much time passes, you have to sand in between coats and there was NO WAY I was sanding between coats.  So, with little cat naps between each coat (which only took about 5 minutes to apply), I stayed up for 28 straight hours to apply the poly. I poured the poly into a painters tray and then mopped it on.  Be sure not to mop it on too fast or you will get bubbles.  If you do, just sand them out before the next coat.

Even for me, who only sleeps 4-5 hours a night, this became draining and about 3 am after a coat of poly, I snuck into the bathroom, sat on the edge of the bathtub and ate a bowl of Lucky Charms.

*Yes, at 3 am - when my children were asleep, I *snuck* into the bathroom where I hid and ate a bowl of Lucky Charms sitting on the edge of the tub. That's how tired I was.

But, 14 coats later - I had the most gorgeous floor ever, completely exceeding my expectations!

Then came to what really proved to be the absolute hardest part.  Waiting.  One full week, 7 straight days before moving anything into the room.  This is extremely important as the floor must cure first.  And while it doesn't sound hard - it was.  I couldn't wait to get the furniture in and start to enjoy the new room.  But, I waited.  Kinda impatiently but waited none the less.

It gave me time to do another Pinterest project while I waited - the photo heart.  Here was my inspiration pin:

I used clear plastic frames, peeling the magnets off the back and using the double sided 3M adhesive squares to attach them to the walls.  The first pattern, set to look like the above pin, that I laid out on the floor - I just didn't care for.

So I started over laying out a heart and filling in around it - coming up with this:

Which I loved.  To transfer it to the wall, I used some left over brown paper and traced each frame (I used both 4x6 and 3x5 frames) onto it then placed it on the wall to be sure it was exactly where I wanted it.

When it was where I wanted it, I marked it off, removed it and cut out the frame spots before re-hanging my stencil.

Then I simply filled in each spot with the frames, later - after picking out pictures with the kids, adding them in using double stick tape to keep them in place.

I added an Uppercase Living peel that I've had since 2009 to the wall to complete it with the phrase "Treasure the time together"  At the moment, this is the only completed wall in the room.

With the goal of the room being a place to hang out, watch tv, movies, play wii and games - I jumped at the opportunity for the free mini fridge a friend was looking to find a home for after now that her daughter was home from college. Conveniently tucked away hidden in the closet...

 This might be my children's favorite part of this room!

(*Again, thanks to Amy Z for talking me into trying the black curtains on the closet! They are perfect!)

While I have plenty left to do (decoration wise, adding more pictures, end tables, etc) and the hope that in time we can add a flat screen TV in here with a smaller, more sleek console for the media equipment - and I need to work on hiding the massive amount of cords I have, add quarter round, a transition piece between the two floors and hide the cord for the mini fridge... for now -
this is perfect and we could not be happier!

The total cost on the room: $239

 Floor $124

Brown paper bag $12
Glue $24
Stain $8
Polyurethane $80

Paint $45
Curtains $40
Pillows $30

While it was a lot of work and my back may never be the same, I am so proud of the results and thrilled that I took the time to give this floor a try!  It's definitely something I'd recommend!  We are looking forward to many years enjoying this space!


  1. ����������‼️ It looks amazing Holly, what a fantastic job, and what a determined bunny you are. Lol, I thought I was the only lunatic who went for long periods like that on a project, nice to know I'm not ��xxxx

    1. Thank you so much! You are totally not alone! I am part of the lunatic club too!

  2. Absolutely Fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love it! Exactly the kind of project I would do. Tell me more about the roll of paper bag paper, never heard or seen it before.

    1. Thank you so much! I had never seen them either. Some places call it "contractor's paper" some call it "Craft paper". I found a small roll at our local Wal Mart but wanted the really big role. I found mine at Lowe's (also where I got my glue). It's in the paint section as most contractor's use it to cover the floors so it's near the tarps and things like that in the paint section.
      You can also order it online. Good luck!