Paper Hardwood Floors
Today we are going to be learning about how to make Paper Hardwood Floors! What? Hardwood Floors that are paper? What are you talking about?! Did you know that THIS is paper?
I want to show you how I was able to take simple paper and turn it into something super amazing and BEAUTIFUL!
I saw people making brown paper floors and I liked the idea of a cheap option, but I didn’t like the leather look. I liked the idea of creating a hardwood/tile look. So that is exactly what I did! I found some other tutorials, but they were either very vague or not completely honest with some of the trials. I am going to be very thorough in this post in case you would like to attempt this AWESOME project!
This project was definitely the toughest that I have undertook. It would have been a lot easier if I did it in a room that was less traveled and I could have just blocked it off. I would have also been more successful without such small children and a cat. The worst part about this project was that my kids kept getting crackers and stuff stuck on my not yet dried floor and then the stupid cat would go and lay on my floor leaving behind paw prints and fur!!! So my floor will forever have crumbs and hair that will forever be in my floor! Super annoying!!! That being said you can’t see all of the crumbs unless I actually pointed them out and you got on your hands and knees to find them.
However, I am super excited about the outcome of this floor and I’m pleased with how it turned out! I would recommend this project to anybody wanting to have the look of hardwood floors but not the expense. I am going to share with you my successes, my failures and what I would do differently if I were to do this project again!
Here is what my living room looked like before I decided to undertake this project.
So if you notice there is a black rug near my son. That rug is covering cement. When we moved into the home there was a non-permitted wood stove. We removed the stove and the brick underneath and there was just cement. We didn’t have enough money to replace the flooring so we just threw a rug over it! That’s how we problem solve in this family. 🙂
Here is a close up of the carpet. This is how the carpet looked when we move in. Tons and TONS of stains and who knows what! As you can tell it wasn’t a very hard decision to see this carpet go!
You’ll want to first get all of your materials before you decide to just rip up your carpet or old flooring AND you’ll want to know what you have under your flooring. Cut a little piece of your flooring to know what you’re dealing with. I happily ripped up the carpet and then realized that 1. Cement was under our carpet and so I was going to have to buy something to put over our cement. And 2. Our local hardware stores don’t sell one of the tools I needed to actually begin. So I couldn’t even start the project until I ordered the tool. I am known for just having an idea and just DOING without fully thinking about the plan. Drives my husband insane. But if I left my hubby up to projects he would just think about it for like three weeks. Took him two weeks of researching to buy a phone! Sorry honey…I love you!
This is what you’ll need
Quarter Gallon of Paint: This is COMPLETELY up to you! Choose a paint color that you would like to paint your floors. I choose Valspar “Leather Chair” and I am SOOO happy with how it turned out!
A LARGE bottle of Elmer’s All Glue: I bought mine from Lowe’s for $15. Here is the same thing, but a cheaper option from Amazon. It might be better to order from Amazon if you are ordering other things so you’ll get free shipping.
Wood grain tool: This was the tool I didn’t have. I went to Lowe’s to buy this tool and it was the worst experience. Nobody would help me, nobody would point me in the right direction to find this tool. Then finally one guy said he’s never heard of it and I finally just left. I went to Home Depot and they instantly helped me and regretfully told me that they didn’t have the tool. I was so sad. I just figured out that Lowe’s had the tool the whole time! I am no longer shopping at Lowe’s. I have had a horrible experiences each time. Anyways…you can buy it from Lowe’s for about $8, but I bought mine from Amazon. I liked this tool, but my only problem was that the handle kept on falling off! So I would probably try this other tool from Amazon if I were to do it again. AND it’s cheaper! 🙂 BUT you could also do a rolling wood grain tool which I would suspect would be a lot quicker! Here is a good one from Amazon that I found.
One Gallon (my space is a little over 300 square feet so I bought two gallons) of Polyurethane for floors: I used oil-based. I bought the clear semi-gloss and I am super upset that I got semi-gloss. I wish I would have gotten satin. It is just REALLY shiny now and kind of looks like I always spilled something on it. I am going to have to go over it with a satin Poly when I have the time. I bought mine from Home Depot (Gosh I love Home Depot) for about $25. From Amazon you can buy this for around $23. The Poly choice is completely up to you. I would highly recommend doing a fast drying (I didn’t) but doing a fast drying will allow you to do multiple coats very quickly. You need A LOT of coats and so you won’t have to wait hours and hours to put on another coat. Also you want to make sure you get Polyurethane for Floor. Stay away from Polycrilic or you will have problems with chipping.
Quarter Gallon of Dark Walnut wood stain (Optional): I bought mine from Lowe’s for around $30. You can also buy it from Amazon . Okay so you may have noticed that I wrote optional. The reason that this is optional is because its completely based on personal preference. I went out and bought a huge gallon of the Dark Walnut and then I realized that I seriously didn’t need THAT much Dark Walnut stain AND I don’t even know if I want to use it! I used the stain on a small portion and I didn’t know if it made a huge difference. So I haven’t even used the stain yet! So what you will want to do is wait until your floors are done and then you can buy the stain that is right for you. I bought Mirimax which is very expensive and you can find cheaper stains. You can also pick a different color.
Okay…Let’s move on to the fun stuff!!
So the first thing I did was take off all of the baseboard trim to make it easier. Make sure you label each trim so that you know where they go afterwards. I numbered them with a permanent marker.
Then I ripped up all of my carpet prematurely. There was one layer of carpet and one layer of padding underneath. I had to use a box cutter in order to cut the carpet into smaller parts, because I was doing this all by myself and I am not strong enough to pick it all up! Carpet is REALLY heavy!
This is the cement patch I was telling you about that was left after we took out the wood stove.
My living room has two back doors (awkward I know). In front of one back door is this ugly fake tile.
I had to take a crow bar and pull up all of the fake tile.
My carpet was put down and then was stapled and nailed down with boards.
So I had to use a crow bar to pull up all of these (what a nightmare). Around that green tile was not only wood, but also a metal transition that I had to pull up as well.
This is what it looked like before I started pulling up the tile.
This is what it looked like after.
I was SO excited to finally get this stupid thing off the floor!!
The grosset part about this was realizing how much stuff was underneath our carpet! EWWW!! Oh and I found where all the ants were coming from!! GROSS!!! So clearly you will want to sweep and sweep and sweep.
I then noticed that I couldn’t just put the paper on the cement. It would be too hard and uncomfortable. So I decided to buy a whole bunch of 2 × 4 OSB wood. Well… If i would have thought this through I would have used hardboard panels. Home Depot will cut them for you! Lowe’s told me they wouldn’t cut the wood and so I knew I couldn’t put a huge Hardboard Panel in my mini van. BUT this would have been cheaper and smoother. The OSB was really difficult to create a smooth surface. It made it almost impossible not to ripple the paper. You will see later some of the problems I had using the OSB. So I wouldn’t recommend using this. Also the OSB didn’t lay flat very easily so I had to lay heavy objects on them to keep down while the liquid nails dried to the cement. The liquid nails worked perfect and exactly how I wanted!! I was pleased with this.
So the first thing you’ll want to do is get a piece of wood that you want as your stencil. Now start cutting. I just rolled out the builder paper and started tracing. Due to my huge room size I had to cut about 160 paper tiles. It took about four hours to trace and cut, but note that was with a two year old and a 9 month old “helping” me with my job. You could do this a lot quicker with fewer distractions and with a smaller room size.
Now mix your paint color with water. Note: the more paint in the water the darker your tiles will be, but then you’ll go through your paint quicker the less water you use. This decision is totally up to you. I decided to make my tiles a little darker so I added more paint then water. Paint your tile.
Take the wood graining tool. I used the pokey edge to make lines in the paper by pulling towards me.
I the used the wood grain side to create the wood effects. I pulled the tool towards me while occasional rocking back and forth to create more texture and wood like features. You could also use your tool as a stamp. You could stamp in different directions. You’ll want each tile to look a little different.
As the paint dries you will see your wood features more.
So let those dry. The more water you used in your paint the quicker they will dry. This took me about 3 hours to do all of it. I couldn’t do them in one swoop.
Once they are dry you’ll want to start in a corner of the room and go all the way to the other side. Then turn around and come back. You’ll have to cut your tiles when approaching the wall which is fine because you don’t want your tiles to be the same length in each row. User the remaining cut tile to start your new row. I was not able to do my floors this way because i had children running around. So I had to remain on one side of the room at a time. This led to a problem, because it was extremely hard to keep the tiles straight. Almost impossible. Not a huge deal though because if there is a little bit of the beneath wood showing you can use your paint to paint in-between the tiles.
In a large throw away container you need to mix water and the glue together.
Okay so what you do is you soak the wood where you’re going to put your paper tile. Then soak your paper in the water. Submerge it in the glue water mixture. I would roll up the paper and I put in the water like this.
Then placed it in the desired spot. You’ll want to smooth it and get all of the air bubbles out. Now cover the top with more glue mixture. Do this for the entire place you want to have the wood floors. In the beginning I was trying to be dainty and use my paint brush to smooth the glue down. Once I got a rhythm I used my hands to smooth it down. My hands were a lot more efficient.
Notice the small little bubbles and ripples? I had to go back and do it ALL over again! I am telling you…this OSB was a nightmare! BUUUTTTT if you do have OSB it is possible!
My kids and cat would ruin my work on occasional and even got crumbs and stuff mixed in with the glue. In order to avoid this make sure nobody goes in your room and that nothing gets into the glue. Take the time to take out any dirt, crumbs or hair from your glue mixture before putting it in your paper tiles.
One night I glued all of my paper down and I woke up to none of my paper stuck to the floor and ALL of them were wrinkled! I realized that I didn’t put any glue on top of them before the night AND I used a fan to dry them. DON’T use a fan for quicker drying! Let them dry naturally.
Once the glue dries you’ll want to go and paint in between each tile as necessary to make sure that you can’t see the floor underneath. The paint will also look super cool to show a little more rustic and country look to the tile.
Once that is dry it is now time that you can put your polyurethane on top. For a high traffic area you’ll want to put 10 coats on top!!! This was probably the most time consuming of all of the project. Make sure you have no paper that is flipped up or anything before you start putting on the poly. You don’t want any paper flipped up or it will rip!! It is paper after all. I had to coat polyurethane in sections, because this is our common room so I couldn’t just paint the whole thing. But ideally you will want to cover the whole room at the same time.
You can tell where the poly is and where it has not yet been applied
(Notice the wrinkles: This was the morning I woke up and all of the tiles were being stupid)
My children weren’t a big fan of the project, but LOVED when they got a hard surface to play on finally!
They even liked it when we had to go outside for a little bit because mom was putting down some stuff that I didn’t want them to directly inhale!
I was SO excited for this! Almost done!
I did use the fan for when I finally needed to dry the stain.
Once your poly is covered and dried you have the choice to cover with a stain. I used the stain on one part and it just kind of looked dirty, so I chose not to use the stain in the rest of the floor. I was already pretty satisfied with the color outcome . I might do it in the future though if I want to change the look a little bit.
So I am DONE with the living room!! YEAH!! I still need to do the office area! BOOO! But that should be a lot easier and quicker.
If I had to do this project over again I would have made this room off limits! I would have not allowed anybody to go through it. I would have then been able to complete this project WAY quicker and I wouldn’t have had as much crumbs, dirt and fur tracking through. This project took about 3 weeks to complete from beginning to end due to the fact I did it by myself while watching and caring for my two babies. I couldn’t put the poly coats on until night time while they were asleep so I only pretty much got to do a coat a night. When I do the office I am going to force everybody out so I can complete it in a weekend.
WHAT? You wanted a selfie of when I completed the project? Your wish is my command!
So I do want to share the BAD and the Ugly of this project.
This is what my office area looked like during the project. I know I just showed this picture, but this time focus on that office area as opposed to the floor.
And THIS was my kitchen during the project.
That’s right! Three weeks of living like that!
BUT LOOK AT THE OUTCOME! ALL of the hardships and hiccups were totally worth it! I am so happy with it!!!!
Stay tuned for the office before and after picture! I will be tearing up the carpet in there this weekend and finishing this project once and for all!
I hope that you guys enjoyed this post! Feel free to post, share or pin this project!!
I am super excited to paint this room next and add an adorable shag rug!
If you’re interested in DIY home improvement projects be sure to check out how I Spray Painted My Countertops