New Dining Room Floor

Brown Paper Floor Technique with “Rug” Inlay


I almost didn’t do this. The pictures on Pinterest just DO NOT DO THIS FLOOR JUSTICE. If you’re even thinking about doing this to your floor, DO IT!

It is an IN-SANE amount of work. IN. SANE! But so so so worth it.


20140305_140104Horrifically dog pee/baby puked carpet that looked/smelled/felt horrible.

20140306_104715Midway through prep — post carpet. Pulling up staples and mudding cracks in subfloor.

Here’s the short answer of how I did this, but click all the links for a couple different methods and what I used for reference posts.


  • Kraft brown paper – I got mine at Walmart for about $7 a roll (FYI each side of the roll will show up different. I lucked out and it turned out really random and cool, but just be aware that the back of the paper will look different than the front)
  • Elmer’s Glue – gallon size. I found it at Staples for $19
  • Drywall mud and supplies to mud seams in the subfloor.
  • Molding to finish the gap that used to be filled with carpet. I used 3/4″ round to tie in the tile.
  • Polyurethane – For floors – WATER BASED! (I used the oil based and it did end up adding extra “character” to each of my pieces around the edges and creases, which turned out fine, but I would have probably preferred the water based.
  • I did a MASSIVE area and my costs ended up pretty high for this. I used 7 rolls of paper, 2 gallons of glue, 3 cans of Poly (and it could use another)


  • I cannot stress how important it is to prep. Some people have put a thin overlay backer board down and that’s not a bad idea, especially if you have a smaller area. Not sure it would have helped much in my case with lessening the load.
    • Mud every seam, then sand and mud again until smooth
    • Triple-check for nails and staples sticking up. Then check again. Remember, you’re only putting a wet layer of PAPER over this floor. EVERY. SINGLE. BUMP. is going to show. I had horrid horrid horrid subfloor that was this awful particle board, so there were random slivers and chunks sticking up. It took me an ENTIRE NIGHT to prep the floor (like until 1 AM)
    • When you get up the next morning, check for flaws in different light.
  • Rip up paper and crumple it. Then stomp or kneel on it to extra compress it. (The better you crumple it, the more pronounced the “veins” in the paper.)
    • I tore it super randomly and in pieces that were about 14″ x 14″ but no bigger than 18 inches.
    • My shapes were squares, triangles, and diamonds to keep it random.
    • I didn’t stress about keeping the straight edges separate. It’s easy enough to fold over a section to make a straight edge.
  • Mix up the glue mixture.
    • 3:1 ratio of water to glue. I usually made a double batch (2 cups glue, 6 cups water)
    • A tall narrow container makes it easiest to dunk the balls of paper
  • Dunk the paper in the glue mixture, making sure it gets wet to the inside creases, but don’t let it soak because the paper will fall apart. (You’ll figure it out as you go, but start with less)
  • Spread the paper on the floor.
    • Make sure you stick it WAY  under your baseboards because it will shrink and you’ll have to redo sections.
    • If you have to redo sections once it’s dry, it’s pretty easy to cut out a bubbled up section with a knife and reapply new paper.
    • 20140306_120946 One hour in. At this point, I realize this is going to take forevvvvvvvver.
    • 20140306_174722 Night one of papering. Holy shizballs.
  • Let it dry.
    • DO NOT SKIMP. You want that paper to be hard, dry, and crunchy before you start the stain.
  • Stain it.
    • I didn’t like the heavy dark stains that I saw on Pinterest, and the area is pretty small, so I didn’t want to make it smaller with a darker stain. When it’s dry, the paper is almost a stunning suede look, and I almost didn’t stain it, but wanted to bring out the “veins” so I ended up using a rag on, rag off technique (that I practiced on some scraps). It turned out awesome.


    • I also taped off and added in a “rug” for under the dining room table. I used a dark stain for the border and left the center square unstained. I didn’t rag off at all so it would stay super dark.


  • Now that it’s stained, let that dry. Then put on polyurethane.
    • I used a lambswool pad and went super duper duper slow to keep bubbles to a minimum.
    • I used a high gloss poly that was made for floors.
    • READ the instructions. Far better to use more thin coats than thick coats that get cloudy.
    • UPDATE: I did FOUR coats, and it’s been down for 2 months and the boys have had their baseball cleats and every toy imaginable on it. It still looks like the day I installed it. I do want to put another thicker coat on now, especially now that I know how thick I can go (but I erred on the very extreme for the first couple coats)

20140308_103720After one coat.

20140309_113048Three coats in.


20140311_210826(Post picture, I did end up adding a dark round edge where the tile met the floor, and I dropped all the molding on the bookcase so it reached the floor.)

20140324_103553With new carpet installed for the full “After”

20140324_103623The carpet guys used a z-strip to end the carpet. (That’s a spare piece in the hallway, but the flooring goes all the way into there.)


After 4 coats. You can still see some of the seams, and I’d like to get a flat surface.



All in all, turned out fantastic and like I said at the beginning, the pictures really don’t do it justice. It’s amazing in real life. If you end up doing this to your house, shoot me pics!

Blog posts I used for reference:


If you’re coming over from Pinterest, and haven’t been here before, here another post you might like:

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