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The Budget Decorator’s Faux Leather (Paper Bag) Floor
by Kathy Wilson

Description: How to create a faux leather floor with paper bags.

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Sometimes one of the toughest decorating challenges we have when we are on a budget is replacing old, worn, or ugly flooring. If you have vinyl flooring that has seen better days, or you just want more of a natural or luxurious look in your rooms, hold on to your hat! I am going to show you how to create a faux leather floor from ordinary paper bags from the grocery store!

Tools Needed:

  • Paper bags or a roll of brown Kraft paper from the postal supply aisle (enough to cover your entire floor, with some overlapping)
  • Gallon of water based polyurethane (I recommend Minwax Polycrylic, or Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane)
  • Scissors
  • Old work clothes
  • Strong Knees and Back!

First off, put up the “Room Closed” sign! I did my kitchen in the evening so the last coat of sealer would have a chance to dry well before the kids and the dogs hit it in the morning! Even better if you can keep it closed off for 24 hours or more.

Now, clean the floor thoroughly…tsp is a great idea here! It is normally used on glossy paint surface, but will work well for these purposes. Rinse well. Let dry.

Tear your brown paper into irregular sections in a size that is easy to handle. It is important to tear, and not cut, as that will give the natural edge you need for the look. Only use the scissors to create a straight edge on some pieces to line up against cabinets, walls, or a change in flooring. Now crumple each torn piece tightly, then smooth out. This will give it texture.

Pour a small amount of polyurethane onto the floor where you will place your first piece, and smooth it out with a brush, although I preferred to use my hands. Lay the piece of paper down, add a little poly to the top of the paper, and smooth down. Kind of like decoupage! Now continue to lay down papers each one slightly overlapping the other. Smooth out bubbles as you go. Your hand is the best tool for this!

If you find bubbles forming underneath as the poly starts to dry, poke the bubble with a pin, add a little more poly, and smooth down.

Once you finish covering the whole floor with paper, let the poly dry. If you want a darker color, you can stain this with wood stain and a soft rag at this point. Recoat the poly once each hour until you have 4 to 6 coats of poly protecting your floor. This should be allowed to dry hard, at least overnight, longer if possible.

When you notice the floor getting dull, clean and add a maintenance coat of poly. Repairs are easily made with another torn piece of paper bag laid right over the existing treatment. Seal with poly.

Damp mop when necessary, and it should last you years! Definitely not your neighbor's floor, and all for the price of some polyurethane and some hard work! See a photo of this finished faux leather floor.

Budget Decorator readers have also used this floor treatment successfully over ceramic tile and wood subflooring. You can read about their experiences on our message board at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdmessageboard/.

Do you want free tips and ideas for decorating your home on a budget? Visit author and columnist Kathy Wilson at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com, and don’t forget to sign up for her free newsletter while you’re there!


Related articles:

Faux Marble in Six Easy Steps
7 Easy Faux Painting Techniques
Decorating with Sponge Painting


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