Well, today I’m kicking off my first series! I wasn’t originally planning on making it a series – I was going to post the whole experiment in one big post, but quickly realized it would be the most ridiculous, long-winded, information-packed post ever. So big that it would be hard to actually find the information you are looking for. So I’m going to divide it up into five parts…. papers, stains, sealers, surfaces and removal, and conclusion. Like a science fair project on steroids. I’ll just plan to post one a week so as to not totally bore those of you that have absolutely no interest in this. Also, my opinions change throughout the process, so don’t base what you are going to do off of just ones of these posts. Just because a paper goes on great doesn’t mean it stains well, for example.
In case you’re new here and have no idea what paper flooring is all about, here is the gist. Paper flooring is a cheap and beautiful alternative to more expensive flooring types. If you need new flooring and are adventurous, like work, are on a budget, and enjoy being hunched over for long periods of time… then this might be for you. You can read my full tutorial HERE (and my one year later post HERE), but you basically rip up paper, crumple it, glue it to your floor (using a Elmers glue and water mixture), stain (optional), and cover in a stinkload sealer. There are SO MANY different ways you can do this, different papers, stains, sealers…they will all look different and may wear differently depending on what products you use. Because of this (and the popularity of my original tutorial) I’ve decided to do all the dirty work for y’all and experiment with different combinations. This isn’t an exhaustive list (because that would take forever and be crazy expensive) but it’s fairly thorough and should hopefully be helpful.
So here we go…paper options. I used three different types of papers for this – builders paper, brown kraft paper, and white art paper.
You can pick this paper up at Home Depot near the paint section, it costs about $11 for a 140 ft roll (it will last you forever). This is the paper that I used in my boy’s room. Here are my observations about it…
- The thickest of all the papers.
- The darkest of all the papers
- The most difficult to rip and crumple (especially crumple). I had to ball it up, flatten it out, and ball it up again to get the amount of wrinkles I was looking for.
- Tore and got holes sometimes while crumpling.
- Doesn’t appear to have different sides, but when it dries the sides look slightly different (some are darker than others).
- Uses the most glue
I papered a scrap piece of plywood, and will be using these boards for all my experiments. The paper looks a little blotchy here… I had to go over a few spots after it dried to seal them down. I think my first batch of glue was too watery and the two batches look different when dry. So measure your glue – 50% water and 50% glue.
Here’s a close-up. You can’t really see where it was crumpled, that part doesn’t show up until you stain it.
This is the other brown paper you can use, you can buy it on Amazon. It’s $13 + shipping for a 100 ft roll. This was my first time using this paper, here is what I learned…
- Medium weight and color
- Really easy to rip and crumple. I want to say that this part went about twice as fast as with the builders paper.
- Never got holes or tore while crumpling
- Has two distinct sides (one is waxy) but they dry looking the exact same
- My personal favorite to work with
- Spoiler alert – it stains terribly, but looks great natural
I also tried out a plain white art paper. I bought it on Amazon – it costs $17 for 50 ft, making it the most expensive paper (still insanely cheap for flooring though!). The best part is that it comes in 23 colors. 23 colors! The possibilities are truly endless with this, you could do white paper + different stains, colored floors, rainbow floors, ombre floors…whatever. Here is what I discovered about the white paper…
- The most lightweight of the three
- Easy to rip and crumple
- The two sides are exactly the same (though the colored ones have a white side and a colored side)
- The paper is fairly thin and because of that I had to be more careful during the application process
- Had the most wrinkles after application, though most of them smoothed out after they dried (since the paper shrinks as it dries)
- Somewhat transparent when dry (but spoiler alert though – it stains beautifully)
While this paper looks fine after stain, it’s thin. That won’t be a problem after sealed, but a thicker white paper might be easier to work with. Also, this next picture clearly shows you how much I overlap the paper.
Here are a couple of side by sides for comparison…
One of the questions I get asked frequently is “do you think I could use ______ kind of paper?” After using all these papers I pretty much concluded that you can use just about anything. Scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, construction paper, book pages, actual paper bags… whatever. If you put the sealer directly on top of them and don’t mess with stain then there wouldn’t really be any risk of messing it up.
So that is all about your paper options…next week I’ll post about experimenting with stains. Let me just tell you, it did NOT turn out like I expected.
Links to the other parts of this series –
- Original tutorial
- My paper floor, one year later
- Paper flooring experiment part I – paper options
- Paper flooring experiment part II – stain options
- Paper flooring experiment part III – sealer options
- Paper flooring experiment part IV – misfit questions
- Guest room paper flooring (and why I’m disappointed with it)