********If you are new to my paper floors, please read this first**********
tied up with string…
Brown craft paper is quickly climbing up the ladder as one of my favorite things- and you know how I love my drop cloth. But I just can’t believe the versatility of this also-banned-to-the-painting-aisle material. Seriously, is there a club for people like me?
It all started with my desire to get rid of the carpet in our house. The main floor has hardwood, but the whole upstairs plus the staircase is all carpet. If it was nice carpet, maybe I wouldn’t be complaining. But it’s fairly cheap and having 4 animals has certainly taken its toll. I started seeing more and more staircase makeovers in blog land where dingy carpet was ripped up to reveal lovely hardwood treads just waiting for some TLC. No such luck here, as a quick peek under our carpet revealed mdf. UGH. It would be impossible to remove the carpet upstairs without addressing the stairs, so I was losing hope.
Ridding the house of carpet was becoming more and more of a pipe dream until I picked up an issue of Cottages and Bungalows and saw this:
Jami from An Oregon Cottage had been featured in the magazine for her unique floor treatment using brown craft paper. I was immediately intrigued and began doing more research. The more I thought about it, the more I was in love with this alternative look-the paper can even be stained for a custom finish! I saw many examples of people using this technique on their floors, but I couldn’t find a single picture of a staircase with brown paper treads. I wanted to give the look a test drive, so I decided to give our (previously painted) basement stairs a makeover. They were looking pretty bad anyway- and I’d get to see the finished product before I well all Jack The Ripper upstairs.
It’s pretty bad, I know. It’s like a cranberry dungeon/laundry chute-not very inviting, especially with the crazy eyed cat hanging out at the bottom. I painted the stairs when we first moved, and they’re definitely showing wear. Plus, I had a little…uhm…accident (Blackberry + paint = Sticky phone that doesn’t work) with some white paint which dripped all the way up the stairs. I have no excuse for the cranberry walls except that I thought it’d be a good idea to use leftover paint we had from the front door. Let’s just chalk it up to a bad pre-home-design-blog-obsession days, mmm k?
I think it’s safe to say that it couldn’t really get any worse.
I started by painting the risers white, then gathered my supplies for the paper bagging:
- Roll of brown paper (near the painters drop cloth)
- Gallon Elmer’s glue (bought at AC Moore with a 40% off coupon and barely made a dent in it)
- Gallon Water Based Floor Grade Polyurethane (about $40)
- A few cheapo sponge brushes for the poly
Begin by tearing pieces of brown paper. Rip the straight edges off the roll and tear them into random pieces (I used about 4-6″ pieces for stairs…for a floor you’ll probably wan’t 8-10″ pieces). Tear the middle portion of the roll into similar pieces. I used two grocery bags to keep my pieces separates, crumpling each piece into a ball before it went in.
Mix up a bowl of glue using a 3:1 ratio (3C water to 1C glue). Working on the perimeter first (straight edges), drop the paper balls into the glue and squeeze them gently like a sponge.
Keep dipping and squeezing until the paper is saturated, then flatten it out and squeegee it with your hands. Brush your surface with the glue mixture in the area you’re working in. Lay your pieces down as if you were decoupaging, overlapping in areas. Be sure to smooth out wrinkles (although some will crop up during the drying process, they will likely disappear later) and air bubbles.
I did every other stair so we could still use them. Once everything is done, allow 24-48 hours for it to dry completely. Apply at least 10 (I ended up doing 12) coats of water based polyurethane, lightly sanding between each coat if you want. Follow the guidelines on your poly for re-coating/drying time.
After the stairs were done, I repainted the stairwell with my fav color: Burnished Clay by Behr. It would have been easier to paint before I did the stairs (note to self), but I was able to get it done without too many issues. If this result isn’t a testimony to Behr’s Ultra paint/primer in one, I don’t know what is.
Since these are basement stairs, I didn’t spend time adding stain. I did already start upstairs with stain though, and it looks amazing. A complete tutorial can be found in my Ultimate Brown Paper Flooring Guide.
So, what’s the verdict? Would you ever try this technique on your floors? Your walls? A piece of furniture?