Kitchen Floor Redo

March 11, 2013
About 2 years ago I experimented with doing a "brown paper" treatment on my kitchen floor.  I had read about many versions of this on the internet and ended up combining a few of the techniques.  Several people asked (some in disbelief, I'm sure) how I did it, so I wrote up a description of the process.
 
A few days ago, I renewed the floor with 4 coats of polyurethane  -  water-based so I could re-coat every 2 hours and get it done in a day – and my brown-paper floor looks almost new again.  After talking with a few people this week about my project, I decided to post the e-mail I sent to friends and family in 2011.
*****
 
March 2011
 
Yet another kitchen floor redo...
 
There are many versions of the Brown Paper Floor.  This is the one I used:
= Patch the old painted vinyl and prime with Kilz.  I used some I already had.  Kilz is a staple when you have an old house.
= Mix Elmer's white glue with water - 50/50.  $12 for a gallon of Elmer's glue.
= Tear brown paper into a kazillion pieces.  $10 for a roll of contractor's brown paper from Lowes.
= Dip the pieces of paper into the glue mixture, place them on the floor so they overlap, smooth out with your hands.
= When the glue mixture  has dried completely (revealing all of the variations you weren't aware of) coat with a kazillion coats of polyurethane (I used water-based) or as many coats as you can get out of a gallon. (I got 5.)  $34 for a gallon of water-based poly.
 
Here are TEN NINE THINGS I LEARNED WHEN DOING THE BROWN PAPER FLOOR TREATMENT ON MY KITCHEN FLOOR
 
1.  Your friends will look at you like you have lost your mind when you tell them you are covering your kitchen floor with brown paper and Elmer's glue.
 
2.  The Elmer's glue/water mixture dries clear on the floor.  It does not dry clear on a basset hound's ear.
 
3.  Despite your best planning to leave a path for as long as possible to the sink and the refrigerator, and to put essential things in an accessible place when you know the path would have glue-covered paper on it, you will forget something.  I was frustrated when I could not get to the refrig for milk to put on my cheerios (lunch).  Dry cheerios and blueberries aren't bad, but they're better with milk.
 
4.  A gallon jug of Elmer's glue looks a lot like a gallon of milk.  So when you're ready scream because you can't find the Elmer's glue which has been sitting in the same place on the counter for 3 days, but you don't scream because you remember that all the windows are open, check the refrigerator. 
 
5.  It takes much more torn up brown paper than you would imagine it would.  (But thankfully not more than can be torn up from one $10 roll of contractor paper.)
 
6.  Various methods of tearing result in different border looks.
 
7.  The color is different depending on which side of the paper is up and how much glue is on the paper and how much pressure you use when putting the paper down. 
 
8.  Doing a sample board is very helpful, however, even with 2 sample boards, there is still much to learn as you go along.  (See #6 and #7.)
 
9.  Despite the fact that clothes covered with the glue/water mixture will stand up by themselves, it all washes out.  Really.  My paint covered sweats with holes in them are as good as they were before this project.
 
*****
BEFORE:  Ginny came for a visit after I had started the patching and had cut in with Kilz.  I had also painted some test patches when I thought I might be painting rather than papering the floor.  The brown paper sample board leaning against the counter helped me decide to give the paper a try.  The fact that it matched Oscar wasn't a deciding factor, but it was a plus.
 
 
 
*****
AFTER:  Far from perfect, but a lot better than it was before - and the price was right.  The color in this picture isn't very accurate.  The floor is lighter than it shows here.  After being banned from the kitchen for several days, Oscar was very curious and investigated every corner.  He is sitting so nicely in anticipation of a treat.
 

 


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