DIY Brown Paper Floor Awesomeness……Room #2 Complete with Mistakes!

Hey all!  So, after much anticipation, I finally finished the second room with the contractor’s brown kraft paper-and-glue floor technique that I used a while back in my powder room.  SEE MY STEP BY STEP FIRST PAPER FLOOR PROJECT HERE

 This living room though, was TOTALLY a different animal, lemme tell you.  Things I didn’t plan on:

1. How the larger space would effect the application technique.

2. How long I should have waited before applying the water based Varathane on top of the oil based stain.

3. How important prepping the floor surface before beginning is.

So first, here is the ugly, dirty, old carpet in the “before” picture of our living room.

This is looking from the front door towards the “den” (which was originally a formal dining room).

First thing first, the carpet had to go.  EASY PEASY, just start at the heating vent, and cut large 3′ x 3′ squares with your box knife, stack ’em up and in no time, you’re done!

Next, the grody carpet padding.  Lastly, time to pry up the carpet tacking boards around the perimeter, and all of those nasty staples.

Then after a good sweeping and vacuum, I was ready to prep the subfloor. As you can see, it’s just plain chipboard panels with pretty obvious seams…

PLEASE LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE: Be sure to caulk and fill all seams prior to putting your paper floor down.  I didn’t do it thoroughly enough, and ended up having to redo a part right in front of the entryway because something poked entirely through my finished product because there was a wide seam which left no support under the paper!

Moving on….The initial papering went great, and I did it just like in my powder room here .

Here are some issues you might find after your paper/glue dries:

Curling of random paper edges that didn’t quite glue down.  Be sure to glue these little suckers down before staining!

Wrinkles that don’t go away after the paper dries.  I put more glue on these and use my fingernail to really make it lay flat.

Long wrinkles or areas that your paper somehow folded under on itself while being applied.  No biggie, just wet it down with the glue, and like above, use your fingernail to really crease it to lay flat.

This below was what happened when the caulk mixed with the water, leaving some whitish marks behind.  I tried wiping them up with a wet rag, but it didn’t work.

I was worried about them picking up the stain in an odd way, so this is what I ended up doing:

I just tore a few patches and recovered them.  Easy breezy.  Now I had the perfect palette to start with for my big stain job.

Fantastic!  Note my awesome pug barricade to keep my cutie pups off the new floor.

Here is where I ended the paper, and where the den carpeting started.

I let this dry overnight before I started staining.  (Now, remember, if you want to see the actual step by step of my first project, which also goes over all the products I used in detail, check out this blog entry. )

THIS is where it all started to go wrong for me.  My first project was a small powder room floor, I’d say 3′ x 8′.  I used a blotting technique to apply the stain, and it gave a nice, soft, dark stain color.  I figured I’d just do the same for my bigger living room, but that was a BIG mistake, as you can see here:

I spent so much time blotting, that the edge never stayed wet enough to blend, and as you can see, when I came back to do the second section, it left behind that mondo sized line.  Grrrrrrrrrr!!!  SO FRUSTRATING!   I tried my hardest to make it work, applying more, but to no avail.  This is how far I got before I decided to repaper the entire area:

Obviously, this was not going to work out.  I was using the same lambswool applicator that I had used for the powder room floor….this one:

This was ALL wrong.  After repapering so I could start over, I headed to the Home Depot and picked up one of these:

This was the ticket!  The only difference, was that I wasn’t going to blot this time.  I had to apply the stain in a swirly technique, back and forth, working it into the paper quickly so as not to create any overlap problems like I had before.  Once I was done, I loved the super dark color, but was a little worried when I noticed that the stain was almost repelling from the edges of each torn piece of paper, as you can see in this photo. It reminded me a little of the pattern on a giraffe:

This was one day after applying the oil based Jacobean Minwax stain that I used.  No Varathane had been applied yet, and it was still SUPER tacky.  I figured that I’d give it a few days and see what it looked like. After all, I could always repaper and start over.  Much to my relief, after 3 days, the stain dried up a bit more and the giraffe effect lessened, so I started applying the Varathane.  A water based floor quality Varathane for high traffic floors.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8….eight coats went on.  Then I waited a day and this is what it looked like:

PRETTY, no?!!

Next I tackled the trim.  I wanted to add a moulding to the trim to cover the gap that was left from taking out the carpet.   I tried many sizes….

Too thick.

Too rounded of an edge, it didn’t lay flat against the wall.

Finally, I decided on the traditional shoe moulding.  I attached it with some Liquid Nails, and even used the liquid nails to fill gaps…

And even create a tapered edge piece that I could paint over once it dried…

As you can see in the photo above, the laminate on the entry left a 1/2″ step up, so I’ll be getting a piece to transition those two levels eventually.  I think we’re going to replace the entry with tile or stone anyhow.

Next was the taping off of the floor and wall so the trim could be painted a glossy white.

Some people asked why I didn’t remove the trim, paint it, then replace it.  It just seemed easier to me to paint it on the wall so I didn’t have to worry about lining up the edges or cracking any of the trim in the process.  It really wasn’t that hard to do, but I’m a super fast “taper”.  🙂

After painting the trim and the windowsill, we were VERY pleased with the outcome.  Just in time for Christmas!   Here it is with the furniture back and the tree up too…


And look how the lights reflect on the high gloss piano finish below!!


And lastly, a shot featuring Mini our girl pug and my hubby in the den… can see the grody carpet in there….which is my NEXT room to do!!


Okay.  That’s all well and good, but let me share some things that happened after all this pretty Christmas business was over.

1. DO NOT USE A SHARK STEAM CLEANER on your freshly Varathaned floors.  I did after 5 days and it softened the finish.  Just to be safe, I wouldn’t recommend using hot steam to clean these floors even after the Varathane cures.  A wet Swiffer does just dandy.

2. Give your oil based stain a good 5 days to dry before applying the Varathane if you leave it on heavy like I did.  I applied the water based Varathane too soon, and it didn’t adhere as well as I should have, and we ended up with a softer Varathane topcoat, which ended up getting quite a few scratches in it that went down to the paper.   I ended up fixing them easily enough, and after letting the Varathane cure for a good 2 more weeks, I removed all the furniture again and applied 6 more topcoats of Varathane.  I then let that cure for 4 days before moving the furniture back in.  THAT DID THE TRICK!  Now it’s tough as nails, shiny and beautiful.

3. If you have long hair, be sure to wrap it neatly and maybe even cover it up when staining and Varathane-ing.  I have almost waist long hair, and once everything dried, I have at least 4 places where a stray mega-long hair dried in the stain and/or Varathane finish.  It isn’t that noticeable, unless you’re looking for it, but it sure drives me crazy.  I actually picked at one with a screwdriver to remove it.  BAD IDEA….ended up having to patch that whole area.

4.  A black Sharpie is EXCELLENT for covering with the Jacobean color stain for any down-to-the-paper gouges or scrapes.  I found that it worked even better than the stain, as the stain ended up being too pale.  I then just went over the Sharpie with a little Varathane that I keep in an old nail polish bottle.

5.  Be sure to check your furniture for metal bottomed feet.  If they have them, be sure to add felt pads so you don’t gouge your floor.  This is something you should do with even laminate or hardwoods to protect the floor.

My next project:  Brown Paper Floors in room #3….the Den!   Let’s see how well I can blend the paper floors where they meet in the entry…. to be continued!

More living room floor pics: