Unique Flooring: 5 Low-Cost DIY Ideas

If you’re looking for low-cost and unique flooring options, consider these unconventional DIY ideas that put everyday salvaged materials to good use.

| May/June 2012

  • Brown paper bag flooring looks chic in the upstairs of Lovely Crafty Home blogger Rachael Evans' Asheville, North Carolina, home.
    Photo Courtesy Lovely Crafty Home
  • A bottle cap floor adds fun to the "Bone House," designed by low-cost homebuilders Phoenix Commotion.
    Photo Courtesy Phoenix Commotion
  • Vintage leather belts create the look of lush leather floors for less.
    Photo Courtesy TING
  • Denise Sabia of the blog The Painted Home used stripes to glam up her living room floors and a checkerboard pattern in her kitchen.
    Photo Courtesy The Painted Home
  • More than 300,000 pennies make up the floor of Revolver shoe store in Noblesville, Indiana.
    Photo Courtesy Revolver
  • A wine cork floor is another low-cost option.
    Photo Courtesy Phoenix Commotion

Today, it’s easier than ever to find eco-friendly, unique flooring options. From FSC-certified hardwoods and bamboo to natural linoleum, cork and recycled-content tiles, a wide range of light-on-the-earth materials is available to cover the ground beneath your feet. But for those of us who are looking for something out of the ordinary or hoping to cut costs, the eco-friendly options might still leave us searching for options outside the box. Lucky for us, a good, durable and eco-friendly floor can be made from a variety of upcycled materials—although it may take a bit more creativity, planning and time than traditional options. We’ve picked our brains and searched the country for innovative ideas, and we’ve come up with six inspiring and unique flooring examples that will have your artistic nature (and your bank account) thanking you.

Brown Paper Bag Flooring

Maybe you tore up your old carpet hoping to find beautiful hardwood underneath, but were disappointed to find plywood. This stunningly beautiful remedy for that dilemma involves everyday brown paper bags. Much like a decoupage project, these paper floors are made by gluing down scraps of paper in a random organic pattern, then covering everything with a layer of polyurethane. Rachael Evans of the blog Lovely Crafty Home used brown craft paper to transform the upstairs floors of her Asheville, North Carolina, home into something that looks like a cross between hardwood, cork and leather—all for a superlow price.

Installation: Rachael provides excellent instructions in her blog post “Ultimate Brown Paper Flooring Guide” about how she papered her floors. Basically, she soaked the scraps of paper in glue, laid them on the floor, let them dry completely and then covered the floor with a couple of coats of clear polyurethane. To make this project eco-friendly and fume-free, use either old paper bags or recycled-content craft paper. Instead of the Elmer’s glue, whip up a watered-down recipe of wheat or rice glue and use a low- or no-VOC polyurethane such as those available from AFM Safecoat.

Cost: Approximately $1 a square foot

Bottle Cap Floor

Want something more colorful and fun? Start collecting bottle caps from your favorite sodas or beers. This project requires some dedication—you’ll need to collect about 120 caps per square foot. If you can’t collect them all yourself, enlist help from a local bar or restaurant that sells bottled soda and beer. A great example of a bottle cap floor is at the eclectic Bone House in Huntsville, Texas. Built by affordable home-building organization Phoenix Commotion, the Bone House is home to three artists and a wide variety of recycled and reclaimed materials, including a bottle cap bathroom floor.

Installation: Treat bottle caps much as you would small mosaic tiles. Prepare your floor with thin-set mortar, then place your caps in any arrangement you like—random or in a pattern. Let the floor dry, fill in gaps with grout and finish with sealer.

4/13/2015 12:02:06 PM

I love the look of brown paper bag flooring. As you say there are various situation in which it looks really chic. Personally, I like it just because it is different and it is a conversation starter. http://www.chinookupholstery.com

10/7/2013 2:30:54 AM

. love color's very much and the most imprtant when they use inside your home...http://www.libertywoodfloors.com

10/7/2013 2:30:00 AM

. love color's very much and the most imprtant when they use inside your home...

Subscribe today and save 58%

Get the latest on Healthy Living and Natural Beauty!

Mother Earth LivingRedefine beauty and embrace holistic living with Mother Earth Living by your side. Each issue  provides you with easy, hands-on ways to connect your life with the natural world -- from eating seasonally to culinary and medicinal uses of herbs; from aromatherapy and DIY cosmetics to yoga and beyond. Start your journey to holistic living today and you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter