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How To Make Recycled Flooring

3 February, 2014

Last week I completed a DIY project that I think is my favourite make in my life so far. Not because it is superbly pretty, was fantastically quick or perfectly used my skill set. In fact, there are one or two ugly mistakes on it, it took WAY longer than I thought it would and anyone on the planet could do it! Pfft.

I loved it so much because it feels like a complete and utter DIY HACK. IMG_7488

Everyone needs a floor. But carpet takes skill to lay, good tiling is expensive and vinyl is often ugly. Making a recycled floor out of stuff you’d usually trash is just such a GENIUS way around this. (I’m allowed to say that as I didn’t invent it, yeah?)

We picked up our big bus, Bert, two weeks ago today. One of the first things we did was rip up the carpet. It was the rankest thing I’d ever seen. Thick with grime, an awful brown, and smelly too. We were left with a sticky MDF floor. We searched solidly for an entire week for some retro vinyl in the secondhand shops and went into carpet shops to try and find an inexpensive eco option but had no luck. A bit of late night googling for “recycled floor ideas” turned up a few blogs such as this beaut and as I read my heart began to beat faster and I knew we had to give this a bash.

The blogs I read used brown paper bags and their results are brilliant and classy. We wanted something a bit more fun and a bit brighter – so I began trawling Pinterest for geometric shape inspiration.

We took a trip first thing in the morning to the hardware store for some PVA glue, some eco, waterbased Polyurethane and a few tubes of artists acrylic. One of the local second hand stores had a big roll of old wallpaper -BINGO.

We hurried back and began the work.  HOW TO MAKE A(6)

Let me give you more detail…

1- Mix PVA glue to water- half glue and half water. Mix really well. I imagine you can use any paper but we used wallpaper, with the back facing up. This was because my practice stencils didn’t stick to the shiny side of the wall paper. So check how your paint fixes, if you are going to decorate it.

You can use any size strips of paper but we prefered the look of the larger bits. Ours were approximately one square foot. The finished result of this is almost like tiles. The more you scrunch the more texture your “tiles” will have. I preferred less scrunch, aesthetically. But  scrunch to break the straightness of the sheet of paper.

You have got three layers to nail this bit, so don’t worry too much about the first/ second!

Dunk it in your glue mix, swipe off the excess and smooth over your floor.

Move on to the next bit.

Leave each layer overnight to dry. Do make sure it is really dry inbetween layers. We did this on a hot day so ours dried really well.

We were happy with three layers.

2- Once it is completely dry you can start decorating it. I used simple artist’s acrylic and mixed my own colours.

I just freestyled triangles with masking tape. I want to encourage you to practice. I spent about a day simply perfecting my paint consistency and shapes! I tried making a stamp first but couldn’t get the clean effect I wanted.

I chose grey, mustard and yellow because it is the actual best colour combo in the world.

I did three layers so the triangles were very deeply coloured.

3- Once dry do your first layer of waterbased polyurethane – we used an eco brand. Waterbased takes much less time to dry and is much less toxic. Work quickly, don’t re-go over bits. Pick any fluff off as you go. Most of the bubbles and streaks will fade as it dries but do try and avoid it! We did three layers of polyurethane but we are going to do a couple more as we want this floor to be super robust seeing as it is the only floor in our house!


Give yourselves at least 3 days from start to finish. You aren’t working this whole time (only actually about 4 hours of work for my tiny space and most of that was the shapes!) but it all involves a lot of drying.recycled flooring DIY
Do make your floor as even as possible before you begin. Shave down bumps, clean it well. We didn’t and it is, um, quite textured!

Sweep well before every stage.

Do a little practice patch.

If doing in a bathroom/ kitchen do add silicon around the edges to make it totally sealed.

Don’t skimp on the PVA. I did because I found it was sticking well with less PVA but when we added the second layer of polyurethane these little patches went dark and our lovely floor ended up slightly blotchy.  See picture below, on the left? Learn from me, friends. This floor is cheap enough already- don’t be a cheapskate!geometric floor pattern DIY

I have already swept, washed it down, spilt crap on it, walked tar onto it and it is holding up perfectly. And the other blogs tell me it has many years life in it yet!

You can probably tell, but I am completely stoked with our lovely floor. It cost about £20. We will almost certainly be doing this if we end up living in a proper house one day.

*skips about singing* My floor, my recycled floor, how I do adore!

(Ramona has begun singing everything. “Oh the cloud is sad in the sky while I eat my carrot” What a crack up. I do not know WHERE she gets it from.)

If you consider doing this I really recommend checking out some of the original bloggers as their posts are EXHAUSTIVE…
An Oregon Cottage (the Original Genius)
Ooh, I could totally do that! (Most excellent blog name!)
Lovely crafty home (Comp.Re.Hen.Sive)
Domestic Imperfection(Hilarious)

I am off to sit in the bus and rub my feet all over my shiny new creation.

(Thanks, lovely sheepskin for £5 from a car boot sale, for hiding the bits I messed up.)