Brown paper bags, the kind from the grocery store, can be used to make a faux wood finish on nearly any project. They can be used on floors, walls, cabinets or any other surface that can be easily covered. The finished bags will be durable and water resistant. The faux wood finish will last many years with minimal upkeep. The technique is simple, though it takes time to get the look you desire.
Cut the paper bags into 12 by 6 inch strips. Cut enough strips to completely cover the item.
Pour polyurethane onto the item and spread it around with a large brush. Work in an area slightly larger than the paper strip. Lay the strip down on the polyurethane and smooth out any bubbles trapped under it.
Paint a second thin layer of polyurethane on top of the strip. Pour more polyurethane on the item and place a second strip next to it, slightly overlapping the first by 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Continue in this manner until the item is covered. Let the item dry for 4 hours.
Paint the item with a thin coat of wood varnish in the desired shade. Allow it to dry for 30 minutes.
Dip a small paint brush into varnish two shades darker than the color you coated the item in. Trail the brush lightly over the paper bags along the length of the strips, making the lines slightly irregular. You are imitating the look of wood grain. Allow this varnish to dry completely.
Apply two more coats of polyurethane to the item, waiting 4 hours between each coat. The item can be cleaned with water and a mop or towel.
Purchase rolls of brown paper from postal supply stores.
Work in a well ventilated area.