The Best DIY Plywood Floor - A Pinterest Fail Turned Into A Win!

I know I'm getting ahead of myself.... I haven't even shared about our new accent wall and all the changes to the fireplace.  But I can't help myself!  I'm so excited about how this plywood floor turned out!

The Best DIY Plywood Floor
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When hubby and I decided to tear into the living room, we KNEW that carpet was gonna have to GO!

2018 Living Room

I'm of the opinion now, that I want all carpet gone.  I can't stand it!

There were so many happy joy joy feelings when I took the knife to that carpet.  I couldn't wait to haul it out to the curb.

Taking out carpet

I just cut it into sections, rolled it up and carried it out.

Next, the padding.  We paid extra for this premium padding.  It was still in great shape so, we decided to keep it.  We might put it under the big rug we'll be getting for the living room, just a little more comfort under our feet.

getting ready for the new floor

Anywhooos.... the flooring.  We looked at all sorts of options... but in the end it came down to price.  We didn't want to fork out a chunk of change to put in a new floor.

Where do you go for inspiration?? Probably the same place I go! Pinterest! (You can click on this link and follow me there. 😊)  So, I came across this concept of using plywood for flooring... What?!?!  I know what your thinking... Plywood, it's such an ugly wood and it's so cheap.  Your floor is going to look like a subfloor.

Well, it can be ugly and it is super cheap!  But I can tell you, it definitely doesn't look like subfloor!

I read so many blogs trying to find the best way to lay this floor and while also trying to find the look we wanted.  So, I took some info from here and a little bit from there and this is how we ended up....The Best DIY Plywood Floor!

The reason I call this 'The Best DIY Plywood Floor',  is because...
  1.  We spent very little time on our knees. (HUGE Win!! Especially for us 50+ers)
  2.  The process was very easy and virtually no mess!
  3.  Hardly any fumes or odor.
Here's the process.... we picked out plywood at Home Depot that was very close to the thickness of our hardwoods, so that there was hardly any transition between the two floors.  Ours was about 1/2" thick.

Our room is 15'X20' = 300 sq. ft.  Each sheet of plywood is 4'X8' = 32 sq. ft.  We needed 10 sheets = 320 sq. ft.

Home Depot cut each sheet in to 8" planks, which gave us 6 planks for each sheet, totaling to 60 planks.

Plywood at Home Depot

Each sheet cost us around $24, so the wood cost us around $250. Not bad...  We did end up paying $14.50 for all of the cuts, but well worth the money!  Time is money!

We brought them home and got to work.  We had a good system.  Hubby unloaded, lightly beveled all four sides of the plank  with our new Dewalt Orbital Sander and then we laid them out for me to paint.

Sanding edges

Painting Planks

This is where 'the Pinterest fail' began... We had wanted the floors to look a bit white washed, with some of the grain showing.  We planned on sanding them after the ' paint washing'.  Well, after one coat... they looked a bit yellow.  Yellow? What? I followed the paint wash recipe, 1 part primer with 2 to 3 parts water. I used about 2 1/2 parts water.  Zinnser Bullseye 123  is the best primer!

Pinterest FAIL

Well, let's try a second coat... nope.  Still yellow.  This stinks!  We did NOT want yellow and white floors.  Seriously?!?! Ugh!  What now?  The wood's bought, cut and it's going down one way or another!!

Yellow and white planks

Back to Pinterest! There's gotta be a way to save this, besides painting the boards solid white.  I really didn't want white floors...  So, I searched and found this gray look... hmmmm...

But first, all the boards needed to be sanded.  Whenever wood is painted is soaks up the paint and raises the grain.  I am sooooo glad we invested in a new Dewalt 5" orbital sander.  That thing is the bomb! Incredible power and ease of use, but the real bonus was the dust collector.  There was so little sawdust on the boards.  That made my day!

Sanding all 60 planks

On Pinterest, I found what they called a Poorman's stain.  I've never heard of this before.  It's a mixture of  approximately 2 cups of mineral spirits with 3-4 tsp. of Rustoleum black enamel satin paint.  Well, I had both on hand, this was definitely worth a shot! (Update 6.22.20 - I've been asked several times what type of enamel paint I used.  I've linked it now.  The link is for a very small can.  I picked mine up at Lowes.)

I played with the ratio a bit working with my soup can and paint stick.... soooo professional! 😜  This looks pretty good!

Testing Poorman's Stain

Hubs gave me the thumbs up and so I went for it!  I probably made a total of 5 soup cans of the stuff for all 60 boards.  It went on super easy, just used a 2" brush.

We could not be happier!!  That Poorman's stain was definitely what made this DIY project a WIN!!

After they were all stained, it was time for installation.  We snapped a chalk off of one of the walls, hoping to keep things square. Plugged in the air compressor and were ready to roll.

The transition board was the first one we put in.  It was just a hair thinner that our hardwoods, so we added a very thin piece of wood to raise that side.  Added some Liquid Nails to the underside and nailed it in with 1 1/2" brad nails.

Progress on plywood floor

Then we started with the one wall side and worked out way across. We actually finished laying the floor in one day!  Yes, we worked all day and into the evening.... Whew!

Finished Plywood Floor

We had a super busy weekend, so I didn't get around to putting the sealer on until Monday.  After much debate, I decided to use Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish.  I am really happy with how it applied.  It was easy to use and dried very fast!  No sanding between coats and its so smooth!   I ended up putting 3 coats of sealer on.  It isn't supposed to yellow, but we'll see...  Overall I'm super happy!
Floor Sealer

You guys!!! Look!  It came out so good!  It really changed the entire look of the room! We are sooo happy!

The Best DIY Plywood Floor - A Pinterest Fail Turned Into A Win!

Let's look at cost.

Wood- $250
Cutting - $14
Primer - $23
Mineral Spirits - $8
Liquid Nails - $15
Floor Sealer - $80

Total - $390

Not bad! That works out to about $1.30 per square foot.

I just want to say that Hubby was incredible on the project!  I love how we work together and make such a great team! πŸ’—

Just for fun I put together some of the timelapses we did into a little video.


I couldn't be happier!

The Best DIY Plywood Floor - A Pinterest Fail Turned Into A Win!

Blessings!

31 comments

  1. I love your floor! The color is wonderful & the grain looks good. Do you think it could be made waterproof or water resistant to use in a kitchen or bath or mudroom (with a messy golden retriever)?

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    1. Thanks, Jeannie!! Not really sure... Possibly... I feel like you'd have to be careful with large spills. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Wow, that looks great! We just finished our plywood flooring project, and we'd love it!! We used a cherrywood gel stain with the same polycrylic you used.

    Had I seen your floors before I may have opted for the poor man's stain instead.

    Really beautiful!

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    1. Hi Steve! Thank so much! That's awesome! Who knew plywood floors could look so good!

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  3. What did you use to nail your flooring down?

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    1. Hi There! We used 2" nail brads with our nail gun. πŸ‘

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  4. I’m so happy to have found this!!! I’ve been planning on redoing all the floors in my house and started in my son’s room. I’ve been so frustrated with the way the yellow-orange tones pull through everything I have tried and your final product is actually the look I originally wanted. I ended up painting my son’s floors black, which worked out really well with his room, but I was resigned to using Ebony stain and having very dark rooms in the rest of the house. I will be trying this! Thank you!

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  5. How is your flooring holding up? Would you do anything different?

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    1. Hi! We have had these floors for 4 months now and we had a sweet dog living with us for about a month of that time. They have held up terrific!! Are there a couple dog claw marks? Sure, and we are okay with that. We want them to look 'lived in'. Other than that we LOVE them!! And are thinking of installing them in another room later on this year! 😍

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    2. Oh! And I can't think of anything we would've done different... πŸ‘

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    3. So...would I need to prime the plywood board before applying the poormans stain?
      Or did you sand off all the primer before applying stain?

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    4. Hi Josey! Hmmm.... that's a good question. I only primed them, because I was going for a white wash look in the beginning. I'm sorry I'm not sure! If I were you, I'd test it out on a piece of scrap to see if the poor man's stain gives you the color you're looking for.

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  6. Hi Lori! The floors look fabulous! I am wondering what, if anything, you used for spacers? I have been Pinterest-obsessing over plywood flooring of late, and find some people use them and others don't...

    Marci

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    1. Hi Marci! Thank you! We still love them!! We didn't use any spacers. There are some gaps here and there... we slightly beveled the edges with a sander and that gives the illusion that it's a tongue and grove joint. It's a personal preference. Hope that helps! Blessings!

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  7. How did you fasten the boards down? Did you face nail?

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    1. We just used liquid nails and 2" nail brads with our nail gun. πŸ‘

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  8. Just found your blog and I have to say I'm loving it! You had me smiling when I saw your photo above wearing the yellow top. It reminds me of me when I'm working with my hubby on our home projects.
    Love your plywood floors and also the Mantle you built!
    <3 Lilly

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    1. Hi Lilly! Oh! I'm so glad! We love working on projects together too! Thanks for stopping by! It's always an encouragement to hear from readers!

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  9. Hi Lori, love your floor project and i’m thinking of doing the same in my house, what did you use to apply the sealer?

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  10. Hi Elena! We used a pad that is for sealing the floor, it worked great. Purchased at Lowes.

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  11. How long did it take the sealer/clear coat to dry where you could walk on it and place furniture on it?

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    1. Great question! We were able to walk on it within 24 hours. The recommendation on the can of sealer was 7 days, so I'm pretty sure we waited. We were careful not to slide any furniture, and we didn't have our rug yet.

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  12. I tried the stain but when I go to mix the paint and mineral spirits it separates and the paint settles at bottom and gets goopy. What am I doing wrong?

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    1. That's really interesting! My first question is what kind of paint are you adding? It needs to be an enamel paint. I used Rustoleum's black enamel paint. It wasn't a mixed paint. I bought it right off the shelf. That's the only thing I can think of.

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  13. It's just the look that I am looking for. Great job. One question though, What finish of enamel paint did you use? Again great job and thank you.

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    1. Thanks so much!! Sure! I don't know why I didn't put that in the post. I'm going to go back in and add it. I'll even link what I used to Amazon so you can see it. It was Rustoleum Smooth Protective Enamel Paint in Satin Black.

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  14. Hi I would like to know if you could share a picture of the black enamel you used in this project.

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    1. Hi Elena!! Sure! I don't know why I didn't put that in the post. I'm going to go back in and add it. I'll even link what I used to Amazon so you can see it. It was Rustoleum Smooth Protective Enamel Paint in Satin Black.

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  15. Your floor is beautiful! Did you cut the 8" wide, 8' long plywood strips into shorter random sizes, or did you just lay the full 8' lengths staggered throughout?

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  16. Thank you so much!! We used the full 8' planks. When we came to the end of a wall, we cut to fit then used the leftover piece starting the next row. That way you get a staggered look. πŸ‘

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