Judymgibbs
Judymgibbs
  • Tutorial Team
  • Charlotte, NC

Floors From Plywood to “hardwood Look”

4 Materials
$250
1 Week
Medium

Are you looking for an inexpensive way to redo your floors? I sure was and when I saw how to do it I gave it a try! Hope this will inspire you to give it a try too!
Bedroom before. Old carpet and paint.
Bedroom before. Old carpet and paint.
To start I emptied the room of all the furniture.
Paint color change.
Paint color change.
I wanted a lighter paint for the room. I used the Lowes Valspar one coat paint. It had the primer already in it so it saved me having to paint the room twice. Always take the face plates off before you paint. I fiound out the hard way that there are two sizes of switch plates and plug plates. I had to go back and buy the larger size but I do like it better! I painted a fresh coat of white on the trim too!
Remove old carpet and pad
Remove old carpet and pad
I used a razor knife and cut the old carpet in 3 foot strips. I rolled up each section and used packaging tape to wrap each piece. Repeat the same with the pad.
Remove the tack strip
Remove the tack strip
With gloves on... pull up the tack strip around the edges of each wall. The points are really sharp so don’t forget the gloves. Pick up any staples and hammer down any nail heads that are sticking up. Sweep the floor.
Laying out a few of the placks
Laying out a few of the placks
First I went to Home Depot and found a great 1/4” plywood that has a hardwood top layer. I had it cut into 5” wide strips. I also got 2 rolls of an underlayment. Before you put the planks down to nail you need to sand all edges. I brought a few planks in the room to get an idea of how it will look.
Underlayment goes down first
Underlayment goes down first
Unroll The underlayment and staple it down all sides. When you have the floor covered you are ready to start planking. I started with 3 different lengths, 5’, 4’ and 1’. You don’t want to have two of the same lengths beside each other. Staggered is more natural if you want it to look like a true hardwood floor. I used a brad nailer to attach each board.
Spacing the planks
Spacing the planks
When you start your placement keep in mind that wood will shrink and swell with temperature changes. With that in mind you need to leave a 3/8” gap between the plank and the wall. That will be covered when you put the quarter round down. The spacing between the planks is a credit card.
Staining
Staining
Once your planks are all attached you will be ready to start staining.
Staining complete
Staining complete
I tried several different ways to do this. I haven’t used stain before so I wanted to practice on a scrap piece of wood. The easiest for me was to use a 2 1/2” wide paint brush to put the stain on and a old rags to wipe it off. The stain creates its own color variation. I let that dry for 24 hours.
My choice for stain
My choice for stain
After you stain is dry you need to put 4-5 coats of polyurethane on your floor. That IS your protection! The more coats you use the more protected it is.
floors from plywood to hardwood look
Floor finished!
Floor finished!
I was so excited to see how much it looks like real hardwoods! Can’t beat it for the price. My floor is holding up great! No scratches or wear marks. I do believe it is the number of coats of polyurethane that keeps it as durable as the real thing! Going to do the hall to match! Love it love it!
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Have a question about this project?

30 questions
  • Cheryl
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Did you have to sand the finished side of the plywood after installation? How many square feet in your bedroom.? This turned out so beautiful.

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      I did not sand the the front of the wood. It came ready to stain. I did, however, sand all the edges before nailing them down. I used a 60 grit sanding block. I went through about 8 or 9 by the time I finished. Because the boards are thin the sanding blocks will tear up pretty quick. I didn’t figure out square footage. The room is about 12’x16’ plus a closet and I used 8 sheets of plywood. Thank you for the compliment!

  • Claude
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Friends just placed sheets on the floor and polyed them and I was surprised at how well they held up. As far as nailing, did you nail from the top down, or sideway on a vertical?

  • Angel Ashmore
    on Mar 28, 2018

    I’m doing my bedroom from ceiling to floor and I’m trying to find a way to save on materials. How many whole sheets did you need for your room? I love this idea! A lot!!!

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      I bought 8 sheets. My room is about 12x16’ plus closet. You will have some scrap pieces left over due to size restrictions. Sometimes the extra that has to be cut off is too small to use. Thank you!

  • Mary Hart
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Why didn’t you stain the wood prior to installation?

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      I thought about it. I realized when I stained some samples it makes a mess quickly because the boards move when I painted the stain on them. I did find it was easier to paint the edges before they were nailed down. If you stack 6-7 boards together and turn them on their sides you can paint and wipe them down easily. If you wait until they are nailed in place you can see the unstained edges and I found it hard to get the stain in such a small crack. Hope that helps.

  • Bizzee Bee
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Did I miss the part where you secured the wood to the floor? Or is that not necessary?
  • Bizzee Bee
    on Mar 28, 2018

    How much did you spend on the wood and did I miss the part where you secured the wood to the floor?
  • Jkk29230133
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Did you have Home Depot cut all that plywood into strips or did you do it?

    • Jennifer Wallace Kuhn
      on Mar 28, 2018

      "First I went to Home Depot and found a great 1/4” plywood that has a hardwood top layer. I had it cut into 5” wide strips. I also got 2 rolls of an underlayment."

    • Jkk29230133
      on Mar 28, 2018

      Aaargh that did not answer my question!

    • Linda Sikut
      on Mar 28, 2018

      Jkkhogan, she said she had it cut into 5" widths following the sentence where she said she found the plywood at Home Depot. Unless she mistyped, it appears that she had it cut by Home Depot. I suppose she could have taken it elsewhere to have it cut, but her words say it was cut after finding it at Home Depot and implies that they cut it.

    • Jkk29230133
      on Mar 29, 2018

      Here is my frustration: my question was not directly answered. The same information was just cut and pasted from the story. 1) she Bought it home depot. 2)she “had it cut”. ..by who? An uncle? Her husband? Home Depot? I’m trying to determine if Home Depot offers that because that’s a lot of cutting! If so, I wish it would have read “I bought the plywood at Home Depot, where I had it cut into 5 inch strips.

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      Just wanted to answer. I had Home Depot cut the 4’x8’ sheets cut into 5” wide boards because they will do it for free if you buy it from them. Actually Lowe’s will cut their plywood sheets to size for free as well. When I got the plywood for the closet area I cut it myself. Because the sheet is so long it was too hard to handle by myself. My husband helped me. I will definitely get the store to cut it from now on! If I wasn’t clear on anything else let me know. I will be glad to explain it more clearly!

    • Jkk29230133
      on Mar 30, 2018

      Halleluja Judy! You nailed it! Thank you

  • Scooter.steven54
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Do you need to take up the carpet? i.e. can you put flooring over carpet and eliminate the underlayment?

    • Laura Wands
      on Mar 28, 2018

      You need to remove the carpet & use the underlayment. I can’t even list all the issues you’d have if you attempted to put the flooring down on top of carpet

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      I agree with Laura. The plywood is too thin. It would most likely crack if you had it on carpet and stepped on it. Also like any wooden floor you really need the underlayment because it is also your moisture barrier. I couldn’t believe how little moisture it takes to cause the wood to cup or bow.

  • Kathy
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Is this waterproof?

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 29, 2018

      Wood is porous and will absorb moisture. The polyurethane will seal the floor but I don’t feel comfortable saying it would be water proof. It would really depend on how well the floor is sealed. Hope that helps.

  • Mcgypsy9
    on Mar 28, 2018

    I’ve looked at a lot of floors to DIY but yours is one of the best I’ve seen. I actually do a lot of research when it comes to flooring. DIY flooring is my favorite. This came out just gorgeous! I will assume that your poly made a huge difference?? At first I was worried about the brads coming out but with all that poly you have no need to worry! How hard was the poly part? Did it take you a long time to do the poly? I am doing my bathrooms in wood flooring but in more of a star shape and will be painting them vs staining. Do you think the poly that you have down (is it 4 or 5 layers?) is waterproof enough for the bathroom? Also can you tell me what kind and the name of the poly you used? Thank you!

  • Maureen
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Now that's an excellent way to use credit (cards)! Looks great. About how long did this take from start to finish? Beautiful.

  • Dwo16181654
    on Mar 28, 2018

    Love your work. Want to try it. How did you nail without them showing?

    Thank you.

    • Pomlady
      on Mar 28, 2018

      Curious about that too, looks beautiful.

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 29, 2018

      I used a finish nail gun. Also called a brad nail gun. I did turn it slightly at an angle so the nails would stay in place. I mailed each board three times across each end of the board. Then I mailed about every three inches down the sides. When I finished the polyurethane, the indentions from the nails was not noticeable. They just became part of the look of the floor.

    • Dwo16181654
      on Mar 29, 2018

      A thank you for explaining.

  • Sue
    on Mar 28, 2018

    It's beautiful! Think it will work in a kitchen?

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      I would think the wear and tear on a kitchen might be too much since the plywood is only 1/4”. If a heavy pot was dropped on the floor I think it might really damage it.

  • Best use for two credit cards yet. Fantastic job! How did you rip down the plywood so accurately?

  • Lenora
    on Mar 28, 2018

    How many sheets of plywood would I need for a bedroom 12x14?

    thank you.

  • Dum15199028
    on Mar 28, 2018

    What do you do if you have cement floor

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      I would switch and try a stenciled floor. I have done two and they are wonderful!

  • Emily Rauch
    on Mar 28, 2018

    How how do you know how many of each size to have cut? Can this be done on a cement floor?

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      I looked in a box of real hardwood flooring and measured them. If you just cut them in 5” wide planks you can start with a 5’ length. Each time you get one row finished then use the last piece to start the next row. That way you have very little waste. No on the concrete. The planks are nailed down. No way to nail into concrete that I have figured out yet.

    • Emily Rauch
      on Mar 30, 2018

      Okay, thank you!

  • Lisa Slater
    on Mar 28, 2018

    How big was this room?

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 29, 2018

      It is 12’ x 14’ with a small area with a dormer window.

  • Ohiorn
    on Mar 29, 2018

    Great project! When I clicked on the plywood used for the project I didn't see anything about the hardwood on top. Could you please clear this up for me? Thank you.

  • Gol17361021
    on Mar 29, 2018

    ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! ! Great Job! !

    How long did it take to complete? I have tile throughout and was pondering over whether or not I could do same on top of it rather than ripping it up... Prior owners put in white marble which is a bear to keep clean..I am cleaning these floors every other day!😣 Its a royal pain in the keester!!

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      It takes about a week if you work on it most of each day. I don’t see any way to do it on top of tile however. It has to be nailed to a subfloor or a wood floor of some kind. I have had several people ask that question. If you find a way please let me know and I will share the info! Thank you!

  • Mary Coakley
    on Mar 29, 2018

    Where did you start laying the planks please and what type of underlay? Thanks

    • Judymgibbs
      on Mar 30, 2018

      Hi Mary, I started at the farthest wall and worked toward the door. I realized I could adjust the last plank in the door if it needed to be thicker or thinner. If I worked it the other way I might have ended up with only a sliver of wood going against a wall. That wouldn’t work! I had two reasons for the underlayment. First I wanted a moisture barrier between the planks and the subfloor. Second I wanted that extra cushion for the planks to test on. Less chance of a noisy floor. I will say I realized that it is best to use a black or dark underlayment. I would never have thought that a crack no bigger than a credit card is big enough to see a white underlayment, but it is😳!

  • Jeanne Johnson Ortego
    on Mar 30, 2018

    Wow, Judy! It's fantastic! Great easy to follow tutorial, too!

    My question is about your subfloor/foundation. Are you on a slab? If so, how thick is your wooden subfloor? Also, did they cut for free?

    • Judymgibbs
      on Apr 1, 2018

      Hi Jeanne, thanks so much! I have a subfloor. It is a second story bedroom. No slab. The subflooor seems to be 1”. I looked at both Lowes and Home Depot. Both cut the planks for free. Best of luck!

    • Jeanne Johnson Ortego
      on Apr 1, 2018

      Thank you!

  • Kelly
    on Mar 31, 2018

    Did you fill the holes made by the nails? What did you do to address the gaps between the "boards"? I would worry that if you let the poly fill them you won't have the expansion gaps but if you don't you will get dirt build up in them.

    • Judymgibbs
      on Apr 1, 2018

      I did not fill the nail holes. They are finish nails and the holes are tiny and I don’t really notice them after the polyurethane dried. The polyurethane does go into the gaps. They are not filled completely. I use a dust mop to clean them and I have not had problems with anything being stuck between them. The gaps left around the edge of the wall were covered with stained quarter round. Thank you for your questions!

  • Sharon Porter
    on Apr 1, 2018

    It it looks fantastic. How large was your room?

  • Sharon Porter
    on Apr 1, 2018

    It it looks fantastic. How large was your room?

  • Sharon Porter
    on Apr 1, 2018

    It it looks fantastic. How large was your room?

  • Sharon Porter
    on Apr 1, 2018

    It it looks fantastic. How large was your room?

  • Sharon Porter
    on Apr 1, 2018

    It it looks fantastic. How large was your room?

    • Judymgibbs
      on Apr 2, 2018

      thank you so much! The room is oddly shaped but it is about 14’ x 16’.

  • Kellie
    on Apr 12, 2018

    Beautiful!!! Do you think this would hold up in a kitchen and bathroom?

    • Judymgibbs
      on Apr 12, 2018

      Hi Kellie, I don’t. I think it is great for a bedroom though. It looks great but you have to remember that a kitchen is a high traffic area. Things are dropped and table and chairs are moved across the floor. Because it is a thin plywood, it is not fragile than a true Hardwood floor. Hope that will help your decision.

    • Franb
      on Jul 9, 2018

      It looks nice, real rustic.

  • Fluffette
    on Apr 27, 2018

    Love it!!! Been thinking of doing this for a long time now. How much were the materials??

Join the conversation

2 of 113 comments
  • Sharon M Hall
    on May 6, 2018

    Yes I'm inspired. We are up grading our bathroom with rustic farm house and this floor fits our budget and looks great.

  • Lindacarmen66
    on May 13, 2018

    It sure looks beautiful! As the above Linda said I'm too old to be doing a job like this but appreciate your sharing.

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