Inexpensive Wood Floor That Looks Expensive - Four Years Later!

4 Materials
10 Hours

With budget waning back during the renovation in 2014 I needed a solution to cover the 250 square foot front entry of my home. I wanted it flush with my 100 year old kitchen floor and also the very same look. I knew I could never afford to actually match my original hardwoods (if that was even possible!) so I had to get creative!

This portion of the home was actually an added-on screened in porch. After my grandparents’ enclosed it decades ago they built the floor up with plywood and then laid down linoleum.

When I came in the plywood was disintegrating and the linoleum was unrecognizable. After ripping it all off I spent a lot of time just standing here and staring at the original porch floor.

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later
I actually LOVED the original painted porch floor
However, it was painted MANY times and was just enough of a difference from my kitchen floor to make the perfect tripping situation. Also it had a certain amount of water damage.
(In the other portion of my home where the porch was enclosed I repainted the old porch floor and it worked great in that case. You can see it in  my guest bedroom.)
What I wanted was my original hardwood to just come all the way throughout my entry.
Problem was, I had no money lol But I had already purchased a truckload of pine 1x4s for trim so I was well acquainted with how cheap they were… I thought: why can’t I just use those?
I purchased 12 foot long 1x4s so they would span the entire width of the room. My room is “roughly” 11 feet wide. This is a 100 year old home, I had to measure and cut almost every board because almost none of them were exactly the same length lol.

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later

I also knew with Minnesota’s changing climate and humidity levels my boards would shrink a ton so, when I put them down with a brad nailer, I put them down as tight as possible together.

It would never perfectly match my original hardwoods so I decided the best course of action would be to put down a threshold board running between the floors.
I think it was a great decision.
It created the separation needed so the floors are not easily comparable side by side. At a glance no one notices that they’re actually very different.

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later
It is now four years later!
With the help of my mom I moved all of my furniture out of the room and then I took these close ups so you can see exactly how they’ve worn (and shrunk) over time.
The first pics (and close ups) are before I cleaned or anything and then the next set are after I swept, vacuumed and then I also took pics when the floors were still wet right after I mopped.
(I’m sorry so many of my photos were not taken during the day, my floors are NOT this yellow or green! This was Minnesota in the winter when its just ALWAYS dark outside. You know if I took a single picture using regular day light then it was done on the weekend and the rest I did after my day job during the week lol)
NOTE: I know my walls and ceilings look AWFUL. This is what happens to a home with smoke damage because of the horrible wood stove I used to have. After this I will be fixing and painting out this entire room.

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later
Pretty darned good if you ask me! 
Remember, this is PINE, and pine is a very soft wood. My dining room chairs have little nubbons for feet and you can see the almost honeycomb effect in some places. Of course, I am the only one who has ever noticed lol.
There are scrapes, scuffs etc. and at the front door the top coat has worn away and the finish has also started to wear.
I may be the only chick in history who decided to use a water based sealer and not an oil based sealer on a floor – and only two coats at that!

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later
Here’s the truth though:
I am delighted with how well they have held up. And I was NOT happy about only getting to do two coats of poly but I was in a serious time crunch and even polycrylic still takes time to dry!
I love however that they do not LOOK like they were covered in polyurethane. I am not a fan of the honeyed yellow sticky look of gym floors in my house. It is simply my preference and I am picky beyond all reason.
(I am told that nowadays the new polyurethanes guarantee a “none-yellowing” effect.)
There are other reasons I chose poly acrylic over an oil based sealer though. Because it is water based it does not off gas nor stink near so bad and it takes A LOT less time to dry. Also it is WAY easier to cleanup, any day I don’t have to wash my hands in mineral spirits is a good day.

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later
Did I feel like I was still kind of taking a risk?
Honestly, I wasn’t real worried about it. Floors are meant to be walked on and “perfect” was the last thing I wanted. One of the most beautiful things about my original hardwoods is that they bear all fifty years of my family living here before me.
But I decided after four years I would give my inexpensive DIY wood floors a little bit of TLC.
With the floors dry after mopping I grabbed my stain: Dark Walnut by Minwax.

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later
I applied it with a cheap black sponge brush. Every twenty minutes or so I went over what I had done with a towel and wiped off the excess stain. The last photo is right after I had wiped all excess stain away. What a BIG difference!
By doing the entire floor (not just “spot” staining) I guaranteed to not miss a single area. Also in the places where the boards separated a little bit, I was able to get the stain right down between them too.
Not only did I make a “dangerous” choice of sealer I also made a very odd choice with the finish of my poly acrylic. I chose a satin finish (matte) and I will stand firm behind that decision.

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later
I did not need my floors so reflective that I could see my face in them!
Or to be slippery in the winter! But my biggest reason was that with a non-shiny finish you cannot tell when it starts wearing down over time.
(My nightmare is being able to see literal PATHS through my house where a shiny finish had worn away in high traffic areas.)

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later

(This pic is taken when the floors are still wet with poly before drying)

This time I did four coats!
I applied a coat of satin polycrylic (by Minwax) every night before bed and it was dry by morning. I used a large brush to apply it by hand and I definitely need to get myself some knee pads, good grief!

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later

(This pic is taken when the floors are still wet with poly before drying)

I used an ENTIRE GALLON of clear coat on these floors lol and I am really happy I did!

inexpensive wood floor that looks expensive four years later
This after photos were taken 36 hours after I put the clear coat down. I love how the satin poly makes them almost look velvety.
The fact that I paid less than a $1 per square foot still amazes me to this day!
To revamp them this time it cost me about $70 all together in poly, stain and brushes and I think they’ll give me a good ten years now without my having to do anything besides sweep and mop!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Regina Carrillo
    on Apr 29, 2019

    What is under the wood floors? Is that concrete or another layer of wood? I’m really wanting to get wood floors in multiple rooms of my home but my budget is ridiculously tight.

    • GrandmasHouseDIY
      on Apr 29, 2019

      Hi Regina, half of it is plywood the other half of the room is an old tongue and groove porch floor. So, yep, its all wood :)

  • Diana Davis
    on Apr 29, 2019

    This product said not recommend for floors. ??

    • WJ
      on May 6, 2019

      I have seen it used on living room and dining room floors, and they were beautiful. We're done years ago and still look great.

  • Kevin Vander Logt
    on Apr 29, 2019

    I have old wood floors in my house that I noticed under the carpet. I was wandering what do you use to get the glue off the floor so then I can sand it.

Join the conversation

4 of 43 comments
  • Kathi
    6 days ago

    Your floors look beautiful. You did an amazing job! Necessity is the mother of invention!!! Many years ago I painted my vinyl tile kitchen floor to look like wide plank boards and sealed them with 3 coats of satin polyacrylic! No one could tell it was painted and it lasted over 10 years!!

    • Paula P
      30 minutes ago

      Hi Kathi. Do you have a picture of how you painted your vinyl tile kitchen floor to look like wide planks? I don't have the cash right now to make-over my floor with real wood, but I think I could afford to paint and poly it.

  • Sherry

    Gorgeous floors! Great job. I too used some non traditional wood planking for my house floors as it was a bit less than 1/2 the cost. I love it. You've given me the answer to if I want to stain then again a darker shade like yours- YES please 🤗 Super inspiration.

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