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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.)

(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!

(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!

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 5 questions
  • Diana Davis
    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
    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.

    • Jaynie
      on Jul 25, 2019

      I tried Goo Gone on carpet squares glued to a vinyl floor - absolutely worthless and a good waste of Goo Gone. If the glue to glue the stuff to the floor is industrial strength, one needs to find and use industrial strength glue remover. I picked up some Sentinel Formula 747 Plus at Home Depot. I'll update when I start working on the floors again this weekend.

  • Nancyvanwyck1
    on Jun 1, 2019

    I want to know about the "French" doors with sheers. What did you make them out of?? I am sure you made them yourself, you are just too clever to have bought them.

    • GrandmasHouseDIY
      on Jun 3, 2019

      I did make them :) They are are just 2x2s screwed together and then painted and then sheer fabric stapled to the back of them! At first I had them hinged but eventually it just made more sense to put castors on them.

Join the conversation

3 of 50 comments
  • Ellen
    on Aug 4, 2019

    No floor to do, yet needed to comment that the floor is beautiful

  • Carol de la Fuente
    Carol de la Fuente
    on Apr 30, 2020

    I am with Ellen. I also have no floors to redo but just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how lovely your floors turned out!!! Beautiful job!!!

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