So I told you last week I was going to attempt to put plywood flooring down in my kitchen, in an effort to get rid of the hideous dated stained linoleum floors we inherited when we purchased this house. Today I am going to show you the finished product and tell you a bit about what I learned.
Gorgeous, isn’t it? I’m really happy with the way it turned out– but here’s a few things I learned.
A- Its not as cheap as I thought. Because of staining it and spending money on nice polyurethane, It ended up costing more like 2.15 a square foot
B- The guys at Lowes mean well, but they don’t CUT well. You will need to rip each of these planks on a table saw yourself to get straight cuts- otherwise you will spend 3 days trying to put a puzzle together that does NOT fit. Just get them to cut the plywood to 16 inch boards (because they will fit better in your car and be easier to manage on the saw, and then rip them to 7.5 planks when you get home. Thats what I did after day 3 of crazy…and it worked great.
C- Plywood has imperfections, and they fix those by cutting out an ugly spot and patching it- you don’t want these football shaped pieces on your floor so try to avoid those pieces or turn them over and sand the other side.
D- Its a lot of WORK.
E- Its a LOT of WORK!!!
Did I say that twice? Thats because its true. This kitchen floor took me about a week of working on it off and on. My AMAZING sister Laurel Arnold and her sweet husband came over and helped me a few days, and the awesome Sister Missionaries from my church came and helped me too- they are super heroes for sure! This is really a 2 person job- but I wanted my hubby to have a break from all my projects so I took it on during a week where he was going to be gone everyday for 10 days straight. I’m crazy. The end
Here’s the basics of what I did. It really isn’t HARD- just time consuming!
Buy the plywood, and pick your pieces carefully- try to avoid these football shaped plugs they put in to remove blemishes. Fine structurally, but not pretty! I bought this kind here. I chose the 19/32 Sanded because it was a little bit nicer than the cheaper stuff, but if you aren’t as picky, you could do the cheaper stuff.
Get the guys at Lowes to cut your pieces into 16 inch planks (you will have 3 per piece). I promise the big machine they use can NOT make perfectly straight cuts like you need. Then use a table saw at home to get STRAIGHT LINES. I didn’t realize how badly my pieces were cut until I got started trying to lay it down and realized I had HUGE gaps and things wouldn’t fit together right- I kept trying different pieces, and realized finally I would have to cut them all. Some pieces were so uneven that I would cut off 1/4 inch on one side and 1 1/2 inches off the other end! You want them to be the same width all the way down to save your sanity. TRUST ME. *If you don’t have access to a table saw, check with friends and family or look on craigslist before having the guys at Lowes do it for you. IF you have no other option, just tell them you need the cuts PERFECT. They tend to be in a hurry and try to pull the cuts through quick, which is where a large portion of the error comes from.
Once they are all the same width, sand all 4 edges of the wood at a 45 degree angle, you just want to avoid those sharp edges on the plwyood-don’t try to be perfect– the imperfections give you a nice rustic look and keeps it from looking like plywood.- This is time consuming, I’ll admit- but its worth the time. This is a step most other plywood floor instructions skip, but I think it makes my floor look more real and like hardwoods, vs plywood.
Now just lay the wood down and fit it together- I don’t like all the ends in the same spot obviously, so I cut some off of one piece and made that the beginning of my second row, and then used the leftover piece to make the third row. Really once you get going you’ll find you have lots of random lengths- and I loved that.
Now just use construction adhesive to run a ribbon of glue down each plank and glue to the floor. We glued directly to the linoleum in the kitchen- and in the living room we glued directly to the sub floor.
Then use a nailer- I used a finish nailer- to nail the planks down. I did 2 nails every 3 feet or so and used 2 inch nails- Once the floor was finished I went back over it and added more nails where the floor was squeaky or had too much bounce.
Fill the nail holes (this requires using a “punch” to hammer them below the surface), allow to dry and lightly sand the whole floor– filling the holes is optional, and took about 2 hours per room- but was totally worth the time!
Stain and polyurethane. I used Dark Walnut by Rustoleum- and I used Satin High Traffic Formula for Floors by Varathane – this was the most expensive thing I bought, at over 40 dollars a gallon. It took 2 1/2 gallons to do 3 coats! I wish I had stopped at 2 coats though. The finish was GORGEOUS with 2 coats, and the 3rd coat made it look cloudy and patchy. Over time it has worn down a bit and its okay, but I wish I had never applied the 3rd coat. Just FYI. And in hindsight I would buy the cheaper polyurethane, we used the more expensive stuff because I thought it would better protect the plywood- but in truth the plywood is very soft and dents easily, and it actually looks beautiful so I don’t mind. Plus, if I ever have a piece get BADLY damaged, I can always pry that one up and put down a new piece pretty easily.
I HIGHLY recommend sanding in between coats 1 and 2 of the polyurethane. Applying the Poly brings out the grain of the wood and little bumps will be all over your floor- sand them down, and you will thank me later!
****UPDATE– My floor is a few months old now and I still love it just as much. I still need to figure out something to fill the “cracks” between the wood where the gaps were big, because those do get full of crumbs (easy to vacuum out though). I think I’ll just use some black waterproof caulk, but its been cold and the windows need to be closed, so that hasn’t been a big priority. I LOVE the way my floors look and people comment on how beautiful they look every time we have visitors! It really changed the look of the room and made it more homey and open and just beautiful.
******After 1 year– I adore these floors, we continued putting them down throughout the adjoining family room and its so beautiful! I am planning to put them down in the rest of my house as soon as I finish up some other projects and have the money. They are beautiful, everyone who walks in my door loves them, and I smile every time I walk in that room.
For the record, I’m aware that my floors are dirty…and my house is a mess. We are remodeling, and I’m not going to pretend that my house looks perfect after a week of drywalling, and pulling insulation out from underneath my house. Just being real, cause I know you expect that of me!
Some thoughts? This works best with 3 people. We laid the same amount of flooring that took me over 5 days to lay, in about 4 hours with 3 people vs 1. 2 of us made the cuts on all of the wood at once in about an hour, then 1 person sanded and stacked the
“ready” wood, while 2 others worked inside laying it down. I will admit my husband wasn’t as careful with placement as I was, and so we ended up with some bigger gaps in that room- but I don’t even mind, with this particular style of floor it just adds to the character. The wood is very soft. IF you are the kind of person who flips out when your floor gets a scratch, this type of flooring might not be for you. Just sayin’.
Overall I highly recommend these floors, they are gorgeous, relatively inexpensive, and although time consuming, they are easy to install.
I still love my plywood floors as much today (more than a year later) as I did on day 1- and the best part is hearing back from others who’ve done the same or like the idea. Today we were featured on Hailey’s Vintage as one of her top DIY posts- YAY! Check out her site