Instructables
Picture of DIY PLYWOOD FLOORS
I love my house. It's a classic New Orleans shotgun. Over 100 years old, it was made by craftsmen who really knew how to build things to last. There was an addition (back bedroom and bathroom) put on when the house was refurbished shortly before Hurricane Katrina. The addition was built competently, but they used pretty cheap materials on things like the doors, trim, bathroom fixtures, etc. In most of the house we have nice, solid hardwood floors. In the back bedroom - carpet. Ugly, dirty, Berber carpet. We hated it.

In a fit of annoyance we decided to ditch it. The problem was we needed to do it on the cheap.

My first thought was to rip out the carpet and sand, then paint the subfloor and leave it like that until we had enough to put in hardwood floors that matched the rest of the house. The downside to this is that there is nothing between you and the ground and without any protection other than the paint you might damage the subfloor and need to replace it (not something I wanted to do).

The other idea I had was to lay down plywood over the subfloor and paint/finish the plywood. I'd seen this in some lofts and thought it looked pretty good. This is what we decided to do.

We had two simple goals - put something in that looked better than the ugly carpet and for as little as possible. I think we definitely achieved this and the total cost around $400.00.

The best thing a about doing your floors like this is that down the road if you want to upgrade and install hardwood floors you don't need to pull up anything - you can install them right on top.


 
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tinker2342 years ago
i like this i wonder if i could use old pallets there a dime a dozen around where i live
You should. And, it will be kinda of a cool look.
mkeith542 years ago
Great looking job. We're doing our bedroom now, only difference is we're going with Bamboo Hardwood. Not knowing the cost of your plywood, our hardwood for a 12X14 room came to $723. with enough left over to do the bathroom if I don't screw up to many pieces.I really like to look of the plywood and may try to convince the wife to go that way in the kitchen, though she has her heart set on cork. Once again I think your job came out looking fantastic.

723.00 for a 12 x 14 room? YIKES! How is that "saving" anything? That's not a cheaper alternative.

jdfnola (author)  mkeith542 years ago
Thanks!

The plywood was around just under $11.00/sheet. The total cost of everything was around $400 (and I mean everything). I really liked the bamboo flooring I saw when I was doing research but in the end I went for the cheapest solution(or next to cheapest solution as the cheapest would have been simply sealing and painting the subfloor).

Good luck with the bamboo and post pictures when you are done as i'm really interested in how it works out.

I have bamboo and I hate it!!! It's pretty as long as you just look at it but don't walk on it! What you did with plywood I think is way better.

rbwilliams210 months ago

Is there a period of time that you would have to evacuate your home due to the odor and fumes from the polyurethane?

jdfnola (author) 1 year ago
Hey, sorry to be so long in getting back to you, I was buried with work.

Like you, I was really worried about the edges lining up as I had to make many cuts with the circular saw. I was careful and they lined up very well with no problem. You dont need to use any wood filler between the gaps because you will be then put down the polyurethane. The polyurethane gets into the cracks and, as its liquid, rises to its own level, fills in the gaps and coats the entire floor, sealing it and protecting it (hope that makes sense).

I used nails because the hardwood flooring in the rest of the house had nails and I used a nail pattern that was similar to the more traditional hardwood floors in the rest of the house. My thinking was that screws would be overkill, take longer, and might split up the plywood (its very thin plywood).

Hope this is helpful to you and feel free to ask me anything else, i'll try to be quicker in responding.
There were no issues with pieces lining up exactly so you don't stub your foot? No gaps in between pieces at all, or did you use a filler? Did you use nails, or screws? I thought screws were the way to go, or is that for decking??? (I'm full of questions). Thanks and I think it looks great.
I know I'm way late to this party, but I was wondering since you can cut them into strips making them look similar to the expensive hardwood flooring, could you even stain it? The darker hardwood is more expensive so I figured unless that would somehow conflict with the sealer?
jdfnola (author)  joaniestoney1 year ago
Absolutely you could do that - both the cutting them into strips and staining them.

Looking back I probably would have cut them into squares and alternate the grain but I was worried about the straightness of my saw cuts. I should not have worried as my cuts were pretty straight ;-)

Doing it as you suggest you would have to take care with your cuts but otherwise it would work fine and I think it would look very good.

The floor has worn very well and it was the cheapest floor we could do next to just painting the subfloor. The nice thing about the thin plywood thatmI used is that later on when I can afford nicer traditional hardwood floors I can put them right over top of these.

This project worked out great for us! if you decide to droit post here with pictures so I can see and good luck!
We've done this in our master bedroom, walk-through closet, and sewing room, and it looks great (although I've managed to ding it here and there). Our plan is to cover it with a more permanent flooring this year, but if we can't, it will still look good next year.
jdfnola (author)  MairseyDotes2 years ago
That's our plan too. You should put up some pictures!
Atchljr2 years ago
I noticed that you said that you used finishing nails to secure the plywood sheets to the sub-floor. Did you use any particular pattern when securing the plywood to the sub-floor, and did you countersink and fill each nail head? If you did countersink and fill each nail head. What kind of filler material did you use, and did you use standard nails or a pnumatic nailer?
jdfnola (author)  Atchljr2 years ago
The nail pattern I used mimics the pattern that wold have been used if the floors were traditional strip flooring. The nails blend right in to the flooring and when you do see them it's not at all jarring to the eye.

I did not countersink or fill the nail-heads. I did use a nail set to punch the nails down just below the level of the floor. The floor sealant then covers over the nail (I used four coats).

To the nail in the nails I used a hammer.
tinker2342 years ago
is there a way to get a darker richer color
jdfnola (author)  tinker2342 years ago
Yes, absolutely. You could stain the floor before putting on the sealant. If I was not on a tight budget and under tight time contraints I might have done just that.
State502 years ago
I don't have much experience with flooring. Were you able to 'get-away' with using 5- mm plywood instead of 1cm ( I defer to your metric dimensions), because you already had a stable subfloor over the flooring joists? ( I read the rest of the blog and I didn't see the issue brought up.)
jdfnola (author)  State502 years ago
The answer is yes. The thin plywood we got was only sold in the 5mm thickness (hence the metric measurement instead of something more standard).

I could have used something thicker but I wanted to be able to install more traditional wood flooring right overtop later on down the road. Plus the 5mm was cheap and looked good ;-)
jdege2 years ago
I always replace the molding after I've finished the floor. I find it a lot easier to touch up the paint on the molding, than to apply the floor finish right up to the edge, cleanly.
jdfnola (author)  jdege2 years ago
You know now that I think about it and look back at the pictures that is the way we did it as well (you can see the shine from the polyurethane in some of the pics. I'll edit the steps to reflect. Thanks for t the comment.
sturms1 jdfnola2 years ago
just had to add...great job, great steps too...i di this in my mobile home 12 years ago...still looks and wears great...just every 2 years or so i re-scuff and re-poly a room...and it's great on the feet and the allergies!!!
jdfnola (author)  sturms12 years ago
I was just re-reading through the comments (i'm trying to answer them all) and reread yours again. Awesome point about re-applying the poly every so often. It's a great idea and would obviously really help. I will definitly do this. Great to hear how long this kind of floor can last!
sturms1 jdfnola2 years ago
btw...even put it in the bathroom...very durable in there too...even stained it a driftwood color for a different look in there!
thirst4know2 years ago
Looks good. Always wondered how finished ply would look as flooring. I thought if I were to do this I would cut the sheets in a star design in the center of the room. A lot of extra work though. Not needed in a bedroom, half of the design would be hidden. Nice work.
jdfnola (author)  thirst4know2 years ago
I would love to see your star design completed one day.
jdfnola (author)  thirst4know2 years ago
Thanks!
blkhawk2 years ago
Wow! I am surprised to see how great floors look with plywood. Thank you for posting. Instead of spending a lot of money in expensive flooring anyone can spend much less in plywood and cover a large area. It saves time and money. Kudos!
jdfnola (author)  blkhawk2 years ago
Thanks so much, I have been really happy that this has been so well received.
tadlock752 years ago
I just came across this...and I think it is an awesome idea...I have carpet right now...but under the carpet is concrete..will this process still work?...plz let me know..because I am so ready to pull this carpet up and do this projects. Thxs!
jdfnola (author)  tadlock752 years ago
Read down through the comments - there is a big discussion on this. I don't have concrete so don't have experience but I remember a lot of good comments regarding just this question.
aliberry2 years ago
Hi I'm in London England, so am used to dealing with damp atmosphere! I have a tiny bathroom which had horrible smelly carpet down when I moved in 8 years ago. (Who puts carpet round a toilet for goodness sake!) So I ripped it up (clothes peg on nose) and underneath was a ply floor - these are small 1980s flats and this is normal instead of floorboards.

I deep-cleaned it with a steamer, planning to seal it with varnish when dry and add a small bathrug. I gave it a base coat of white emulsion thinned with water just to lighten the colour first. However it dried a lovely soft grey, like driftwood, so I just rubbed it with 2 coats of clear furniture wax - not shiny, just a subtle satin-type finish. And added a litle blue/grey striped cotton rug to echo a seaside beach-hut feel.

I've never had any problems with water from the bath or sink on it, and only rewaxed it once to maintain the waterproofing. Whats even nicer is that the darker grain has stayed at the same level (being the harder part of the wood) while the pale background wood has compacted slightly underfoot, to give a wonderful sea-washed, smooth, ripple texture.

I have now ripped up all the carpet through the rest of the flat and hope to carry the theme through. On the larger areas I will probably rout grooves to mimic floorboards and whitewash the whole floor as the joins between the ply sheets are quite visible, they'll be visually reduced if I add 'fake' gaps. Thank you for the useful info and pics as I may change my mind having seen them!
jdfnola (author)  aliberry2 years ago
That was pretty much my plan until I saw the very cheap plywood at the store. Nice to hear that it worked out well. Either way you decide to do it put up pics to show how it works out, I would love to see them.
Good morning, I will see if I can borrow a camera when I return home in 2 weeks (working away) and post the bathroom floor (pics!), for BigBloke ....

and Jdfnola, I agree the cheap stuff (softwood, probably pine) looks quite ugly when 'raw'. It does have very defined light/dark grain and knots and is not as smooth as the better grades.

It needs a colourwash to reduce the harsh yellow colour when fresh, and I expect if you bought it new you'd have to run a sander over it lightly - I was lucky it was already laid and smooth... a tip - colourwash the sheet before cutting so it can dry outside. I wish I'd had the option!
Hi I'm from Canada. I am interested in the affect of you floor could you post a picture? Sounds like you are on to something quite different.
weeniewawa2 years ago
you could also rip them in strips and then use a tongue and grove shaper bit to make them almost like laminate flooring that would require fewer or almost no exposed nails. this would require using thicker plywood also. and you can find different types of hardwood plywood such as cherry or oak that is used to build cabinets that is meant to be exposed and has a good grain structure and no knots.

great idea on this. it is a lot cheaper than buying pre-finished flooring
jdfnola (author)  weeniewawa2 years ago
One other thing- about the nails, they blend into the floor amazing well. I nailed them in vertical columns running the long length of the sheet. Kinda mimicing the way you would have nailed them if they were hardwood strips. It looks pretty good and does not detract from the floor.
jdfnola (author)  weeniewawa2 years ago
Lots of folks have had similar suggestions and they are good ideas.
pchyland2 years ago
Very nice job. The only thing I' d have done differently is to stagger the panel (like what done with bricks). Also, was there any sorting and matching of pieces or did random layout seem best?
jdfnola (author)  pchyland2 years ago
At the store I went through a lot of plywood trying to get the best, most damage free sheets. I also tried to get sheets with the same kind of grain but in the end had some that looked different. We placed the different looking sheets in the closet and when you first entered the room.
I live right outside NOLA and I think these floors fit in very well. My husband and I have been trying to find an inexpensive floor worthy of South LA. It seems now we have found it. We hope to use oak and a dark stain under the polyurethane. Thanks so much for this simple instructable!
jdfnola (author)  Pink&BlueDesigns2 years ago
I saw the oak plywood in the store when I bought mine, it looks really nice. You floor will look great!
tagyerit2 years ago
Looks great. Word of caution for folks though is that a standard subfloor application advises a space between each board for expansion / contraction. Hopefully this won't cause an issue for you later.
jdfnola (author)  tagyerit2 years ago
Hope it won't either ;-)

I think the 5MM plywood is flexible enough so that any expansion/contraction will not be an issue. Plus we don't really get below freezing in New Orleans so we might not have the same issues as someone in colder climates. Still it's just speculation at this point.

One of the other commenters Brian Jewett did something similar and did not mention any issues with expansion/contraction so hopefully it will not be an issue.
Plywood shouldn't really have any expansion/contraction issues - though flexibility isn't the main reason.

It is, after all, a (fairly basic) laminate, with the grain of each layer at 90 degrees, so everything cancels everything else out.

Generally speaking, expansion/contraction tends only to be an issue with solid woods - and the thickness at which things become so depends on the specifics of the actual timber.

That's not to rubbish tagyerit's point or the 'standard advice' noted - it's basically a good idea, just not necessary in this case.
jdfnola (author)  karlpinturr2 years ago
Thanks for the information. I think you are correct about this.
Personally, I've never had an issue, but I thought it was good to mention this for others who might try it. I suspect where it's most likely to be an issue is where people live in very humid climates.
jdfnola (author)  tagyerit2 years ago
Well that's certainly New Orleans ;-)

I will post down the road with an update if there is any issue.
Good point on expansion, but since this isn't a floating floor is that valid? I was also thinking wouldn't screws be better?
jdfnola (author)  baschwar2 years ago
I don't think screws would be better. It would be hard to find small enough screws that would not split the plywood plus it would addd to the expense and difficulty.

You might be able to just use the construction adhesive but I found the nails help me hold the plywood down while I worked and you can barely see them.

I did use a nail punch so they were lower than the floor and would not snag on things.
Plywood is often used by floorlayers as a base for other finishes such as vinyl or carpet. I have never seen them leave expansion gaps. Plywood is supposed to be dimensionally stable in all but thickness or that's what I've always believed.

I have done similar with oil tempered hardboard (dont know what you call the stuff) then done a broken colour paint job on it. ( this was in my poorer days, )butt joints everywhere and nothing ever moved, in a centrally heated house with suspended floors throughout. and it lasted for years and was still good when we sold the house.

jdfnola (author)  Eric Sullivan2 years ago
That's reassuring! Thanks!
The very thin plys help to keep any expansion from causing buckling, as long as you keep them relatively dry. If your house floods or you don't keep up with the urethane, you might develop some buckling/cracking, but that's probably not very likely. Unfortunately, the plys being under constant traffic seem to be a possible downfall to this application, and I'm wondering if they will wear very well, or if you'll start to get some splits and gouges in high traffic areas after a few years of use. I hope not, as I think this is a very creative idea for some contemporary house concepts, and would love to be able to do this sometime.
I think the wearabilty might be down to the choice of ply, decorative ply might not be up to it. I am sure I have a very old book somewhere that suggest laying squares of contrasting plywood like tiles. Marine ply is servicable as deck for small boats I think but then it is extremely expensive.

A two pack hard floor finish would probably be wise if they are still available. We used to recommend Clarke Permanent Floor Finish when I worked in tool hire but I don't know if it is still available or environmentally favourable.
jdfnola (author)  Eric Sullivan2 years ago
I'm unfamiliar with the product you mention but awe did use an oil based hardwood floor finish (I put a pic up of the brand). We did 4 coats of the stuff.
jdfnola (author)  vanisaac2 years ago
Hope it lasts too ;-)

Some of the other commenters have done similar projects and reported good results. I'm not to worried as the plan was always to install regular old school hardwood floors down the road (when we had some more $$).

One thing I will do is to try and remember to post an update on how well it has lasted once some time has passed.
zanne1012 years ago
This really looks great. Good for the budget! I like the idea of cutting up the panels to look less like plywood sheets although I have seen this done on walls in a modern cottage. Would also make interesting doors on a wall of storage in the kitchen (pantry, pots/pans, small appliances etc).

I had been thinking about doing a painted floor (a nice neutral gray/sage green).

Why aren't you using the Murphy's oil soap on this floor - wouldn't it just make everything look good longer?

Any way of putting some insulation (thin closed cell styrofoam?) between the subfloor and the plywood?

Thanks for the instructable.
jdfnola (author)  zanne1012 years ago
Thanks for the kind words.

Lot's of the other commenters mentioned cutting the plywood and I think it's a good idea. My worry was the accuracy of my skill saw cuts, so I kept the cutting to a minimum ;-)

I suppose you could put insulation down between the subfloor and plywood. I bet it would make the floor more quite. Living in New Orleans cold floors are not much of an issue and I was really trying to keep my budget low but it's a good idea.

As for the Murphy's Soap I thought it would not make much sense, as the floor surface is really more polyurethane than wood. What do you think? Should I use Murphy's on it? Would it help? I use it on my hardwood floors in the rest of the house. Would love to hear people thoughts on that.
Re the insulation: I'm near the water in Virginia and even though we get some winter weather, most of the year it's humid. I thought maybe the insulation would help in keeping the indoor temp/humidity more even, but I might be totally wrong on that :-}

I was just curious about the Murphy's - don't use it so I was wondering about its use - I'll go to their website and check out their info.

It really is interesting in all the things that can be done with plywood. Great job!

jdfnola (author)  zanne1012 years ago
Thanks! New Orleans is pretty humid as well but so far we have not had any problems (winters hear are pretty rainy and can range from the low 40's to mid 70's, often going from one extreme to the other in the space of a day; the rest of the year its just crazy hot/humid).
mikej_w2 years ago
One caution, the seams are prone to absorbing moisture from mopping, especially as there is some movement in the floor/subfloor. I would suggest finishing the sheets before gluing them.

I you have / can afford a compressor, a pin nailer is less than $30 from Harbor Freight, and would be well worth the money

Running a hand plane down the edges (before finishing) and making them very flat will also improve the edge appearance. At the least, being very careful in transporting and storing them is really important to preserve the factory edges.

I installed pergo in my house, and they suggest silicone sealer at the edges next to walls to prevent spills from getting under the floor, which might be a good idea.

Oh, one more thing; professionals will start in the center of the room, measuring to the center of major walls, then 90 deg out from that center, in both directions, and put their first seams on that cross-hairs.
jdfnola (author)  mikej_w2 years ago
Good points but i'm curious about the moisture from mopping. We did 4 coats of ployureathane and have since mopped it a well as spilled things. From what I can tell the poly keeps the moisture out completley (although I admit not much time has past since we installed it.)
mikej_w jdfnola2 years ago
I cannot say for certain that you WILL have this problem. I would personally finish the edges, separately, and probably finish the bottoms back a bit too. Now that I am thinking about it more, I would also make sure that the glue had good coverage under the seams to make sure the sub-floor couldn't get wet.

If you do have problems with this in the future, you might be able to rip a saw curf at the seams and then fill the seam with something and varnish that something. If you tried this, I would put down some high-stick tape over the seams, cut the curf in, vacuum, fill/finish, and then remove the tape.

I really hope you don't have problems. If you keep the mopping light (don't pour liquid on it), The seams will last a lot longer. Given you are using plywood, you shouldn't have a huge absorption any-ways. Just keep an eye on it, and you start to see some edges curl, see if you can fix it before it becomes a problem somewhere else.

I'm mostly posting this so that others who follow the path you have blazed can be even more successful than you have been. Great job - and thank you very much for sharing!
jdfnola (author)  mikej_w2 years ago
I appreciate it.
l8nite2 years ago
That looks great ! A friend did kind of the same thing in his studio but he cut the plywood into 2x2' squares, rotating the panels as they went down to change the grain direction, no nails, he just glued and weighted each panel down. It's a great floor to walk on and because it was so inexpensive he doesn't worry as much about getting paint or other materials on it. Thank you for sharing your project
We did this in our new house but we ripped the sheets in half both ways for 2'x4' sections. This dropped the scale so it didn't look quite as much like sheets of plywood but still didn't increase the labor too much. The only weakness we've found after 15 months is that I'mm starting to see little splits under my desk chair even though we switched it to rubber wheels when we moved in. A chair mat or some tight dense carpet like Flor carpet tiles will prevent this.
P1010777.jpgP1010782.jpgP1010784.jpg
Good point. With a floor application as thin as this, a heavy load on a small area (like a desk chair's legs) can cause the surface to deflect enough that it will cause splitting damage. Since 5mm (1/5in) plywood offers basically no deflective resistance, the subfloor either needs to be really strong, or you need to be careful about your furniture.
jdfnola (author)  vanisaac2 years ago
True, but it's stronger than you might think,

The ployurethane is incredibly protective. After I did the floors I redid the shelving in the closet (also posted on instructables).

This took a lot more time/energy than I imagined. I was on a ladder for much of the time (i'm pretty heavy at 6'6" 245lbs). I also was dropping tools like hammers and screwdrivers and so on and so forth from the ladder onto the floor. I thought for sure I would need to refinish it after all that abuse but the floor did not even scratch.

Also if you look at the furniture in the pics you will see a very big armoire. It's really heavy.This was dragged across the floor to put in place and did not scratch or damage the floor.

Still with any floor that you want to keep nice it's probably good to minimize such abuse and the daily repetitive damage form a chair can be harsh so it's a good thing to note.
That's good to hear. Is your subfloor 19mm T&G CDX on 61cm O.C. joists? I'm more concerned with long term minor stressing than single incidents, but the ladder incident is highly encouraging.
jdfnola (author)  vanisaac2 years ago
Man I wish I could tell you but I have no idea. You can see the plywood in the pics but my knowledge does not run that deep.
I should remember that few people actually build their own houses anymore. I grew up in a house my parents built, I'm living in a house I helped build, and I built 50 houses after college, so those details are second nature to me, even when it's ridiculous for others to notice. Unfortunately, I couldn't make out the nails in your post-carpet, pre-Kilz pics, so I can't rightly say. It'll just have to remain a mystery.
l8nite vanisaac2 years ago
using a thicker plywood would address most of the problem
vanisaac l8nite2 years ago
Good point. Standard building materials are built with the understanding that floor treatments are going to be about 1/2-3/4 in (13-19 cm) thick, so going to a bulkier plywood could definitely help. (92 5/8" stud + 3 x 1 1/2" plates = 8' 1 1/8" walls = 8' + 1/2" drywall ceiling + 5/8" flooring)
That really does look great...and expensive! :)
jdfnola (author)  BrianJewett2 years ago
Looks awesome! Very nice. I really like the look.
jdfnola (author)  l8nite2 years ago
Glad you liked it. I thought about doing just what your friend did but I was worried that my poor cuts on the circular saw would make for problems at the seams.
l8nite jdfnola2 years ago
I don't know if it was design or transportation that inspired his choice but he had the store make the cuts, 2x2' panels are easier to carry in a small car
jdfnola (author)  l8nite2 years ago
I did not even know the stores would do the cuts for you (although i'm sure there is a charge). The smaller pieces would be easier to handle as well.
njw164 jdfnola2 years ago
The cuts are free (they wont do exact and it is limited to "x" amount) - you can pay to have additional cuts made (I think). This is at Lowes anyway.
In my experience, both Home Depot and Lowes will do cuts for you in the store for free, and they have the equipment that does it fast and perfectly square. Just ask!
That is true, but our local store has a limit on the amount of cuts they will do..your local store may vary..
jdfnola (author)  risacher2 years ago
Good to know! I which I had know that at the time!
trs802 years ago
Once you wear through the first thin layer of wood then you're floor is shot. This is why it isn't common to use plywood for counters, cutting boards, flooring, or higher wear areas.

It can be done but be prepared to repair or replace it sooner rather than later.
jdfnola (author)  trs802 years ago
And that's cool if it turns out that way. The plan was always to install real hardwood floors on top later on. I will say some of the commenters who didi similar projects report pretty long lasting results.
tvengineer2 years ago
WOw.. JDFNOLA are you me from the future or something? :-)

I have a 100 year old shotgun house in NOLA and have an addition that was put on with ugly carpet. Plan on changing out the carpet for wood floors sometime soon, then I see your instructible...

Like your closet shelves instructible to... would you come do my house :-) LOL

jdfnola (author)  tvengineer2 years ago
Who Dat!
We have burber carpet that is stained due to our animals (7 cats and a big dog). I want to remove it and put in these floors, but we have a cement slab, so obviously nails won't work. Do you have a recommendation for an adhesive to use? I am so excited about this!! We really wanted to do laminate, but this is much better for our budget. We don't plan on selling for 30 + years, so I don't really care about what it does to the value.
do like dwo suggested but I would recommend 16" on center, you could then use styrofoam panels for insulating the floor. You can rent a nail gun for installing the batten/furring strips then glue and screw down the ply panels. In this application you would need a thicker plywood, either 1/2" or 5/8"s for strength
To do plywood or any floor over concrete the easiest way is to screw down approx 20 x 40 mm (1x2") batons to the concrete at either 400 or 600 mm spacing (lets say 2 foot..) Then the timber can be simply nailed to the batons. Its a lot less work than screwing all the sheets to the concrete, and cheaper, more solid/reliable and quicker than using adhesive as you don't need to wait for the glue to dry.
jdfnola (author)  jamiehendrickx2 years ago
No, but several of the commenters have some good suggestions.
chuckyd2 years ago
I used plywood for a bathroom ceiling once, and I have this to offer.

First, be selective about the plywood selection, Select pieces that resemble each other so that disparities don't pop out like a sore thumb.

Balance the panel layout in the room. That is, panels against the wall on opposite sides should be the same size.

The large panels are not proportionate to the room size. I formed grooves in my plywood at 2 feet on centers, and along the edges. With the panels matching each other in pattern and the grooves in the panels, everything seemed to belong to the space, and the balance of sizes topped it off.

Another approach would be to install the panels non-parallel to the walls, and staggered.
jdfnola (author)  chuckyd2 years ago
Others have made similar suggestions, all good ideas.
rcisneros2 years ago
Wow. How simple. I can't believe I didn't think of it. Thanks. I will actually being doing this next week in a shed/office I'm building. AWESOME!!!.
jdfnola (author)  rcisneros2 years ago
Thanks!
Please mention to wear one of those disposable dust masks when you rip out the carpet. Just looking at your pics makes my sinuses hurt.

The finished floor looks great!
jdfnola (author)  evil_jweller2 years ago
Thanks, and yes, I probably should have worn a mask.
tafelice2 years ago
Nice, looks good. Though I haven't installed this type of floor, I have seen floors where they take the plywood and then cut them into strips/planks. You can take these 4'x8' sheets and cut them into 8" planks, (actually by cutting them into 7 7/8" widths you will get 6 per panel. Mix up your planks from different sheets and you will perhaps never notice the same grain. Then install it like hardwood floors (the layout I mean), caulking and topnailing (countersink and fill). The result will be so many times better than laying down whole panels. You can get straight cuts by using a straight edge to guide your skilsaw or use a table saw. For something like this I will cut 3 strips coming from one factory edge and then cut the next three off the other factory edge, so as to minimize any cut error from compounding. Again, I don't mean any disrespect, good job. But a little more effort and you would have had a job many many times better. You could still install real hardwood over the 5mm 8" planks. No problem.
jdfnola (author)  tafelice2 years ago
No, all good points and others have made similar suggestions. You live and learn. One of the reasons I put it up was that I could not find any to guide me. All of the comments have been very helpful and should be a real aid to anyone in the future.
frankvanw12 years ago
Great looking floor! I feel your pain jdfnola. Renovating an old house with real wood trim and real wood doors is hard to match. Everything on the shelf is MDF trim and doors. You did a great job matching. I think that nail strip to hold down the carpet is called 'smoothedge'. And it is not that smooth.
I enjoy looking at old houses here in Ontario, Canada. The ultimate ones are the ones that the timber mill owner built for himself with wood trim from his own mill and not one knot showing in any room. All clear and high baseboards. Real craftsmen used years ago and you can appreciate the work.
jdfnola (author)  frankvanw12 years ago
Smoothedge! What misleading name! I googled around for that but could not find the name of it. Thanks!
etav332 years ago
Great Job. Awesome floor. I talked to my wife and brother about doing this project in our kids bedrooms and they both talked me out of it.... You have put me back on track. I will show them this project... Questions:
1- What did you use to glue the plywood to the sub floors?
2- how did you figure the cost of putting in the plywood before the project started?
3- did you get the plywood at home depot or some other place like a neighborhood lumber yard.
4- last question i promise, how do you clean the floors now? thanks
jdfnola (author)  etav332 years ago
Thanks etav33! I'll try and answer your questions as best I can.

1. We used the OSI brand construction construction adhesive that was designed for subfloors. There is a picture of it in the Step 1 pics. I doubt it really mattered much but I picked that one because it said it was floors.

2. Once I saw the cost of the plywood I estimated how many sheets we would need and the cost of the polyurethane and Kilz. Once I had that number I knew there would be other costs (nails, molding, etc.) but that it would be in our budget.

3. I got the plywood from the Lowes near our house. If you look in the notes section on Step one I have a link to the actual product we purchased.

4. We vacum them them regularly and then mop them just like we do our hardwood floors. The only real difference is that on the hardwood floors I will use Murphy's Oil soap and I don't bother on the plywood.

Hope that helps, feel free to ask more questions if you have them - i'll try and answer them.
etav33 jdfnola2 years ago
thanks so much. this helps.
paigey2 years ago
Do you have to sand the wood first, or does it come already pretty smooth?
jdfnola (author)  paigey2 years ago
No, it came pretty smooth. I did a cursory sanding but that's it - to much sanding and you will sand the grain right off.
paigey jdfnola2 years ago
Thanks! Your floors look lovely. My sister and I are exploring options to re-do my dad's floors... this will come in handy!
Quester552 years ago
Living in E. Texas, I know how wet our floors can become. that said, I find that using common nails will do the job, but a Square-Head Screw does a far better job of holding plywood down, Also, I use Stainless Screws because they do not rust over time.
Sakla2 years ago
I have a concrete slab house so the nails won't really do it...any thoughts? It looks great!
g0dswilll Sakla2 years ago
the answer is what vanisaac said.... we just did this in our house (with a traditional hardwood floor) on the concrete slab. first you apply a liquid moisture barrier that "hardens" and seals the floor. then you use an appropriate glue. both of these can be purchased from a hardwood flooring store. they are quite expensive though, and would likely take this out of the realm of a cheap project. you'd still save money on the wood though, if you still used plywood instead of a fancy hardwood.

in the veign of doing it right, i also agree with somone's tongue and groove comment. if you have a router table and can do that, you'll probably be glad you did.
Selley's here in New Zealand make a product that is for doing just this. It comes in two parts.

One is a concrete floor sealer that seals the moisture in the concrete.

The other looks like No More Nails but in a bucket and is applied with a tiling trowel. Lord, when it sticks, it is there for good.
Sakla Sakla2 years ago
Yeah, the two things I am concerned about are the moisture barrier and adhering it to the slab. If I put down those plastic sheets, I won't be able to use the gorilla glue. I guess I could do the tongue and groove thing...just not sure I could keep it down. I may test this in my utility room in the garage first.
vanisaac Sakla2 years ago
You could go for one of the rubberized treatments they use under hardwood floors for slab-on-grade to deal with moisture/wicking.
stoobers Sakla2 years ago
Besides the moisture issue, you can use a VERY thin layer of gorilla glue.

I don't know how to fix the moisture issue. But I have glued dissimilar materials with gorilla glue and it works well for that application. I have glued wooden tips onto a fiberglass/plastic bow, and the bow has held up well.
I would not suggest doing this over a concrete floor. Concrete is porous and moisture can wick thru. That would cause the plywood to buckle. However, you could put down a latticework of 1x2s with foam board insulation between them and a vapor barrier over it and then the plywood. The upside is a warmer floor. The downside is the additional thickness of the floor might cause transition issues to other flooring in the house, unless you did the whole house.
jdfnola (author)  Sakla2 years ago
Do you already have a subfloor? Usually there is a plywood subfloor. If not then i'm not sure what the best thing to do would be.
What a great idea! And it looks beautiful!
Plus your instructions are well laid out. Thanks for all the photos to go along with it.
jdfnola (author)  twanakitzman2 years ago
Thanks so much. This first time i've posted on instructables.com and am impressed with what a great community it is.
de_evans2 years ago
Beautiful floor! You did a really nice job on that. We put down a combination glued and nailed plywood floor that's similar and has been in constant heavy use for over 20 years - it's held up very well. Could use a little refinish work now. At the time we couldn't afford linoleum, and the hardwood plywood is so much nicer on all fronts.
With 20/20 hindsight, we would have cut it into smaller squares as well. Although those 4X8 lines have served as right angle and length markers for a LOT of craft, sewing and DIY construction projects through the years...
jdfnola (author)  de_evans2 years ago
Thank's! It's really reassuring to hear how long your floor has lasted and I did not even consider he benefit of the built in straight edge!

bishopdante2 years ago
you weren't lying, that really is horrible carpet!
jdfnola (author)  bishopdante2 years ago
You have no idea ;-)
Jaie2 years ago
I had debated doing this but was talked out of it by someone who swore it wouldn't work. I knew he was full of it. Now I'll be doing this in every room.
jdfnola (author)  Jaie2 years ago
I definitely works and it's not very hard. Just time consuming.
This type of flooring is fine BUT most flooring is tongue and groove because wood sub floors move a lot. The tongue and groove system locks the wood together so the corners and edges don't move or buckle.

Older style 1" solid oak strip flooring was typically nailed every 6 inches with two nails, yea. Which is why it is the "old" style. Very time consuming and expensive.

A floor finish of this kind should be at least 5/8" which will allow you to make your own tongue and groove ply with a set of complementary router bits. One is a positive the other a negative. With that all said you could use a standard flooring stapler on the edges and everything should be fine on the long term.
jdfnola (author)  player27562 years ago
I was going for what we call in the software business a "minimally viable product". The most minimal technique would have been just painting the subfloor but I went just one step up with the plywood.

I like to think that what I have actually done is just made the worlds nicest subfloor.

Later on down the road (when I have more money and time) I intend to install the old style strip flooring you mention. When I do that I will be able to lay it right on top of this.
patmac2 years ago
What a beautiful floor! Great instructions! Your pictures and information are great.
Yet another example of great creativity using less expensive items. Thanks.
jdfnola (author)  patmac2 years ago
Thank you for the nice comments. I'm really glad I put this up.
s76fitz2 years ago
back in 1989
i was taught to start from the true measured center
of the project surface .

you did very weLL for yourself on this .

enjoy your re-furbished room .
jdfnola (author)  s76fitz2 years ago
Thanks! I did not even think about doing it that way. As I said above the thing I tried to do was to take advantage of the factory cuts where the plywood sheets met and kept the cuts I made (not as straight or clean) to the outer walls where they would be masked by the molding.
brewgoat2 years ago
Just curios if you laid the plywood pattern down like you do with tile, starting in the middle and working outwards towards the walls?
jdfnola (author)  brewgoat2 years ago
No, I laid the plywood tight to one wall; which left a short strip I needed to cut to fit the other wall. I kept the cut sides towards the wall so that the seams where the plywood met were on the factory cuts.
mckemike2 years ago
Looks great. How many sandings could you get out of this kind of plywood?
jdfnola (author)  mckemike2 years ago
I barely sanded it at all as too much sanding would destroy the grain on such thin plywood. The sheets themselves were pre-sanded.
What was the size of the area you covered?
jdfnola (author)  hellolindsay2 years ago
I'll measure it when I get home after work (I forget the exact room dimensions) but we used 11 sheets of 4' X 8' plywood.
cchubb2 years ago
You never mentioned sanding, either of the original wood or between coats of urethane. Did you do that?
jdfnola (author)  cchubb2 years ago
Barely. "Wiping" might be a better word for what I did. The plywood was pre-sanded so I did a very cursory sanding job. You have to be careful as you can sand the grain right off such a thin sheet of plywood. I did this quick wiping between each coat but again it was just a cursory "wipe" with the sanding pad and not anything remotely like what I think of when I think of "sanding".

baschwar2 years ago
Does anyone have any idea on what (if anything) this sort of flooring would do on home value? We have carpet that needs to be ripped out and this seems nice enough and cheap enought to put in for long term use vs. the labor and cost of laminate flooring in the entire house. The house was built in 1996 and has laminate in the kitchen and entryway. We want to replace the flooring on three levels in the house (sans bedrooms).

What treatment would you all recommend for stairs? Just cut plywood treads and risers? What about bathrooms? Seems like the floor finish would hold up to moisture pretty well. Thanks!
jdfnola (author)  baschwar2 years ago
I have no idea about how it would affect home value as we are not really planning on selling. Eventually we will install traditional hardwood floors that match the rest of the house.

Stairs would be tricky but if you had a table or drop saw it would be much easier as your cuts would be square.

Don't know about how well it wold do in the bathroom as we did not install it there but the finish does repel moisture.
Terri1ND2 years ago
I'm wanting to do this in my kitchen & bathroom, except have the plywood cut into squares & mix up the plywood so the wood patterns are mixed up. Saw that on HGTV before & it looked really good.
jdfnola (author)  Terri1ND2 years ago
Another commenter had a friend who did just that and said it worked great - good luck!
asmith4332 years ago
WOW it look like you spent 1000s of dollars when you probably spent only 200$
nice job
jdfnola (author)  asmith4332 years ago
Thanks! The total cost was around $400 dollars but that's still pretty cheap.