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.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
• Shop Knife
• Measuring tools -Tape Measure, Steel Square, etc.
• Circular Saw with blade for cutting plywood.
• Caulk Gun.
• Paint brushes or paint roller.
• Polyurethane applicator.
• Kilz Primer
• Painters tape
• Cabinet Grade Plywood Sheets (we used 4'x8' 5MM hardwood at around $11.00/sheet).
• Oil Based Polyurethane (we used Varathane Clear Oil based Polyurethane).
• Construction adhesive (we used OSI brand that was specifically for subfloors).
• Finishing Nails (long enough to go through the plywood and into the subfloor).
You might also need:
Additional floor molding. When you take up the carpet there might be a space between the floor and the molding. We used quarter round shoe molding which matched the rest of our house.
You don't need a big caulk gun - just use the regular kind or you will wear out your hands.
Make sure you use an oil based polyurethene made specifically for flooring. The oil based poly brings out the color of the wood and the grain and makes the plywood look "warmer". It's almost like putting on a mild stain.
There are lots of other choices you could make on the plywood. The thing you want to do is make sure it is hardwood and "cabinet grade". We chose the cheapest that fit the criteria but you could spend a bit more and get oak, birch, etc.) It does not need to be thick (we used 5MM). I will say the plywood we got (http://tinyurl.com/77r6rzs) looked as good as the birch and was much cheaper.