In week two of the One Room Challenge, we’re showing you how to install plywood flooring.
Hello, friends and welcome to week two of the One Room Challenge!
We are so excited to share with you today all the fun details of how to install plywood flooring.
As I mentioned in week one, we are trying to do this room on a pretty strict budget because we’re hoping to finish the garage in the spring/summer.
I knew I wanted to put down flooring but everything seemed to be more than what we wanted to spend. After scouring Pinterest, I ran across this post on plywood flooring and I immediately was hooked.
I wish I had a video of Brett’s face after I told him I wanted to lay down plywood for floors – he was not impressed and pretty skeptical. I showed him a few pictures of what it could look like and finally won him over – we were ready to dive in!
[affiliate links used for your convenience. click here for full disclosure.]
- 3/4″ Plywood cut into 8″ strips
- Finish nailer
- Stain (we used special walnut and driftwood)
- Floor varnish
- Paint tray
- Wood putty (stainable!)
- Putty knife
- Orbital sander
- 80 grit sand paper
- 120 grit sand paper
- Cotton cloth
How to Install Plywood Flooring
First, story time 🙂
In all the tutorias that I read, people mentioned going to Home Depot or Lowe’s and having the nice workers cut the plywood for you right then and there. The weekend before Brett left for Wyoming, he agreed to make the trip with me and help pick out the right wood.
On a Saturday morning, we headed to Home Depot and wandered up and down the aisles until we found what we wanted. After loading six pieces onto the cart and slowly maneuvering it around the aisles, we finally made it over to the cutting machine and asked the worker (Worker One) if he could cut it into eight inch pieces for us.
He seemed a little frazzled which should have been our first clue that this may not go as well as planned. Then he started talking about how all these other people were coming in to do the same thing and he was told to not make these kinds of cuts anymore but he’d do it for us today, if we really needed it.
Prior to stopping at Home Depot, we picked up a four wheeler from Brett’s friend for his trip to Wyoming and that was currently taking up a majority of space in the tailgate…Needles to say we needed the plywood cut in order to fit it all in the truck.
So Worker One starts up the machine and he slides the first piece in. It comes out okay and he proceeds to cut the rest of the strips. Except on the last one, the top of the piece is about four inches wider than the bottom. We measure the other pieces and sure enough, they’re not straight.
Oh, boy. This is going to be fun.
Worker One, clearly distraught and confused as to why this happened, calls over someone else (Worker Two) and they try the next sheet of plywood. Everthing seems to be working okay and the pieces are even enough.
Worker One says he can handle the rest by himself and tells Worker Two to leave. He then grabs the third sheet of plywood and slides it through. It looks even, but we don’t measure it. He finishes up the sheet and what do you know? The top of the piece is about five inches wider than the bottom of the piece.
He looks at us with sorry eyes and says something along the lines of, “You’re on your own. I’m sorry, I can’t figure this out.”
Slightly frustrated and not sure how we were going to fit everything in the tailgate, we quickly grab the rest of our supplies and head out the door.
Fortunately, we were able to slide three pieces on either side of the four wheeler and had a few extra straps to hold them in securely.
We ended up cutting the strips at home but (unfortunately) figured out during the installation that we didn’t have the lines perfectly straight. If you’re stuck in the same boat, we learned it’s best to sort the pieces out by size and the ones that are a similar width should be installed in the same row.
The actual tutorial…
Once that entire debacle was done and we had eight inch strips of plywood, it was time to install.
Similar to what we did when we installed the barn wood wall in the entryway, we marked out the studs with a pencil and used that as a guide for where to nail.
Starting from one side, we layed out the plywood in random sizes, making sure the vertical lines didn’t match up in each row.
Because the plywood pieces weren’t exactly straight, there were some areas that had gaps between the rows.
After all the wood was down, I went back and filled in the bigger gaps with wood putty. I think this might be a personal preference but I left some smaller gaps alone because I liked the imperfect look 🙂
Once the putty was dry, it was time to get messy. I closed off the room with some plastic and went to town with the orbital sander.
The first pass through was with the 80 grit and the second time around I used the 120 grit paper. Depending on the level of smoothness you’re going for, you could probably do a third round with 220 but I opted for a more rough surface.
After wiping down all the surfaces in the room, including the walls, it was time to stain.
I had absolutely NO idea what color to use so I bought three – weathered oak, driftwood and special walnut – and tested them out on scrap pieces.
The winner? Special Walnut and Driftwood (bottom right in the picture above).
To apply the stain, I used a roller to spread it out and a cotton cloth to wipe away the excess. The whole process took maybe 45 minutes? It was definitely the easiest part thus far.
I waited overnight for the stain to dry and began the varnish marathon early the next morning. They recommend that you put on at least four coats, but you have to wait two hours in between each one. So it’s not that varnishing is hard to do, it’s just time consuming.
I used a roller to apply the varnish and started in the corner farthest from the door so I wouldn’t box myself into the wrong spot.
I applied five coats and used up about 3/4 of the gallon. I probably could have done a few more because… Moxie and Gunner. We’ve had the floors finished for a week and there are already a few doggy nail marks on the floor. But don’t worry, they have successfully thwarted off two menacing squirrels and a shady looking bunny rabbit so all is well. 😉
Once the floors were done, it was time to paint the walls! I threw on two coats of Burnished Clay by Behr. It was left over from last month when I had ambition to repaint the cabinets and thought I wanted to go with a taupey color – I wasn’t a fan of it on the cabinets but I LOVE it against the wood and window trim.
Phew, that’s it!
For more inspiration, check out the other ORC participants by clicking here.
Up next? Install the bed, find some night stands and put up the curtains!
All our best.