Home » DIY Plywood Floor/Part One/Cost & Install

DIY Plywood Floor/Part One/Cost & Install

If you have been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you know by now that we have installed plywood floors throughout the whole upstairs of our home, which is approximately 1600 square feet.  I have received a lot of questions and interest about the project so I figured now would be a good time to talk to you about our DIY Plywood Floors.

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I am going to take a minute to explain my approach on this project.  So not to overwhelm you with information, I will break this up into 4 posts.  Today I am going to discuss the cost and install.  Part two will be how we installed the flooring in our bathroom, because that involved a few extra steps.  Part three will be how I came to the color choice and the application process.  Part four will be a summary and an update of how it is holding up after a few months of wear and tear. I might even do a video….yikes!!!   So let’s get this party started, shall we?

Let me begin by explaining a little bit about plywood.

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Plywood is a structural material consisting of sheets of wood glued or cemented together with the grains of adjacent layers arranged at right angles.  Yeah, I just want to sound smart for a moment.  What I am trying to say is that plywood is engineered wood, and doesn’t shrink and expand like traditional hard wood floors.  It is also extremely affordable.  We chose pine, it was the cheapest and the most stable, with that being said, it is also softer, so if you drop a heavy tool on it, it will leave a mark.  You can also purchase plywood in oak, birch and maple if your budget allows.

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As far as purchasing our plywood, we went to our local lumber yard, Weirton Lumber.  My husband does business with them on a regular basis, and they are really great people, so if you are local, go there.   We purchased 50 sheets of 1/2″ thick pine plywood.  A sheet of plywood is 4ft x 8ft, so you can get exactly 6 planks, 8″ wide with no waste.  That totals 300 planks of plywood my husband hauled back to the house.  (Just let that simmer for a minute.)  As far as milling the sheets into planks, there are other projects like this where the person went Lowe’s or Home Depot and had them cut each plank, and sometimes it was free.  But that resulted in some uneven cuts and slight gaping when the planks were installed.  We were covering approx. 1600 square feet, so we chose to pay extra to have the lumber yard cut it because their equipment was such that every cut was straight and near perfect. This saved us time later on in install and sanding.  I highly recommend it, if you have a local lumber yard look into it, trust me, you can afford it.

Now for the install.  I created this little picture to show how the planks are nailed down.  Every 16in or so my husband nailed 4 nails into the plank.  If he came across a plank that was bowed, he used a 2 1/2″ finish nail and a hammer to secure it.

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We already had 3/4″ sub floor down, and used 1 1/2″ brad nails, 18 gauge, and a finish nailer.  If you are placing the planks over an existing wood floor, that will work fine too.  If your children’s rooms are above yours you might also want to consider installing 1/4″ foam insulation to help with volume control.  We didn’t really think of that at the time.

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Also, when he was at an edge, where one plank met another, he angled the finish nailer to shoot the nail in for better hold.

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Do not be afraid to use a lot of nails, as you can see they are really tiny and blend right in with the floor.

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He placed one board right against the next and just kept going.  We cut the boards at random lengths to avoid a repeating pattern.  We didn’t have any baseboards up yet, which made it easy to install them right against the wall.

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Because Weirton Lumber did such and amazing job at cutting the planks, the seams are very straight and consistent.  We did absolutely no sanding before installing, and have hardly any gaps where the planks meet.

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Lets discuss if you get any of these marks on your boards.  We had many boards that had red and green and even words stamped into the wood.  Because we used paint to finish the floors, they covered well and you can’t tell they were there.  If you decide to stain, I would do a test piece first because no matter how much you sand, they don’t go away.

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Here is the loft floor completely down, in it’s natural color.  The best part about these planks is all of the knots and dark spots, they show up really well when you add your finish, so don’t be afraid to use those boards.

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As far as how long it takes to do a room… So if 19 planks of plywood is the equivalent of 100 square feet, the average weekend warrior with a helper could install approx. 20 planks in and hour and a half, including cutting the boards to size.  Unless your room is huge, then give yourself a little bit more time.  Do not be intimidated by this project, my son and daughter both helped dad lay the flooring down in their rooms, and they are 10 & 8.

Now here is the important part, the MONEY!  We did 1600 square feet of flooring for .97 a foot!!!  People, I do not lie.  We did our loft, the family room, hallway, bathroom, and 3 bedrooms.  That included the cost of the plywood, the cost to cut it into planks, and the paint and clear coats.  Pretty good right?  Let me break it down.

Plywood including cuts – $1200.00

Paint and clear coats – $350.00

Our time – FREE

$1200.00 + $350.00 + FREE = $1550.00

$1550.00 / 1600sq ft = .97 per square foot

BOOM!!!

I really recommend this project to anyone who is up for updating their home and is on a tight budget.   I was inspired by this post and I hope this one will inspire you too!  Next week I will show you what extra steps we took before installing the flooring in our bathroom. Thanks for following along, don’t forget to pin for future use, and feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.

Part Two – The Bathroom Install

Part Three – The Floor Color

Part Four – Update and Summary

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9 comments

  1. Mom d. says:

    My dear daughter, you are amazing!!!! I should get you a special monogram tool belt!!!!!!!! Instructions were so simply stated made me think I could do it! Looking forward to the rest of the project. Carry on!

  2. Amie says:

    Thanks for your detailed tutorial! I’ll be installing plywood in our entire downstairs next week, hope it looks as nice as yours! 🙂

  3. Tom Ethridge says:

    I have read a lot of blogs on this type of floor and they would leave a thin gap between boards. Is this something you did also or did you just the boards together?

    • Sarah-Marie says:

      Hello Tom! To answer your question, we did not put any gaps between our planks when installing our floors. It was just personal taste, we have young children which equals more dust and dirt and I also prefer the look of no gaps. The install went very smoothly. I would like to mention though that because our local lumber yard cut them, our planks were very straight and even. We didn’t sand until the whole floor was installed. If our planks had cut a bit uneven, then we would have had more gaps. I hope this is helpful, we love our floors and they have held up very well, no regrets what so ever! Good Luck

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