11 Best Plywood Flooring Posts, Projects and Ideas

Attic plywood floorWe first became aware of plywood flooring back in December of 2012, not long after we launched Home Flooring Pros, when we read a post by Jordan Crompton on her blog Picklee.com (see link below). Jordan was using plywood as flooring in her design and furniture store. We thought at the time that it was a great quirky and low cost flooring idea, especially for a shop interior, but didn’t really pay much more attention as we weren’t convinced it had much of a place in the home.

Well, having discovered many more plywood flooring ideas over the intervening months we have to now hold up our hands and say…”Hey, plywood plank floors are a legitimate, low cost, hard wearing (with caveats) DIY project for your home!”…there we said it. And if unusual flooring is your thing take a look at our penny flooring post.

Before we get going with a roundup of the best plywood floor ideas and projects from around the web let’s just take a moment to recap what we know about using and installing plywood as a cheap flooring idea.

Pros and Cons of Plywood Flooring

DIY Installation – This is definitely a great DIY project! We will point you towards some of the best plywood installation blog posts and videos, but all you really need is the ability to get your plywood sheets cut into planks and correctly laid out on your sub floor. After that it’s all about sanding, gluing, nailing and adding several coats of Polyurethane finish for protection. All a lot simpler than solid hardwood floor installation.

Wear and Tear – No matter which plywood sheets you buy, whether pine, birch or oak, or how many protective finishing coats you apply, they are never going to be as durable or as aesthetically perfect as expensive solid or engineered hardwood flooring. A DIY plywood floor is specifically suited to those looking for a more “rough and ready” finish. Think rustic Wild West or urban industrial chic rather than old world grandeur!

Adaptability – Like any wood flooring product you should let plywood sheets/planks acclimatise in your home for a day or two, but plywood does not present the same problems as solid hardwood when it comes to hot and cold climates. For a start most of the projects we feature use ¾ inch ply… by the time you’ve glued and nailed that down it won’t be going anywhere. Even for thicker five ply plywood the very nature of its construction means that it’s a much more stable product and therefore safe to use in both hot/humid and cold/dry conditions.

Low Cost – No surprise that the number 1 benefit of plywood flooring is the price. Many of the projects we have seen use pine plywood sheets with prices between $15 and $25 per sheet, and with each sheet covering 32 square feet you quickly see that it’s very easy to end up with a new floor, self-installed for around $1 per square foot! Compare that to hardwood prices or engineered wood prices to get a very clear idea of the savings!

Plywood sheets are available from all the usual big box home improvement stores and if you want delivery to your door take a look at the selection of plywood from Amazon.

So let’s take a look at the eleven best plywood flooring pages from around the web…

Best Step by Step Plywood Floor Installation Instructions

Let’s face it, using plywood planks for your floors is not something you’re going to ask a professional to install, kind of defeats the purpose of choosing a low cost flooring material in the first place! So the main thing you’re going to want to know is how to install plywood flooring. Let’s take a look at some of the pages that we think explain the process the best:

Picklee.Com – For us, this was the first and simplest guide to DIY wide plank plywood flooring. Jordan shows how she created a great looking floor and how, if you play your cards right, you can get most of the hard work done for you! Home Depot cut her boards into planks and her fiancé Brett glued and nailed the boards down…result! Only joking Jordan, we know you did your fair share and most impressively of all you got the job done for just $300.

white wash wide plank plywood floor
Image of plywood flooring installed in the Picklee store.

Quarry Orchard – We also really like Shannon’s installation guide over at her Quarry Orchard blog. For those looking to install plywood in a typical square room at home we think this guide gives a really good feel for what’s involved and also includes instructions for staining your plywood. A clear and concise guide for a floor that we think ends up looking great!

plywood floor stained brown
Image from Quarry Orchard

DIY Dork – If you want the plywood diy installation guide to end all diy guides then head on over and visit Kevin at DIYDork.com (great name!). He has two excellent articles, start here, outlining the process he used for the large downstairs area of his home, and more importantly five accompanying YouTube Videos that take you from start to finish. In fact there’s a sixth video showing how well the floor is holding up after a year.

Image from DIYDork.com
Image from DIYDork.com
Home Flooring Price Estimates

What About Painting Your Plywood Floors

The projects above are focused on those DIYers who are looking to recreate a hardwood plank look in their homes, but what about painting plywood sheets or an existing plywood sub floor? Here are some of the best painted plywood floors we could find…

Remodelista – When a flooring trend gets a mention on a site as cool as Remodelista you know it’s time to take it seriously. Christine Chang Hanway is Remodelista’s UK editor and if a painted plywood floor is good enough for her bathroom its good enough for mine! Like a few projects we’ve seen, Christine’s painted bathroom plywood subfloor started off as a short term remodelling solution, but with results like these it’s easy to see why DIY’ers are seeing plywood as a longer term answer.

Christine Chang Hanway's painted bathroom floor
Christine Chang Hanway’s painted bathroom floor

Fieldstone Hill Design – It took us a while to find it but we’re glad we made the effort to track down Darlene Weir’s guide to painting the plywood floor of her boys’ bedroom. Like the project from Remodelista above, this floor was created by painting directly onto the plywood subfloor. If you are looking for a guide on how to paint a beautiful pattern onto plywood then this post is for you. We think the floor makes this room, which is really saying something as the overall design is superb, and that it was achieved on a budget is doubly impressive.

Door Sixteen – Our next project was chosen both for the detailed instructions for painting plywood flooring and also for the bold design choice. Black is not a floor color for the faint of heart! All credit to Anna, the black floor works really well in this Victorian kitchen space especially against the white wall tiles. This post is the second of two and Anna’s initial plywood installation post is well worth a read as well, click here.

Image from DoorSixteen.com
Image from DoorSixteen.com

Centsational Girl – Whenever we research a flooring trend we always pop over to Centsational Girl to see if Kate’s got anything to say about it! And sure enough we found this wonderful plywood floor project sent in by one of her readers. Gray wood flooring is very in vogue this year, and has been for a while now, so it’s great to see what it looks like on plywood. Again great step by step painting instructions make this another essential plywood flooring article.

Courtney's NZ DIY flooring project
Courtney’s NZ DIY flooring project

Professionals Using Plywood

It’s not just budget conscious DIYers who are turning to plywood. Canny designers and architects also realize that used in the right way and in the right location plywood can work wonders. So lets take a look at some inspirational plywood flooring ideas from the pros:

Parallel Lines Studio – Most of the featured projects that we’ve looked at are looking to cut costs by working with plywood, but there are also ways to turn plywood into a classy upmarket flooring option. This bedroom remodel from designers Parallel Lines shows what can be achieved with plywood if used sensibly. They have used a high quality 5 ply birch plywood and, while you still wouldn’t want to lay any type of plywood in a high traffic area, it works really well in a bedroom. What works especially well here is keeping the plywood in sheets rather than cutting it into planks. Lots of sanding and three coast of polyurethane make for a beautifully finished plywood flooring.

Pine Street Bedroom Remodel – Parallel Lines Studio

Conquest – Although plywood isn’t a material we usually think to put on show, there are exceptions. As discussed, plywood flooring is perfect if you’re looking for a rough and ready look and that is a perfect match for this unique modular house designed by house builders Conquest. Plywood feels and looks just right for this Crowsnest Pass project. The soft and beautiful furnishings contrast nicely with the starker floors, walls, ceilings and exterior.

Crowsnest Pass by Conquest
Crowsnest Pass by Conquest

 

Home Adore – Although most plywood flooring projects concentrate on disguising the look of plywood by transforming it into something different, in the design of this unique house, by architects Agruppo, they have gone out of their way to promote the natural look of plywood. There’s no mistaking what these floors are made from and we think they look fantastic. The effect works well thanks in large part to the vast amount of natural light coming in through the many large windows.

Groveland House by Agruppo architects
Groveland House by Agruppo architects

Envi Design – We had intended to only bring you only the top ten plywood floors but we had to bump our list up to eleven to accommodate this fabulous example of plywood flooring. Interior designer Susan Hoffman has created a totally unique look with this apartment floor in Montana. The effect was created using a grey water based stain and the result is very cool and contemporary…we love it.

Montana residence by Envi Interior Design Studio
Montana residence by Envi Interior Design Studio

So we hope you can see from this special selection of resources that plywood can be used as flooring in many different and imaginative ways. Please let us know if you have experience of using plywood this way and what tips you might have.

Do you really want to get to know plywood? Then take your knowledge to the next level at the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association website.

31 thoughts on “11 Best Plywood Flooring Posts, Projects and Ideas

  • October 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm
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    Ahh! That last one is making me dream about expanding my tiny art studio into something spacious and beautiful like that. Lots of really cool ideas for floor. I love those sheep skins, I wonder if they have nice fake ones out there.

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    • October 11, 2014 at 7:24 am
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      Thanks for the comment Krislyn, yes they’re great aren’t they and a really doable project we think. And as for cow hides (which i think those are) what about these faux versions!?

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      • June 9, 2016 at 10:06 am
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        Those last floors are gorgeous! But how do you accomplish that look? There doesn’t seem to be an instructions…

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  • October 14, 2014 at 1:46 pm
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    Hi, Getting interested in this idea. It certainly looks gorgeous! We’d prefer to avoid glue, can it just be nailed or screwed down?

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    • October 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm
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      You can go without glue Alison, it all depends on what you’re nailing it to and how thick it is.

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  • November 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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    My wife and I just bought our first place and it is a definite fixer upper. 2 concerns to cover before I start on my project at my own place…

    1 – what is the life expectancy of the floor? Am I going to have to redo these in 5 – 10 – 40 years?

    2 – with all the glue and nailing down to the subfloor… If we decide to change our floors in 5 years will we have to rip up all the subfloor too?

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    • November 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm
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      Great questions Tim. First off, I’ve not laid and used plywood as a final flooring myself so I can’t answer from experience. As for life expectancy, if traffic wasn’t too heavy and you put down a good few tough coats of polyurethane then I would expect a long life span…although I won’t be drawn on exactly how many years! 😉

      I think your second question is easier to answer…yes, I don’t really see how you could rip up the top plywood planks without damaging the plywood subfloor. As you will see from the different projects, some people have laid plywood planks onto a subfloor and others have painted and used the existing plywood subfloor…if you’re going with the first option then I would want to lay any new floor directly on top of the plywood planks rather than take them back up…so you should decide now if that will be possible or will it cause lots of problems when transitioning from one part of the house to another?

      Reply
  • December 11, 2014 at 9:16 am
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    I’ve put down a PAPER FLOOR on my stairs and balcony area a month ago, because the carpet was totally worn out and I didn’t have a lot of money. I didn’t stain it, but could have. It is coated with 4 to 8 coats of floor polyurethane which is what will wear before the paper is ever reached. Should be the same with plywood – stain or paint first, let dry well 1-2 days, then coat twice a day for 2-4 days (2 coats maximum a day so it will dry fully and not fog up) Recoat traffic areas 1-2 x if needed in 5 years. Be sure to use FLOOR POLYURETHANE as it is tougher and harder than wall paint. I used water-based rather than oil based because of the smell and drying time. As with any hard flooring, keeping sand and gravel off will make it last longer – sweep or dust mop 2-3x a week and damp mop as needed. Use glides or felt under furniture legs.

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    • January 24, 2016 at 10:26 am
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      Could you post photos of your paper floor? I’m curious to see. What paper you used and the look.

      Reply
  • December 31, 2014 at 8:46 pm
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    I love this post; thank you so much for putting all this information together. I can’t wait to look through all the links, tutorials and examples.
    I live in a three-level townhouse, so have a few questions about that configuration:
    1. How do I deal with the planks at the top of my stairs? This would flooring would go on my main/middle level. I would not be planking the stairs (probably paint/stain them), but don’t know how to deal with the edge of the floor that meets the stairs.
    2. In most wood flooring applications I’ve seen, there is a moisture barrier that goes down. Why isn’t that used here? Or, if it could be used, wouldn’t that negate the problem of removing the planks later?
    3. What’s a good way to handle the natural gaps between the boards? I really don’t want cracks for food and dog hair to settle into, though I really like the plank look. Is there a “Fill” I could use?
    Thanks so much!!

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    • January 1, 2015 at 5:28 am
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      Hi Joan, We’re delighted you like what we’re trying to do here! Re your questions…

      1. There are lots and lots of different shaped moldings that are used to transition from one type of flooring to another, take a look at this video to see what I mean.

      2. While the objective is to create an attractive wood floor, using plywood is really a cheat! In the examples we show designers are either using the plywood sub floor or gluing thin strips directly onto the sub floor, either way you don’t need a moisture barrier for this kind of endeavor.

      3. Yes there are lots of different wood fillers and they come in different colors to match your flooring. Ask about them down at your local DIY store. I hope that helps, see you soon and Happy New Year.

      Reply
  • February 18, 2015 at 10:07 pm
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    I need to replace my kitchen floor, currently has 14 year of builder’s grade vinyl. It has to go. I’d like a tile/stone floor but not in the budget and I’d never make the money back in this neighborhood. I’ve looked at the various plywood planks and squares and I’m inspired.
    I would like to do plywood squares for the kitchen and stain the squares different colors for a multicolor stain look with no particular pattern. I have a table saw, drill, etc and moderate know how. My questions: do I need a gap between each square? if so how much? is a dime a good choice to guarantee gaps? Also, one DIY video mentioned routing each square 1/8 inch down and 1/8 inch of the edge of each square? Why? and last, should these squares be glued to the subfloor and should I use screws or nails. I’m much more accurate with the screws even if I need to predrill. And if the squares are routed should I use that 1/8 recess for the screws or nails? Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
  • June 5, 2015 at 3:43 am
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    Hi Jamie,
    Just started looking into plywood projects and discovered your post and you already did the work for me, finding the best projects. Thanks!!! I am wondering if it would be possible to lay plywood planks on top of low pile carpet? My house gets very cold and I have just installed underfloor insulation, but I’m worried taking out the carpet will make it much colder. Do you have any experience with that? I guess I would have to nail them down through the carpet? Sounds like a silly idea, but I don’t know, maybe it’s possible? Will check out the rest of your website. Great find!

    Reply
    • June 5, 2015 at 4:12 am
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      Hi Nadine,

      Thank you for the question. I would not suggest installing any type of flooring over carpet, if you have good underfloor insulation then that should do the job.

      Reply
  • July 1, 2015 at 4:04 pm
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    I am building a gallery store for local artisans. I am very interested in this plywood flooring idea. Do you think its to soft for a store application? Was going to glue it to the concrete the dark stain it and multi layer it with Polly. What do you think

    Reply
    • July 2, 2015 at 3:11 am
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      Hi Kevin,

      The very first example we give is from picklee.com who used plywood for their store flooring.

      Reply
  • July 6, 2015 at 7:22 am
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    Thanks so much for these! I have basically no know-how in this area…like at all. But I DO have a lot of enthusiasm and a super ugly house with salmon pink carpets, faux tile lino and a kitchen and living area covered with extremely outdated tiles which for some reason are minutely lower than the rest of the house. Having the traditional hardwoods installed for me are so out of my price range that it isn’t even funny, so this cheaper DIY is the perfect solution!!

    I don’t know what you would think about this, but seeing as the tiled area is lower than the rest of the house, do you think it would be possible to lay the planks directly onto the tiles? I am sure other people have done it, and it wouldn’t be that different to laying it straight onto cement provided it is all level, but what is your opinion? Too much of a short cut? I can’t even contemplate getting rid of all that tile, especially as we also have a sunken living room that I am going to attempt to raise haha!

    Reply
  • July 7, 2015 at 10:33 am
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    Howdy everyone… good and helpful stuff. We just bought an existing home (about 19 years old) with a large, unfinished basement. We don’t have the 30+ grand to have a pro finish it and lack the skills. We are considering some lower cost alternatives to finishing the basement. Has anyone associated with this installed plywood flooring in a basement? Do you recommend we simply glue it to the concrete slab or lay some sort of subfloor material first? In short, what adjustments should be made for installing plywood planking in a large basement space?

    Reply
  • July 14, 2015 at 1:18 pm
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    could I use the plywood flooring in the kitchen?

    Reply
  • August 18, 2015 at 5:07 am
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    I am very interested in doing this. I could really make the floor exactly what I want and save the money as well. However I would really like to avoid the glue. What would be the best way to go about this?

    Reply
  • September 24, 2015 at 1:48 am
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    I did maple ply in my bedroom. Had it ripped to 4×4 squares (sheets ripped in half, basically), which I laid like giant tiles with construction adhesive and face nailing with a pin nailer. One design challenge was that, as I used 1/4″ maple ply, corners tended to delaminate/splinter. But I had a plan! I cut the corners of each square on a 45degree angle and inserted a 5″ tile of same ply. Filled cracks, stained floor colonial maple, used a walnut stain for the 5″
    “Tiles”. Shd have used a wood conditioner to get more even stain acceptance. Shd have done more coats of poly. But it still looks tons better than the 1920 brown lino!!

    Reply
  • September 25, 2015 at 3:14 pm
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    I have old subflooring. I want to put the plywood floors down and paint. There are an astounding amount of plywoods. What plywood do I use? When I ask them to prepare the plywood, what is it I say?

    Reply
  • October 23, 2015 at 10:27 pm
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    I have a question — regarding the suggested spacing between boards for expansion, wouldn’t that allow dust and dirt to collect – that might make me crazy. What would be the solution for that? Thanks!

    Reply
  • November 28, 2015 at 12:05 am
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    HI
    Im about to use plywood for flooring in an inland shack I’m having built…it will be going onto a concrete slab… does anyone have any hints, or tips for adhering it to the concrete.. i.e. glue, and or nails…(obviously I’m no handy man/woman!)
    thanks
    Karen

    Reply
  • May 12, 2016 at 11:26 am
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    Hello. I fell in love with the idea of plywood flooring after seeing it on Pinterest. Everybody thinks I’m crazy but I’m going to give it a shot. Just a few quiestions:
    1. My house in on a concrete slab. Is a subfloor necessary and if so can you give me an idea on the height as I’m sure it won’t be much.
    2. Moisture Barrier and Underlayment that is needed with laminate…..should these be applied?
    3. I HAVE 2 HUGE DOGS!!!! My main concern is WATERPROOFING!!!! Any suggestions?
    4. Last one…..how much space is required between the wall and the flooring?
    Thank you!!!!!

    Reply
  • June 6, 2016 at 8:41 pm
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    I live in San Francisco and my landlord will not let me take up the nasty carpet. Could I put it over the carpet? I only need it to last a year

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  • September 10, 2016 at 2:39 am
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    I love your videos I love the way the plank flooring looked I have a question maybe you can help me with I have a very old house and part of the house has concrete flooring how do I apply this plank do I put a sealer then glue the pranks down or do I need to put a moisture barrier and how would I do that to that and do you recommend staining the planks and maybe a little sanding after the stain to give it more character just give me your ideas on this

    Reply
  • October 30, 2016 at 4:51 pm
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    In the room we have decided to use for our office & computers there is 30 year old carpeting which resists the rolling of the office chairs. Replacing the carpet at this time is not an option. In the past, we have used a sheet of plywood for the chairs to roll on but it is getting worn out. We tried vinyl tiles on the plywood but they don’t stay in place. What would you suggest as something to replace the plywood with? It needs to last for a couple of years.
    The ideas above look great but this is definitely a DIY project. Thanks

    Reply
  • March 30, 2018 at 11:22 am
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    Can this same application work on a screened porch without worry of water damage from blowing rain? The plywood would be installed over subfloor.

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  • June 4, 2018 at 1:07 pm
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    I love the look, and price, of this ripped into 6″ strips. My husband is really leery of the life expectancy of it’s use in our new home. Can anyone give me some serious ‘cons’ that hey have run into?

    Reply
  • October 21, 2018 at 12:30 pm
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    Do you have any advice on securing plywood flooring to concrete subfloors?

    Reply

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