Wide Plank Distressed Pine Flooring CHEAP *Updated 2-5-17

02-05-17: We have loved the floor so much we just put it in another room (dinning room).  It is amazing how much my son still continues to help out.  He is a dad’s best friend.  I had to cut the flooring in the main entry so I could tie it in.  Was super easy and the final result is awesome.

***(08-19-16) 3 years in and the floors only look better with age.  3 kids-a cat-and a 75lb greyhound rescue.  We LOVE our floors more and more each day***

This is our first post on our first blog…sorry if it is a bit dysfunctional.  
This is a VERY easy and inexpensive project with high visual impact.  You can do it…just go for it!!!  What is the worse that can happen??
Let the fun begin…..
Builder Grade horrible flooring

Builder Grade (boring) flooring

taking up old flooring ..son helped out

taking up old flooring ..son helped out

wife pitched in...big time

wife pitched in…big time

Cleaned up the floor

Vacuumed the subfloor

painted subfloor black so that subfloor would not show through

painted subfloor with black paint left over from another project so that subfloor would not show through the new planks and to seal the subfloor.

We went to Home Depot and picked out the cheapest pine plywood I could find.  Each sheet cost me about $20.  It was 5/8″ sheathing and the roughness of it adds to the character.  Home Depot  was awesome and cut them into roughly 8″ strips.  They were not all exactly 8″ wide but that added to the look.
I sanded with 100 grit on the side that would be facing up (sand outside before you install)
I hit the boards with a chain to distress and made “worm holes” using a piece of wood with a few nails poking through.
I used Varathane – “Provincial” stain (one coat) and Varathane water based poly in satin (4 coats of poly).
We installed the planks using nickels as spacers.  Glued the planks down with liquid nails and shot the boards with 2 inch 16 gauge nails using my trusty nail gun.  I went back with a Q-tip dipped in some left over stain to touch up where the nails went in.
Here is a picture showing one plank with stain and one prior to stain.

Before and After shots after sanding and staining

Dry fit every piece before gluing and nailing

Dry fit every piece before gluing and nailing

Finished Product for roughly 75cents per square foot!

Finished Product for roughly 75cents per square foot!  That includes ALL materials.

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After Action Report – Lessons Learned:
*** Gaps in plywood *** I have had a lot of questions about gaps.  There is a lot of bad info out there about plywood not needing gaps and that it does not expand and contract.   We chose to put gaps in for expansion and contraction during winter vs. summer humidity so we do not have buckling.  I have also heard that you don’t need them for flooring plywood…only for roofing plywood.  Not true.
There have been tests performed by reputable firms costing millions of dollars covering this one item. One of them is the American Plywood Association. This is a quote from the CTIOA after their research had been completed. 
“Ply-wood: The several layers of wood that go to make up a sheet of plywood are placed so that the grain, of individual layers is opposite that of the preceding layer. However, the least amount of shrinkage will take place parallel with the face sheet grain. A typical sheet of  plywood unrestrained will expand and contract 7/32″ over its length and over 3/32″ on its width. The amount of expansion and contraction will also depend on how securely the sheet of plywood is restrained nailed or otherwise fastened.”  Hope this helps.
1. Buy knee pads
2. Use rubber surgical type gloves (they sell them at Home Depot in the paint department) with old socks pulled over them to add stain.
3. Use disposable stain pads to apply poly.  I find them at Home Depot.  They are less than $2 each and have a nice wide surface on a styrofoam handle.  You can pitch them when you are done.  They put on a really smooth even finish.  I use them all the time.
4. Put on stain and 3 coats of poly BEFORE you install – then put 4th coat of poly after installed.
5. Use a power sander with 100 grit paper.  SAND OUTSIDE BEFORE YOU INSTALL (LESS MESS) My power sander cost me about $40 and is well worth it.  Also, anything higher than 100 grit won’t allow good penetration of stain and poly.
6. Pre cut and dry fit all of your boards.  You will thank me later.  Makes install fast.
7. Use water based poly unless you want to vacate your property for a few days.  Also, water based goes on smooth.  Since we were going for a rustic look…any repairs will require minimal effort…little stain..little poly…done.
UPDATE: *** We are almost done with the living room!!!!!  Will post pics soon.  We have been wanting to do the living room for a long time and it looks awesome so far.  We are removing a brick fireplace hearth too and running the wood all the way  up.  The nasty carpet is GONE 🙂
DONE DONE DONE and here is the before and after shot!
We decided to remove the brick hearth to add a cleaner look and since the room is small, it adds square footage.  I realized the thin brick was attached to a metal frame that just pulled out!  It left the rest of the brick surround and mantel.  We are thinking of whitewashing the brick to make it blend a bit better. ***Most modern gas only fireplaces with fixed glass (like ours) do not require a hearth extension. The manufacturers usually require a 36″ clear space in front (no furniture, etc.). Now if this was a wood burning fireplace that had a gas insert, the hearth extension would still be required. Once wood burning, always wood burning.  (As a matter of terminology. The “hearth” is the “floor” located within the firebox, whether wood burning or gas. The “hearth extension” is the non-combustible material found in front of a fireplace. Both should be inspected. To call the “hearth extension” a “hearth” is common with many inspectors, but it is incorrect.)  ***Check Your Local building codes before any re-models. ***
Son Continues to be a BIG help. 
Rolling up the carpet and padding.  My wife pulled the 1 million staples holding the padding down (God bless her) 
You can see some of the new pieces and the original posted pieces “entry floors” as we begin the dry-fit (for some reason the 1 plank looks lighter but that is due to sunlight angle or flash…) 
IMG_1500 IMG_1501
We did the staining/finishing process the same as before, but this time we did not dry-fit most of the pieces.  We decided to glue and nail the rows as we went since it is a big rectangular room and not a lot of cut-ins as the foyer had.
After Action Report – Lessons Learned: (plan to post pics of products used)
1. Took 10 full sheets off plywood ($20 per sheet).  Had a few pieces left over. Home Depot ripped ALL 10 sheets in 8 inch strips!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  They were not always happy but i tried to buy a few at a time and go during off ours (not weekends) which helped.
2. Two quarts stain (Varathane – color “Provincial” stain – one coat)
3. One gallon clear poly (Varathane water based poly for heavy traffic floors -3 coats)
4. Several sheets of 100 grit sandpaper
5. six tubes of floor adhesive and 16 gauge nails/gun
6. Nine 8 foot sticks of quarter round trim to cover gap where floor meets baseboard. 
7. One small can black spray paint for A/C floor registers
I do not have the exact amount, but I would say around $300 for entire project.  We worked on staining/poly on weekends (outside) while weather was nice and then stacked them in the basement until install.  It only took about 8 hours to install with plenty of breaks.  It helped that there were not a lot of tricky cuts.  With 8 foot long boards at 8 inches wide….it goes fast!
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212 Responses to Wide Plank Distressed Pine Flooring CHEAP *Updated 2-5-17

  1. acmwheatley says:

    Please feel free to leave comments or questions.

    • Donna C says:

      I do love your floors. I am trying to do something similar, but will be painting the boards with gray decking paint. I’m in Florida with a concrete sub floor. Will the poly work just as well over the paint? I saw the advice on smaller gaps (thank you!).

    • Karen says:

      These floor came out BEAUTIFUL! I LOVE them! My only concern is that the plywood could cause slivers/splinters…HOw is the texture once stained and varnished? I have 2 boys and want to make sure it will hold up to them. Thanks!! Karen

    • Clesont says:

      I have a log cabin that i was going to replace the carpeting with wood floors. Love your project. My only questions you painted the subfloor but put down no under layer as floor stores have recommended to me. Your reasons and any problem with not having an under layer barrier?

      • acmwheatley says:

        We have solid OSB subfloor over a finished basement. You only need underlayment if your new wood floor is going over concrete subfloor or damp crawl space or basement (lower floor) for moisture reasons or if your subfloor is not even, an underlayment may help with that. Also, if you are installing a floating wood floor than an underlayment could help with that hollow sound you get with a lot of floating floors, especially laminate/fake wood floors.

  2. Gwenie says:

    Now that you’ve had it for awhile. Still ok with it . And why didn’t y oh put the planks right next to each other. Space really necessary?

    • acmwheatley says:

      We love it more any more each day and it is holding up great! We may expand it into our family room this summer and maybe even the kitchen.
      A few reasons for the space between the planks… 1) we were going for a more historical, country, farm type floor and back then, the floors were face nailed and the space was for expansion and contraction as well as the boards were not always planed perfect (like they are today with machines). 2) when you face nail wood…you must have expansion and contraction room (wood swells in the summer and contracts in the winter). Tongue and groove wood floors have the expansion joint hidden in the T/G area, but face nailed planks don’t. Without the space…you will have issues as time goes by – like buckling.
      Hope this helps.

  3. tawny says:

    Love this, not only does it look great it’s way less expensive! Now if I can convince the hubby! Just one question, how thick was your plywood?
    Thanks, Tawny

    • acmwheatley says:

      Hey! Thanks for the comment. It is way easy and looks great. We love it. We plan to put it in the living room very soon. We used 3/4″ plywood, but I have seen where some DIY folks have used 1/2″ and it worked great. I think it depends on what your subfloor is like (if you subfloor is sturdy you could go with 1/2″). Also maybe what other flooring you are bumping up to too in another room. For example, if you are bumping it again tile or carpet or some other flooring and 1/2″ works better….does that make sense? I actually measured the thickness of the plywood to the thickness of the builder grade wood flooring we were removing..and matched it. This way the cut outs under the base molding and stairs would be the same. Hope this helps.

  4. Natasha Phillips says:

    Are the floors scratch resistant?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Yes. Sorry for the late response. The scratch resistance comes from the coats of poly. The more layers you put on, the more resistant. I want some wear on the floors since we are going for an old farmhouse look, but to be honest…with 3 kids we still don’t have any scratches yet!

  5. Robin says:

    I LOVE THIS! we need to replace our flooring before we move and I am hoping to turn to DIY before contracting work out to save those expenses for closing costs on our new house. I am wondering, how to you clean this floor? do the gaps allow water or anything spilled to seep between and under the boards? I have 4 very small children so i am curious how that will hold up. Thank you!

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks! We love them. We painted the subfloor so that will help with anything that gets spilled and falls through the cracks….keeping liquids from damaging the subfloor. You could also paint the subfloor with a product like Drylok to seal it. You could also seal the underside of the planks with poly or Drylok, before you install, to keep them from being damaged by liquids (say kids pours bucket of water on floor and it does not get cleaned up right away with a shop-vac, which is made to suck up water). Cleaning: We vacuum and mop like any other wood floor. You could use pennies instead of nickels to make the gaps a bit smaller, but keep expansion and contraction of the wood in mind (see my other comments about that). Depending on where you live…if you have extreme temp changes you may want to use nickels. If you live somewhere like FL where the temp and humidity stay relatively the same..you could probably get away with pennies. They are totally DIY. Look great and are low cost..perfect for replacing before you move. Hope this helps!

  6. Tiffany says:

    Hi, love the look of your floors! I was wondering how many sq feet you layed and what your cost was all in.

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks for the compliment. We bought the plywood, stain and the poly and I think it was under a dollar per square foot for all materials. We have plenty leftover stain and poly since we only laid about 100 square feet. We wanted to try the floor in the entry hallway first and see how it held up and how we liked it. We LOVE it and plan to carry it into the family room.

  7. Laura Tibbits says:

    Hi, I love your floor and I am looking for an economical way to replace my floors upstairs. I live in a hundred year old farm house. My question is what size and kind of nails di you use? And also does Home Depot charge to cut your boards? If so how much. Thanks so much for posting this.

    • acmwheatley says:

      We used a little “liquid nails” glue and my finish nailer in a few spots to keep them down until the glue dried. I think they were 1-1/2 or 2 inch nails shot at an angle (like any trim work install). Home Depot did not charge us a penny! They were great. I rolled up a cart of plywood and asked that they rip them length wise in 8 inch pieces which gave us 6 boards per sheet of plywood. It helped that I went on a slow day/time and not the weekend.
      Hope this helps.

      • Dusty says:

        Do I have to use nails? Could I just use liquid nails? This would be going on straight concrete

      • acmwheatley says:

        I would say use a floor adhesive made for wood floors on concrete!! You want full coverage since you won’t be nailing. Try the flooring department at Lowes or Home Depot. I would also use plywood rated for moisture since it will be touching concrete or you can seal the concrete and use a vapor barrier. Ask your local Lumber Liquidators/flooring store.

  8. Kim Oaxaca says:

    This is gorgeous! I want to do this, but I have a cement not wood subfloor. Do you think I could use liquid nails and be good to go? Also, did you put a moisture barrier down, I was thinking I might need to since I’m on cement……I live in central California so we don’t get a lot of rain normally, but we get humidity in the summer.
    Great job!

    • acmwheatley says:

      They make several types of “Liquid Nails” so make sure you get one that works with cement and wood. As far as a moisture barrier, we did not need one since we have a finished basement below. We did paint the subfloor black, but that was only so it would not been seen between the cracks and if something liquid spilled and went under the planks or between the cracks, it would provide a moisture barrier from above…you are looking for a barrier to protect agains ground water coming up through the cement. I would say to use marine grade plywood and you should be ok. The only problem is it may be expensive (never priced it though). Hope this helps!

  9. bethany says:

    Why did you stain and do the 3 coats before installing the flooring? What would be the reason for not doing it once the flooring is installed? Thanks, the floors look great!

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks! So….I think It is easier to do it before you install the floors for a few reasons. One is that we have a very active family with 3 kids (and cat) and since it is a main portion of the house, we could not afford the time it takes to dry between coats and keep everyone off them. The second reason is it allowed us to hit the sides of the planks with stain and poly (full coverage). If you want to put a final coat of poly on after the install (right before bed) you can do that too. I was able to lay all the planks on the floor in the basement and set up an assembly line while staining and putting on the poly. Fast and Easy. Also you can do it outside if the weather is nice and you won’t have the strong smell for days in your house from the stain and poly. I know you did not ask about sanding but I think it is very important to do the sanding before you install…it is a must! Do it outside so you don’t have dust all over the house. Hope this helps.

  10. julie says:

    These floors look great! After Home Depot cut your 8″ planks, did you cut the planks in even lengths to allow for a consistent pattern, or just fit them as you went?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thank Julie. Since our foyer is so narrow we could have just put them down full length (no joints) but it would not have looked right. We cut them to length making sure we had proper staggering of joints…just like any other wood floor would have. We tried to stagger the joints by at least 6 inches. We used our miter saw to make the cuts but you could use any saw (jigsaw, circular saw, hand saw, etc). We cut ALL the pieces and dry fitted them in place. We then went back and pulled up a few rows at a time, glueing and nailing them down. Hope that answers your question. We are actually getting ready to put in more of these floors in another part of our house since we still love them so much.

  11. Stacey says:

    I absolutely LOVE your floors…but more importantly, I love how timely and informative you guys are when replying to all the questions and comments on here. After reading all the questions and responses, I am confident that I can do this to my family room! Thank you!!

  12. dave says:

    Hi! This looks really great. I am contemplating a similar project for an upstairs finished attic. I was looking at common pine boards that are already cut. Why the plywood in lieu of something like this? Just curious. I assume the pine wide boards might be a bit softer?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks! I have seen posts where folks have used pine boards instead of plywood. Either way should be fine. Plywood was cheap and I think structurally stronger and less likely to warp or cup so I went with plywood. I think the pine ply or new pine boards would be about the same softness since they are the same type of wood. Some old growth white pine (you find in 100 year old homes) can be hard as concrete but I am assuming you are using new boards.

      • dave says:

        Thanks for the info. Cost might be the end factor which would point towards the plywood.

  13. Mary says:

    Love the floor you installed!
    Having issues with sub flooring in my house. Looks like dome kind of cardboard type particle board. What would you recommend for prepping before I get nvolved in a big flooring project? 3/4″ plywood sheets was recommended to lay before I do hardwood 2 1/4″ or 4″ tongue and groove. Thank you also for all of your responses and advice.

    • acmwheatley says:

      I am not a flooring expert…just an avid DIYer so please consult a flooring expert in your area.
      I have OSB subflooring which can look like particleboard, but is actually common to use for subflooring, roofing, etc. Not sure what you have so please have a flooring expert come take a look and give you advice. If you do actually have particleboard subfloor….you need to replace it with either OSB or plywood before installing the new wood floors.

  14. Kate houlihan says:

    What filled in the cracks where the nickles were? My dad said sawdust would work but does the poly fill it in or is it now even noticeable? And did you have problems with evenness between play boards?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Nothing filled in the cracks between the boards. There is a space a nickel’s width. The poly will help seal but won’t fill the crack. I am not sure what you mean about evenness between the plywood boards. Our floors are even, level and flat…no problems. Make sure your subfloor is even, level, flat and your plywood floors should be as well. Also make sure you allow the floors to acclimate to the humidity in your home for a few days before you install (like you would with any other wood floor) and that they are secured well with nails and glue. The install of the plywood is the same as with any wood floor.

  15. Kelly says:

    This may be a dumb question, but what exactly does “dry fitting the boards” mean? Did u lay them out BEFORE staining and poly-ing? Or after? And at which point do u make your cuts for staggering? Before or after the staining process? I’m a first time almost DIY-ER so I need as many specifics as possible! Haha! Thanks

    • acmwheatley says:

      NEVER a dumb question. You don’t know until you ask. We stained the boards and put the poly on. We then cut the pieces and put them all down on the floor with the nickel spacers but did NOT nail and glue them down (dry fitted them…no glue or nails). We then went back and glued and nailed them once we had the spacing worked out. We did not want to end up with a sliver board we had to rip at the end. I hope I am making sense.

  16. Jen says:

    Great info!!!
    Just curious if the floors still look as good as they did on day 1?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Better 🙂 I think the more time that goes by and they obtain more natural distressing…the better. We will be starting on bringing the flooring into the family room in the next few weeks! Cant Wait. Don’t worry, we will take before and after pics.

  17. Mary Allen says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful information you have provided! Your floors look beautiful! We have done one small bedroom with plywood, but painted that floor white. Absolutely love the floor! We are now getting ready to remodel our kitchen/livingroom and wondering what to do for floors. How do you think floors, such as how you have installed them, would hold up in a busy area like a kitchen?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Ours is in the main entry hall. 3 kids tearing up and down the stairs and through the halls and its kept up well. To me..the more marks they make the better. It makes it more “real” looking as we are going for a distressed old wood looks. A little stain on a rag (or hand rubbed poly) and the marks looks awesome. Now..you need to be careful with water or spills in the kitchen but you would have to be careful if they were store bought wood floors anyway. Hope this helps.

  18. Jason says:

    Thanks for sharing your project. Just curious why you laid the planks in the direction you did. Could you have laid them the other direction? Also, have you heard any squeaks at all yet? Thanks!

    • acmwheatley says:

      I would have liked to have laid them the other way since I think it looks better to lay wood floors with the length running the same direction of the natural light (from windows), but we laid them perpindicular with the joists. This was what we had been told by floor installers based on strength. No squeaks! We probably would have had squeaks had we laid them parallel with the joists. We would have had to lay another layer of sub-flooring, which we did not want to do, in order to lay them the other way.

  19. Jason says:

    Thank you for the reply. Nice work.

  20. sherilynn says:

    Thank you for sharing this awesome project and all you free DIY advice! Im thinking of doing this on a wall.Do you see any problems with that idea? i would only do one coat of a satin poly if any because of no traffic on it and i dont want it to be that shiny. do you think this idea will fly?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks for the compliment. I think you could totally do that on a wall! I would use a matte poly finish (or no poly). You could use the Varathane brand, which is what I used on this project or take a look into “General Finishes” brand, which I love.

  21. Melissa says:

    We just did this to our entire downstairs… now we need to clean up. How do you care for it?? How have you mopped and swept?

  22. Paty says:

    Love your floors! We live in a 30 yr old log house that had sat empty for over a year before we bought it. It had been striped of all the electrical and plumbing (for the copper). The wood stove was stolen and the ac unit. It was a mess but sits on a beautiful piece of property. We have slowly been putting it back together. We have been living with the plywood sub floors, down stairs, for three years now. My boyfriend works very hard and after taking his weekends to make the house livable, has gone back to working 7 days a week and I am done looking at plywood sub floor. Anyway….your floors and with all the excellent info you have given, look like something my girlfriend and I have decided to try and tackle. I have gone back and forth between a few different ideas for floors and I keep coming back to yours. Wish me luck. Your info is so complete I don’t think I even have any questions.
    Thank you, Thank you

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks so much for your message. It makes us happy to know that it inspires others and I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT. It is so easy and makes such a BIG impact. Sounds like the criminals took a lot of stuff from your home (that stinks) but they cant take the beauty of the land and I am sure your boyfriend will be impressed when he sees what you are your friend. have done. I would love to see pictures (before and after).

  23. Tara says:

    Completely love your floors. We have bought all of the materials and have sanded 1/2 of the wood. What color stain did use? I’ve bought 3 colors and don’t like them. Yours is exactly what I want.

    • acmwheatley says:

      Congrats on doing the floors. You will love them. Since we did not want to re-stain our stair banister right now (too much work) and its the light golden oak color (yuck) we wanted something with warm brown tones but did not look bad with the stairs. We used Varathane Brand – “Provincial” color stain. ****We cut the color in half. Now what I mean is that we used one quart stain and one quart mineral spirits mixed together This will cut the color in half. check out http://www.angiesroost.com/2013/06/12/how-to-lighten-stain/ hope this helps.

  24. Susan says:

    The floors are beautiful!!! I’m wondering if this could be done on top of an already existing vinyl floor in my kitchen. My question is, did you remove the baseboards prior to installing the new floor? Did you replace the baseboards? Thanks!!

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks! I would say that if the vinyl floors are in good shape (not peeling up) and the subfloor is in good shape, go for it. But please consult a professional….as I am just an avid DIYer. I did NOT remove the baseboards but DID remove the shoe molding. I numbered the shoe molding so i could nail it right back in place after the floor was installed. Hope this helps.

  25. Katherine says:

    Soooo appreciate your post! I am saving this to Pinterest and look forward to installing in my LR, DR and Kit. My open floor plan is reduced by the tile entry, carpet LR, then tiled DR and Kit. Can’t wait to see the continuous flow of flooring open up this space AND can’t wait to spoil myself with a beautiful area rug too! Thank you for sharing with us ❤

  26. my8rgrt says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this all up! I needed an inexpensive solution to the horrible laminate floor upstairs. I will be installing roughly 1500 Sq feet of this! My question is in regards to the gaps. Do you notice them getting quite dirty? We live in AZ and it is so so dusty here. My one concern with this flooring is the possibility if dust building up in the cracks. What do you think?

    • acmwheatley says:

      hmmmmmm….I can say that we have NOT had ANY problems with build-up of dirt between the cracks and we have 3 kids and a cat! I am not sure about AZ since I have never lived there. Maybe try it in a smaller room first as a test spot for a few months. We did our foyer, which gets the most traffic but is not big so if it did not work out we could rip it up. Hope this helps.

      • my8rgrt says:

        Thank you! That does help 🙂 We have nine children and a dog, so we will put them to the test! I will send you some pics when we are done, thank you again! Great job!!!

  27. Ashley says:

    Love this idea! I agree with everyone else amazing job.
    I’m a tidy freak. With your kids and animals you don’t notice crumbs or other jazz collecting in the gaps?
    Thank you for your post

  28. Tiffany says:

    What were the dimensions of your boards and did you cut them width or length wise? For example, if your boards were 4′ x 8′, did you cut them 8″ wide and have 8″ x 4′ boards or 8″ by 8′ boards? Thanks!

    • acmwheatley says:

      4×8 sheet of plywood. Cut 8 inches wide (length wise). This gave us six 8inch wide planks per sheet of plywood. HomeDepot and Lowes will sometimes rip them for you for free (they did for us)

  29. acmwheatley says:

    Went to Home Depot last night and finally bought the material to do this hardwood in the family room!!!!!!!!!! I try to go on a weekday night since i need someone to rip all my sheets of plywood into 8″ strips. I have had some Home Depot employees say they won’t cut under 12″, that it is store policy. Then I have had some Home Depot employees that don’t blink and eye and just smile and cut it.
    HINT: I find the happy employees working weekday nights (slower).
    Now onto pre-sanding, staining, and distressing
    I will post our progress since we plan to do some room modification as well (take out brick on fireplace hearth)

  30. I love your floors!! I am tempted to do the entrance and family room, but I’m afraid the traffic and weather is going to ruin it at the entrance, have yyou had any experience with winter and those floors?

    • acmwheatley says:

      We have had the floors in our main entrance for a while now (through winters/snow/kids/etc) and they only get better with time. No issues. We are not a family who takes theirs shoes off either, but if you are afraid of what snow/ice/salt/etc may do to the floors in the winter, you can always remove your shoes and/or do a few more coats of poly after you stain them. Once they are stained and clear coated with the poly, they are just like any other wood floor. I am sanding the planks now that will go in the main living room so that should tell you what we think of them.
      We did the entry as a trial area to see how we liked them and how well they stood up before doing other rooms and we LOVE them. Go for it!

  31. Gloria trinque says:

    Love, Love, love this! Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to do this in my living room and kitchen!

  32. Linda says:

    we have some apartment buildings. Do you think we could put this over carpet for more insulation. Thanks so much😀. Your floors look great😀

    • acmwheatley says:

      Not sure I know what you mean. If you are asking if you could do this flooring on top of carpet, i would say no. You need a solid substrate and carpet is not solid.

  33. Christy says:

    Love the fact that you did this yourself – looks great! Wondering…did you sand between each layer of poly and if so, what grit did you use? Also, did you sand the edges or router the edges of the boards?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks! I will post more details since we are finishing the living room with the same flooring right now. I used 100 grit sandpaper on my electric palm sander when I brought the cut boards home from the store.
      1. I sanded the top (the side I would be staining and installing) and rounded off the edges to give it a more worn look and take off all the sharp splinters. With the palm sander it takes about 60 seconds a board.
      2. put my glove and sock on my hand and stained (see post for brand and color – one coat) takes about 60 second per board
      3. One hour after stain drys I hit the top with a “Very Fine” sanding sponge (30 seconds) to remove the raised wood grain caused by the stain to smooth it a bit. I then applied the first coat of poly (see post for brand)
      4. wait 2 hours between coats of poly (3-4 coats). I did not sand between coats. If you wait 24 hours between coats of poly, the directions say to scuff sand it before applying another coat. I did it assembly line style in my yard so I did not have to wait or sand between coats. VERY EASY AND FAST.

  34. Lindsey says:

    HellO! Your blog is awesome! So glad I came across this post. We are super tight on money and love doing DIY projects, so this seems right up our alley. I want to do these floors throughout our main level. We have 3 kids (4 and under) and 4 animals, so lets just say the carpet has gotten destroyed. But I have a couple questions – Is there any concern with gluing and nailing right down to the subfloor? What if something happens to one board, can you replace it or does that jack up the whole subfloor? Would you recommend putting an extra layer of something between the subfloor and plywood, just to not make this permanent to the subfloor. Also thinking of testing this in our basement, which has concrete floors. Any recommendation on how to do this with concrete in stead of subfloor? Thanks so much for your help!! – Warmly, Lindsey (Castle Rock, CO)

    • acmwheatley says:

      Hey Lindsey! Thanks so much for your kinds words. I have a few thoughts. Not sure about putting them on concrete – you may have to use marine grade/exterior plywood which would drive up the costs and not sure you would get the same look. You might be able to vapor barrier the concrete somehow and then glue them down. I would research laying hardwood on concrete. As far as nailing and gluing them down to the wood subfloor – you can always just nail them and not glue them. I figured if we had to pull one up and it tore apart the subfloor, I could patch that and put a new piece down. We did not put a lot of glue down, just enough to allow the planks to settle and stay put. I personally would not put something over the wood subfloor (don’t want to make the floor too high and didn’t think is necessary) I think with the right tools you could get a plank up without too much damage to subfloor. I also think with small kids and 4 animals you are going to get a really nice worn look! After all…that is the look I was going for. I will post some pics of where we had scratches from kids and pets and I ran some stain/poly over and it only made the floors look better. Hope this helps.

  35. Nancy says:

    I have wanted to do this for some time now! Questions: what are shoe moldings that you mentioned? How many nails were used per board and placement? (Like just a couple at each end? Or several up and down the board?). And I know this one has been asked, but crumbs, dust, and dirt really do NOT fall between the cracks? That’s so hard to believe! I have an old table with s leaf in it so it has 2 cracks/seams and they always have guck in the cracks. And my table is much cleaner than a floor. Do you think that the last coat of poly after the floor has been laid, might seal the cracks? Thanks so much for your advice in advance!!

    • acmwheatley says:

      Shoe molding is the piece that attaches to the bottom of the base board and covers the gap between the floor and baseboard. You should be able to Google it and see some photos. As far as nailing….if you also glue them you don’t have to put as many nails. Since the floors are distressed, the nails holes just blend in. We ran a bead of glue down each plank, then put a few nails in each end and then staggered a few down the length of each board (probably overkill but with a nail gun..its fun, easy, cheap, etc)

      Crumbs, dust bunnies, dirt, etc…………… Yes…it does fall between the cracks, but is easily removed by vacuuming. How many pets, kids, type of activity in the room you put the flooring will dictate how often you have to vacuum. Some people eat in their family room (we do sometimes). Some people (us) don’t take off their shoes in the house. All these things will effect what goes into the cracks. We have 3 kids and a cat and I can tell you that the dirt that falls between the cracks is not visible (unless its light colored) and comes up easy. We painted the sub-floor black before installing the planks and that helps, but the coat of poly you put down will NOT fill in the cracks because the layers of poly are so thin. A coat of poly or painting the sub-floor will help seal it so anything liquid spilled between the cracks will not damage the sub-floor. You can also use quarters instead of nickles to make the cracks more narrow.

      We have had the floor in the main entry and hall for a long time now and the floor in the family room for about a month. WE LOVE IT and the care and upkeep is easy. If you want to lay a few planks down in the room you are thinking about installing the flooring, you can test how much gook gets in between them (dont nail or glue them…just lay them down). Hope this helps.

  36. Sara says:

    Thanks for the tutorial!
    We are considering something like this downstairs. it will be a space that will be ok if there are some mistakes 🙂 Wondering if you have any new suggestions or updates?
    Is there a way to caulk or fill the spaces?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Good luck. you will love them. I would not put in anything to fill in the space, but we are going for a more historical look. I think the caulk will make it look a bit funny and get gummed up and nasty.

  37. Jed Ramirez says:

    So I’ve seen this and other DIYs like it and have begun doing it myself. After tearing up the carpet I found that we have only concrete slab, no subfloor. I feel really nervous about nailing into concrete, but I feel like just gluing wont hold very well for too long. I know you’re not an expert, just an “avid do it yourselfer” but what would you advise on this. I am sealing the concrete and I bought an underlay but I feel like I cannot glue onto the underlay. I am considering laying down a subfloor, but that is going to be much more work and money.

    • acmwheatley says:

      No worries. you can use a liquid vapor barrior as your underlayment. After it dries, use an adhesive that is made for installing wood floors over concrete. I would not try to nail it down to the concrete!
      How to install hardwood floors over concrete

      There are many sites that will give you step by step instructions and YouTube is also a great source. It is VERY common to put down hardwood over concrete. Hope this helps.

  38. Stella says:

    Have you had any trouble with lifting?

  39. Shannon Clendon says:

    So my husband thinks I’m crazy, but I want to put these floors in our new house! We are currently building a “farm house” and we would love wood floors, but the cost is prohibitive. Laminate is an option, but, well, it looks like laminate! Money is tight, but I want rustic wood floors, and we definitely could afford this option. Totally crazy???

    • acmwheatley says:

      It would be PERFECT for your new farmhouse! Our house was only a few years old when we started. A farmhouse setting is ideal for this flooring and inexpensive. Maybe start small so he can see how good it will look…..

  40. Kendra says:

    The floors are absolutely beautiful! My question is do you think it will affect resale? I am sick of carpet and would love these floors throughout my house. I have standard wood subfloors and I like your idea of painting. Do you know of a product to get odors out of a subfloor? (I had a cat that liked a particular spot). Last, do you think this would hold up well in a bathroom? I’m deciding between this and paper flooring for inexpensive alternatives. Thank you for this post, it is the most recent one I have seen.

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks so much. Resale – I think it will actually help sell a house if the buyer likes the farmhouse look, but if the buyer is looking for a very modern home…then maybe not, but they can go right over them with a new floor. The floors look great and we always get a ton of compliments on them. As far as pet odors, you can always unscrew the sheet of subfloor that your pets have soiled and replace it with a new piece. If you don’t want to do that, you can check online for a product that may take out the odor and then painting the subfloor will help seal them. Bathroom – not sure. I think it would not be the best in a bathroom. Any wood product in the bathroom is a bit of a risk. Hope this helps.

  41. sharktankinc says:

    This is the best tutorial I’ve seen by far for plywood flooring! Thank you! I am so excited to rip up the carpet in our bedroom and do this — my only reservation is the plywood being smooth enough to walk on in bare feet without getting splinters. Did you find that the water-based poly raised the wood grain at all? I noticed you mentioned you didn’t sand between coats of poly, and I’m wondering how smooth your flooring is. Also, what grade did you purchase? (Sorry if you already mentioned that and I missed it!)

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks for the compliment. My wife is a Floridian and loves to be barefooted and I can tell you that the floors are smooth. I sand them pretty good on the top, sides and corners giving them a worn look. Any raised grain from the water based poly is very minimal and will not be a problem with bare feet. If there are a few tiny raised grains, they will be knocked down the more you walk on them and gone after a few days. We have not had any splinters. My son ran into the room the other night with socks and slid a few feet…..the floors are just as smooth as store bought wood floors. You can always sand between coats of poly if you want. We purchased the cheapest pine decking at HomeDepot. It was about $20 per sheet. Hope this helps.

  42. Sharon Dube says:

    Hi. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this great tutorial. It is so appreciated. Love, love , love your floors! Stunning and just what I’m looking for. You’ve captured the distressed look perfectly. We have some wide pine flooring in a couple of rooms but it’s so expensive so the plywood “wide planks” is a great, inexpensive alternative. I want to try this in my family room which is French Farmhouse style. I have vinyl “parquet” tiles over particle board sub-floor. Can the floor just be nailed or is gluing necessary. Some of the tiles have shifted so they probably would need to be removed if I have to glue the planks down in addition to nailing. What thickness plywood did you use?
    Thanks for any info and advice.

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks! I would recommend gluing and nailing, but its up to you. If you decide to use glue, I would glue down the loose tiles and then glue and nail the new plywood planks down. You can use glue made to stick to both surfaces (liquid nails), but the subfloor must be intact. The distressed look really comes from the type of plywood we used. We used 5/8″ pine plywood sheathing so it is already pretty rough. Hope this helps.

  43. Patty says:

    Great Job!! When the Home Depot employee cut your plywood, there was no tear out along the cuts? When I cut plywood, I use a plywood blade to avoid tear out, more teeth in the blade. Notice the blade on the saws at Home Depot and Lowes are more wide toothed blades.
    I have existing sub-flooring down now and am thinking about running grooves through it, after prepping it/filling gaps, with a circular saw and shallow depth set to attempt to get the same affect. If i don’t get the affect I’d like in a small area/sample piece first, I plan to go to the cut planks that you two so wonderfully accomplished!

  44. Karen says:

    Did you use 16 guage finish nails or with heads?

  45. Shelby says:

    I love your wood floors! I have been looking for a solution for our house and I think I finally found it. Thanks! One question- what is the noise level like with these floors? I have 4 kids who love to run around. We have a damaged hardwood floor that needs replaced, and I’m just wondering how the noise compares to other wood floors? Loud, hollow, echoes?

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks! The noise is the same as a really nice hardwood floor (engineered hardwood). NOT hollow like Pergo laminate style “fake” wood flooring. There are 2 types of real hardwood floors. Engineered and solid wood. The Engineered wood floors are stronger and better in many types of environments (in my opinion) than solid wood. Engineered wood is really just plywood. The top layer being the type of wood you want (Pine, oak, birch, etc).

  46. Hi there! This was extremely helpful and I am pretty much sold on doing this when we build. How is the flooring holding up 2 years later? Any major buckles, swelling, water or cleaning issues?

  47. Stefani Hess says:

    I am trying to convince my hubby to do this but he is worried about the up keep. How often do you have to refinish the floors?

    • acmwheatley says:

      So far the floors are holding up perfectly and we have not had to even think about refinishing them. With 3 kids and a cat…they look as good or better than the day they were installed. You can always add extra coats of the poly that is made for heavy traffic wood floors. We only put a few coats on and these floors are in the main living areas of our home (entry, entry hallway, and living room)

  48. Michelle says:

    I LOVE YOUR FLOORS!!!! Only question I have is how did you transition your flooking to said like a vinyl in kitchen to to and existing stiarway? This are the problems I will be facing.

    • acmwheatley says:

      Thanks! We love them too. Great questions. You use transitions pieces that you can buy at Home Depot or LOWES. If you are going from wood floor to another hard surface like tile or vinyl, you would use a “T” transition piece. Buy an unfinished PINE transition piece so you can stain it at the same time and with the same stain you are using for the plywood floors. Our stairs are carpeted and we removed old builder grade wood flooring to put down the plywood flooring so I just slid it under the carpet at the bottom of the stairs and nailed it in place (where the old wood had been). When it came time to fit the plywood flooring to the carpeted stairs leading down to the basement, I cut the carpet at the top of the stairs where it met the family room and stapled it down. I ran the plywood flooring up to the carpet (leaving a small space about an inch wide that fits the transition piece) that I had just stapled down and used a transition piece (bought at Home Depot) that is made for transitioning hardwood (or any hard surface like tile or vinyl) to carpet. I will try to take some pics and post them showing how it looks.

  49. Dawn says:

    I live in a 116 year old home, recently had pressboard subfloors removed, and 2 layers of 3/4 plywood subfloor installed. Though my floors are now solid and stable, they are not 100% level due to the age of the home. I love the plywood plank floors, and am thinking of doing them myself. Do you think that I could go as thin as 1/4 plywood planks and still have the same results as you? I see you have recommended to others to utilize 1/2 inch thickness. I am a single mom with a 7 year old and a small pomeranian. I don’t have the space to pre-finish the boards before installation. I am hoping to minimize some of the prepwork by purchasing A/B grade plywood. Do you recommend any additional steps if sanding/staining/poly’ing the boards after installation?

    • acmwheatley says:

      You should be ok with 1/4″ since you have 2 layers of 3/4″ ply. I used the thickness I did since it was the same thickness as the builder grade flooring I took out and I wanted all the floors and undercuts to match what we had like when it meets the tile in the kitchen. If I used thicker or thinner, it would not match the adjoining floors. As far as using A/B grade ply, you may not have the same rustic look we did since all large knots are replaced with football-shaped patches (that might look a bit strange to me (seeing the patches)…but that is my preference).

  50. Erin Span says:

    Is the finished product really glossy?

    • acmwheatley says:

      We used a Satin clear coat, so no. I would have used Matte finish if they had it, but the brand I used does not come in matte. If you want high gloss, just use a high gloss clear coat.

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