Plywood Flooring Installation

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25 thoughts on “Plywood Flooring Installation

  1. Jen,
    My husband and I just did plywood floors in an old house we bought recently. They turned out beautiful and it was so easy to do. We used 3/8 in plywood, finished on one side so sanding wasn’t necessary. Home Depot (and Lowe’s at times) cut each sheet into 12 inch wide planks. Of course you can have any size plank width you want. My husband laid the floor out using nails to fix it to the original floor and I stained and polyurethaned it. We love it so much and so does everyone who sees it. You can see for yourself and email me if you have any questions. I’d be happy to share all the details.
    http://www.hardinhomeprojects.blogspot.com
    lori_m_miller@yahoo.com

    • We actually chose not to stain the floors but to keep them the natural birch color. The existing contrast in the wood was something we didn’t want to lose. We simply clear coated them, which gives them a very slight sheen.

  2. what spacing did you allow between the planks and did you just offset them as you would a normal wood floor install?

    • Deena, there is no spacing between the planks (1’x4′). They are simply butted together and the joints are staggered at somewhat random intervals.

  3. Went to Home Depot today and the 2 guys working in the lumber dept showed me 2 choices of plywood; One maple and 1 birch. They both said it wouldn’t last because the layer of maple (or birch) is too thin and wouldn’t take the traffic.. They were also concerned about shrinkage and swelling. Basically they were not on board at all. Your thoughts?

  4. Brian, could you explain simply your method of staggering the boards? Did you cut any lengths shorter than four feet? It looks so nice and random compared to others I’ve seen where all the ends are lined up across from one another (not sure if I explained that right). I appreciate your sharing! I will be doing this in a 12 x 16 room. Thanks, it looks wonderful!

    • Scout, we didn’t really have any tried and true method for staggering the boards. We simply made a conscious effort to avoid seams lining up. Once you trim one board, this should get the ball rolling on the staggered joints. I would recommend a minimum staggering distance of at least 12″ to start the second row and also make sure you don’t end up with a piece smaller than 12″ at the other end of the room. You can always look up hardwood flooring installation recommendations to see recommended staggering patterns as well.

  5. Brian. I forgot to ask:
    Where did you install the first plank and what length was it?
    Did you install some sort of foam pad like is used under hardwood boards?
    What size nails did you use?
    By hand or air nailer?
    What was the nail placement and how many were used per board?

    Sorry for so many questions? Just trying to imitate your good work.

    • Scout, no worries on the questions. I have to admit the installation wasn’t a science. There was definitely some flexibility to our process.
      -We started with the 1’x4′ board and we ended up beginning along the bridge between the two upstairs rooms…as the bridge floats in the middle of the space and the planks aligning with this would be most visible.
      -There was no foam pad installed, but it isn’t necessarily a bad idea…especially as it might aid in leveling the floor. This is important. Make sure the subfloor is as level as possible…as a plywood floor will show these variations and if the boards don’t sit completely flush with the floor, they will squeak some when walked on.
      -We ended up using a nail gun and used 16 gauge finish nails. I believe they were about 2 1/2″ long.
      -I would recommend nailing a minimum of 1/2″ in from the edge of each plank and would nail about one nail every 8-12 inches (both edges of the plank).

      This help?

  6. Great floor! I’m about to start a plywood floor in my kitchen, and I’m wondering what thickness you used? I’ve seen some tutorials that said 1/4 inch works well but that seems a bit thin and too flexible. What size thickness were your boards? Thank you for sharing.

    • Maggie, We actually used 3/4″ plywood for the floors. I suppose you could go with 1/4″…though that does seem a little thin to me, though, when you really think about it, you are relying a lot on the thin veneer of the plywood already. I believe I have some 1/4″ examples out there. I think the biggest issue is its final level relative to adjacent floors.

  7. Yes and thank you! My DH will be installing 2 x 8 sheets (not a lot of patience) in a 12 x 18 room..
    In case I missed it, an recs on a water based clear coat? Thanks again, Brian.

  8. Thanks, B. I ordered a gallon of water borne clear coat in satin from my local flooring store–it’s a Hallman-Lindsay brand low VOC product. It’s what their hardwood installers use. Paid about double of your rec, yikes!
    I’m putting down Aquabar-B as an underlayment paper. It’s a vapor barrier . Asphalt sandwiched between two sheets of kraft paper. It supposedly has other applications, too. I’ll have to find out what they are cuz I’ll be having lots left over! (the internet can be dangerous place…)
    Thanks again for your inspiring projects. We used shipping crate boards from a sign company (found on Craigslist for free) for our walls in this space and they look like yours, love them! If I figure out how to post pics, I will.

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