Painted Plywood Sub-Floor

Painted Plywood Sub-Floor

Master Bedroom

I think the first time you ever met the master bedroom it looked liked this.

Now….I love this room.


But have you ever wondered what was under that rug?

You didn’t?

Oh….my bad.  Well….ummm….I have a whole page of other projects to show you.

But just in case you were curious…..wait until you see this.


Painted Sub Floor

It’s a painted plywood sub-floor.


I can hear you asking yourself….can you even do that?  Can you paint the plywood floor?


It was one of the best flooring decisions we ever made.

Especially when your flooring starts out like this.

Bedroom Before


We had vintage (and I use the term very loosely) Berber carpet and I wanted wood. Expensive, wonderful, hand-scraped wood that looked like it had made the journey with the pilgrims over on the Mayflower.

But here’s a little floor math:

New hardwoods = $3500

Painted plywood sub-floor = $120.00.

With math like that and four children to eventually put through college….the pilgrims were going to have to wait.


Painted Plywood Sub Floor


Here’s how we created our budget-friendly painted floor:


(1)  We started by ripping up all the carpet, pad, and tack strips.


(2)  Then we cleaned the floor thoroughly.

I mean this.  Don’t skimp on the scrubbing.

You don’t want to be painting and find a dust bunny on your brush.


(3)  There were several small spots that needed to be patched and sanded, but otherwise the sub-floors were in excellent condition.  I would recommend patching the joints in the sub-floor for a more unified look.

We did not.  We were in a hurry, so I told my husband those joints would give the floor character.


Here is a link to a much smarter blogger than I, who actually patched her floor.  She has pictures of her brilliant patching, too.


Painted Sub Floor


(4)  We primed the floor.  Please don’t skip this step, either.

We used an oil-based primer made for floors.


(5)  We painted on the base coat with floor paint in SW Oyster White.

We painted the lighter color first.


Painted Checkered Floor


(6)  Then we then drew squares in with pencil placing them on the diagonal.

I really like the look of anything on a diagonal.

It makes squares look like they joined a country club.


Painted Checkered Floor Squares


(7)  We taped off outside every other pencil-drawn square with painter’s tape.

Each square is 21″ x 21.”

These squares are painted with the a darker color of floor paint, SW Rice Grain.


(8)  After it was dry.  We sealed it all with two coats of water-based polyurethane.


$120 later and a lot of elbow grease…….we had new floors and could still send our children to college. 🙂

PS  Disclaimer:  I am not a professional floor painter.  This is how we did it.  I know professional painters every where are probably cringing and could give you much better advice.  Please follow directions on all products for drying times, useability and safety precautions. 

PPS  My wonderful, wonderful friend…..who many of you all know…..Melaine from My Sweet Savannah had her blog hacked.

After six years of blogging she has to start completely from scratch with a new blog.

If you have a minute…..can you stop by here and visit and encourage her?  I know it would truly lift her spirits right now. 🙂

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  1. I will be pinning this. I have mentioned doing this a couple of times to hubby and he shakes his head thinking I’m crazy!
    Farmhouse hugs,

  2. You chose at colors! Really love it! So sorry to hear about Melaine!

  3. Compliments!
    Can be you are not a “professional floor painting”, but your new room looks great!

  4. You are one smart lady, Kari!! Our upstairs hallway carpet is trashed and flooring is NOT in the budget any time soon — I bet this would be a GREAT solution!! Pinning. 🙂
    xo Heidi

  5. Beautiful room, and no…I never looked past the carpet. Lovely master bedroom, sooo pretty!

  6. Wow! Beautiful – I love the look. It’s quite a transformation! Have a happy day KA!

  7. I love me some country club diamond flooring – does it come with a tennis court and a golf cart?

    So sad about Melaine too – I can’t even imagine.

  8. Wow, I am impressed! I would never have guessed what is under the rug. 🙂 What a great and inexpensive idea.

  9. I just thought it was tiling, but that looks amazing. Very tempted to do that in my kitchen, since our laminate is ripping everywhere and I need a bit more time till the fancy floors fall our way, but I am thinking that water and five kids worth of food and spilled milk may not stand the wear and tear.

  10. You know how much I love those floors!!!….So beautiful!…

  11. I adore this floor. Don’t know that I would cover it up with a rug as big as you had. It’s just too beautiful.

  12. Karianne I have seen this done and I really would LOVE to do this! Your floor looks amazing! I am in the same situation.We would love all wood floors but it’s not in our budget anytime soon.And I really hate carpet.What a job this will be when we tackle it! Thanks for sharing my sweet savannah’s blog! I am now a follower and I shared on my facebook.I have had my blog hacked before too.It is a horrible scary thing too see all of your hard work gone!

  13. I LOVE it, Karianne! I’m guessing you keep the rug down right now for the Winter months. Because I’d have that baby exposed all the time! : ) I love a harlequin pattern on just about anything, but floors especially.

  14. LOVE your floor. Lots of hard work, but so worth it. Wish we could do this in our master. The carpet we have needs to go this year, I hope.

  15. Lovely makeover on the floor it looks wonderful. I love your bedroom, so soft and romantic.


  16. I absolutely LOVE your $120 floors!! They look like a fancy million pilgrim bucks!! Love Love!! and in case you didn’t understand I LOVE your floors!!

  17. Wow!! I would have never thought that those floor were painted!! They seriously look amazing! You guys did a phenomenal job!

  18. What an awesome idea! It looks great and you can’t beat that budget. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Wow! You never cease to amaze me! Beautiful!
    Have a great week.

  20. Fancy! Perfect! Charming! It fits the Farmhouse…classic and understated! 😉

  21. I thought about doing this in my house, I love the look and the price. However, the work involved is beyond my physical abilities (health issues).
    Your floor looks amazing!

  22. Ashley Johnson :

    love it sister! i want to see the other side of your bedroom – the side opposite the bed 😉

    such a FABULOUS room!

  23. are you kidding? That is gorgeous!!!!! I want to go paint my floor now! Thanks for the shout out Karianne, means more to me than you will ever know! xoxo, Melaine

  24. What a lovely room — was it the original dining or living room of your house? If so, what did you do about closets?

  25. That floor is crazy beautiful! What a wonderful “retreat” for you at the end of the day. k.

  26. I just want to move in…ummm k? I have seen painted sub floors, but none were as beautiful as yours. Plus-I think that you really rock because you measured the squares. Not that I wouldn’t have measured the squares, I would have just bee way to lazy to even pull out any type of measuring device…cause I am lazy like that. So glad that I know fabulously talented people to live vicariously through!

    Happy day my friend

  27. So nice and the price is PERFECT. 🙂

  28. Oh my goodness. My daughter and I were JUST talking about painting the floor the other day! Our bonus room is unfinished, and is going to be her room–eventually. We were talking about flooring. She had pinned a bunch of stuff and asked, “can we just paint the plywood subflooring?” Of course my response was, “well, I’d hate to think we couldnt!” But inside I was thinking, “can we?…oh well, if we screw it up, we put carpet down!” I will have to show her how amazing yours turned out! And then….Im going to rip up the living room, and the dining room, and my bedroom!!! 🙂 Girl, you have all the answers. Ok, maybe not the cooking answers, I’ll google those! 🙂 JUST kidding!! xoxo

  29. Shut the front door!!!! This is fabulous and looks beautiful. Pinning to the bhg pinterest board 🙂

  30. This is GORGEOUS. I would have never guessed it is just plywood. Fabulous job!

  31. You are so clever, that floor looks amazing!

    I do like your rug, though, too – very cozy and warm.

    We put in Berber a few years ago and once we move some grates and doors (I know, I keep putting it off because I hate a mess,) we will be putting in wood flooring finally………………but I know I shall have to have rugs because of sound and warmth.

    I sure love your house, and it is sad about poor Melanie, that is AWFUL.

  32. I like your painted floors, KariAnne. I am trying to figure out what to do with plain old cement floors in the basement, and I’d love a $120 solution for them! Can’t afford to do much with them at the moment, however.

  33. This is fabulous!!!!!! Love love love

  34. just awesome! thanks for sharing your steps:)

  35. Oh My Gosh! That is gorgeous! Almost makes me wish I had a floor I could paint. laurie

  36. I absolutely love it!!

  37. I am so showing this to my husband! I want to rip out the carpeting in our bedrooms so badly, but I already have 2 in college and 1 to graduate high school next year, so I know about the lack of funds!!! This is a perfect solution and looks great!

  38. Fantastic job!!! Does it clean well? We put pine 1X6 tongue and groove down in our house a floor at a time. Pine flooring seems to be popular in our area. The antique heart pine sells from $3.50 (if you’re lucky) to $10 a square feet for materials alone. The tongue and groove cost us about $1.00 a square foot. We used a mixture of 2 different stains to get a medium finish…now I wish I had gone slightly darker. We applied 3 coats of poly. Oh, we did rent a sander as well. Total costs was about $1600 for our first floor, which at that time was about $1100 square feet. It has held up extremely well and we are still loving it!

  39. You never cease to amaze me! Lovely, wonderful flooring. 🙂

  40. Brilliant and beautiful! And now your children will grow up and have a future too! Very smart move! I have a small landing on our back stairs that my husband has never put down hardwood (he love installing hardwood… go figure!) This would be a wonderful project! KariAnn… you are a creative genius!

  41. So gorgeous!!!! I’ve been trying to convince the Hubster we should do this to our family room. I hate our carpet and want to rip it out today. Way to go girl!!!

  42. Absolutely beautiful ~ you never cease to amaze or inspire. Wow!

  43. Yes professionals would blanch at what you have done. I know this because I painted the subfloors in my last house and had to deal with the “experts” at the paint store as well as the sub-contractors who were working on the rest of the house and heckling me all the way. I caved and used floor paint by Benjamin Moore. You do NOT want to live in the house until the fumes go away and they take 2 weeks to dissipate fully. I lived with them, it’s probably why I am the way I am now… half my brain cells died during that experiment.

    Anyway, I like your way much better. Beautiful job, gorgeous colours. You are my idol. or is it muse? Maybe it’s guru! Yes, you are my decorating guru. Definitely. I’d swear to it in court.


  44. WOW.

    1. How did you figure out how to draw your squares so perfectly?

    2. What kind of painter’s tape did you use?

    3. Can you tell I want to try this?! 🙂

  45. Your floors look amazing! I am into ripping up Berber carpet. We just did this in my office and sealed the concrete floor for an ” industrial” look. Our majorly disgusting master bath CARPET!!! How gross is this??? Is next on the list. I would have never guessed those were painted sub floors!

  46. Wow-Phenomenal job – I have painted concrete floors but never a plywood floor that was going to be used daily. I love it and you did a terrific job! xo Diana

  47. Holy Cow! I would have never guessed this and I have seen this picture on Pinterest as well! I love that you just did it and did it your way! First time visiting and I think I will stay and look around some more at your beautiful home.

  48. I made sure to Google Friend Connect with poor Melanie! And love, love this idea! Genius my genius friend!

    🙂 me

  49. Ohmygoodness!! I am so glad you made me peek under your rug. Beautifully done.
    Luv the serenity your room imparts. Beautiful!!
    Hugs, Gee

  50. My bedroom now would fit inside your fireplace, seriously! What a lovely room!! That floor would be lovely in my kitchen, dining room and living room, not to mention my craft room! My last house I had beautiful farm house kitchen with a black and white floor (on the diagonal) and I loved it so much, it was my favorite room! I think I really like the lighter more neutral color and the larger size squares for the size of your room. It’s more beautiful than any carpeting you could have put in, sometimes ingenuity is better than anything money can buy…funny how that works out!

  51. Floor love here. We have carpet in our bedrooms, and I so wish we had wood floors. I just haven’t convinced my husband on that one yet.

  52. Sheryll & Critters. :

    It is a beautiful floor and a fireplace in your bedroom…. wow. I am in the process of ‘trying’ to rip out my wall to wall carpeting and that alone is a horrible job or so I think. Then I have those old 9 inch linoleum tiles under the carpet/padding…….. then there is the awful black glue that supposedly has asbestos in it….. the floor is or was ‘supposed’ to be Terrazzo (it is destroyed) and the floor leveler is more than I can afford right now. Eventually I will be painting all of my floors. And that black glue tracks everywhere.. UGH! Wishing, so wishing I had mine painted just half as nice as you did. I found you via “Hometalk”.

  53. I did wonder what was under the rug!! I am so encouraged that you painted your sub-floor with that result! We have been contemplating a new project in our house which would involve removing walls where there is carpeting, and we have been pondering what our options might be. The rest of the house (old part) is hardwood, and we would love to have hardwood, but again, the cost is prohibitive! I’m glad to have a “sub-floor painting success story” to share with my husband 🙂 Great job!

  54. Happy New Year….Love your blog and am now a big fan. Keep up the great work.

    Love people that are inspired by all things HOME.

    All the best t you in this new year….

    Designer Dad

  55. Woo I have learnt something today thank you for that

  56. I love this Karianne. LOVE IT. Now to convince my hubby that we can do this in our girls bedroom. Oh I really want to do this. Wonder how I can convince him.
    And thanks for mentioning Melaine – I hope she gets her followers all back soon.

  57. You and I are on the same wavelength with our projects! I have the supplies ready to paint my kitchen floor in large diamonds too -and pretty much the same color! This looks fantastic!

  58. looks wonderful! I have four in need of decarpeting bedrooms upstairs….and I have kids who need to go to college, too. Hmm……

  59. That’s incredible, Karianne. I can’t wait to move, just so I can try out some of your creative and truly inspiring projects in a new place!

  60. I can’t believe you guys did that…I know it was HARD work!!!! LOTS of elbow grease….and why don’t we just throw in some blood, sweat and tears while we’re at it. 🙂

    You’re a beautiful homemaker. You have such a gift!

  61. Just beautiful! I was hoping to be able to do that in one of my rooms, but the underpayment is flake board.. Ugh!

  62. This is awesome!

  63. Yes!! You just gave me hope for our extremely-small-budget-kitchen-remodel that we want to do. I MUST rid this kitchen of the oak cabinets and gray tile floor ASAP!

    PS. Did you get sucked into Vanderpump Rules?

  64. I love it!! I hate the carpeting in our great room & bedroom…this just might be the ticket! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Debbie 🙂

  65. Now that was a LOT of work…but OH SO WORTH IT!!! I adore how it turned out and love the squares on the diagonal!! perfecto!!

  66. Seriously? That is SO COOL! I didn’t realize you could just leave the subfloor “naked”. I thought you HAD to cover it. WOW. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities!!! I adore the diagonal squares too! Fabulous!!!!!!!!!! Hugs, Jennifer

  67. Lindsey@BetterAfter :

    Wow! This is gorgeous, I would have never guess it was subflooring!

  68. They look amazing!

  69. Your floors are gorgeous! I would love to do this in my craft room upstairs but sure The Hubster would think I had lost my mind.

  70. I absolutely love your floors. They look like $3,500 floors. What a brilliant idea. Your bedroom is beautiful.

  71. Wow!! Your floors are wonderful. I have an entire
    up stairs that has ugly carpeting and the sub
    floors have been on my mind for quite some time.
    Do I have the energy to do this? Time will tell!
    You did a wonderful Job and the cost was amazing!
    Thanks for sharing

  72. I need to show this post to hubby. I’ve been trying to talk him into painting our living room sub-floor, because we’re both in complete hate of the carpeting. We installed it new when we moved in ten years ago (the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere btw), and it looked worn out within five years (so much for extensive research and buying ‘the best’).

    We want to install either bamboo or cork, but in the meantime, I figured we could paint it. And if we love it, we can leave it alone. If not, we can always install the other flooring at some point down the road. Or paint the sub to look like one of those flooring options (decorative painting background).

    Bookmarking this page!

    • Hi Carole – firstly get as much professional advice because the right floor paint for the surface and the job comes first. Otherwise all your hardwork and money will be wasted. I am like you in that I hate carpets. They are very unhygienic. And like you I have spent thousands on carpets and NONE ever retain their look. I am a painted floor convert. I love new wood floors but I also love old wood floors. You can paint new wood if you wish. We give tons of free advice – so give us a call and let us get you started. Cheers Chris.

  73. I remember when I first saw this room and fell in love with you, I mean your floors! Love them!

  74. I sigh every time I see this picture. Guess what. I know you are dying to know…..we are pulling up the carpet in our upstairs hall tomorrow, and painting the subfloor! I just showed this picture to my husband, he said a big “wow”! He was already on board with this project, but I needed a little reassuring pat on my virtual shoulder. A visual to let me know it really can look beautiful. At this point, dumping loose gravel over the carpet would be an improvement.

  75. Can you give me an update on how the paint is holding up? I am thinking about staining and sealing my subfloor and I am wondering how long the look will hold up before it starts to look worn or how often I am going to have to clear out furniture and re-seal in order to not damage my subfloor. Do you have an opinion on whether the paint is helping to protect the subfloor more than stain would?