If you are looking for an easy and affordable floor project? Here’s how to paint a checkerboard floor on plywood.

disclosure: This post is sponsored by FrogTape

how to paint a checkerboard floor

You asked for it?

You. Got. It. 🙂

When I shared the before and after bedroom makeover, the number one question I got asked over and over and over and over again?

How did you create those floors?

Today I’m not only sharing the exact step-by-step on how we painted the floors and the products that we used and the amount of time that it took us (it was kind of a long process). But I’m answering all the questions that you asked me about the project.

The best part?

This is SUCH an affordable option for flooring. The entire floor project cost us under $150 (compare that to the $4200 quote we got to install new hardwood flooring.)

Here’s the before.

Here’s where we started.

And $150 and several days later?

The room (from the same angle) looks like this.

how to paint a checkerboard floor after

Every time I look at that new space.

Every time I walk in those doors and see the sunlight dancing across the floor.

Every time I open up the linen curtains to a new day.

I smile.


This is just a simple plywood subfloor that was underneath a layer of carpet that needed to GO.

And that leads me to the first question:


I decided to go all Julie Andrews and start with that question. That’s truly at the heart of the matter. And the answer (hello Captain Obvious) is yes—but with a disclaimer.

And this disclaimer is a big one.

If you are sitting at your house and trying to decide if this is for you—you want to judge the health of your plywood floors—because while you can paint a plywood subfloor—it’s actually very challenging to paint a plywood subfloor that’s damaged. It’s okay if parts of it are slightly damaged–you can replace those parts. But if the entire floor is damaged, you’ll probably need another flooring solution.

Quick tip: peel back the edges of the carpet in the corner and look at the flooring. This is a good indicator of what your plywood looks like before you peel up the entire carpet.

how to paint a checkerboard floor project


Great question. You’ll want to start with pulling up the carpet. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds. We pulled up the carpet in this room in about 10 minutes. Pulling up the carpet is the easy part. Then you are left with these things called tack strips that are used to hold the carpet in place. If you are lucky (which we were with this room) the tack strips will only be placed around the edges of the room. Then you just pull up the tack strips and the occasional nail before you paint.

But sometimes?

Sometimes you have an overly exuberant carpet installer like we did upstairs at the farmhouse where they put tack strips down the middle of the room in rows and they run across the middle of the floor. That makes the job much more challenging. With that room, we actually called in a professional to help and it made it easier.


This is an easy answer. You don’t. Or at least we didn’t. If you wanted to apply wood filler to all the seams and sand down, you could, but that is a LOT OF WORK.

I just decided to let the plywood be.

Just as it is.

Imperfections and all.

If you look closely, you can see seams everywhere.

You can also see where the tack strips were along the edge of where the plywood meets the pine flooring. All those little holes are nail holes. We are just going to put a threshold down to hide the joint between the two floors. This will cover up the nail holes, but the seams are still there. I don’t mind them at all. If you paint a checkerboard pattern on them they become even less noticeable.

how to paint a checkerboard floor after dressing table


After you pull up the tack strips, you’ll want to sand down any rough places and replace any plywood boards that have damage. In this room, all the boards were in really good condition (and in the farmhouse as well). You can use wood putty to fill in any big holes and sand down.

And then?

You want to clean it all thoroughly.

We actually cleaned and swept this room for dust several times.


I like to use a really good floor paint.

This is where to put your money in the project.


For this room, we used Sherwin-Williams Porch & Floor enamel in Extra White SW 7006 and SW 7651 Front Porch. When we painted the floors in Kentucky, we primed the plywood first, but with this paint? You don’t need to use a primer. You can just paint directly onto the plywood floor that is prepped and ready.  It delivers exceptional block resistance as well as resistance to dirt, especially in high-traffic areas like the entrance to this room.

(total paint aside: SW 7651 Front Porch is my favorite new paint color. It’s the perfect gray with blue undertones.)

how to paint a checkerboard floor bedroom floor


This totally depends on your floor paint. We didn’t use primer with our floor paint. I would recommend using a floor paint designed for floors to make sure your plywood floors hold up over time. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on the paint can and check with the paint professionals at your local store.


The paint is so durable and it’s amazing. If you weren’t painting a pattern, I think sealing it might be optional, but because we are painting a pattern on the floor, sealing the floor is needed to make sure the pattern holds up.

We sealed the floors with a latex clear coat sealer designed to work on floors.

Sealing a pattern in helps preserve the painted pattern and make it more durable.


This is the NUMBER ONE question that I get about these painted plywood subfloors.



And oh wait.


The floor in Kentucky held up for almost eleven years and still looked almost exactly like this when we moved out. We did reseal the high traffic areas after about five years to keep the checkerboard pattern even.

I also think the key to ensuring the longevity of the painted plywood floors is to add an area rug to the space—much like you’d do with a wood floor. Then you have the pretty painted pattern peeking out around the edges, but you have the warmth and comfort of an area rug.

how to paint a checkerboard floor before

how to paint a checkerboard floor before side of room

how to paint a checkerboard floor diy



Here’s where we started.

This is the plywood floor after we ripped up the carpet and painted it Sandbar SW 7547. We lived with it like this for about two years, but I always knew it needed a checkerboard.

And 2022 was the year.

Let’s start with the dimensions of the space.

The room is an L and measures 22′ on the longest side. At the top of the space (where the bed is in the pictures), it measures 17′ across and at the bottom of the space (where the dressing room is) it measures 11′ across.

When planning out a checkerboard pattern, you want to divide the length and width of the room by the number of squares you want to paint to get an even measurement for each square.

Our squares measured a little over 18″ x 18″.

(total aside: this is the HARDEST part of the project–getting the math right. Good thing I’m married to a spreadsheet.)

step 1: paint the base coat

We actually painted the room in sections and moved the bed around from corner to corner because it was so hard to take out of the room.

Here’s the base coat painted on the dressing area portion of the room.

We painted Extra White SW 7006 as the basecoat.

This floor actually took two coats to cover the floor.

Step 2: tape off the room

After the paint dried, it was time to tape off the space.

We used my all-time favorite of all time.


I have done a zillion projects with FrogTape and it never disappoints. Wait until you see the clean lines when we peeled back the tape.

how to paint a checkerboard floor FrogTape

We taped off the edges of the room with FrogTape.

Then we measured off the room and marked the squares on the floor with a pencil.

Each square measures a little over 18″ x 18″ and 26″ from diagonal tip to diagonal tip.

Score the edges of the tape with a hard edge for even smoother lines.

how to paint a checkerboard floor how to

Step 3: Paint the contrasting checkerboard squares

Now all that remains is to paint every other square with the contrasting paint color.

We used Extra White SW 7006 as the base and SW 7651 Front Porch as the contrasting color.

Paint two coats of paint and let dry.

Step 4: Peel off tape

All that’s left is to peel off the FrogTape.


That’s it.

Make sure to pull the tap in one direction to ensure clean lines.

Peel off all the tape to reveal the checkerboard underneath.

Step 5: Seal the pattern

We sealed the floors with a latex clear coat sealer designed to work on floors.

Sealing a pattern in helps preserve the painted pattern and make it more durable.

Let floor dry for 24 hours before moving furniture back into the room.

From this.

To this.

From this.

To this.

From this.

To this.

Here are all the sources for the room


See what I mean?

Happiness is a checkerboard.

Especially one on a plywood floor. 🙂

PS Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. I’ll do my best to have some answers. 🙂

disclosure: This post was sponsored by FrogTape.

All opinions are my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for JC JC

    Love, love, LOVE this!!! You guys did a fabulous job! All my floors are concrete underneath, but if and when I ever have a plywood subfloor, it's going checkerboard! Enjoy your beautifully serene room, friend!

  2. Image for Caroline Caroline

    You've inspired me to paint my floors from your past house. Getting ready to do it now. Your floors are amazing!

  3. Image for Caryn Christensen Caryn Christensen

    I recently decided to make the leap and paint our hardwood floors white (yes I did !) in our guest room. Our house was built in 1932 and the wood in that room was so bad that I knew I'd never spend the money to have it sanded and re-stained...besides, I LOVE the farmhouse look of painted floors! I absolutely love how they turned out. I got inspired and decided to paint my kitchen floors white as well, but they are vinyl. I still love the look, but oh.my.word, the kitchen is such a high traffic area and they get dirty from the dog SO fast that I have to mop them a couple of times a day--and who's got time for that?! So I think I'm going to try putting the SW 7006 over the existing paint since you said it's dirt resistant. I've been wondering if I were to seal it if that would help keep the dirt from not showing? Our local store was out of floor paint when I bought it, so I went with a different brand, and it's just not doin' the job. In the meantime, the dog has been banned from the kitchen! Hahaha!

  4. Image for Kim Kim

    Hi Karianne! I've suggested this to my husband, but he is afraid there will be a height difference where carpeting meets the plywood. Did you run into this problem?

  5. Image for Missy Mangum Missy Mangum

    Please make sure that it is plywood and not composite board! The composite (chip) board will swell when it gets wet so there's no point in painting it. Unfortunately, that is what is under my house's carpet.

  6. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    Like I say, this is one of my favorite color combos and just looks beautiful in your sooo beautiful house. Just gorgeous floor and all.

Comments are closed.