Three and a half years ago we painted the plywood sub floor.
This floor. That’s right. It’s just the floor that was under our carpet.
We just pulled up the carpet and primed it and painted it.
Just like that.
When I told people I was painting the floor there was a collective gasp and general confusion and a variety of reactions.
From the disdainful (said in the best Carson voice): “You’re painting the PLYWOOD subfloor.”
To the bemused: “You mean….you’re painting the floor under the carpet? Just the floor?”
To the confused: “Can people paint just plywood? Is that allowed?”
No one and everyone were in agreement:
No one thought it would hold up.
Everyone thought it was a questionable idea at best.
The painted plywood subfloor is one of the most asked about projects on the blog.
And the question people always e-mail is: “Do you think it will hold up?”
Just between us….I wasn’t sure it would. I didn’t choose to paint the plywood subfloor because I thought it was the best design choice. I painted the plywood sub-floor because the carpet was stinky and gray and full of wallpaper glue from where we took down all the toile wallpaper in the bedroom.
And we were out of renovation money.
And when we pulled out the carpet without really any plan as to what we were going to do next, I looked at the plywood floor and I looked at my husband and I looked at the bank account….
….and painting the floor seemed brilliant.
Just for reference, here’s the carpet and the room on the week we moved in.
I didn’t write a blog then and understand the importance of a really good before picture.
But you get the idea.
And now….three and a half years later I wanted to give you the state of the floor address.
My thoughts on painting a plywood sub-floor.
How it’s held up.
What I would change and where we are going from here.
1. The floor has held up amazingly well. Almost like the day it was painted. I was a little nervous, especially about painting light colors like this on the floor. But overall it has withstood dogs and cats and children with koolaid and cheetos and still hold its head up with pride.
In fairness, the floor has probably held up better because it’s had a 12 x 15 area rug in the center of the room that has protected it.
However, all around the room in the major traffic area to the closet and the bathroom, it looks almost like new.
2. I think part of the reason the floor has held up so well is the primer.
We talked with the paint store and bought a great primer and didn’t skimp. We followed the directions on the label exactly and the primer gave the paint a good surface to adhere to.
3. The floors were in really good shape before we started and I think that was key to a durable plywood floor. Sanding is also really important. You want the floor to be as smooth as possible. Any little part that sticks up will distress itself and start rubbing away on the floor.
4. You can see the seams on our floor where the plywood was nailed to the joists. This doesn’t bother me. I like the industrial look of it. But if you want a perfectly smooth floor, you may consider patching the seams before priming and painting.
5. Seal, seal and seal again. I think part of the reason why the floor has held up so well is because it has been sealed with several coats. If you didn’t have the seagrass rug to protect it, I would consider sealing it again every year or so, just to protect it. We use a water-based sealant because it goes on clear. An oil-based sealant might have held up even better, but it would have discolored over time, giving the room a yellow-ish cast.
6. If I painted the floor again, I think I would change the pattern. I like the squares on the diagonal, but I’m drawn to the beautiful hand-stenciled floors on Pinterest that I see. I think I’m going to try one of these upstairs in one of the bedrooms.
And where do we go from here?
The million dollar question.
I’m thinking hardwood floors….the fancy cousin to plywood.
But every time I go floor shopping, I come home to this and I look at that old familiar floor friend and my father’s words keep circling round in my head…..
….dance with the one that brought you.
So I’m phoning a friend.
Let’s take an unofficial poll….to hardwood or not to hardwood….that is the question. 🙂
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