Post Updated: 07/13/2022
If you want new flooring for a room in your home – either carpet or hardwood floors, but can’t afford it, don’t fret. You can still get a new look for the floor when decorating a room when you remove the carpet and paint the plywood flooring under it.
This DIY project is a very budget friendly decorating update that will give the room a whole new look for the cost of a few gallons of primer and paint.
If this is the first time you are seeing what I am doing to the interior decor of a bedroom that used to be my oldest daughter’s room – here is what the room looked like after I pulled up the wall-to-wall carpet.
Helpful Tip: Peel back the edges of the carpet in one corner of the room to take a look at the flooring so you can see what condition and what the plywood looks like before you remove up the entire carpet.
I turned the room into a fitness/exercise room. It was a very low budget room makeover.
Can You Paint Subfloor?
I am saving money by not replacing the flooring. I may eventually add new carpet or hardwood, but for now I am happy with making a statement by simply painting the subfloor to look stylish and modern.
I thought about painting the plywood floor decoratively using a stencil, but I want the room to be simple and serene just like a yoga studio.
How to Paint Plywood Subfloor
As long as your subfloor is solid it can be painted giving you colorful flooring options on a budget.
supplies & materials needed:
- Multi-surface primer
- Floor & Porch paint – I used Behr Porch and Patio Enamel in the color Pools of Blue. Home Depot has a pamphlet of all the colors in comes in – over 75 colors.
- Rough surface paint roller
- Roller handle extension
- 2″ angled paintbrush
- Paint tray
- Shoe molding/trim color paint/finishing nails/nail punch/hammer/pencil/miter box & saw/measuring tape
- Carpet trim and hammer
- Wood putty and putty knife
How to Prep Plywood Subfloors for Painting
This is how the floor looked after I removed the carpet. You will need to remove all the carpet, padding, staples and tacks. There was some glue residue that I had to chip off.
How Do You Hide The Seams Between the Plywood Sheets?
When you paint a plywood subfloor, seeing the seams between each plywood sheet are part of the look. The primer and paint will settle into the seams a bit, but for the most part they will be visible.
If the seams between the plywood sheets bothers you. Make them part of the overall design of the floor by using a decorative stencil or making a geometric grid pattern on the floor over the seams with painter’s tape. Use a coordinating color of paint for the grid pattern.
You should however fill in any holes and gaps in the wood with wood putty or filler and sand before painting.
Clean The Floor
Once you like the smoothness of the floor, clean it well by sweeping up all the dirt and sanding dust. Then use a vacuum over it to make sure the floor is clear of any debris before painting it.
What Products To Use to Paint a Plywood Subfloor?
To successfully paint a plywood floor, you will need a primer and a paint. There are many options, just make sure to use a primer first or choose a primer & paint in one formula.
I chose to use a multi-surface primer first, then a glossy floor and porch paint.
Prime the Plywood Floor
If you want the painted plywood floor to last don’t skip the priming step. I needed 2 gallons of Behr Multi-Surface Primer Sealer to get full coverage and 2 coats.
This primer is the best for rough and porous wood with scratches. It sucked right into the wood and helped prepare the surface for paint.
I used a paint brush around the perimeter of the room and a roller for the rest of the floor. The first coat of primer was dry in 30 minutes, so I had the two coats on in under 2 hours.
Helpful Tip: The most important thing when painting plywood floors is to work from the farthest corner and then work backwards until you reach the door to exit. If you did it the other way, you would get stuck and have to walk over wet paint to get out the the room.
Paint the Floor
Since I primed the floor first and let it dry, I only needed 1 gallon of Behr Porch & Floor Paint Gloss Enamel in the color Pools of Blue PFC-56.
I used this since it is glossy and will be easy to mop clean with a cloth pad style mop, plus it is super durable and does not need a polyurethane coat over it since it can be used for exterior applications also.
I used a roller to roll the apply the paint to the plywood flooring. I rolled on 2 light coats, letting the first coat dry before applying the second.
Do You Need To Use a Sealer Over a Painted Plywood Floor?
There is no need to seal a painted plywood floor if you are using Porch and Floor paint. If you are using any other paint, you may want to seal with a water-based sealer like Minwax Polycrylic that will not yellow over time.
How long does it take a painted plywood subfloor to dry?
Depending on the paint used, the thickness of the paint coats applied and the weather conditions, the paint may feel dry to to the touch in a few hours. But it is best to wait a few days to let the paint cure before placing the furniture back in.
How to Add Finishing Trim Where the Floor Meets the Wall
My table saw has seen better days, so instead of using it, I am cutting the finishing molding that will go along the baseboard the old-fashioned way – with a simple miter box.
As much as I love power tools, a miter box is truly a genius invention. Simple, yet effective.
I used finishing nails and a nail punch to counter sink the nails to attach the shoe molding to the baseboard. I filled the nail holes with Spackle and then sanded the areas smooth.
I am no pro when working with molding and always need to use caulk to cover up all my imperfect cuts. I call this brand of caulk – Cheez-Wiz caulk. No caulk gun is needed. It is my favorite caulk to use. I buy it at Walmart.
How Do You Repair Damaged Painted Plywood Floors?
When I placed the newly spray painted floor heating vents over the ducts, they didn’t cover the saw marks on the subfloor.
I had to fill these cut marks with wood filler. When the filler was dry, I sanded it smooth with my trusty sander with 100 grit sandpaper on it and then painted over it and was good to go.
How To Deal With Flooring Changes to Other Rooms?
To make the transition from the painted plywood floor in the new fitness room to the wall-to-wall carpeting in the hallway, I used these simple carpet trim strips at Lowes.
I bought the carpet strips in the color Pewter, but they also come in wood, gold, and silver finishes. The short side goes against the carpet and the long side onto the wood.
Nails comes with it to attach it to the floor. I needed to cut the length to fit the width of the doorway, but my trusty little miter box and saw has it cut to size in no time flat.
How Long Do Painted Plywood Floors Last?
This room has been a bottom up makeover since I started with the floor… it is all up from here. The floor was in perfect condition 3 years after we painted it.
We moved from the house after this, but knowing how durable the paint was and the traffic the room got, I would paint a plywood subfloor again in a room where I wanted a simple look or to save money on flooring.
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