DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood

DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - a closeup of the distressing and Knots



The first place we did a farmhouse wide plank flooring made from plywood was in the dining room earlier in the year.

Now we’re doing the same farmhouse wide plank flooring in the living room. For the most part, both the floors were done the same way, with a couple of exceptions. In this article, we’ll cover what was different with the living room floor. You can see all the details for the dining room plywood floor here.

The dining room’s wide plank flooring took about a week to finish, the living room took a lot longer. The space was a bit larger but mostly it was adding shims and the end grain flooring inlay that added a ton more time to the project.

From start to finish, it took a little over two weeks to finish the living room floor.

*PLEASE NOTE, SOME OF THESE LINKS ARE AFFILIATE LINKS. THAT MEANS IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE PRODUCT LINKS, WE’LL RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. IT HELPS SUPPORT THIS BLOG AND ALLOWS US TO KEEP SHARING OUR CONTENT FOR FREE. AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

What We Did Different With This Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring

Just about the same methods we used for both the flooring in the dining room and the living room.

In the living room, we pulled up the old carpet, removed staples, painted the sub-floor a dark color and put down the floor the same way.

The width, length and thickness of the plywood planks was the same, and we cut, sanded, distressed, stained and added 3 coats of polyurethane to the flooring in almost the same way.

Here are the things we did a bit differently.

We Didn’t Sand Between Polyurethane Coats

When we did the dining room floor, we lightly sanded the bumps out of the coat of polyurethane with 120 grit sand paper.

With the living room floors we figured that the bumps would even out a little after multiple coats of poly were applied.

Besides, the bumps would add a bit more texture making the floors less slippery.

The only concern I had was how it would feel walking barefoot on the floor with more texture. Turns out, despite clearly feeling the additional texture when running your hand on the plank, it was barely noticeable when walking on it barefoot.

The Shopping List

Tools List

Here’s a list of the tools we used on this project, it’s basically the same list of tools from the dining room flooring project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

Cordless Finish Nailer

Extra Battery For Finish Nailer

Belt Sander

Palm Sander

Miter Saw

Circular Saw

Cross Cut Saw Blade

Oscillating Multi-Tool

Hearing Protection Ear Muffs

Table Saw

 

Supplies List

These are the supplies used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

Varathane Cherrywood Gel Stain – we used about 7 quarts

Water Based Oil-Modified Poluyrathane – we used 2 gallons

3″ Natural Bristle brush – 6 brushes to apply the stain

4″ Polyester Synthetic Brush – 4 brushes to apply the poly

Masking Paper – We used the masking paper to protect the deck when applying the stain and poly

6 Gauge 1 1/2″ Finish Nails

A New Character Builder Was Used

The same original cast of character builders were used with the living room floors, a hammer, pliers and a propane torch… and this time we added a utility knife to the arsenal.

For the dining room we would dig into crack in the wood using the sanders to open the cracks up and soften the edges.

This time we used a utility knife to lengthen and widen the cracks in the wood before softening the edges with the sander.

The result was even better than we imagined. The deep cracks we were able to make with the utility knife gave us the farmhouse wide plank flooring look we wanted.

You wouldn’t even guess that it was plywood.

 

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished - Close up of the Distressing Done With A Utility Knife

Shameless Plug

If you are looking for a great house to rent in the Poconos, Feels Like Heaven may be the perfect fit for you!

Feels Like Heaven - A Premium 5 Bedroom Vacation Rental in The Poconos, PA



We Added Shims

The living room floors were much more uneven then the floors in the dining room. To the point where we needed to add shims in the low spots to try and level things off a little.

I went around the floor with a straight edge, and where ever there was a dip, I added the shims.

Since I knew I needed a good amount of shims, I made them out of a sheet of 1/4″ plywood. I cut ripped the sheet into 1″ strips using the table saw.

Once the floor was shimmed, we painted the floor a dark brown color, just like we did in the dining room.

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished - Wood Strips Used To Fill The Low Spots
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished - Starting The Plywood Flooring Install

The Living Room Plywood Floor Is Finished!

Like I said, the living room floor took much longer to do than the dining room floor did. It took a little over two weeks to finish, had I not messed up with the wood slice accent flooring, we would have finished in about 2 weeks.

Check out the wood slice accent flooring project here

We love the farmhouse wide plank flooring in both the dining room and the living room. This style was the perfect fit for this house, could not have asked for a better fit.

Between the two floors, I’d say I’d stick to the steps used on the living room floor. Sanding between poly coats seems to have been unnecessary, and using the utility knife to expand on the cracks in the wood added sooo much more character to the living room floor – LOVE IT!

Here’s a few more pictures of the stained plywood floors in the living room floor.

Let me know what you think, is there something you would have done different?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!



DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished - Close up of the Distressing
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - Close up of The Plywood Floor In The Living Room By The Wood Accent
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished - Finished Plywood Floor Seen From The Stairs
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor In The Living Room By The Wood Accent
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished - Another Close up of the Distressing
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished - Seen From The Corner Of The Fireplace
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Plywood Floor Finished By The Fireplace
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay



Creating an end grain flooring inlay was something I was looking forward to for months. We installed plywood wide plank flooring in the dining room and kitchen earlier this year and the living room was next on the list.

The flooring in the dining room and living room were going to be laid in different directions and a regular threshold separating the two spaces was going to be – well pretty boring.

While initially doing my Pinterest research on flooring, I came across pins with different designs created in the floor using wood slices.

That gave me the idea of doing an end grain flooring as an inlay. It was the perfect solution!

I couldn’t wait to try this project.

 

*PLEASE NOTE, SOME OF THESE LINKS ARE AFFILIATE LINKS. THAT MEANS IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE PRODUCT LINKS, WE’LL RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. IT HELPS SUPPORT THIS BLOG AND ALLOWS US TO KEEP SHARING OUR CONTENT FOR FREE. AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

The Shopping List

Tools List

Here’s a list of the tools we used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

Belt Sander

Palm Sander

Miter Saw

Oscillating Multi-Tool

RotoZip

Hearing Protection Ear Muffs

 

Supplies List

These are the supplies used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

Water Based Oil-Modified Poluyrathane – we used 1 gallon

4″ Polyester Synthetic Brush – 4 brushes to apply the poly

Liquid Nails

What Is End Grain Flooring

End grain flooring is basically branches and logs cut into slices, then placed in a pattern, in our case it’s the shape of a river. The slices are glued into place and a grout is applied to fill in the spaces between the slices. Then a protective finish is applied and you have yourself an end grain floor!

I call it a wood river, but I’ve seen it called a bunch of different names. Wood slice flooring, end grain flooring, log end flooring, cordwood floor and even cross-cut tree slice flooring to name a few.

Figuring Out End Grain Flooring Inlay Layout

The beauty of doing something like this is that there is no limit to what design you make. It can be as simple or ornate as you like.

Since our house is in the Poconos, in a wilderness setting, we figured a river made of wood would go with the house and its surrounding nature.

The end grain flooring inlay would separate the dining room from the living room. Starting in the corner of the dining room and making it’s way to the corner of the living room fireplace.

We wanted the flooring inlay to start off wider on one side and have it gently curving it’s way across the space.

We had the idea when we did the dining room earlier in year and that’s also when I started cutting the wood slices for the river and traced out the shape of the wood slice flooring accent.

We were going to do the living room floors and the inlay a few months later, so that gave the wood slices time to dry.

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Traced Out Using Tape and Filled in With Wood Slices - Seen From The Dining Room
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Traced Out Using Tape

Shameless Plug

If you are looking for a great house to rent in the Poconos, Feels Like Heaven may be the perfect fit for you!

Feels Like Heaven - A Premium 5 Bedroom Vacation Rental in The Poconos, PA

Cutting The Wood Slices

Now that the general shape of the end grain flooring inlay was in place, I needed to fill it with wood slices. I got a bunch of branches that had fallen on our property and started cutting them to the width I thought I needed… more on that later.

I cut enough pieces of wood to fill in the inlay, with a bunch of various branch thicknesses. I cut them in May to have them dry up a few months before installing them in the fall.

The flooring was 1/2″ thick and the floors are uneven so I cut the wood slices a bit thicker… at least that’s what I thought….that was a big mistake. It’s important to cut them to the right size right off the bat.

I used a miter saw to cut the slices, it went pretty quick considering how many slices were needed.

Important Tip: When cutting the wood pieces try to cut them as close to the final thickness as possible.

I didn’t do that with this project and it took me days to get the slices down to the right size.

I cut the slices 3/4″ and most of the wood slices needed to be about 1/2″… a big mistake.

That extra 1/4″ was a struggle to remove.



Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Traced Out Using Tape - Seen From The Living Room
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Traced Out Using Tape - Seen From The Living Room

Drying The Wood Slices

I had cut most of the wood slices months ago so those were dry. But when I was installing the end grain flooring inlay, I guess I was able to get the wood slices tighter together… so I needed more wood slices.

I found this article on drying the wood slices.

http://theplywood.com/drying-wood-in-oven

Using the oven on low heat (200 F), the wood slices were dry in a couple of hours so it worked really well.

Cutting The End Grain Flooring Inlay Into The Floor Boards

Originally I was planning on cutting each floor board individually using a rotozip, and was going to cut them outside since the rotozip causes a lot of dust.

Instead, I cut the floor boards in place using the Oscillating Multi-Tool. That worked really well and it didn’t make very much dust.

After the boards were cut I went over the cut with the belt sander to soften the curves and round off the edge of the boards. That way there aren’t splinters. 🙂

 

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - Where The Inlay Will Go
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - Floor Boards Are All Cut
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - Figuring Out What Floor Boards To Use Next To The Inlay
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Cut Into The Floor Boards and Wood Slices In Place - Seen From Fireplace

Placing The Wood Slices In The Inlay

When placing the slices inlay, make sure to mix up the different sizes. That way it looks more organic and natural.

I secured the wood pieces in place with liquid nails. Just put a dollop on the back of each piece and apply a little pressure to get it to set. 

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Cut Into The Floor Boards and Wood Slices In Place - The Inlay Cut Into The Floor Boards and Wood Slices In Place

Seal The Wood Slices Before Applying The Grout

I sealed the wood slices before applying the grout by applying a coat of the polyurethane. Otherwise the grout will darken the wood slices. You’ll be sanding everything down later but sealing the slices makes it easier to get them back to the lighter color.

Mixing The Sawdust Grout

I found an article from Bob Villa that talks about the grout that can be used with the wood slices. It’s called sawdust grout.

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/quick-tip-sawdust-grout/

Sawdust grout is a combination of 2 parts sawdust to 1 part polyurethane.

I used a water based, oil-modified fast drying polyurethane for the sawdust grout mix and the finish.

The polyurethane dries quickly and it’s orderless. 

It’s the same one we used on the plywood wide plank floor boards in the living dining room and kitchen.

Applying The Grout

The Grout is a pretty dry paste that can be pushed into all the nooks and crannies between each wood slice.

Using latex gloves grab a small glob of Grout and push it into the spaces between the wood slices.

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The wood slices are in place and the sawdust grout is being applied
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The wood slices are in place and the sawdust grout is being applied

Sanding The End Grain Flooring Inlay

I used a belt sander to sand down the wood pieces.

Of course, that was only after I fixed my huge mistake of cutting the wood slices the wrong thickness.

The sand paper I used was 36 grit. I wanted something that gave the wood pieces a rough texture so they wouldn’t be slippery.

Because sanding is a pretty messy task, I tented off the area, that way the dust didn’t go all over the house.

 

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Tented Off To Reduce The Dust Around The House While Sanding
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Tented Off To Reduce The Dust Around The House While Sanding
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay Tented Off To Reduce The Dust Around The House While Sanding

This is what the wood slices and the sawdust grout looked like after the sanding was done.

I sanded the wood slice inlay to the height of the flooring on either side of it. I also used the sander to knock off the edges of each of the wood slices, removing any hard edges that may be uncomfortable to walk on.

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay After Grout Dried And Sanded Before Poly Finish



Adding The Polyurathane Finish

The polyurethane was the same one I used on the wood board flooring and in the sawdust grout mix.

 I put three coats of finish on the end grain flooring inlay.

Although the poly is colorless, it did give the wood slices a little bit of a yellow tint.

The grout also darken quite a bit when I applied the poly on top of it.

 

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The Inlay After Grout Dried And Sanded After Poly Finish

More Pics Of The End Grain Flooring Inlay

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - cross cut flooring inlay from the dining room
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - The End Grain Flooring Inlay Finished
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - End Grain flooring Inlay from the fireplace
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - Finished - Seen From The Dining Room
End Grain Flooring Inlay Finished - Log End Wood Floor Inlay Closeup
Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - End Grain flooring Inlay toward the fireplace

What Do You Think?

We love the way the end grain flooring inlay turned out.  It’s so much more character than a simple threshold would have given.

What do you think? Do you like the way it turned out? What would you do differently? We’d love to hear your feedback.

Installing An End Grain Flooring Inlay - A closeup of the End Grain Flooring Inlay Finished

DIY Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring

DIY Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring

DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - a great plywood flooring idea - a closeup of the distressing and Knots



As you’d expect, DIY Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring takes much longer than just installing pre-made planks. This was truest sense of DIY, all the way from cutting plywood into wide plank boards, to sanding, staining, finishing and installing the plywood planks down… all of it DIY.

All things considered, the entire project, from start to finish didn’t take that long. 

From cutting the planks out of plywood, to finally Installing the floors in both the dining room and kitchen – took about a week.

If you’re willing to put in the time and sweat, it is absolutely worth it! 

The floors look gorgeous (the pictures don’t do it justice) and you really would not know that they are a stained plywood floor.

Read on to see what it took to make and install our rustic wide plank plywood floors and how you can install your own unique plywood flooring.

*PLEASE NOTE, SOME OF THESE LINKS ARE AFFILIATE LINKS. THAT MEANS IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE PRODUCT LINKS, WE’LL RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. IT HELPS SUPPORT THIS BLOG AND ALLOWS US TO KEEP SHARING OUR CONTENT FOR FREE. AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

Why We Chose Wide Plank Plywood Flooring

Some of the flooring in our Poconos vacation rental needed replacing.  Namely, the floating hardwood floor in the dining room and kitchen and the carpet in the living room.

Our goal was to have new floors that look old, warm and worn – like they had always been there. Basically, the more it looked like farmhouse flooring or barn wood the better it was for us.

We looked into tile, stone and hardwood floors. The problem with all 3 of those flooring solutions was the requirement to have a level sub-floor, ours was uneven… like really uneven.

Since the entire house is made of rough-cut oak, the flooring is not even close to being level. That makes tile, stone and even hardwood flooring very difficult to install. The extra difficulty also translates to very expensive installation costs.

It was time to get creative, DIY floors were in our future. To get more flooring ideas we turned to Pinterest. After a lot of scrolling, we came across rustic farmhouse wide plank plywood flooring!

The pictures of the wide plank plywood flooring projects others had posted were incredible – this was it! This was the perfect flooring for uneven floors.

We were sold on the idea.

Shameless Plug

If you are looking for a great house to rent in the Poconos, Feels Like Heaven may be the perfect fit for you!

Feels Like Heaven - A Premium 5 Bedroom Vacation Rental in The Poconos, PA

When In Doubt – Wabi-Sabi

There’s a concept I came across on Pinterest which was instrumental in my choice of plywood over other flooring types.

It’s called wabi-sabi.

It’s a Japanese tradition that is the art of making broken things better than brand new.

The idea is to hi-light the imperfections – make them perfectly imperfect.

With this new perspective, I was looking for imperfections to show off – instead of avoiding them.

If (or when) the floors get a new scuff mark or scratch, it will add to the floor’s character. It’s a very freeing concept that I am really glad I came across.

Click on the picture to see the Pinterest pin that inspired me, I hope it does the same for you.

DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - wabi sabi - broken is beautiful pinterest pin

Why Use Plywood Flooring

Most people decide to install plywood plank flooring for the cost savings. It’s much cheaper to install a plywood floor than traditional hardwood or even a laminate, heck it’s even cheaper than doing vinyl.

For our plywood farmhouse floors, the cost wasn’t much of a factor in our decision-making process. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice to save some dough… it was just lower on our list.

Higher on our list was flooring that was sturdy, looked like it has always been there, fit with the style of the house and would be easy to install on an uneven floor. 

Between the option of making wider planks and the spacing between each one – wide plank plywood flooring was a perfect fit for this house. The spacing between each board makes it more forgiving in scenarios like ours where the floor isn’t level.

On top of that, the Japanese concept I came across helped me realize that any blemishes the floor will gain as it ages will only add to the floor’s beauty. So it didn’t need to be as sturdy as hardwood, just embrace the imperfections that will come along! 🙂



The Down-side to Plywood Flooring

The only negative I saw with plywood was the durability. It’s not a hardwood so it would scratch easier than an oak flooring would.

Now with my new wabi sabi perspective, I’m actually looking forward to the scratches and dents.

The blemishes will only add to the floor’s beauty. If there’s a scratch that is really ugly, I can add something creative to give it beauty.

Perfectly imperfect.

The Shopping List

Tools List

Here’s a list of the tools we used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

Cordless Finish Nailer

Extra Battery For Finish Nailer

Belt Sander

Palm Sander

Miter Saw

Circular Saw

Cross Cut Saw Blade

Oscillating Multi-Tool

Hearing Protection Ear Muffs

 

Supplies List

These are the supplies used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

Varathane Cherrywood Gel Stain – we used about 7 quarts

Water Based Oil-Modified Poluyrathane – we used 2 gallons

3″ Natural Bristle brush – 6 brushes to apply the stain

4″ Polyester Synthetic Brush – 4 brushes to apply the poly

Masking Paper – We used the masking paper to protect the deck when applying the stain and poly

6 Gauge 1 1/2″ Finish Nails

What Plywood Dimensions We Chose

The plywood we used is 1/2″ thick, mostly because the thinner plywood is more flexible. The flexibility allows the planks to bend and conform to our uneven sub-floor’s contours.

We wanted the farmhouse or country kind of look, so a wide plank is what we went with.

We also wanted to reduce the amount of wasted plywood, so the width we came up with was 5 7/8″ for each board. That gives us 8 planks per sheet and a tiny strip leftover at the end.

We’ve seen other plywood floors where they went for closer to 8 inch or even 12 inch boards. We didn’t want to make them that wide because we didn’t want it to be obvious that it was a plywood floor, and a wide board would have shown the dreaded plywood zebra pattern that I don’t care for (more on the plywood zebra pattern later).

Some Before Pics

Here are some before pics of the space with the original floor.

We loved the color of the original floors, but the flooring never really went with the style of the house. It was a 3/8″ floating floor and the wood strips were fairly thin. Because it was floating and a pretty thin floor, it always sounded a bit hollow when you walked on it.

A bigger problem was that the floor was buckling in some spots, probably because of the way it was installed.

That buckling was one of the reasons we felt the wide plank flooring made of plywood would be perfect for this space. The wide plank flooring has spacing around each board, removing the possibility of the new floor buckling.

 

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - The Dining Room Subfloor With Staples Removed
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - The Dining Room Subfloor With Staples Removed
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - The Dining Room Subfloor With Staples Removed

How Much Plywood Do You Need

The measurements don’t need to be super-duper precise. Rounding up the measurements and adding an extra plywood sheet to the total gives enough wiggle room.

For our space, I treated it like a big rectangle. The length was 287″ (rounded up to 24′) and the width was 140″ (rounded up to 12′).

24 x 12 is 288 sq feet.

Each sheet of plywood is 4′ x 8′ so that gives you 32 square feet per sheet.

When I divided the total sq feet (288) by the sq feet per sheet (32) it told me I needed 9 sheets of plywood.

Then I added an extra sheet as a buffer.

 

The Final Numbers

We bought 10 sheets of 1/2″ plywood for our project and once completed, we had about 1 sheet left over.

DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - Dining Room And Kitchen Measurements Floor Plan

Prepping the Subfloor

Total Time: 2 people about 2 hours

The original floor was a 3/8″ hardwood floor that was installed with – a – lot – of – staples…. like a lot.

At first, it felt like the staple removal was taking forever. Once we got into a rhythm though it really only took a couple of hours for us to get just about all of them out.

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - The Dining Room Subfloor With Staples Removed

Subfloor Painting

Total Time: 1 person about an hour

The subfloor we had was unpainted plywood, if we installed the wide plank plywood flooring without first painting the lighter colored subfloor, the subfloor would have shown through the spaces in between the planks.

We painted the subfloor a very dark brown color, using paint that we already had. I’d say pretty much any dark paint color would do the job.

Just stick to a paint that is an eggshell or satin. You don’t want a shiny subfloor showing through the spaces between the boards.

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood – How To Install Plywood Flooring - The Dining Room Subfloor Painted Dark Brown

Cutting The Plywood Into Planks

Total Time: With the right blade this would take less than 2 hours for 10 sheets

A lot of the Pinterest posts I came across said they had a person from Lowes or Home Depot cut the sheets for them.

It’s definitely an option. I’ve used their cutting services in the past when the cuts didn’t need to be very precise.

In this case, I wanted more precise cuts, so I opted to do it myself.

It takes A LOT longer but I thought having the consistently sized planks was worth the extra time.

That way, I was sure each piece was going to be about the same width.

To make cutting the pieces MUCH easier and to keep them the same width I made a jig.

DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - Cutting plywood flooring into wide planks - A Sheet of Plywood Ripped Into Planks

The Jig

A jig is fancy talk for a template. It really made a tedious and time-consuming task super easy.

It was basically a 1/2″ piece of scrap plywood I had with a scrap piece of 1 x 4 screwed to it.

The space between the saw blade and the piece of 1 x 4 was 5 7/8″, the thickness we wanted our plywood flooring planks to be.

To make the jig I put the blade of the saw all the way up, secured the saw to the plywood with screws all around the saw, wedging it in place.

Then I slowly lowered the saw into the plywood and measured 5 7/8″ from the inside of the plunge cut and that’s where I screwed in the 1 x 4.

DIY Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - Secure The Jig To The Circular Saw Using Screws
DIY Rustic Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - cutting the sheet into floor boards - the jig used to rip the plywood into planks - top view
DIY Rustic Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - bottom view - this jig made ripping the plywood so much easier

Tip:  If you’re cutting your own boards you need to make a jig. When making your jig, extend the 1 x 4 way in front and way behind the saw, like it is in the pictures.

That lets you line up the saw way before the blade comes in contact with the plywood. It also gives more stability, ending up with a straighter cut.

The Best Saw Blade To Use

We had 10 sheets of plywood to cut into planks. I figured that a plywood blade would be the best. I thought anything else would leave a really rough edge on the wood.

Well, I was very wrong.

Do Not Use A Plywood Blade

Use a Cross Cut Blade instead

The plywood blade didn’t last very long and took a lot of effort to go through the plywood. It started smoking and having a lot more difficulty cutting barely halfway into the second sheet of plywood.

I ended up having to go out and buy another blade. This time I tried a cross cut blade, OMG what a difference.

The cross cut blade went through the plywood like butter and left an even better cut than the plywood blade did. I was able to do the rest of the plywood using just that one cross cut blade.

 

 

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - Choosing the right blade to cut your floor boards is key - this is the best blade for ripping the plywood into planks

Sanding Each Plank

Total Time: 2 people about a day and a half

This part took a while, but it’s important to put the time into it. We sanded the face of the plywood to remove any splinters and the text that’s sometimes stamped on the plywood.

We also used the sander to round the edges all around the face of each plank.

The rounded edge gives it a really nice finished look and helps in cases like ours, where the floors aren’t very level. The rounded edges give a soft transition between two planks that don’t quite line up.

This is also where you choose which side of the plywood will be the face, the pretty side or the ugly side. When we were choosing sides, I’d say we chose the ugly side 80% of the time.

It went against what I would normally do, but now I kinda wish I went with the ugly side more.

We used a belt sander to do most of the sanding. You could use a palm sander if you’re not doing too much flooring but in our case, the belt sander was much faster.

The sandpaper we used was 120 grit, it was perfect for the belt sander.

During this part of the project, you’ll have your doubts about using the gnarly part of the plywood.

BUT TRUST ME – once you put the stain on the wood you will be blown away at how good it looks.

In the end, the most beautiful planks were the ones with imperfections.

DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - round off all the edges

Tip:

If a plank has a knot or crack in it, don’t put it to the side or use it in an area you can’t see.

Instead, make it more noticeable. Dig into the knot or crack with the sander to emphasis the crack or knot more. It’ll help remove splinters that are around the knot or crack and also add character.

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - do not be afraid of imperfections

Giving The Plywood Some “Character”

Total Time: We did this at the same time as sanding so it’s included in the day and a half spent sanding

There were three weapons of choice for applying the plywood’s character (a.k.a. distressing), a hammer, a big pair of pliers and a propane torch. Out of the three I used the pliers the most and the hammer the least.

Using pliers, I’d repeatedly hit the face of the plywood with the back corner of the pliers.

With the hammer, I used the side of the hammer, and the claw to make indentations in the plywood.

If you look at the floor right above the hammer in the picture you’ll see the indentations the back of the pliers left.

I also used a utility knife to open up any cracks in the wood, to make them more pronounced. Put the knife at an angle and cut along the crack to widen the crack, similar to what is done to cracks in concrete when you want to fill a crack.

All the character building is important for your rustic plywood floors. The where and tear you are creating makes it look authentic, the more the character the better.

DIY Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - meet the character builders

Adding Even More Character – Burning The Plywood Boards

The propane torch was by far my favorite character builder – and it wasn’t because it spoke to my inner pyro…. well maybe a little because of my inner pyro lol.

Burning the plywood gives an instant amazing aged look.

This is another part of the process where I hesitated a lot.

But once you apply the stain the planks instantly transform into a beautifully aged floorboard!

Take a look at the before and after picture of the burned plywood plank. When burning the wood it feels a little much, then you add the stain and it kind of blends the colors beautifully.

I would burn the plywood whenever the board looked a little boring. Take a look at the arrows in the picture, each one of those dark marks is the work of the propane torch.

 

Tip: When burning the plywood, the lighter parts of the wood burn much easier than the darker parts. 

Since I was avoiding that plywood zebra pattern, I didn’t burn the wood where there was a heavy pattern. Burning that area would have emphasized the pattern, and I didn’t want that.

If the part of the wood was either only dark or only light then it was eligible for burning.

DIY Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - .a Burned Plywood Plank Before And After Staining
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - burned plywood floors from the propane torch

Here’s a video of how we burned the rustic wide plank plywood flooring.

The Stain We Chose

We tried a bunch of different stains on scrap pieces of plywood first, and this was by far our favorite!

We went with a gel stain instead of a regular stain because it does a really good job of covering up that plywood zebra pattern that we didn’t want.

It’s totally a personal preference, but I do not like the pattern you get from regular stain on plywood floors. Take a look at this picture I copied from Pinterest, for an example of what I’m talking about.

Regular stain is more liquid and gets absorbed by the plywood at different rates. Softer parts of the wood absorb the stain faster than the denser parts of the wood.

A workaround would also be to use a wood conditioner before applying regular stain.

Instead, we used the gel stain.

With the gel you can skip the wood conditioner. Plus, the gel stain added a nice wood grain pattern on the surface of the board, making it look less like plywood….BONUS!

DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - zebra plywood pattern I wanted to avoid
DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - The Stain - cherrywood varathane interior wood stain 339586-64_1000

The gel stain we used had a dark color and created a lighter stain on the wood. The result was a cherry colored wood with a dark grain pattern on top, exactly what we were looking for.

The thicker you applied the stain the darker the board would be.

Also, the longer you waited before brushing the excess stain off the darker the plank will be. If a plank had a heavy zebra pattern on it, we put the stain on thick and waited a bit more before dry brushing it. That did a pretty good job of minimizing the zebra pattern.

The brush we used for the stain was a cheap wide (about 4″) real bristle brush.

The stain has a strong polyurethane smell to it, so we did the staining out on the deck and also let the boards dry out there.

If you’re going to do the same, make sure to first check the weather forecast!

We used about 7 quarts of stain to do our project.

Applying The Stain

Total Time: 2 people about a day

We did one coat of stain using the dry brush technique. Applying the stain with the wet brush and using a dry brush to brush off the excess stain.

With every pass of the dry brush, we would wipe off the dry brush on a paper towel to remove the majority of the stain from it.

We chose the dry brush method because it leaves a nice dark wood pattern.

When applying the stain and dry brushing, you’ll be able to play with the texture it leaves. Put some wavy grain in there or brush around a knot in the wood to add uniqueness to each board.

Remember, the longer you leave the stain on and the longer you waited before using the dry brush, the darker the board will be.

We typically applied the stain and waited a couple of minutes before using the dry brush.

If the board had a lot of pattern on it then we applied a thicker coat and let it sit a little longer. The thicker coat and longer wait time did a better job of masking the zebra pattern.

Once the stain was applied we waited 24 hours before applying the polyurathane.

DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - stained plywood flooring - Stain Plywood Floors - applying the gel stain and leaving brush strokes that look like wood grain
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - Applying Gel Stain and distressing to the wide plank plywood floor boards

Applying The Finish

Total Time: 2 people about a day and a half

For the finish we used a clear satin, water based, oil-modified polyurethane.

This product is great because it doesn’t change the color of the stain, dries quickly and best of all – it’s oderless.

We went with a satin finish because we wanted an aged look and a glossy floor would be the opposite of that.

Three thin coats of poly were applied on all the boards, including the sides of the boards. Between each coat, we waited about 2 hours before applying then next coat and 24 hours after the last coat before installing them.

We didn’t sand between the first and second coats but did do a light hand sanding with 120 grit sandpaper before applying the final coat.

The brush we used for the poly was a cheap wide (about 6″) synthetic brush.

We used 2 gallons of polyurethane for our project.

Tip: With applying any polyurethane, bubbles are something you want to avoid. That’s because the bubbles don’t pop and dry into poly… and that’s not a good look. lol

To prevent bubbles, mix the poly using a mixing stick and smooth circular motions.

No shaking the can here!

Update: When we originally did the dining room floor we did a light sanding before the final coat of poly.

Recently we did the living room floor and for that flooring, we skipped the sanding before the poly.

We figured not sanding would give the planks a bit more texture and save us a boatload of time.

It worked out really well! From now on, we won’t be sanding before the final poly coat.

Buy The Same Polyurethane Here

It’s All About That Space

The spaces between each plank were perfect for the style we were looking for.

The spacing would give it more of that farmhouse feel. A few of the posts on Pinterest mentioned using quarters as spacers, so that’s what we used.

Our wide plank plywood flooring has small variations in the spacing, mostly because of the uneven floors – but that’s ok – wabi sabi. 😉

Where To Start Laying The Planks

I used a tip I came across on one of the Pinterest posts, starting on the side of the room where the floor is the most visible.

For our space the most visible part of the floor was by the front door so that’s where we started.

When we reached the opposite end of the space we ended up with the last row of planks needing to be ripped in half.

DIY Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - Starting The Wide Plank Plywood Floor Install

Make Sure To Space Out The Seams

Each plank was 8 feet long and the room was a little over 12 feet wide, so there weren’t too many seams to work with.

The rule of thumb is to not have two consecutive rows with seems less than a foot apart from each other.

DIY Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - make sure to space out the seams - This is the plywood flooring in the kitchen

Cutting The Boards To Length

I used a miter saw to cut the boards to length. Pretty straight forward. One tip is to make sure the blade reaches full speed before you start cutting into the plywood. That’ll give you a clean, smooth cut.

Securing The Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring In Place

Total Time: 1 person a solid day
 
On Pinterest I found different methods of securing the planks. Some suggested glue or liquid nails, others said nails and a few did both.
 
The glue or liquid nails sounded too permanent to me. If I ever want to change the flooring in the future, nailing it down would be the best approach.
 
I opted for face-nailing the planks using a nail gun. I bought a battery powered Bostitch nail gun, it is really nice.
 
This nail gun has a rapid fire feature. If you press and hold the trigger it shoots nails in rapid succession – like it’s air-powered cousin. That feature makes quick work of installing these floors.
 
The nails I used were 16 gauge 1 1/2″ straight nails.
 
I put a nail in about every 6 – 12″ all the way around the board.
 
We used about 4 packs of nails for the project

Tip: If you end up buying the same nail gun I’d recommend also buying an extra battery. It already comes with one battery, buying the extra battery will help keep your project moving along.

 

A Couple More Notes

The plywood flooring we installed is 1/2″ thick and the previous flooring was 3/8″ thick.

The 1/8″ difference meant any spaces where the previous flooring used to fit – the new flooring no longer did.

That difference meant a lot of undercutting. Not only the door moldings but all the furring strips that cover the seams of the oak boards on the walls.

I could have done it with a dovetail saw, but since I had quite a few cuts to do, I bought an oscillating tool. It worked perfectly!

The tool comes with a bunch of different attachments. I haven’t used it for anything else yet but I can think of a few different uses for it in the future.

All Done – That’s It!

So, all told, it took roughly a week from complete start to complete finish. Including the old floor removal, subfloor painted, 10 sheets of plywood cut into strips, sanded, distressed, stained, polyied and installed.

This was a good sized project with a lot of effort put into it, but it was well worth it. We now have a completely unique floor that fits perfectly with the house, and looks fantastic!!

In the fall, we’re going to install the same rustic wide plank plywood flooring in the living room, and I’m really looking forward to it.

We’re also going to do a unique transition between the living room and dining room floors… can’t wait.

 

Update: Well, we redid the living floors recently and we also installed the wood slice accent flooring. Everything turned out perfect!

We wrote about those experiences also, check out those posts here:

Wood Slice Accent Flooring

Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring

Here’s some more pics of the work in progress and the finished product.

Let me know what you think, is there something you would have done different?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!



DIY Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - Close up pictures Of The Distressed, burned and stained plywood floors
DIY Rustic Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - a closeup of the distressing
DIY Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - Distressed Floor
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Floor Made From Plywood - In the middle of installing the plywood planks in the Dining Room
DIY Rustic Farmhouse Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - a closeup of the distressing on the barn board plywood flooring in the kitchen
DIY Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring
DIY Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - the finished product
DIY Farmhouse Wide Plank Flooring Made From Plywood - The Floor Boards Drying Outside After Polyurethane Was Applied
DIY Rustic Wide Plank Plywood Flooring - a closeup of the distressing and Knots

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