Installing a plywood plank kitchen floor, part one. Door Sixteen

Installing a plywood plank kitchen floor, part one. Door Sixteen

Installing a plywood plank kitchen floor, part one.

When last we checked in on the kitchen floor, things were not looking pretty. Once the VCT and the ant-riddled plywood were removed, we discovered the original pine plank subfloor was not salvageable. We knew we still wanted to have a wood plank floor, though, so we planned to buy cheap pine tongue and groove and paint it .

But then the next weekend rolled around, flooring still unordered, and we really wanted to get started…and then I started thinking…

Years ago, we went to look at an 1890s cottage that was for sale in the Delaware River Valley. The whole thing had been totally renovated and painted entirely white inside and out (it was soooooo dreamy — the photo above is from the real estate listing), and we got to talking to the sellers about the work theyd done. The floorboards appeared to be original wide-plank pine, but it turns out theyd actually used 3/4 plywood cut down to 10 planks and face-nailed in place. They painted them with a white, high-gloss marine paint, and the result was gorgeous. Even though we didnt wind up buying the house, those cost-saving white plywood floors stayed filed away in my mind for future reference. Also in the file? Daniel and Valerias bedroom floor at Hindsvik.

While we were walking around Lowes pricing out various plywood types, I had an epiphany: Since the existing subfloor was still structurally sound, couldnt we get away with using really thin (and really cheap) plywood to make our planks? Why use something thicker, which would be much more expensive, not to mention a huge pain to transport to our house? Is there any reason why inexpensive 1/4 plywood wouldnt be totally fine?

ANNA, YOU ARE A GODDAMN GENIUS. Except Im not a genius, because as soon as I looked this totally original and unique idea of mine up online, I discovered about a million (or at least four) people whod done it before me. I am not a genius. I am not a genius. I am not a genius and I am not a genius. Oh well.

We loaded up the 7 best-looking 48 sheets of 1/4 maple plywood we could find, then asked the wood dude at Lowes to rip them lengthwise into 6 strips. No can do, wood dude replied, because for safety reasons theyre not allowed to go smaller than 12. We figured wed take what we could get and loaded our 12 planks into the car. Daniel drove down from Kingston to assist, and Ilenia saved us all from cutting our hands off.

12 wide floorboards would have looked ridiculous in our little kitchen, so we did still want to cut them down to 6. We dont have a table saw, though, so we used a circular saw with this magical Swanson Cutting Guide. I know it doesnt look like much in the picture, but basically its an adjustable (up to 100) straightedge that attaches with two C-clamps onto whatever youre cutting with a circular saw to function as a jig. Its a fabulous thing. We also bought a big bag of cheap plastic spring clamps so we could cut through several boards at once.

Here are Evan and Daniel setting up the jig and adjusting the blade depth on the circular saw. To keep everything from going haywire (i.e. the board falling off of the sawhorses and/or the saw opening up someones brain), one person manned the saw while three of us held onto both sides of the board. I kind of wish I had a video of the whole thing, because the choreography involved with cutting an 8 long board in a 10 long kitchen was pretty impressive.

The next morning, I primed the back and edges of each plank to prevent warping. Annoyingly, the plywood sheets had all had several stickers (including a stupid, pointless QR code that NO ONE WILL EVER USE, EVER) on the GOOD side, and no amount of picking, scraping, Goo-Gone-ing or kerosine-ing (!) could remove them. I gave up and decided it was OK to let the printed side show on a few boards. Obviously thats only OK if youre ultimately going to paint your floor, but hopefully I dont need to say that.

Heres the part of the post where my only camera battery died and I discovered Id somehow managed to lose the charger! Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos…

Installing a plywood plank kitchen floor, part one. Door Sixteen

I LOVE YOU, POWER TOOLS. We borrowed a compressor and a nail gun, and Evan and I had the entire floor down in about 6 hours — and thats including the time-consuming stuff like using a jigsaw to cut out shapes for pipes. It went really, really quickly.

We made sure to stagger all of our boards so there are absolutely no patterns at all. Laying a wood floor is a little like doing a puzzle — we considered the length and placement of each plank as we were going along, and in the end, we wound up with only 1/2 a board in waste.

DONE! Boom. The total cost for the plywood (maple, finish grade) was about $140. Yes, the entire floor cost $140 — less than $1 per square foot. Not bad for a wide-plank wood floor. Pretty great, in fact.

Im sure theres bound to be some concern about the durability of the floor, but I honestly dont think thats much of an issue. I dont care about dents and stuff, and Im not going to need to refinish it down to bare wood. For my time and money, this is a great solution. Im super excited about how it came out.

Just wait until you see it painted. (Give me a few days, haha.)


Leave a Reply