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Diy Plywood Plank Flooring With Black Lettering

Updated on May 13, 2019
First attempt at wide plank flooring and lettering,
First attempt at wide plank flooring and lettering, | Source

A Flooring Story

This is such a complicated story I must think long and hard about which details will be useful and which ones will just be whining for this article. Weighing factors like cost, time involved, and energy levels began our foray into the world of flooring for our addition.

We ran into trouble after deciding to go with an LVP. I wanted wide planks, as in wide. Some early American homes had floor planks up to 42" wide. How beautiful they must have been, but I was willing to have 16" planks. No go, though, from a manufacturer.

There were the time and energy factors to consider. If we did any of it ourselves those would be sacrificed. Quality LVP looked sturdy, we knew it should go in fast so we could move on, putting our energies elsewhere.

The one thing we didn't consider was that installers can be, um, crafty. We've had mostly great installers for past projects, but the one sent out for this just wasn't. He clearly had never worked with the product even as he was declaring he had.

After the first day a representative came out and could not deny the multiple problems with the installation. After a spin on the entire matter we successfully ditched the contract, having learned that transparent honesty is a priority in any relationship. See the laughable results of the install attempt below:

Install Fail

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Laughable pattern install. Seams separating and lifting on first day.Product out of our way, waiting to be retrieved. We needed to move on!
Laughable pattern install.
Laughable pattern install. | Source
Seams separating and lifting on first day.
Seams separating and lifting on first day. | Source
Product out of our way, waiting to be retrieved. We needed to move on!
Product out of our way, waiting to be retrieved. We needed to move on! | Source

Moving On

If we did it ourselves we could get those lovely 16" planks, but did we want to? Yeah, it turned out we would rather not deal with another installer at the time. Are we glad we did in spite of the extra time? Yep.

My husband chose a cabinet grade birch plywood and bought me a nice new pair of knee pads. We decided to work on the pantry as our trial run. We also had two closets in which we could practice what we learned from the pantry before doing the larger expanse.

The supply list was as follows:

• Enough felt roofing paper to cover the spaces.

• Enough plywood plus a couple extra sheets to cover the spaces.

• A saw for cutting planks (read up on the kind you'll want to use).

• A quality wood stapler with enough staples for your project (again, read up).

• Dark latex caulk for seams (if you want the look shown in our project).

• Enough flooring grade polyurethane for several coats after plywood is installed.

• Enough white paint to thin (1/4 paint to 3/4 water) and cover your plywood.

For the words:

Read up on various transfer methods. I reversed the words on a printer and transferred them using a water spray bottle to release the ink. Choose the lettering transfer method that will work best for you.

____________

The photos below have helpful tips in the captions. By looking these over and reading other's processes you can get a good idea of how to go about your own project.

See Our Flooring Project in Progress

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Even before the ugly install was out of the way we began cutting16" wide plywood planks, storing them indoors to prevent warping. Lengths were cut as needed, and purposefully spaced randomly.My husband used thin metal spacers about 4" long between the flooring planks throughout installation. In the pantry we learned not to use sheets from the same piece of plywood but to mix them for random coloring. It's about preference, really.Planks installed after a triumphant attempt at getting the angled corner right. (Isn't he brilliant?!) Staples are 8" apart (mostly) along the edges, matched across all the planks (mostly).After broom washing with thinned paint it was time to set up and reverse print PANTRY. To get the right size it had to be done on two pages I matched and taped together. After lightly misting with water it went on the floor ink side down. Rubbed ink letters seemed pale so I used a pencil to darken them. Time to begin applying the polyurethane layers! The first two coats I used a broom, then the next few a wide paint brush, allowing for dry times between.The above was repeated when the master bedroom closet planks were ready. I was looking forward to seeing the letters pop when the polyurethane was applied.By working quickly after the paper was misted each closet was a success. Be careful to rub consistently, not teaingr paper, but if you do, no worries, the pencil helps fill in.From this......to this.Easy peasy, except for the waiting-on-paint-to-dry times. :)  (These two floors are the same basic color. Lighting at different times changed them up for the photos.)The largest space had to be done in sections. This pic shows the white washed floor planks against the natural wood. Taped Xs marked where we stopped to let paint /poly dry...A little sanding was needed before final coat, then we cleaned it carefully. A pole sander was huge help. (Sorry for the poor lighting.)  This is when Mr. Brilliant applied the dark caulk to all seams. See the great look for the light floors below.A year later it's holding up well. Very reflective but easy to clean. The blue light is a skylight reflection. The photo cannot show how nice the plywood plank floor looks.
Even before the ugly install was out of the way we began cutting16" wide plywood planks, storing them indoors to prevent warping. Lengths were cut as needed, and purposefully spaced randomly.
Even before the ugly install was out of the way we began cutting16" wide plywood planks, storing them indoors to prevent warping. Lengths were cut as needed, and purposefully spaced randomly. | Source
My husband used thin metal spacers about 4" long between the flooring planks throughout installation. In the pantry we learned not to use sheets from the same piece of plywood but to mix them for random coloring. It's about preference, really.
My husband used thin metal spacers about 4" long between the flooring planks throughout installation. In the pantry we learned not to use sheets from the same piece of plywood but to mix them for random coloring. It's about preference, really. | Source
Planks installed after a triumphant attempt at getting the angled corner right. (Isn't he brilliant?!) Staples are 8" apart (mostly) along the edges, matched across all the planks (mostly).
Planks installed after a triumphant attempt at getting the angled corner right. (Isn't he brilliant?!) Staples are 8" apart (mostly) along the edges, matched across all the planks (mostly). | Source
After broom washing with thinned paint it was time to set up and reverse print PANTRY. To get the right size it had to be done on two pages I matched and taped together. After lightly misting with water it went on the floor ink side down.
After broom washing with thinned paint it was time to set up and reverse print PANTRY. To get the right size it had to be done on two pages I matched and taped together. After lightly misting with water it went on the floor ink side down. | Source
Rubbed ink letters seemed pale so I used a pencil to darken them. Time to begin applying the polyurethane layers! The first two coats I used a broom, then the next few a wide paint brush, allowing for dry times between.
Rubbed ink letters seemed pale so I used a pencil to darken them. Time to begin applying the polyurethane layers! The first two coats I used a broom, then the next few a wide paint brush, allowing for dry times between. | Source
The above was repeated when the master bedroom closet planks were ready. I was looking forward to seeing the letters pop when the polyurethane was applied.
The above was repeated when the master bedroom closet planks were ready. I was looking forward to seeing the letters pop when the polyurethane was applied. | Source
By working quickly after the paper was misted each closet was a success. Be careful to rub consistently, not teaingr paper, but if you do, no worries, the pencil helps fill in.
By working quickly after the paper was misted each closet was a success. Be careful to rub consistently, not teaingr paper, but if you do, no worries, the pencil helps fill in. | Source
From this...
From this... | Source
...to this.
...to this. | Source
Easy peasy, except for the waiting-on-paint-to-dry times. :)  (These two floors are the same basic color. Lighting at different times changed them up for the photos.)
Easy peasy, except for the waiting-on-paint-to-dry times. :) (These two floors are the same basic color. Lighting at different times changed them up for the photos.) | Source
The largest space had to be done in sections. This pic shows the white washed floor planks against the natural wood. Taped Xs marked where we stopped to let paint /poly dry...
The largest space had to be done in sections. This pic shows the white washed floor planks against the natural wood. Taped Xs marked where we stopped to let paint /poly dry... | Source
A little sanding was needed before final coat, then we cleaned it carefully. A pole sander was huge help. (Sorry for the poor lighting.)  This is when Mr. Brilliant applied the dark caulk to all seams. See the great look for the light floors below.
A little sanding was needed before final coat, then we cleaned it carefully. A pole sander was huge help. (Sorry for the poor lighting.) This is when Mr. Brilliant applied the dark caulk to all seams. See the great look for the light floors below. | Source
A year later it's holding up well. Very reflective but easy to clean. The blue light is a skylight reflection. The photo cannot show how nice the plywood plank floor looks.
A year later it's holding up well. Very reflective but easy to clean. The blue light is a skylight reflection. The photo cannot show how nice the plywood plank floor looks. | Source

One Big Tip

The truth is, we probably should have used a harder plywood and the finish has its imperfections, mainly because we are not experts. But it is also true that we are very happy with the end result and have enjoyed it. We live here and don't worry too much about it. Life has its dents. The finish will harden more with time. It could be refinished if need be, or carpeted if we decide it's not worth refinishing later on.

It is crucial to read as many of the posts on plywood plank flooring projects as you possibly can before you make decisions on your project. There are a few different methods out there. In spite of its drawbacks, this thing called the internet is tremendously helpful when so many people share their successes and fails with projects that initially give pause for thought.

Besides that, it is great fun to read and see all the amazing things people are doing with plywood. Just don't let those projects sidetrack you from yours. Read up, close the computer, go to work, enjoy your outcome. For any little quirks that will surely be in the finished product they will be your quirks that you can laugh about and even show off!

Would you attempt a large flooring project?

Submit a Comment
  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    7 weeks ago from the short journey

    Peggy Woods:

    So amazing appreciate your letting me know you enjoyed seeing these floors. The products available today make us wish we could start every DIY project we've ever done over! :) Now, we are also looking at just letting others do the big stuff.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

    Your floors look amazing! If my husband and I were a bit younger, we might have been tempted to do this, but now we would have to rely upon professionals to install flooring. The lettering is a cute idea!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    3 months ago from the short journey

    Kathy Burton:

    Thanks so much! It was a chunk of work, for sure. Once is all we had in us, but hiring someone younger with flooring experience to work with me and overseeing every step I can no longer do myself could be a way to get the wide plank in other areas. We'll see... :) So appreciate that you stopped in to check this DIY floor out!

  • KatWin profile image

    Kathy Burton 

    3 months ago from Florida

    Great job. It’s looks beautiful. Our floors need to be redone. I love the wide plank look and the lettering but don’t know if we are up to a DIY project. We have done many DIY projects in the past but realize we may not have stamina for such a large under taking now. Enjoyed reading.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 months ago from the short journey

    Marlene Bertrand:

    So glad you checked out our project and added your comment here. Yes, minor boo-boos are a part of the process but we decided to just smile with satisfaction that there is a memory with them. Living and learning just helps us in the next project... :)

  • MarleneB profile image

    Marlene Bertrand 

    6 months ago from USA

    My husband and I just DIY'd our living room, dining room, and kitchen floors. I was curious to read how you did your installation. Although our job turned out OK, we had some minor boo boos. One in particular was in an area where the three rooms come together. We are happy with the overall look of the floor, but we now have a large potted plant in the area where we are hiding a badly joined plank. Oh well, we live and learn.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    7 months ago from the short journey

    Dianna Mendez:

    Thanks very much! It can be a lot of work but the key is to allow plenty of time, something we failed to do. :) Rushing makes the job more difficult than it needs to be!

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    7 months ago

    A lovely result! I have helped install flooring in our homes and know how much work it takes.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    8 months ago from the short journey

    Ellen Gregory:

    Thanks for letting me know you might use the lettering idea. If you can't find a spot on flooring to use it consider getting a level loop mat and painting a whimsical word or quote on it. So appreciate your visit here!

  • LiteraryMind profile image

    Ellen Gregory 

    8 months ago from Connecticut, USA

    I like the lettering idea. Whimsical. Trying to think of where I could put it in my house.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    8 months ago from the short journey

    Pamela Oglesby:

    Certainly, your installation should go well. These companies couldn't stay in business if our experience were common! We decided not to wait on new product to be ordered and run the risk of having to do all that even a third time. Hopefully you will be doing a positive product review of your flooring and experience this time next week. If so, I would link it in my article. Thanks much for checking out this post on plywood plank flooring and letting me know it was timely for you.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 months ago from Sunny Florida

    The installation of our new vinyl plank flooring will begin Monday by a contractor. I sure hope they know what they are doing. It sounds easy to install, but after reading your article I am more nervous than I was. For us it means moving a lot of furniture back and forth also.

    Thanks for all your information. I am sure I will read this article more than once.

working

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