So I don't know how many people out there LOVE carpet and I mean no offense but I HATE the darn stuff. I am not usually one to say hate but I really do HATE carpet with a passion. I won't go into details about all my many reasons but I think I say enough when I say I have a dog.
So we have lived in our house for coming up on 4 years and we have the original carpet that was installed I'm sure a few years before we bought it so I guess that's saying enough there too. I am a hard woods girl I love the cleanliness and overall easy cleaning of hard woods. Ever since we bought our little bungalow I have been begging to replace the carpet with wood flooring. We kept looking for the cheapest option and every time there was a sale we would break out the dimensions and find that to do our house in just materials it was about $3500-$4000 not including the labor. As we are always on a budget around our house like most young americans these days we kept putting it off.
While at lunch with my mom at a trendy local restaurant we looked down at the flooring and noticed how beautiful and rustic it looked. But something was a little off... Was that PLYWOOD!!!! Yes it was! OMG what a great idea! And how practical...and CHEAP... yes this seemed perfect for our house and even more perfect for our budget! I was so excited to tell my husband all about what we found out... Well he didn't have quite the same reaction to me... it was more like are you nuts? PLYWOOD? You've got to be joking... So of course I had to take him to lunch so he could see it for himself. Needless to say he was more impressed by the way it looked than he thought he would be. So 8 months later we decided to start on the project. So here are a some pictures of before...
We purchased the cabinet grade plywood at Home Depot as it was the cheapest I could find. We also had them cut the full sheets of plywood into 2 foot by 4 foot pieces as cutting them at home with a skill saw seemed a little risky (wobbly cut lines). They cut the first 5 cuts free and then it was $0.50 a cut after that. We thought it was well worth it. Something to consider if you decide to pursue this project is that a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of plywood is not EXACTLY 4 foot by 8 foot. They are all off a little bit here and there so you will have to compensate for this when you start laying your flooring.
We also decided to break up the full sheets of plywood into 2x4 sheets but I have seen a few blogs where they did 1x4 and 1x8. I think for the overall structure and shape of our house we picked the correct size to have the boards cut. But the sky is the limit for creativity on this project.
Don't ask me why but I was actually smiling under the mask. LOL!
So our bungalow was built in the 70's and the second thing I HATED most about this house was the popcorn ceiling. What were contractors thinking when they put this nasty stuff up? All I can say is that at least whoever put ours up didn't put the glitter in the mix too.
So this was the nastiest part of the project but it had to be done. Step 1 was we attached a garden mister nozzle to the garden hose and dragged it through the house through a window and wetted down the ceiling. After about 5 minutes the popcorn plaster becomes soft and you can remove it with a metal scraper.
The removal goes pretty fast. After removing the plaster you allow the sheetrock to dry. So you can apply the new baroque.
Meanwhile my son wanted to help so bad and as we still do not know how toxic the ceiling stuff is we wouldn't let him in that section of the house. So he kept asking... and asking... and asking... so I jokingly said OK Ethan you can work in the kitchen on the tile. He was so excited! So he grabbed his safety goggle AKA: Motor cycle riding goggles, a hammer and some attitude and he got to work.
Little did I know how well he was going to do!
Before I knew it he had most of it torn out. This one was super funny! Whoever laid this tile obviously didn't do it correctly if my 9 year old can rip out 50 tiles single handedly. Not that he or I was complaining lol.
So he got a little thirsty after that and took a break. At this point we were all done in the rest of the house with the plaster and removal of the old carpet
For the ceiling we decided to use the pre-mixed plaster called Bedex. This is about the 4th time that I have laid down plaster on ceilings and walls so I am pretty practiced at it but all in all it took me about 8 hours to do 725 square feet of ceiling. I did a heavy tuscan style baroque because I love the way the heavy texture looks.
As everything was up off the floors and out of the way I also deiced that I wanted to change up my paint pallets in my house so I went with a light dove grey in the dining room and a smoky blue in the rest of the house
LAYING THE PLANKS
So after we thoroughly swept and vacuumed all the floors we started laying the first line of planks. This is the MOST IMPORTANT line of the flooring in the whole project. You need to make sure that all the boards are evenly lined up as it can throw the whole project off if it is not. After laying them all out and piecing the odd lengths in we decided to screw them all down. We used a counter sink drill bit followed by steel 2 1/4" screws. We started off with 8 screws per plank but it quickly became obvious that to get the planks level with adjoining boards we would need to use 12 screws in each plank.
So after all the planks were laid down and screwed into place I went through and puttied all the seams and filled in all the holes left by the screws.
Here is a picture of when I thought that I just needed to fill the holes... Joke was on me for that one.
When I finally got to the kitchen Ethan decided that it looked pretty fun and that he wanted to try... Well since he did such a fantastic job on the tiles in the kitchen I thought what the heck! Gives me a break right?
Ya he lasted 5 minutes and said "this is boring" and took off. I don't blame him after 5 hours doning the same thing I was about to ditch my husband too!
So I started on the seams and made my way back through the house to the living room.
After applying the putty to all the seams and holes we started sanding... However... we had several problems that arose. First was that I was used to working with a disk or round floor sander so that is exactly what I rented. WRONG do not rent one of those for this project. For some reason the way that the plywood is formed it is too flat or something I never really figured it out but every time I tried to put the sander down to sand the paper would tear off the pad. It didn't matter what grit that I tried. So I returned it and got a square pad sander that does more of a gyrating motion instead of a spinning motion and this was key! We ended up using 80 grit paper first and went back over with the 100 grit.
Do not sand in the same spot for very longs as the 1/16" of veneer on top of the plywood will come off leaving the ugly chipboard underneath.
After sanding down all the putty it was time for the staining process. Due to the fact that I wanted to stay in my home while this project was going and I have a child and pet and I didn't want to be breathing in harmful chemicals I went with the water based low VOC stain that is environmentally friendly.
On the can it says to apply with this stain pad on a pole so that is what we did but I was impatient and wanted to help so I grabbed a rag and started rubbing in the stain with the rag in the hallway. Honestly the rag method took MUCH longer but it looks so much better. With the application pad you could see the streaks in the the stain where you started and stopped and it was a lot harder to blend the wet with the dry areas
Finished with the stain and this is after the varnish. Again I went with a low VOC water based polyurethane. I did 3 coats total but my husband thinks that we should probably have one more coat. This is all up to you but you really should have at least 2 coats.
I don't know if you can see in the middle of this picture the mess up I did. This was caused by trying to blend the wet stain and the dry stain. Whatever you do DO NOT double coat the stain. Meaning when you are applying the wet stain and coming up on a dry area do not put the stain on the dry area. Instead get as close as you can and take a wet rag and blend it. This will save you a lot of headache and sanding.
As we tore out all of the carpet we didn't save the trim either. It was pretty banged up and outdated as well and I was happy to see it go to be honest. For the new trim I really wanted the chunky 6" trim but it was a little pricey for the budget we were on so I went with the 4" paint grade trim as I was going to paint it anyway and it's about 1/2 the price of regular oak trim.
All in all my husband and I worked on this project a total of 90+ hours and with all the supplies:
Paint for walls and ceilings
Stain and Varnish putty
All expenses were $1585
We did save $100 at Home Depot for having a coupon which was nice
so our grand total would have been $1685
Other expenses to think about:
Lunch and Dinner out everyday for a week
Hotel if necessary
Tool rentals if you do not own them (we own all the tools necessary for this project)
All in all this turned out to be a really simple project but just had lots of easy steps to follow. I would not attempt this if you do not know how to handle a skill saw, Square, or chop saw.
We LOVE our new flooring and are SOOOOOO happy we did this project.
Thanks for looking and feel free to email me with any questions you may have.