I really wanted old-looking white floors for our new studio space. I actually saw some interesting, beat-up knotty oak at Lumber Liquidators for a little more than a dollar per square foot, which is practically highway robbery when it comes to wood flooring prices. But it was only about 2″ wide and after laying all that tongue-and-groove flooring on the other side of our house this year, I decided to think outside the box and figure out a way to get wide-plank wood flooring to go in the studio for way, way less.
So there’s this really cool event space in Manhattan called Gary’s Loft that companies love to host parties at. One of the spaces is big and open and all white, with gorgeous, gappy wide-plank white wood floors. I loved going to parties at Gary’s.
When I was planning my approach to the DIY, I had those gorgeous floors in mind. They were perfectly imperfect and all worn and full of character. I had the thought that cutting down and using plywood as the planks could achieve a similar, and even more rustic (in a good way) look. So I headed to the lumber section at my local Home Depot and found just the right plywood. It’s almost a half-inch thick and one side is more finished than the other.
Plywood sheets are 4×8′, which is 32 square feet. We needed to install about 800 square feet of flooring up in the studio space with the attached bedroom and balcony. Which meant we needed about 25 sheets of plywood. At less than $18 per sheet, my price per square foot came in at about 50 cents, which is complete insanity!
So, I found the plywood I wanted, took a photo of the price tag, and walked up to the customer service desk. I placed an order for 25 sheets and I asked for each sheet to be cut down into 8″ planks, lengthwise (which meant there was no waste – exactly six planks from each sheet). I’ll admit that I did get a few funny looks, but for the most part everyone at Home Depot was incredibly nice and accomodating, given the huge ask. I was more than prepared to pay 10 or even 25 cents per cut, like one of the guys in the lumber department suggested they might charge me at the order desk. I think I paid for cuts when I did the wall planking project in our mudroom, but this time there was no charge for all those cuts! I’m pretty sure it was because I was really flexible on timing and let them take as long as they wanted to get the order finished. And even then, it was less than 24 hours before they called to tell me my planks were ready to be picked up.
We borrowed a truck from my kind brother in law and he and the Home Depot guys helped us load up the 25 sheets of cut wood. The tricky part was then getting all the wood upstairs! These amazing gloves practically never left my hands during the two or so days I was installing the planks and moving them around. The gloves are thin, but really durable and they grip so well that you almost forget you’re wearing gloves at all. They’re my favorite brand I’ve used so far.
Once we had all the carpet removed and all the wood planks upstairs to the back porch, it was time to start the only tedious part of this project: all the sanding. It was actually pretty easy work, but it just took some time (actually about a minute and a half or two per plank, which really adds up). I asked Heather to sand while I was installing the planks, and usually the timing worked out well and we were able to keep a good pace.
This new orbital sander has changed my LIFE. You guys, what have I been doing with my dorky little Mouse sander for all these years?! Orbital is where it’s at. Worth every last penny.
I bought a couple packages of the bulk 60-count course/removal sanding pads and they really worked fast on any rough parts or spray painted markings or splinters on the plywood planks. It worked out best to change the sanding pad every three or four planks. And I didn’t worry about getting every imperfection off – you’re just going for the obvious parts that look bad or like they could hurt a bare foot. We also sanded down the perimeter of every plank so that the edges were sort of beveled. I think this step made a huge difference in helping the planks look like they’re not just cut down plywood pieces.
The installing part was so easy, especially when there weren’t additional cuts needed. You’ll want to start on the longest, straightest wall you have. Don’t start on a wall that requires a lot of cuts and notching out – your lines will get messy and crooked really fast. If you start your installation on a long, straight wall and just focus on maintaining even spacing, the planks will look great. You can use a ruler or t-square to help with spacing, but I felt comfortable eyeing it.
To lay the wood down, I first squiggled on to the back side of the planks a line of Subfloor Liquid Nails (in the big contractor size, using the oversized caulking gun). I went through at least a dozen of these tubes of glue – you’ll need a lot of it!
We haven’t even started decorating in here yet, but I LOVE how bright the space feels now! Remember how dark it was just a few short weeks ago?
The floors have completely changed the way I feel about this space! Instant character!
And at only 50 cents a square foot for the plywood, it’s hard to find things to complain about. It’s a great look, especially for the price.
The studio is becoming a really lovely place to get work done and I know it will be perfect for photographing projects for the blog and book. We get great light in here all hours of the day and all the shades of white make the room just glow. :)
Now, on to the decorating!