How to Install Beautiful & Inexpensive Wood Floors

2 years ago 11
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

In a past life I had thought of the idea of buying solid oak plywood, cutting it into strips and using it as inexpensive solid oak flooring. I was then told that I was an idiot and carpet was chosen instead (a far more expensive option when we had already exhausted our budget). As it turns out, I was very right and cutting plywood into strips for flooring has been done and it can be gorgeous. And (just for the record) you can put whatever you want under your feet – if it's wood, then you have wood floors!

It does not need to come out of a box that says “flooring” on it, nope, what makes a floor a floor is the fact that you walk on it. The only reason we did not opt for the plywood-cut-into-strips-option was because we do not own a table saw to cut it ourselves, and it still would have been about twice the cost of what we ended up paying. This inexpensive wood floor cost us less than $300.

The idea to just use basic pine 1x4s for the floors in our dining room/entry and Dakota's room came about when I found out I could buy what they call “furring strips” from a local lumber yard for less then $1 a board. Note: Furring strips are generally made of very rough material; its not pretty wood, it's the roughest pine that you can buy and it's usually only used on something that will be covered up. However, I have a very old farm house, only about 500 square feet to cover and an extraordinarily limited budget.

During the renovation, when we finally got to putting in our new floors my local lumber yard was completely out of the furring strips I wanted to buy, so after many calls, we ended up buying 1x4s (of the cheapest pine available) somewhere else for $1.80 a board. Not as cheap as I had thought we would get, however, it's much higher quality than it would have been had we went with the furring strips. So this floor cost us less than $300 for 500 square feet and that makes me very happy.

You don't need much for this installation, but there are some things you can do that we did not do. Squeaks fit right in around here and we wanted no gaps between the boards because the original floor boards had no space between them. To eliminate squeaks and groans, you can put down a pad/underlayment between the sub floor and your new wood floor. You can also glue the floor down, or use some kind of spacer between your boards.

These are all things that we chose to skip and all things that would eliminate the squeaking, groaning and shifting. For us, having the floors look like they've been here for 100 years was more important than living with squeaks.

Question I will undoubtedly be asked: Aren't you supposed to run your new floor the opposite direction the sub floor is run? Yes, that is how you're supposed to do it, and no that is not how we did it. In only about 1/4 of the flooring, the old sub floor for the screened-in porch remained, the rest was plywood so we just went ahead and did wrong. We regret nothing.

We used a brad nailer and two-inch long brad nails for this job. Joe nailed the boards down while I cut them with the miter saw outside. He did two brads every few feet in a line down every board so it looks very consistent, but you have to look close to see them, as brads are very tiny. We bought 12 foot long 1x4s so they spanned the distance of the entire room – 8 foot long 1x4s would have been cheaper and would have made little to no waste, but would have created lots of seams – our original wood floors have no seams.

This is one of those jobs that one person can do, but is so much quicker and easier with two people that you really should have two people. With me cutting the boards and Joe nailing them down, we laid all of the floor in under 3 hours. Other tools we used included a skill saw for the tedious cuts. We started in the center of the room and worked our way out, so either tool was an absolute must because in three instances we had to rip the 1x4 down lengthwise – something that we could not have done that long of a distance with our miter saw, and we still do not own a table saw.

We used a pine 1x8 to cover the uneven threshold between our dining room and our kitchen. I did not want the two floors butting up to each other, as they are very different types of wood and slightly different in size. The threshold creates the stopping point that makes the two woods make a lot more sense to the eye. We sanded the floors together, using a far rougher grit sandpaper (35) on the original floors then we used out here (60).

From there I applied one coat of stain to all of it by hand with a paint brush, laid it on there thick, let the floor soak up as much as it wanted, and after about twenty minutes, wiped up the excess with old t-shirts. From there we did two coats of a poly acrylic floor finish with no sanding between coats, letting it be as rough as possible so they would look like they've been here forever. We love them!

Overall, this project of 500 square feet of wood flooring cost us less than $300.


Grandma's House DIY

"Taking the home my mom grew up in and making it a place for us to grow old in."


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