Painted Plywood Floors – How-to Guide & Ideas

Painted plywood floors can be beautiful, and depending on the type of plywood and paint you opt for, these floors can help you save quite a bit of money. Whether you’re working on an attic, a play room for your kids, or even a den, dining room, or other living space, you’ll find that painted plywood floors are a practical, stylish choice.

How to Paint a Plywood Floor

One solid color? An interesting check pattern? A muted grey or bright white to open up your space? The options for painting plywood floors are nearly limitless. Before we talk colors and designs, though, let’s go over the basics of how to prep and paint a plywood floor for a smooth, attractive finish.

Tools and Materials required to Paint Plywood Floors

  • Patching compound and putty knife
  • Wood putty
  • Palm sander with 120-grit discs
  • Dust mask and eye protection
  • Wet/dry vacuum (shop vac)
  • Mop, barely dampened
  • 12-inch roller frame and corresponding roller covers
  • Extension pole for roller
  • Paintbrushes in various sizes
  • Oil-based wood primer, preferably labeled for floors
  • Paint, such as porch and plywood floor enamel
  • Pencil, stencils, masking tape, and other materials needed to create desired design
  • Acrylic, water-based polyurethane, or shellac sealer
  • Floor finish applicator for sealer

We recommend getting these tools, abrasives, paints from popular shops like: Amazon, 3M, HarborFreight, HomeDepot, AceHardware, StanleyTools, RedDevil, Sherwin-Williams

Preparing a Plywood Floor to be Painted – Step-by-Step Guide

Before you get started, clear everything from the room and be sure that the space is well-ventilated. Survey the floor to ensure that the plywood is firmly attached to the floor joists beneath, and tap down any fasteners that are protruding. Once you’ve finished this preliminary step, you’ll be ready to get started.

1. Install plywood if necessary. If painting a plywood subfloor, clean it thoroughly before moving on to the next step because it is very challenging to paint a damaged plywood subfloor. Check to be sure all plywood is in good condition and consider replacing or fixing any pieces that are in bad shape.

2. Fill nail holes and joints between sheets of plywood with wood putty or patching compound. Don’t worry too much about neatness; you’ll be smoothing everything down when you sand.

3. Once the patching compound has dried, start sanding the floor. Work in small sections, vacuuming up the dust as you go.

4. When you are satisfied with the floor’s texture, vacuum the whole thing.

5. Go over the floor with a mop that has been barely dampened, removing the remainder of the dust. You may have to rinse the mop several times, wringing it out well after each rinse.

6. Ensure the plywood floor is free of dust and completely dry before beginning the next step.

7. Using a paint brush, cut in the edges of the floor with primer. If you plan to apply baseboard molding when finished, don’t worry about taping off.

8. Use the roller to prime the rest of the floor. Work in sections, beginning at the section furthest from the door and working your way out. This way, you won’t find yourself painted in a corner.

9. Allow the primer to dry per the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply a second coat if needed.

10. Once primer has dried completely, it’s time to begin the painting process. It’s often a good idea to lay down a single coat of light-colored porch paint before stenciling a pattern. If you are working with contrasting colors, lay down the lighter color first. If working with several colors, you may be better off drawing or stenciling your pattern before laying down any paint.

11. Allow your paint to dry completely between coats and colors. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding sanding between two paint coats.

12. Allow the painted floor to dry completely before applying the sealer. You’ll want to apply two paint coats or more for a durable finish that lasts.

13. Allow the floor to dry for at least two hours before testing to see if it’s dry. Although you will be able to walk on it in sock-covered feet within a few hours of application, you will want to allow the finished floor to cure for 24 to 48 hours before bringing in rugs, furniture, and other items.

14. Decorate your room and enjoy!

Colors for Painted Plywood Floors

floor, wood, flooring, paint, white
Painting floor in white, NeroDominus

So, what about colors? Plain white or cream opens up a space, is fuss-free, and is just about foolproof. It’s a good choice for any space.
Other pale colors such as the lightest hues of yellow, green, gray, or even lavender can be nice. Be sure to consider which furnishings, rugs, and art you’ll be using in the room you are painting.
Blue is a nice choice too, whether brilliant and playful or subtle and muted. Be careful though; the darker the color, the smaller your space will appear.
Neutral beige, tan, and coffee colors work well too. The lighter the color, the more open your room will look.
For a more vibrant appearance, try a spicy red or mustard tone. These colors work well in kitchens, studios, and other spaces where creativity reigns supreme.

Patterns to Consider for Painted Plywood Floor

If you’re considering a pattern or stencil for your painted plywood floor, you’ll find that simple checks or diamonds are easy to lay out. You can swirl the paint to get the look of stone, use an interlocking circle pattern, or stencil on another design that appeals to you.
Last, but not least, remember that you’ll get the best results with high-quality plywood like ACX or Okoume, but you can paint any plywood floor to give your space a quick update at an average cost of under a dollar per square foot. Price will depend largely upon the cost of the materials you choose to use, but you’ll find that even with high-quality plywood and paint, you will ultimately spend less than you would on traditional floor coverings.

Frequently Asked Questions about Painted Plywood Floors

How do you paint plywood to look like a plank floor?

To paint plywood to look like a plank floor, you will first need to prime the plywood. This can be done with a latex primer and a paint roller. Apply the primer in even strokes, working in small sections. Let the primer dry according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Once the primer is dry, you can then start painting the plywood. For best results, use a paint roller designed for rough surfaces. Apply the paint in long, even strokes. Start at the top of the plywood and work your way down. Let the paint dry according to the manufacturer’s directions before applying a second coat.

Do painted wood floors hold up?

Painted wood floors can actually be quite durable, as long as you take care of them properly. Make sure to vacuum or sweep regularly to remove dirt and dust, and refinish the paint every few years to keep it looking fresh. You’ll also want to avoid things like excessive moisture or sunlight, which can damage the paint over time. With proper care, your painted wood floors should last for many years.

Can you mop painted plywood floors?

You can, but you need to take a few precautions:

  1. Ensure the paint is fully cured and the floor is sealed.
  2. Use a damp mop rather than a wet one.
  3. Avoid steam mops, as the heat and moisture can damage the floorboards.
  4. Be sure to dry the floor completely after mopping.

Which paint is best on plywood?

When choosing paint for plywood, acrylic latex paint is generally the best option. This type of paint adheres well to wood surfaces, providing good coverage and durability. Latex paint is also easy to clean up, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas. However, acrylic latex paint is not recommended for use on outdoor plywood, as it can be damaged by sunlight and moisture. For exterior plywood projects, alkyd or oil-based paints are a better option. These paints provide better protection against the elements but can be more difficult to work with. When using any type of paint on plywood, be sure to apply a primer first. This will help the paint adhere better and provide a more even finish.

What do you cover plywood flooring with?

Several options are available for covering plywood floors, including hardwood flooring, laminate flooring, and vinyl flooring. Hardwood flooring is popular because it gives the plywood floors a warm and natural look. Laminate flooring is another option to give the plywood floors a more finished look. Vinyl flooring is an excellent option if you are looking for something that is easy to maintain and clean.

How do you make plywood look like real wood?

There are a few different ways to make plywood look like real wood. The most common method is to stain the plywood with a dark wood stain and then seal it with a clear coat of polyurethane. This will give the plywood a deep, rich color that closely resembles natural wood. Another option is to paint the plywood with a light-colored primer and then finish it with dark-colored paint. This approach can create a more rustic look, or it can be used to create a two-tone effect. Finally, you can also apply a veneer to the plywood. Veneers are thin sheets of real wood that can be glued onto the surface of the plywood. This gives the plywood an authentic wood grain that cannot be achieved with stains or paints.

Is it better to paint or stain plywood?

Paint is best for projects requiring a high degree of durabilities, such as shelves or cabinets. It provides a protective barrier against water and wear and can be easily cleaned with soap and water. Stain, on the other hand, is best for projects that require a natural look, such as floors or furniture. It penetrates the wood fibers to provide long-lasting protection and enhances the wood’s grain pattern.

Both paint and stain have their advantages, so it comes down to personal preference. If you can’t decide which one to use, why not try both? Paint the shelves in your kitchen for durability, and stain the floor in your living room for a warm, natural look.

What is the best finish for plywood?

When it comes to choosing a finish for plywood flooring, there are a few things to consider. First, what type of plywood are you using? If you’re working with hardwood plywood, you’ll want to choose a finish that protects the surface from scratches and wear. A clear lacquer or polyurethane would be a good option. If you’re using softwood plywood, such as pine or cedar, you can choose a finish highlighting the wood’s natural beauty. A stain or tinted varnish would be a good choice. Once you’ve decided on the type of finish, you’ll also need to consider how the plywood will be used. If it is exposed to moisture or high humidity, you’ll need to choose a waterproof finish.

Can you make plywood flooring look like hardwood?

Yes, you can make plywood flooring look like hardwood by sealing the grain with a primer and then painting it with a floor-grade enamel in the desired color. This will give you a durable surface that resembles hardwood floors.

Can you do epoxy floor on plywood?

Epoxy flooring is a popular choice for both commercial and residential applications. It is durable, easy to clean, and slip-resistant, making it ideal for high-traffic areas. One common question is whether epoxy can be applied directly to the plywood. The answer is yes, but there are a few things to remember:

  • The plywood must be in good condition with no major cracks or damage.
  • It is important to rough up the surface of the plywood before applying the epoxy. This will help the epoxy to adhere better.
  • Be sure to apply a primer designed for use with epoxy flooring.

How long does porch and floor paint last?

Floor paint typically lasts for 3 to 5 years, but it can vary depending on the type of paint, the amount of traffic the floor sees, and how well it is maintained.
Floor paint is available in both water-based and oil-based formulas, with the water-based formulas being more environmentally friendly. However, water-based porch and floor paints don’t always offer the best durability or wear resistance, so if a high level of durability is required, an oil-based floor paint may be a better option.

It’s important to remember that no matter what type of porch and floor paint is used, it will need to be periodically resealed to maintain its appearance and protect it from moisture and other environmental damage.

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