DIY Projects

DIY Painted Subfloor

Painted subfloor.  Definitely something to consider if you’re looking for an inexpensive diy floor.  But let me back up a sec and explain how it was we came to do this project.  I was embarking on a mini master bedroom makeover spurred by the ordering of my dream bed, a bed I had first seen 7 or so years ago but was way out of my price range.  Lots more on that in another post BUT our current bedroom just wasn’t going to showcase it like it needed to, hence I began a major process of brainstorming for just the right look.  And it all started with the floor.  We had 11 year old carpet with issues.  Not only with our 4 kids but we have 4 dogs too and one of them is a puppy, a puppy that had a rough go of it until I figured out he had a food allergy.  People, it was not pretty and most of it was on that carpet, in the middle of the night, on multiple nights.  Another of our dogs struggles with incontinence (mostly controlled by medication), sweetest girl on the planet and she sleeps in our room.  I think that’s enough of a visual for ya, this carpet just gave me the heebee jeebies knowing how much of a mess was probably in it, despite my disciplined and consistent cleanings.  It simply had to go, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I searched high and low for low budget, attractive and diy options.  It had to be durable (i.e 4 kids and 4 dogs), cheap, nice to look at and quick to install/put in. More carpet was just a no go for me.  Hardwood that matched the existing hardwood (that we installed last year) would have been great but we bought it out of a factory in NC and it was a small batch and can’t get anymore of it.  Then there’s tile which is beautiful, especially the stone varieties but expensive to install (with backer board, adhesive, grout and renting a tile saw) and time consuming.   I came upon cork which I liked a lot of the qualities of; sound and temp insulating, cushy to walk on, tons of options for look and floating is easy to install.  But I read some issues about wearing badly for the floating option and its sensitivity to water or liquids.  2 of our dogs are BIG dogs and drool a lot, not to mention the kids that spill EVERYTHING everywhere. Cost wise it was the most we would be willing to spend and with concerns over its durability we decided it was a no go.  So I began thinking about solutions that would work using the subfloor and voila.  It hit me, “let’s paint it!”  Doesn’t have to be forever if we want to put something down later but will last until we get around to it, eventually.


So we pulled up the dsc_0361carpet the next day in the bedroom and closet, tore out the tack strips and staples and thoroughly cleaned it.  I was disappointed to discover we have the particleboard subfloor which is very textured as I had hoped for a smooth floor, but I didn’t want to invest more time or money into putting new plywood sheets down or using a leveling compound.  So we just rolled with it.  We started by using a wood filler at all the seams and then renting a floor sander to sand the entire thing down.  I think we made 4 or 5 passes over the whole floor to be sure it was as smooth as we could get it. Next up was vacuuming and vacuuming and vacuuming again to be sure it was clean.  Can’t stress this enough because you don’t want gunk or sawdust in your painted finish.





Now here I will admit that I had already purchased a paint system that I intended to use on the floor, a metallics paint (we ended up using it on the wall so a happy ending was had) and I was so excited to use it.  However, I was concerned about the sealer I had purchased to put on top of it and called the company.  Under no circumstances do they recommend using this on a floor (even though they say it can be used on virtually any surface) because the flooring can expand and contract which could cause the paint to crack and potentially peel up.  I about cried from seeing my beautiful floor visions dashed but knowing that there is no insulation underneath (unfinished part of the basement) expansion and contraction could be worse than a normal floor due to temp fluctuations.  So, sniff sniff, I spur of the moment picked the BM paint color and said let’s just stencil it.  At this point we had bare subfloor and were living in the family room.  I slept on one couch while the hubs slept on the other couch.  Not ideal, especially when there are 2 story windows and the sun never stops coming up insanely early.

dsc_0374So, forging on we began by applying 2 coats of a primer (Behr) that was recommended for use with Behr’s porch and patio paint.  This stuff was awesome and coverage was very good, although the texture made things a little more difficult as we wanted to fill in all the nooks and crannies to get as smooth a look as possible.  After following dry times we had the Behr porch paint tinted to Benjamin Moore’s Kentucky Haze.  It’s a soft green with lots of gray in it, looks more gray on the floor.  And another gallon tinted to an off white.  2 coats of the Kentucky Haze and it was time to begin contemplating the stencil we were going to do.dsc_0378  I spent an entire day trying to figure out what pattern, what size and what style.  People, I was stressed and overwhelmed.  After a mini meltdown or 2 (ok a big meltdown) the hubs came home from work and talked me down from the ledge looking into the abyss of stencils.  We looked together and I found a pretty design online and decided to use that along with some words for our own look.  We blew them up, using a projector, on the wall and traced out the floral pattern and our 3 words.  We opted to use mat board, you know the kind that they cut down for framing.  It worked well and was really cheap.  We then cut out our stencils using utility knives, exacto knives were much harder to use.  We also picked up some small rollers.

dsc_0379For the layout we started in the closet and worked our way out of it, I did this for 2 reasons.  I wanted to start and get the hang of it where I could cover it up easily if I messed it up and I wanted to complete a small space to motivate me for the big one.  I just laid the 4 stencils down in a way that I liked, taped the edges with painters tape and started rolling, once it was filled in I carefully lifted and moved the stencil.  The closet went quickly which was really encouraging.  For the bedroom we brought out our stencils and started laying them down, no real rhyme or reason, no measuring distances, just asked ourselves how do we like it?  Then I went to work, hubs tried to help, but bless him he’s not as neat as I am so it quickly became apparent I was on my own for this one, although to his credit he kept me hydrated and kept me company.  dsc_0382It took about 4-5 hours in total to complete the stenciling throughout the entire room.  One comment about the mat board, the floral pattern was the one I used the most and the more wet it got the more it wanted to warp up.  This was to be expected but I would just let it dry out a little bit before using it again.  The word stencils held up perfectly and I had no issues whatsoever with warping.

There you have it!  How we went from nasty carpet to pretty painted subfloors!  The dry time between coats of paint took the longest but I wanted to be sure it was set enough to use (you know all those feet and paws running around on it)




It’s been about a month now and all of our furniture is in and we’ve been using and abusing it and haven’t had a single issue with scratching (and I drag my vanity chair back and forth every day) and 2 100+ pound dogs with hard nails running around on it.  It’s working perfectly for us until (someday a LONG LONG way from now) we put down something else, or not.  Hubs LOVES it, which is surprising because he was skeptical about this idea from the beginning.  I would say that’s a win!dsc_0385


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4 thoughts on “DIY Painted Subfloor

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