The natural instinct when remodeling a house with wall-to-wall carpet is to take it up, right? Before you can confirm what’s underneath, you hold high hopes for finding a wood floor that was covered up in a past era (when they didn’t know any better). But it’s best not to set your expectations too high. More likely than not, the carpet was a cheap solution to cover up a floor that was already in poor condition.
In the minimal remodel of our Connecticut home, we were delighted that the floors were primarily wood and required a mere polish and buff to restore them to their optimum condition. When we lifted the carpet on the stairs, we discovered wood treads in pristine condition and optimistically assumed that we would find the same in the four bathrooms, whose floors had all been either carpeted or covered in vinyl tiles.
And while we weren’t completely wrong, the floors were too far gone to be restored, and here began my dilemma. We did not want to spend any of our already limited budget on floors in bathrooms that were going to eventually require updating anyway, so I asked our builder what he thought the best and least expensive short-term solution would be. Based on his recommendation, we went with painted plywood.
Photography by Christine Chang Hanway, unless otherwise noted.
A material more typically associated with subfloor material, plywood was not designed to be used as a finished surface covering. It can, however, be made to look and act like one with a few extra steps outlined here for a mere $1 to $2 a square foot in materials. (Read much more in Remodeling 101: A Plywood Primer.)
Take a Before & After tour of our house in Minimal Moves for Maximum Impact. And for more on the many benefits of plywood all around the house, see:
- 10 Favorites: The Unexpected Appeal of Plywood
- Remodeling 101: Is Plywood Safe?
- Remodeling 101: A Plywood Primer
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran in September 2013.