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plywood floor tiles

November 7, 2009

zora naki

The plywood tiles have been laid on the second floor and I am really pleased with how it turned out!

plywood floor tiles

I saw the idea on a blog and it took some figuring to work out exactly how we were going to stick it down. The wood place recommended using baltic birch instead of shop birch – both for aesthetics and because the higher quality of the plywood would make the tiles more consistent in height. They had a great deal on 5’x5′ sheets, so we decided to just cut each piece in 9 square tiles of 19 7/8″ (no waste).

plywood floor tiles

I emailed Michael Huber who was the architect on the blog project and he very kindly sent me some pictures of his own plywood floor. For his use (large tiles), they put a continuous 1/8″ edge around each tile and used 1/8″ strips of masonite to splinth it together, ending up with a floating floor.

We have a lot of smaller tiles and we debated back and forth on what to do. In the end, we went with glue and tiny finish nails in each corner of the tile. There has been much cursing and sanding of edges because the tile cuts were not perfectly square, and there is also some variation in tile height. Given the thin veneer on the plywood, there isn’t much room for sanding, but I think they’ve done a great job of it.

plywood floor tiles

Cracks are being filled with a mix of polyurethane and sawdust from the cuts. The cracks aren’t filled in the picture below, but you get an idea of the after across a room.

plywood floor tiles

In the closet, they cut around the door tracks that are sunk into the floor. The poly warms up the colour of the birch just a bit – I love it.

plywood floor tiles

Now just another 4 coats of polyurethane to go…



Post a comment
  1. November 8, 2009

    Love it! I might try this out myself. I really want to see a photo of the completed project – with all the poly coats on.

  2. January 6, 2010

    Neat way to remodel.

  3. January 30, 2010

    Very good concept and great looking too! Indeed a thing of marvel. Definatelly baltic birch is the way to go, may be I should consider upgrading my floors to something similar. Great work!!!

  4. March 17, 2010

    We’re laying a similar floor in a shop of ours- did you guys also nail/screw the tiles into your subfloor? My installers think I’m insane!!
    Thanks for any help that you can throw my way!

  5. March 28, 2010

    Hi Emeline,

    Yes, we used finishing nails – one in each corner of the tile – and glue to attach the tiles to the subfloor. I have no idea how it will all come up, but I figure I have another 10 years or so before I have to worry about it.

  6. Luca #
    March 31, 2010

    Any chance of seeing finished photos? I want to try this but wondered how it would look all finished. Does it look like hardwood flooring? Could it be stained dark too?

  7. April 2, 2010

    I should have some new photos up in the next week or so. You could stain it if you liked because it is just plywood.

  8. May 14, 2010

    Those are really nice floor tiles.

  9. john Barry #
    June 20, 2010

    Hi Group,
    I did a 4x4meter bedroom as a trial run for my plywood tile project. I was working in the walkout basement of a bungalow. My home is set on natural sand that has never been disturbed and helps with run off and moisture buildup. I took a moisture test of the concrete prior to committing to the project. This is a do it yourself job if you are comfortable and have enough talent on a router and saw to cut where you need.

    THe Project: I installed full size plywood sheeting onto a concrete basement floor in excellent shape to act as the finished floor. The Plywood chosen was birch veneer on spruce plywood of 16mm thickness. I am not a professional and the project turned out great. I also chose to make a large tile pattern on each sheet of plywood. I would have 8 tiles per sheet of plywood.

    How I did it: I prepared each plywood sheet by marking a grid on the sheet and staining an alternating checkerboard pattern for each tile. The medium and light stain I used was perfect and then used a router with a 6mm diameter rounded end to groove the perimeter of each of the 8 tiles per sheet of plywood. The router effect makes the tiles look visibly separate but are still physically fully connected. The router groove is very shallow and looks like a grout line when complete. Each sheet of plywood sheet was then notched on the side with a router and biscuit bit at matching locations to allow a biscuit to be installed when mating two sheets of plywood to eachother. Yes I glued all the sheets of Plywood to eachother along the cut edges of the full size sheet once on the floor. In addition to this I also used PL400 to Glue each sheet of plywood to the concrete. The pattern of glue bead on the concrete was once around the perimeter and a switchback pattern thoughout the center. I glued only one plywood at a time and weighed it down with 16 bags of 50lb weight in each bag. I used carpenters yellow glue to bond the mating surface between the plywood sheets as well as the biscuits. I let each individual sheet of plywood glue dry for a full day before I took the wight off.

    I then filled any narrow gaps between the sheet with wood filler and sanded it down at the joint. The following sheets were then installed one at a time until the room floor was covered. I then cleaned all the surfaces of the plywood and varnished the floor with a semigloss finish. I used 4 coats with sanding between each coat. I was then finished.

    Don’t try this if you have high moisture as my situation may be different that yours but for basements that are not experiencing any moisture exposure this is a great way to finish a basement floor. It has been down for two years now and is still as the day I put it in. The Varnish will have to be kept up with as it is the layer of wear and tear protenting the veneer from being worn off, so pick a good varnish.

    John Barry

  10. June 20, 2010

    Thanks for the comment John! Why don’t you send me some photos and I’ll post them up for everyone to see…

  11. Catherine Johnson #
    December 10, 2010

    Due to finances and the need to remodel, plywood flooring is our choice. Your information is very helpful! I could not, however, find the follow up pics – and those would be extremely helpful. If they’re available, would you email them to me? We are novices, but we’re going to give it our best shot. Thanks!

  12. January 3, 2011

    I can post some more floor photos for you to see – it’ll just take me a few days.

  13. Anna A #
    January 9, 2011

    Hi Zora,

    W.O.W! You’ve proved that thinking outside the box can create great results.

    12 months after installation, how are your floors going in regards to showing dents/scratches/wearing? Comparable to solid timber floors?

    Keep up the good work! AA.

  14. September 15, 2011

    Hi Anna,

    A year and a half after moving back in, the plywood floors are holding up better than the refinished oak – in spite of heavy plasma car use. Totally recommend this option.

  15. March 19, 2011

    Hi there – I’m really new to the blogging world and ran across your post on the plywood floors. Love this! We are currently fixing up our 1950s rancher in Spokane, WA and I’m looking for green and low cost options. I’ll be doing this in our kitchen and will be sure to share my triumphs with you as well. Thanks again!

  16. April 29, 2011

    These are really affordable and they look good, not too shabby for plywood.

  17. March 17, 2012

    i did this before and remember that the look didnt last, i think down to my amateur installation and inadequate coats of varnish… im thinking of doing it again. is there anything that can go over the top of it that will form a really solid and protective coat, rendering the floor as tough as ‘engineered’ or solid board? the floor is destined for a really heavy traffic location… any advice welcomed! James

  18. July 16, 2012

    We used 5 coats of polyurethane and that seems to be holding up very well so far.

  19. Amanda #
    June 27, 2012

    I saw this on “Look What I Did” and since then have been lusting after it. Now I have a house and my dog has chosen to destroy my carpet I am ready to give this ago.
    My biggest question is the BEST way to lay it and keep it sturdy and beautiful. I would consider myself a PRE novice (lol) but am willing and eager to learn more about this project. I was simply going to put some screws into the floor to keep it down, is this enough?

  20. July 16, 2012

    I don’t know what the best way to do it is, but we used glue between the plywood tiles and the subfloor, as well as finishing nails in each corner of the tile. It’s been 2.5 years of heavy kid use and seems to be holding up very well.

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