Painting subflooring/plywood as a temporary floor

Q: I just bought a house with wall to wall carpet that must go. There is plywood subflooring underneath and I can’t afford to install hardwoods any time soon. Can I stain the subflooring? How about painting subflooring?

A: You can stain almost anything if you want to. If you are going to be living on the plywood for a while, you could always paint it and maybe do a stencil around the border. How fancy can one make plywood?

Is it OK to paint the plywood for now?

Similar Q: We are planning on reinstalling linoleum in our kitchen, but can’t afford to do so at this time. For now, we would like to replace the current plywood due to water damage, then paint the floor. Is it OK to paint the plywood for now, then later do the floor? Also, should we use 3/4″ plywood?

A: If the subfloor is solid, you don’t need more than 1/4″ poplar to install linoleum. Before you paint it, however, I would check the adhesive that will be used for the linoleum and make sure it will adhere to the paint.

Can I put hardwood down over painted plywood?

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors:  We are planning on installing solid hardwood in the kitchen and dining room of our 7-year-old home (purchased by us 6 months ago), but won’t be able to afford it for a year or so. I understand that we have to install solid hardwood over 3/4″ plywood. I’d like to go ahead and install the plywood now (before I paint our ugly kitchen cabinets). I’d paint the plywood floor. But can I then put hardwood down over the painted plywood?

A: You already have at least a 3/4 subfloor installed of some sort. If this subfloor is chipboard, then you will need to install some real wood plywood over top, screwed to the joists. 3/8 plywood should be fine for this. Painting the subfloor will have no effect on installing solid hardwood over top. As long as you are using a nail down product, rather than glue down, it is OK to paint the subfloor.

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1 thought on “Painting subflooring/plywood as a temporary floor”

  1. Follow up Q: Do you have any book recommendations where I might get some ideas regarding painting? If I did paint…should I put polyurethane over it?

    A: I would go to a local paint store. You might also find out something at I don’t think I would apply polyurethane over the paint.

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