Tuesday, September 16, 2014

DESIGN IDEA FULFILLED: Painted Plywood Floor

We have done a lot of posts about "Design Ideas" and, to date, I think only one of them has been completely fulfilled (see: the door in the window).

But about a month ago V and I finally accepted that we cannot afford to put down hardwood flooring any time soon so our tenants will just have to live with plywood floors in the master suite and in the Great Room.  The kind of folks who are likely to rent might actually get a kick out of this.

Happily, this realization coincided with the arrival at BIG NYC Queens of several pallets of a product called Basic 1 - Satin waterbased wood floor finish billed by the manufacturer as an "Economical Waterbased Floor Finish".  BIG had so much of it that they were giving away free, so I went out and picked up two cases (8 gallons) of the stuff.  I figured there was no reason to spend a lot of money on fancy urethanes since we're just putting it onto fairly rough 4'x8' sheets of plywood flooring and we intend to save up for the hardwood to sell the house with.

Anyway, around this time, my lifelong best friend B was on his way out from California to work on the house for a few weeks.  Having just quit my job, I was to spend my first week of unemployment up at the house with him trying to get some stuff done.  One of the first items on our list was to finish the floors.

Anyway, since the plywood looked pretty boring, V spent some time discussing what we might do to soup it up at low cost and in a way that might make it show better for both tenants and potential buyers.  As I left the house for a week upstate, I encouraged her to think about painting or staining or whitewashing the floor and send me photos.  I might even have suggested that we could be "whimsical".  Anyway, the two posts immediately prior to this one are her responses to that suggestion. 

We agreed to just whitewash the master suite floor, so B got to work on that.  Despite some serious problems with the whitewash product drying too quickly, that floor came out looking pretty good.  After 3 coats of the Basic 1 Satin, I think it is about as good as it is going to get - certainly good enough to walk on and for tenants to lay some rugs on.

Based on the look of the master suite floor, I decided I did not want to use the same look on the Great Room floor so I went back and looked at V's inspirational suggestions.  As I looked through the photos V had posted, this one particularly caught my eye - I love the worn look and the variation of pattern and color while still maintaining the repetition - I know I'm not going to live with this myself, but that's no reason to suppress whimsy - If we love it, then maybe someone else will love it too.  Or at least that's how the thinking goes.

I was pretty hungry and in no condition to be making big decisions, but I said to B, "Hey! We could do that!"  I think his response was a fairly unenthusiastic, "yeah.  We could do that."  He wasn't thrilled about all the work that was going to go into painting a bunch of different color squares.  The fact is that he didn't really know what I was suggesting at the time and if he had known, he would have talked some sense into me.  Fortunately, he did not.

We discussed it briefly and I jumped in the car and headed to Home Depot to buy some cheap house paints in a variety of colors.  But before I got to HD, I swung into the parking lot of the Habitat For Humanity Restore.  One of the guys took me downstairs and showed me all the rusting gallon paint cans people have left on their doorstep.  I ended up taking 8 cans and zipped back up to the house stopping only for beer and hotdog fixins - workmen have to eat too, you know!

We set up a paint mixing station and got to work stirring the cans (most of which dated back to around 2005) to see what they looked like.

When all was mixed and ready, we had a pretty good bunch of colors (and beers) to start working from.

Next, we began laying out the design on the floor.  My first estimate was that it would take about 8 to 15 minutes to lay out each 4'x8' sheet before beginning to paint and that we could mostly finish the paint job in one night.  

We set to work around 8pm.  B made the club-star stencil while I focused on pencilling in the design on the floor.  Laying out the design was much harder than I had expected and being down on my knees on that floor was not at all comfortable.  We decided to lay it out sheet by sheet and paint as we went.

Fair to say that B was right and I was wrong about how long it would take.  The next morning we had not accomplished a whole lot.  But it was enough to convince me that I really liked the look of it and we had to keep going.  If it looks this good now, I told myself, just wait!! People are going to be clamoring to rent/buy that crazy round house with the groovy hand-painted floors.

We spent the whole of the next day on our knees laying it out mixing paints and filling it in and with every square we completed, I got more excited.

I had to get back to V and S before we were completely done so I left B up there to finish it and seal it.  I didn't see it again for two weeks and, when I did, this is what I saw:
(The registration marks in the doorway were my idea - I'm pretty pleased with how they came out.)

It is still plywood, but I am super happy about this!!  SUPER HAPPY!!! (not a feeling I have had often on this project).  B did an amazing AMAZING job!!
I have to be honest and concede that it is probably not increasing the rental or resale value of the house a whole lot more than a clear coat of satin would have, but it brought a little joy to a project that is proving pretty joyless (and financially difficult) of late.