For floors that any budget can afford, why not try plywood floors painted to suit your style. Yes, plywood. You can make common plywood into something special! Be sure that your plywood is of the highest quality and that you fix or repair any major holes, dings, or separation. Remember that plywood floors aren't good options for wet or high traffic areas. Plywood is generally considered to be a subflooring wood choice but can be used in top flooring in some situations. If you don't know how to choose plywood flooring, it will be worth the time to do your homework and make sure you don't install flooring that will warp or become quickly damaged.
- Safety. Remember safety first! Put on your dust mask and safety glasses then sand the plywood to ensure you remove splinters. Rent a pole sander for a day to cover large areas. And remember to sand with the grain of the wood, even if the wood is scruffy. Use wood putty to fill those major potholes.
- Clean. Clean up all the sand and dust you created with a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Ideally, you should use a sander/vacuum machine that will suck up the dust as you sand. This fine residue can easily spread throughout the ventilation system and into other rooms. You might also find it helpful to seal off the room you're working on with a plastic sheet.
- Primer. When the floor is dry, paint on a coat of primer or use self-priming paint. Don't paint yourself into a corner by starting at the entrance of the room. Start at the far side of the room and paint the primer on with a paintbrush. Let the primer coat dry. Always paint in a well-ventilated room. Choose low-VOC paints if possible, as these are not as harmful to you during the painting process and won't off-gas when it's dry.
- Paint. Paint the floor using a roller. Again, remember not to paint yourself into a corner! Begin at the corner farthest from the door. Always roll from a dry area to a wet area to minimize marks and leave a smooth coat.
- Pattern. Let the paint dry thoroughly before painting your pattern. Use your imagination to come up with geometric shapes, flowers, the look of faux tile, faux stone, or even a faux rug. Freehand or stencil the pattern depending on your ability. It's best to lay out the pattern first in light pencil. This will help you figure out where to start and to make sure your pattern isn't awkwardly cut off.
- Final Seal. You'll want to follow your painting steps with a final sealant coat. This may come in matte or glossy; you may need one to two coats. This will help protect your pattern from scratches like moving furniture.
- Cure. Let the paint dry or cure for at least two days after you paint the last pattern coat. No one should walk on the floor until it dries—no kids, no pets, and no adults. To further protect your floors, try adding felt pads underneath your heavy furniture. This will allow you to easily slide your furniture across the floor without scratching.
There you have it—a beautiful floor embellished from your own creative efforts.