Paint a Subfloor to Look Like Farm Planks


How to Pull up Carpet, Paint Plywood and Make them look like old Farm Boards

Hello friends. This post is a follow up to my viral post I shared 8 years ago on how to makeover your Master Bedroom with a ZERO budget. I recently updated the super successful video I posted on YouTube 8 years ago. It has over 161,000 views and keeps going. Even after all these years!

I thought it would be a good time to revisit this process, clean up the video and share how this project has held up. In one word. BEAUTIFULLY.

AND! If you want more weekly inspiration, sign up for my free weekly newsletter and instantly get access to my Getting Started Painting Furniture and Decor Guide! Click HERE to sign up and grab your copy. 

How to Get Started Pulling up that old carpet and prepping your subfloors.

Not going to lie. Pulling up carpet, especially old gross carpet is NOT for the faint of heart. It’s a gross, hard, dusty job. But if you don’t mind a few hours of mess, you can literally save yourself hundreds of dollars in labor. There is no skill involved, just patience, a few tools, a dust mask and some knee pads.

The first thing you want to do is cut the carpet where you can just start pulling and ripping. If you are lucky, you can pull a bit section at one time. It will be attached to the subfloor by a piece of thin wood that matches up with your wall, shower, tub, etc.

Photo courtesy of the Family Handyman

Once you have the carpet all out. Take your crowbar, or chisel and start wedging it under the wood to pull that up. This is CRUCIAL you wear gloves. There are a lot of sharp nails and staples and you don’t want to rip up your hands. (I did and learned the hard way, ouch!)

When you have all the staples and wood out, you will probably want to use DryDex or other filler to fill in the many, many divots and holes. The wood under my carpet was not just plywood, it was OSB board, which is strong, but literally pulls apart if you pick at it. I knew the finish had to be really rustic to hid the texture.

Here is a (mostly) complete list of my supplies and tools. You may have many of these on hand already, you can use my Amazon links to get them all in one place and it helps my family out by paying me a small percentage of the sales. Thank you!

Here is the complete supply list: DIY Paint Supplies… One Stop Shop Amazon Supplies Plastic Paint Guide Plastic Trowel All Purpose Industrial Shears Safety Glasses Heavy Gloves Chisel Curved Cutter Waterproof Sealer Shop Paper Towels – A must for blotting up excess glaze and paint

How to sand and Prime your Plywood

After the DryDex dries, you will want to give it a clean sand. Again, I cannot stress enough how rustic the wood was or may be for you. This will not give you a fine, smooth finish; you just want to knock it down so all of the floors are basically the same level.

After the sanding, wipe up the excess dust and apply one to two coats of a high-adhesive primer. I used a combination of Zinnser Filler Primer and regular Primer. The Filler Primer did add another layer of smoothness, so if you have OSB board, I would recommend going with this particular primer. I prefer Zinnser because I have found it to be the most adhesive primer on the market.

Paint your Plywood to Look Like Old Farm Planks

This is where things get weird. Forget all that you know about painting and being careful. This is where you want to get messy. I wanted to give my boards some underwood color; trust me, you won’t see this process in the final product, but it will make a difference. I was going for a Grey/Blue/Aged look, so I knew I wanted to have some of those colors on my floor. I showed the whole process in my YouTube Video here. It’s old, but you get the point.


You want the floor to look like a Jackson Pollock Painting. I used DIY Paint in Bohemian Blue, Layered Chocolate, and Little Black Dress. The Grey is coming….

Once this part is dry (please refer to the video), you will do the “glazing” layer. This look is all about layers. You will want to mix 3 parts Glaze to 1 part Paint. (I used DIY Liquid Patina because all DIY Paint products are not only extremely tough and adhesive but also 100% natural. Glaze can be toxic, so take care if you are using something with chemicals and wear a respirator.)

You want to create long plank lines. I used a yardstick to keep a straight line as I was painting, basically you want to leave space between the grey glaze. You are creating the appearance of planks.

You can stop here, or you can add more layers. I repeated this process with a Glaze made of Liquid Patina and Vintage Linen, following the same process. With the subsequent layers, you will want to make sure to have plenty of Heavy duty paper towels or lint free rags and a Spray Bottle or Fine Mister. I prefer the Fine Mister because you can control the amount of water going into your glaze. I decided to finish with a little glaze of DIY Paint Dark & Decrepit Patina. This step is optional, I wanted to add more brown tones so I used the Dark & Decrepit and watered it down quite a bit.

Protecting your Painted Plywood

The most important step is the finish! Don’t forget this or skip it. All that work and you want to preserve it. Because this is my bathroom, and I knew there would be water splashed from the tub, lots of traffic coming through here, and I wanted to make sure I could mop it from time to time, I needed some heavy duty stuff.

I used Seal Once Marine Layer Top coat.

I think I did one or two coats. It was SO easy. Very low sheen, extremely low VOC. I would give it 5 stars. I wouldn’t recommend this product for your regular paint finishes as it would be like pouring resin over your beautiful furniture, but it has held up perfectly. Here we are EIGHT years later, and it looks as good as if I painted the plywood subfloors to look like Farm House planks yesterday!

What do you think? Would you pull up your carpet and paint your plywood subfloors? Have you attempted a big DIY on your own? Let me know in the comments what you think and please ask questions! I would love to help you with your next DIY!

Much Love – Karen

How to Paint your plywood subfloors



  1. Alicia Donohue

    Good morning and thank you for your video and everything! I have a question: do you think this technique/materials will also work on a old concrete basement floor? We had to pull the pergo flooring and subfloors out last summer because of leaks from the old window sills. This old farm house has drained our wallets and I am trying to find cheap but beautiful alternatives to finish the floors.

    • GTC

      Hi Alicia, thank you so much for your comment and watching the video! I am no stranger to tearing up floors! I don’t see why this technique would not work on Concrete. I would be sure to thoroughly seal the concrete because it is so very porous. Once that is done, I would use a high adhesive primer, the DIY Paint technique and then a good sealer like the one I used. I have used that brand on other painted floors and it works really well. I would love to help you with DIY Paint and any other questions you have, thank you!

  2. Monica

    THANK YOU for this gorgeous tutorial!! Quick question, when you’re painting the lines, what are you painting them with? Which product are your brushing on to create the lines? Thanks again!

    • GTC

      Hi Monica, that’s a great question, I used a straight edge tool, like the long thing you get at the hardware store to paint baseboards when you don’t want paint to get on your carpets or floors. Then just a pencil to trace the lines. I used all DIY Paint products, but I didn’t make defined lines. What I did was just leave a little gap between the lines and the next section. That way, it naturally looks like a groove between farm planks. Hope this helps!

      • Monica

        OK, so you use the scraper for the multicolor randomness and let it dry. Then you use your guide to pencil on lines, then you leave a small gap between the pencil line within each “plank” section, and you use the little scraper or a stiff brush for the glaze. But are you still using your straight edge so it’s an even “plank”? Or are you just freehanding that glaze line? Thanks SO much for taking the time to explain, I want to make sure I do this right. I’ll DEFINITELY send pics when I finish!!

        • GTC

          Hi Monica,I put the paint down layered, then did the pencil lines and used the straight tool to keep the glaze from overlapping, leaving a small gap between each line so it creates a plank look. I would suggest maybe practicing on some scrap wood so you get the feel of it. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Michelle Lohner

    Hello, I just watched this video as I’m thinking of doing this in my kitchen and dining room until I can afford flooring. First I had some questions like the others, I’m unsure how you got the lines for the “planks” and spacing.
    Second – would you use the same type of products for a kitchen area? Three – how do you clean the floors or with any particular product? I actually have a steam mop. Would that ruin the paint? Thank you!

    • GTC

      Hi Michelle, those are great questions, the lines I used a guide for painting baseboards and drew with a pencil. I just eyeballed the spacing. I would definitely use the same products for a kitchen or high traffic area, the key was the Marine Sealer. For cleaning, I have used a very hot steam mop and it has not damaged or compromised the flooring at all. Next year I will be launching a comprehensive course on how to do this look on floors, when I did this project, I was pretty new to this type of DIY and videos, much has changed since then! If you are interested in finding out more, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you won’t miss out. Thank you and Merry Christmas!


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