Alternative flooring ideas

Hello,
I want to make my own 'wood' flooring. I have several options that I am considering. None involve using solid wood, all involve taking sheet plywood and cutting it up to make an end product that will look similar to the 'engineered' or 'wood laminate' flooring products. Some of the issues I figure I need to resolve include: - what shape to cut the sheet stock into [I'm considering stripping the sheets in strips/plank like widths? (from 4" - 8" wide) - if I use soft wood OR I might cut the sheet stock into squares (if using a hard woodveneered plywood)] - what thickness should the top layer of veneer on the plywood stock be? (I'm sure I'm going to need 1/16" minimum and more likely 1/8" thickness) - does anyone have a source for thick layer veneer (URL?) - what thickness should the plywood stock be overall? (I'm thinking 1/2" minimum and possibly 3/4" thick maximum...I think I could get away with 1/2" because it will be glued down AND splined) - jointing? (I could go with standard tongue and grove but prefer a double groving with spline in between 'planks' - kind of a false tongue and grove) - surface finishing (paint or stain - painting may allow for the use of a thinner veneer - there would be less concern of wear through because it could be covered with more paint down road) - texturing? (if the top veneer layer is thick enough I could distress OR 'carve') - edging? (I'm thinking of putting a small chamfer all the way around each plank) - adhesive? (I need some advice on adhesive choices for gluing to existing wood based subfloor products or POSSIBLY concrete) - I need to consider the compatability of such a concept with concrete slab floor already in place (I'm sure I could do it...does anyone have any ideas?) PLEASE offer me some suggestions. I know that there are many flooring products out there that are reasonably priced. However, my wife and I don't have any money and we need to IMPROVISE.
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dean snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

With any reasonable quality plywood easily costing northwards of a buck per square foot, unfinished, it's unlikely that you'd be able to save any money at all. And that's before putting any value on your time.
http://www.lumberliquidators.com/home.jsp is a discount house with stores all over the country. If you're flexible in look and species, I can't see how you'd beat such low prices making your own.
Your plywood scheme also short changes the future life of the floor. A good hardwood floor should last through a minimum of three or four refinishings - a few decades at least. Plywood wouldn't allow any refinishing. Even with a supplemental thicker veneer on top (you'd need to put an equally thick veneer on the underside, oriented in the same direction, to balance the plywood or you'd be guaranteed to get cupping and other deformities) you'd still only get a couple or three refinishings.
You should save the money-saving-effort for somewhere you'd actually save money - now and in the future.
R
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RicodJour wrote:

R,
Thanks for the advice, I will check them out. I seem to remember seeing someone somewhere using squares of birch veneer plywood for flooring and I went crazy with extrapolation. Thanks for bringing me back to earth.
Dean
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Not to be a buzz kill but I think you are out of your mind.
Pull a sheet of BC grade plywood (I won't even consider CDX any more) off the shelf and notice the number of knots, voids and overall complete lack of straightness. The chances that you are going to edge nail an 8" wide strip and have it lay flat on the floor without flexing every time you step on it are slim. For the cost of nice looking furniture grade plywood you can buy flooring.
If you are going to put down a wood floor, what's the point of painting it? Unless you glue on a very thick veneer, forget about staining as the glue holding the veneer will screw up the evenness of the stain penetration. A surface only finish like a polyurethane would work.
Wood over concrete only if the concrete is extremely well sealed, well drained and the concrete is above grade. Unless you are the kind who thinks mold smells nice. If it's concrete, put down tile or sheet vinyl. If you were willing to tackle making your own wood flooring, learning to lay tile will be something you can handle and it will be a hell of a lot nicer than strips of plywood. They even have vinyl tiles or sheet vinyl that look just like wood.
For some practical options -
1 - For the massive amount of labor involved in your proposal you would be better off taking a part time job and earning the money to buy proper flooring.
2 - Visit your local town's permitting office and see who is pulling demolition permits. There are all kinds of older industrial buildings and older houses that are "in the way" coming down with plenty of nice lumber to pull up. About 1 mile from where I live, the local fire department set fire to a perfectly good house and barn to make way for a new shopping center.
3 - Visit your local town's recycle stores to see what kind of deals they have. Habitat for Humanity runs some in larger cities.
4 - Have a chat with some carpeting installers as they are heading out to jobs in the morning. Sometimes they do commercial jobs where they pull up perfectly good carpet because the new head person wants to change the decor and trash big rolls of perfectly usable carpet. I've yanked a couple rolls out of the dumpster and used it to put down carpet in storage areas. Yeah, it's not wood but it's free and goes down with minimal labor.
5 - If you live out in the country there are always old houses sitting out there. My WWII vet neighbor had an old house on his property. The entire house - floors, exterior walls, interior walls, ceilings; was tongue and groove pine milled on site about 100 years ago. At this point the roof leaked and the house was falling apart so I asked if my wife and I could pull off the usable lumber. He said "Only if it don't cost me nothin". Got about 3 pickup loads. Doesn't cost anything to stop and ask.
Good luck. Steve.
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SteveF wrote:

Steve,
Thanks for the response. I agree with your thinking as long as I'm buying the plywood. I work in the construction industry, salvage sheets and also there are seconds distributors in the back country here in NC.
I am very familiar with the Habitat for Humanity stores you talk about, I used to run one. I renamed it the ReUse Center. It is still located in Raleigh, NC.
Dean
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In that case you should understand what I mean by older buildings being "in the way". The house and barn I was referring to was located near Apex, which was "out in the country" and had less than 6,000 when I moved there years ago.
I finally threw in the towel and moved well north of Greensboro to get away from all the development.
Steve.
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> - what thickness should the top layer of veneer on the plywood

The best engineered wood has a top layer about the same depth as the T&G (say 5 or 6mm on a 20mm floor). That way you can sand it down the same ammount as a solid wood floor. By the way the best Engineered wood floors are slightly more expensive on average than solid wood floors (in the UK at least).
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Given budget considerations, you might look at what Ira Kurlander did with hardboard/Masonite in his article for Fine Homebuilding on "rock bottom remodel": http://www.taunton.com/store/pages/fh_toc_012.asp The article was reprinted in the Fine Homebuilding book, "Remodeling". My recollection is that he cut heavy hardboard into 2x2 or 4x4 panels, nd used that as tiles on the floor, probably with a sealant of some sort, and they were holding up well at the time the article was written.
I suspect he used something like Masonite Tempered, which is used for stage flooring, but I don't remember anything more... it's been years since I've seen the article.
General look was sort of "leatherish".
Kay
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Kay Lancaster wrote:

Kay,
Thanks for the suggestion. I salvaged a 4' high pile of 1/4" x 3' x 5' sheets of tempered masonite that is sitting in my garage. Might be another way to use it, right now I'm making board and batten wall paneling with it (and it is looking great).
dean
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