the early stages:
While our house was being built, I took a photo of her room...based on the previous image, it's clear we came a long way. It also serves to remind us that regardless of how complicated the end-product, the most important steps are often found at the beginning. Preparing your subfloor, sanding and filling the joints, and being as thorough as possible leads to amazing results in the end. Keep this thought in mind as you begin your project, as some of the initial work can be a bit tedious. Who wants to be sanding when you could be playing with the wood grain tool? Who wants to fill seams when you could be taping down the free throw line? But remember, the more time you spend at the beginning, the nicer it will look when she's showing it off to all her friends :)
After filling all the gaps in the seams with wood filler, it was time to sand everything down. We initially started by using sand paper and handheld sanding blocks to try to even out all the seams and nail holes in the floor, but our upstairs was almost 1000 square feet and it became apparent fairly quickly that it would take forever that way...and we weren't even getting the results we were looking for. For this type of job, I highly recommend getting a larger device, such as a belt sander. Or better yet, an edger! Go over all the seams VERY well, hit each nail hole, and if you have time, give the entire room a 'once-over' to make it as smooth as possible.
Resand as-needed, refill any gaps you see, and repeat the process by sanding it all back down. Once you've vacuumed up all the dust, take a lightly dampened cloth and cover the ENTIRE floor. For this second coat of primer, you want to make sure there are no dust particles on the floor...period! This is where your floor really starts to stand out and any imperfections are magnified quite a bit. If all has gone well, you'll have two solid coats of primer down and your floors will be smooth and you'll be ready to start working on the court itself!
preparing the court:
Now that your plywood subfloor has been prepared, it's time to start thinking of how your court is going to look. How dark do you want the color? What style of court lines will you use? What's the overall theme of the design? The first of these decisions is to choose the base color of the court itself. Although this decision is pretty subtle compared to the end-result, it's important in helping determine the overall contrast in the wood. For Kayla's floor, we chose Honey Wheat, then promptly applied two coats on her floor, ensuring a nice, even finish. Since we used water-based paint, it dired very quickly and we were able to move onto the next step...the Border.
To help the court itself stand out, we painted a light blue border around the edge of the room. This gave us two benefits: it gave us a 'cushion' to work with when setting the planks, and it gave a clear definition to the edge of the room...just made everything stand out better. The process was simple, we went around the edge of the room and marked 4" lines every few feet. After taping the border off, we gave it a few coats of paint and allowed it to dry.
After adding another 1 inch border to represent the outer court line, we began the process of adding planks to our floor. I would be using a 3" wood grain tool, so it made sense that the planks would have the same dimension; thus, starting on one end and working our way down each side of the room, we marked off 3" planks all the way down. Then, one at a time, we laid a piece of tape across each mark, ensuring it was straight. We used a pencil to lightly draw a line across the floor, then picked up each side of the tape and moved it to the next mark. With both of my kids helping, we were able to knock out 40 planks in less than an hour!
For a final touch, we marked off 30" lines running perpendicular to our planks and drew the rest in, giving us individual planks across the floor. It's looking more and more like a court!
applying the stains:
It's now time for the stains. We'll be using two types of stain for this floor, a gel stain to create the wood grain and a wood stain to cover the whole floor. Be sure to use colors that complement each other, or you may end up with a lot more (or not enough) contrast than you had intended.
Using a variety of techniques, begin applying the gel stain, one plank at a time. This is important as it creates a natural separation between the planks and makes each one stand out individually. If you aren't happy with the result, simply go back over it again until you get the board you like! Once you've applied the wood grain, be sure to give the floor plenty of time to dry as the gel is oil-based. We gave ours 48 hours and it was still a little tacky.
For the wood stain, simply use the technique you're the most comfortable with to ensure you get an even distribution across the floor. I stained 2-3 rows of boards at a time, creating subtle variations in contrast along the way. It worked for me, and I'm pleased with the results, but if you have a better way, by all means use that.
creating the court lines:
When taping down the court lines, make sure you have a good idea of what things will look like in the end. From the beginning, you'll want to be accurate on where you start the free throw box because it sets the stage for everything to come. The free throw arc and 3-point line will not fit correctly if the first stage isn't measured properly.
Using 1" court lines, we began taping things down, starting with the outside line that separates the room border and the planks. We then moved onto the free throw box, using an x-acto knife to trim up any excess.
The Free Throw Arc and 3-Point lines were a little intimidating at first, but once you get the idea it's pretty straight-forward. Use a sharpie or other small pen and a yard stick to make your marks. Keeping one end of the yard stick at the center of the box, move the other end around in a semi-circle, marking every few inches. Then use small strips of tape, connecting the dots, so to speak, as you go. Repeat the same steps for the 3-point line and your court lines are nearly complete!
Finish the lines off by adding the blocks to the free throw area and the marks along the side of the court. All that's left is the paint!
the finishing touches:
Your basketball court is almost complete, all that's missing now are the little details. We added "Oklahoma City Thunder" decals along the baseline and a large Thunder logo at the top of the Free Throw Arc. We looked online, but were able to find one large enough to work at a sports store nearby, so I encourage you to look until you find the one that fits the room.
Once it's all set, begin the process of applying polyeurethane to seal it all in. We used 3 coats and it provided excellent gloss, durability, and gave the court that 'slick' feel that my daughter and her friends love. She and her friends actually play basketball on her court, using a small net mounted on the wall and a mini basketball that came with it. They love it and we're incredibly proud of how it turned out.
We hope you liked our process and hope yours turns out just the way you want as well.
Want to see more?!
Step 1 - Preparing the Subfloor
Step 2 - Filling and sanding
Step 3 - 1st Coat of Primer
Step 4 - Sanded/Vacuumed
Step 5 - Final Prep Work
Step 6 - 2nd Coat
Painting the Court
Step 1 - Court Intro
Step 2 - Base Coat + Border
Step 3 - Setting Planks
Step 4 - Finishing Planks
Step 5 - Applying Gel Stain
Step 6 - Finalizing Gel Stain
Step 7 - Applying Wood Stain
Step 8 - Starting Court Lines
Step 9 - Free Throw Arc
Step 10 - Comp. Court Lines
Step 11- Painted Court Lines
Step 12- Final Results!
Step 13 - 6 Month Update