Painted Plywood boat deck
Having completed my daughter's basketball court, it was time to move onto my son's room. In brainstorming for what type of theme he wood like, he envisioned things like Pirates of the Caribbean and Boats. I thought it sounded pretty cool, so we started working on what it would be like if his floor was like the deck of a boat! How cool is that?!
We came up with a few ideas that we thought were fairly simple, but still complex enough to give the room character and get the theme across. If this idea sounds interesting, stay tuned and learn how we transformed a normal upstairs room into the deck of an old pirate ship. It turned out great, and I've been getting tons of compliments, so I hope you enjoy it as well.
the early stages:
While our house was still under construction, the decision was made to paint the plywood instead of carpet or tile it. After seeing the shocked look on our builder's face, it was clear we would have our work cut out for us. We had a few months before we were expected to close, so we wanted to get as much done as we could before the drywall crew came in and made a mess of things. We actually started on Mason's room first, knowing the overall theme would be more 'forgiving' of our learning curve...and as it turns out, that decision worked out perfectly for this type of floor!
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! One thing to consider on this type of theme...we wanted the natural 'worn' look, so we intentionally left imperfections in the floor to give the wood a little more character for the end result.
Things were starting to feel like it was supposed to. Even though it still 'looks' like plywood at this stage, it was starting to even out...exactly what you're going for. At this point you lay down your first layer of primer and step back to look at how things are going. Once that first coat is down, you really start to see anything you missed before, giving you the chance to hit a seam again or fill another nail hole you missed before. In our case, we discovered the type of wood filler was too difficult to sand out, so we switched to another brand and were much happier with the results.
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 deck itself!
preparing the boat deck:
After doing a little research, we came up with a simple design that involved 8" planks running vertically across the room, with 42" lateral lines created to separate each individual board. We centered the cargo hold and gave it a 2" frame to give it a little contrast to the surrounding planks and added several 2" boards inside to cover the hold.
While I was laying out the cargo hold, my son ran around and used a Sharpie on each line throughout the room. The intent here is to give each plank a little 'depth' and give the illusion of a small gap between each board. Even though the gel stain will cover most of this up, we felt it would add a subtle effect and give the floor more authenticity. As you'll eventually see, we were able to achieve what we wanted :)
Applying the Wood Grain
We've already completed the wood graining process of a basketball court, so a boat deck should be just as easy, right? Well, wrong. With the lines in-place, we started adding the wood grain and quickly realized I had the wrong mindset going in. I kept trying to make the boards look perfect, much like I was used to with the court...but we intentionally left the floor 'rougher' than the rest of the upstairs for the very reason of adding texture to the wood grain, so it wasn't reasonable to assume the boards would go the same.
After realizing the error in my ways, I changed the way I went about it and started making planks that LOOKED weathered and worn rather than pulling my hair out trying to figure out what went wrong. Once that shift was made, the process was much more enjoyable and I actually started getting much better results!
So, the best advice I can offer at this point is to use a lot of variety and embrace the original design you had in mind. Knowing what type of boards you want to create will go a long way in how you approach the wood graining process and will give you the results you want in the end.
Applying the Wood Stain
Now that the wood grain is in place, we simply chose a stain that would cover the floor while complementing the underlying base color and gel stain used earlier. My wife took my son to the store to pick out a color while I finished preparing the floor for staining. For whatever reason, he chose an exterior deck stain...not something I was expecting. But since we weren't living in the house yet, and drying time wouldn't be an issue, I didn't foresee any problem with it. So on it went!
Adding the Details - Nail Heads
Depending on the type of stain used, you made need to apply the nail twice, since the paint 'shrinks' as it dries. Going back over the whole room a second time, you'll begin to see the nail pattern become a little more dominant, creating the lined pattern across the floor.
Adding the Details - Cargo Hold
Finally, we come to the cargo hold...definitely the dominant pattern for the boat-deck themed floor. Since the boards themselves are already defined by the gel staining process, then all we really needed to do was add a sharper outline and a simulated shadow on one side.
We took a small foam brush and lightly dipped it in our cup of paint. We went along the outside of the cargo hold, applying a small black line to the edge of the hold, just to give it a little more pronounced look. Once we had gone over a portion, we went back over it again to thicken the line and make the paint stick better on the stained floor.
Finally, we taped off the area that would represent the shadow, using the north and east sides as the 'shadowed' edges, and the south and west side as the 'lit' edges. We applied a few coats of black paint, appowing each to dry in between, then pulled up the tape, revealing our simulated shadow.
After giving everything time to dry, we cleaned up and began appyling a few coats of polyeurethane. The oil-based poly worked perfectly for this floor as it brought more color out of the wood grain and gave the whole floor a 'rich' color to it.
Our friends and family love how this turned out, and my son has really taken to it as well. He's added pirate-themed posters and wall art, as well as a treasure chest and signs on his door. He absolutely loves how it turned out, and so do we! Hope you enjoyed reading about our process!
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 boat deck
Step 1 - boat deck Intro
Step 2 - Applying the Gel Stain
Step 3 - Completed Gel Stain
Step 4 - Applying the Wood Stain
Step 5 - Adding the Details
Step 6 - Defining the Cargo Hold
Step 7 - Final Results!