home projects

How to Make Your Subfloor Look Like Hand-scraped Wood.

We are in the middle of full kitchen remodel that got put on a slight hold for the summer (thanks to all our other house projects). This left me with plain subfloor that not only looked terrible, but was not conducive to a freshly mobile baby and a toddler. My husband suggested getting a cheap can of oops paint from the big box store and painting the floor just to help eliminate some of the slivers, so I did. Well, naturally the only color they had that day was a mint green. I thought it is temporary it will be fine so home I went to paint my kitchen and dining room floor mint green. I lived with the mint green for roughly 3 months before I just couldn’t take it anymore. Something had to be done! So onto the web I went to look for a solution.

This is what I came up with. I repainted the wood floors, but this time I used some brown paint, black glaze, a sharpie, a wood graining tool, and finished it off with some poly. All total the project cost about $16 and took about 2.5 days to complete. I am beyond happy with the results and will be very happy living with this new floor for quite awhile.

Material List:
– 1 gallon brown paint (or however much you need to complete your project)
– 1 small can black paint (you may be able to get away with a sample size if you project is smaller or the samples are a little bigger)
– several black sharpie markers
– wood graining tool
– board in the size you want (I used a 6″ wide plank I had laying around as that is the width of the boards I wanted)
– paint brush
– paint roller and tray
– can of clear poly
– wood putty and putty knife
– 100-150 sand paper (1 small piece will be plenty)


Sweep and clean your floor of debris as best you can

Fill in all the cracks and major dings with wood putty. I got some that was paintable and dried really fast. Worked great. Once it is dried you will probably need to go back over with some 100-150 grit sandpaper and do a quick sand and smooth out your filled in areas. Be sure to sweep up after.

Paint your whole floor the brown color you purchased. Keep an eye at the big box stores for oops paint. They often have browns and you can get a gallon of the paint for roughly $5-$9. The brown doesn’t have to be the perfect color just a darker brown will work. I was able to find a great oops brown for $5 (on clearance). HINT: ask the paint clerk to shake the can up for you before you leave. This is a free service and will save you from having to stir it a bunch if it has been sitting for awhile on the shelf. I also had about ¼ of a can of brown paint leftover form the previous owners of our house so I mixed the colors in the roller tray. I didn’t stir them up just poured them both in. This gave me more variation in my browns which made it look more like a natural wood.


Let the brown totally dry then take your sample board and sharpies and start marking lines in the direction you want your boards to run. Keep your lines even with each other as you want this to look like real wood boards you put down. Do all your longer lines first, once these are done go and make horizontal marks across your boards at varying intervals so it looks like normal wood floors. This is a very time consuming and I you will most likely go through several sharpies so have spares on hand.

sharpie lines drawn to look like boards
here you can see the variation in the browns I used. Don’t worry once the glaze is on this is far less noticeable and gives the floor lots of character

Once you have lines drawn on the floor making it look like wood boards were put down you now need to make up your glaze. I found TONS of recipes for homemade glaze, but in the end I basically ended up just mixing till I had the consistency I wanted. Glaze is super easy just add black paint and water to a bucket or cup and stir. I started with ¼ cup paint to 1 cup water and went from there. You want your glaze to be fairly runny, but not like water.


Use a paint brush and brush your glaze on in a small area. HINT: Glaze dries fairly quickly so don’t work in too big of an area at a time or you won’t be able to get the glaze up. You don’t want the glaze on thick just lightly brushed on. Then take your wood graining tool and run it along (length wise) on the faux boards making graining marks. If you are doing this over wood sub-flooring (plywood) this may not work well, I was unable to make graining marks on my floor because of the texture of the plywood so I used the corner/edging graining tool to just scrape up some of the glaze. This worked great in the end because the glaze went into the crack and crevices and when I pulled up the extra it left my floor with the old hand scraped look. There really isn’t any good way to tell you how to do this you will just have to play with your tools a bit and see what works. I wiped my excess glaze off on a junk towel I had. If you don’t like the way it turns out just wipe off the glaze with a towel and start over.

Once you are totally finished glazing make sure to let your floor dry thoroughly. It probably won’t take long as the glaze dries quickly. Now is the time to apply your poly. I had a can of leftover poly from other projects so I didn’t need to buy any. I found the best way to do this over a large area is to apply with a paint roller then go back over and use a large paint brush and smooth it out. The first time I applied poly to a floor I used the roller and didn’t smooth it out with the brush and it turned out really bad. The poly cracked and looked terrible and the floor got dirty super fast and wasn’t able to be cleaned. It was bad so learn from my mistakes and make sure to smooth out your poly. Poly takes like 24 hour to dry before you are suppose to use it normally and you are suppose to apply 2 coats minimum. Well, if you have kids we all know you don’t have time for this so I applied one coat (at roughly 12 at night as I had to do this project while my kiddos were asleep) and by morning it was dry and fine to walk on. I kept the ceiling fans on in my space and the windows open which both helped it dry faster. If you have time for and are able to do 2 coats I recommend doing that as it will make your floor more durable, but that wasn’t an option for me as my floor is in the center of my house and the main hub.

This is what I used as I already had this, but it comes in a variety of finishes so be sure to choose the one you want.

Enjoy your new floor. Since I only applied 1 coat of poly, I put felt pads on the bottom of my stools and other items that often scrape across my floor just to help it last a little longer and I have had to go and do a couple small touch ups (thanks to metal truck and tractors being raced across the floor). I have had the floor for roughly 1 month now and it is still looking awesome and I am still as happy as can be about it. I have gotten multiple compliments from people and for less than $20 I was able to transform the whole room.

Here are my builders grade stairs using the same method. These originally had carpet on them.

This same method can be used on multiple surfaces plywood, concrete, linoleum, builders grade stairs, etc… I actually also did my linoleum entryway and staircase at the same time and they all turned out great!