Stone and Wood Flooring for 5 Cents a Square Foot

floorsI know this was a crazy project, but then it worked so that has to count for something. I had ugly white linoleum in the kitchen and nasty brown carpet in the living room. Not only was this depressingly ugly, they were both hard to keep clean.

First I did the normal, un-crazy thing: I looked for thrifty options for new flooring. Even thrifty was beyond my means. One day I tried in vain to get some spilled acrylic paint up from the kitchen floor and failed. “Wait a minute!” I thought. “If the paint won’t come off the floor, how about I just paint the whole darn thing? Since I am an artist, I realized I could paint the whole darn thing any way I wanted. I decided I wanted a stone floor in the kitchen.

favorite rockDifficulty level: Moderate; I think anyone (with a few hints,) could paint stones on their floor. Cost: About $20.

You know how it goes, when one part of the house is spiffed up, the rest looks shabby-especially that living room carpet. I ripped up a corner and found plywood underneath. Plywood is not very beautiful, but it does have wood grain patterns, which are beautiful.

I tore out the carpet, then 5 bazillion staples, then had to camouflage stains and the workman’s footprints (he had walked through green paint, then all over the plywood.) I named him Joe Green and made up a life story for him while I pulled the 5 bazillion staples. In my story, Joe Green got a promotion because Lord knows, he was very diligent in stapling down that carpet.

wood floor stainPhoto: Stain before and after

It took three days to pull the staples and do the camouflaging. Then I drew lines for wide board flooring, laid on a gray wash to tone down the orangey plywood, and covered it all with a couple coats of polyurethane. While waiting for the polyurethane to dry, I painted a koi pond as a welcome mat. Why? Why not? My daughter Autumn had told me to paint a stream through the kitchen rocks and add fish (she is also an artist) and her idea was stewing in my brain. Besides, I want a koi pond, but am probably too old and scrawny to dig one.

koipondWood flooring difficulty level: Don’t try this at home! But then, where else would you try it? If you started with new, clean, staple-less plywood, it would be fairly easy. As it was, I worked so hard on it I got heat exhaustion (breathing polyurethane fumes probably didn’t help) But after spending a day recovering, I really like my new floor. It is imperfect and kind of rustic, not unlike my self. It also cost about $20. If I didn’t already have acrylic paints it may have cost up to $60.

Perhaps I should do a Youtube video to show the techniques for painting stones and wood grain. I really think most people could do this with a bit of instruction. If you have questions about this project, contact me at

Oh-and here’s my art page:

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