Burnt Plywood Flooring – How to DIY a Burned Plywood Floor?

One of the cheapest and best-looking techniques for enhancing the appearance of plywood is to torch it. The process of making burnt plywood flooring will transform bland-looking plywood into a beautiful-looking floor that’s completely custom and unique.

Plywood is a cheap flooring option, especially when you compare it side by side with traditional flooring options like hardwood or tile. Combine the low cost of plywood with the incredible results you get with this technique and you’ve got yourself a winning combination for anyone looking for a unique DIY floor.

This technique is fairly simple to actually do, and you can get gorgeous-looking burnt plywood flooring with just some basic supplies available at your local hardware store.

Tools & Materials

Burnt Plywood Flooring – How to Guide

Burning wood to enhance its appearance is nothing new – in fact, it dates back to the ancient Japanese practice known as Shou Sugi Ban – which is a process used on exterior siding to preserve wood by charring it with fire.

The process of burning the wood acts to preserve it while allowing the wood grain to come through at the same time. It will greatly enhance the appearance of your plywood and is one of the most unique ways to do so.

It’s also less complicated than it looks, and is quite cathartic to actually do.

Step 1: Prepare to Burn the Ply

The first thing you should do is prepare everything you need to start burning the floor.

Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher nearby at all times. You probably won’t need it, but it pays to have one on hand anyway. A bucket full of water and some sponges is also a good idea, as this will allow you to quickly stop the burning process if a section is getting too burnt for your liking.

The plywood can be burned once it’s already in place and installed, or it can be done separately beforehand. It’s easier to do beforehand in many cases, as hitting the edges of the floor without burning the trim is easier.

There are a number of tools you can use for burning the wood, but one that works well and is readily available is a propane tank with a blowtorch attachment. These blowtorches are easy to work with, and the flame can be adjusted easily to your preference.

Attach the blowtorch to your propane tank, and tighten it with your wrench to make sure it’s completely tight and sealed.

You can also use a smaller mini-torch used for soldering copper piping, but these will take significantly longer due to their small size.

Step 2: Sand the Surface

Next, you’ll want to sand the surface of the plywood. This is only necessary if you’re using lower quality plywood like C or D-rated stuff. If you’re using A-grade, then it should be smooth and pre-sanded from the store, so sanding won’t be necessary.

Use a power sander with 180-grit to 220-grit sandpaper, and sand the entire top surface down carefully. When working with plywood it’s important to remember that it’s comprised of thin veneers sandwiched and glued together.

If you overdo it with the sanding, you can actually wear through one layer and work your way through to the next. You want to avoid this in order to prevent wasting a section of plywood.

Step 3: Start the Burn

Next up, it’s time to start burning things!

Set your torch to a low flame setting – as you don’t want to overdo it – and then begin making passes over the plywood.

It’s best to go with multiple light passes than heavy burning right off the bat. You can always darken it by increasing the number of passes, but there’s no way to go back and lighten it once you’ve burnt it.

The burning process will raise the wood grain, making it more aesthetically appealing. If you overdo it, you’ll hide the wood grain, and it’ll look like a burnt mess.

Step 4: Sand and Prepare to Seal 

Once you’ve got the ideal-looking burned finish, it’s time to move on to sealing it with a polyurethane finish to seal and preserve it.

It’s a good idea to sand the surface before applying any sort of polyurethane coating. This will knock down the wood grain and remove any imperfections caused during the burning.

Sand the surface using a power sander and then clean it thoroughly. Vacuum up any small particles, and then wash the entire surface down with a mop and bucket.

You can also be lazy and skip this step, but if you’re looking for the best-looking finish I’d recommend sanding.

Step 5: Stain (Optional)

This isn’t necessary if you’re happy with the appearance of your plywood, but stain will give you nearly unlimited options for customizing the look of your floor.

Stain the floor using a wood stain and a paint roller. This won’t take very long and, in my experience, it greatly enhances the look of your finished floor.

Step 6: Apply Polyurethane Coating

After your stain has had the time to dry completely, you’ll want to seal the plywood with a coat of polyurethane. As you’re building flooring, which will have a lot of foot traffic over it, you’ll want to seal it with a few good poly coats.

Polyurethane will not only increase the durability of the flooring, but it’ll create a nice shiny appearance. High gloss poly will give you a nice shiny appearance, but it will also highlight any imperfections in the plywood.

A satin polyurethane will still provide the same level of effective coating, but it doesn’t have the downside of highlighting imperfections.

Apply several coats of polyurethane while letting it dry completely in between. There are poly coats that require sanding in between, and there are products that don’t. Personally, I’d go with a product that doesn’t require sanding, as this will save you a lot of headaches and labor.

Denis Gardner

I've loved tinkering and fixing things for as long as I can remember. So, naturally, I gravitated towards DIY and home improvement when I bought my first home. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or messing around with my newest tool!

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