How To Faux Paint a Subfloor to Look Like Wood

One way to avoid paying for expensive hardwood flooring is to paint your subfloor to look like wood. This is an easy solution to turn your unattractive subfloor into something more pleasing to the eye. Although faux painting is not meant to last a long time, giving the floor a good finish will make it more durable.

What you need

  • Sand paper
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Damp rag
  • Primer
  • Paint brushes or rollers
  • Brown paint in two shades
  • Wood graining rocker tool
  • Polyurethane sealer

What you need to do

  • Check the surface of your subfloor. Faux painting works well on a flat, even surface. Assess every inch of your subfloor to make sure that there are no cracks, warping or other signs of damage. Cracks can be covered with wood putty. Apply an appropriate amount of wood putty on the cracks. Next, sand it down with sand paper so the area is even. For more extreme damage, you can replace the damaged area with a layer of new subfloor available at hardware stores.
  • Clean the subfloor. Once the surface of your subfloor is even, clean it in preparation for painting. Use a damp rag to remove all dust and dirt. The subfloor should be very clean so the faux paint adheres to the subfloor well. Otherwise, painting over a dusty subfloor can cause the paint to peel off.
  • Coat the subfloor with primer. You can use your favorite brand of high quality primer. Paint it over the subfloor and make sure it dries completely before you proceed to the next step. The function of the primer or sealer is to ensure that the paint sticks to the subfloor.
  • Apply the first shade of paint. Depending on the type of wood you are trying to copy, the first shade should either have a yellow or a red undertone. Apply the paint over the subfloor and let it dry for at least 24 hours. Make sure you cordon off the area so no one accidently walks on the painted floor.
  • Apply the second shade of paint. For the second shade, you will be using the wood graining rocker tool. Apply a line of the second shade of brown paint on the subfloor that is the same width as the wood graining rocker tool. As soon as you finish applying the paint, quickly drag the tool over the paint. You have to rock the tool back and forth in a slow, controlled matter. Do this for the whole floor.
  • Seal the painted subfloor. Apply a layer of polyurethane sealer over the subfloor. Let this dry thoroughly then apply more coats (each time drying the previous coating). If possible, let the subfloor dry for several days so the sealant will cure properly.


  • Use floor paint for paint porches or garages. This type of paint is more durable compared to other paint types.
  • Spend some time practicing with the wood graining rocker tool before you begin your project. Your ability to handle this tool well will determine how attractive your floor will be.

If you don’t have the money for new carpets or to use hardwood for your floors, faux painting the subfloor solves your decorating dilemma. Your subfloors can look like wood by using two shades of brown paint, a wood graining rocker tool and other easy to purchase materials from the hardware store. This do-it-yourself project may be time consuming but it offers a simple and creative solution to your subfloor concerns.


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