Inside: How to lay a wood plank subfloor over a concrete basement slab; explains how to use tapcon masonry screws, hammer drill and how to lay the floors in a pattern.
I promised this post was on the way 🙂 We showed you our new basement floors back in this post – but we have yet to actually explain the process we used to lay them down. So, here’s how to install a barn board floor over concrete. (This post uses affiliate links.)
We have done a couple of other flooring projects since this one – make sure you have a look at our small bathroom floor using peel and stick tiles and also the vinyl plank flooring we laid in the downstairs playroom.
Here are the supplies you will need to lay wood floors on concrete:
- Plywood cut into 8″ strips (the thickness depends on your own comfort level)
- Standard Drill
- Impact Driver
- Hammer Drill
- Tap Con Screws
- Concrete and Masonry Drill Bit (we used many of these. You’ll see)
- Tap Con Drill Bit
- Countersink Drill Bit
- Carpenter’s Square
- Safety Goggles and Ear Protection
- Circular Saw
How to Install a Barn Board Floor over Concrete
I struggled with what to call this post. I mean, in the end, I guess I kept it fairly simple and straightforward.
First of all, it’s not real barn wood. It’s barn wood that we essentially created. Faux barn wood if you will. Ply wood chic – c’est vrai.
Secondly, holy – for a title so simple, this job was complex. Are you ready for a marathon post? Because here it comes. Any project that uses this many drills and bits is serious stuff! 😉
Let’s revisit the plan. We are in the basement in the laundry room and studio area. It was once separated out by a non-supporting wall that we decided to tear down in order to open the space up and create a better layout for massive wall-to-wall storage. You can read more about that entire demo and design stage here.
Here’s the rub. In this space –
- The ceilings aren’t exactly high. It’s a basement. Every inch of height matters.
- The adjoining room (our rec room) has these kinda cool, rustic, imperfect exposed plank wood subfloors that were laid by the previous owner. (That’s right – no real flooring in there either)
- The entire rest of the house (with the exception of two bathrooms) is bleached hardwood or weathered barn board looking wood
- This cement floor is colder than a brass monkey on the deck of an Arctic sea liner
- We essentially only need a SUB-FLOOR in here in order to match up with the adjoining rec room flooring (at least in height)
So what we’ve actually done? Is lay a really, fancy pants SUBFLOOR. I know, right? It’s such that down the line, this floor will be level with the rec room floor and we’ll have the ability to lay new (real) flooring on top of all this subfloor if we want to do that.
But we don’t.
Because we love the way this looks and functions.
Here’s how we did it 🙂
We measured the room once, twice, eighteen times. When we had a solid grasp on our space, we purchased six 4×8 sheets of 1/2″ finished plywood. We then had the hardware store rip each of those sheets into 8″ strips.
Then we wanted to figure out a decent pattern to stagger our newly created ply planks that would look ‘natural’ and reduce wood waste as much as possible. This took us forever! I think we were both hangry. Toast and Cheez-Whiz and the decision-making process went a bit more smoothly.
We settled on a four plank repeat. The measurements for each cut board won’t mean much to you because it’s highly unlikely that your room will have the same dimensions – but what we did do that was useful was name each row A,B,C,D starting with the row closest to the wall. We cut them all to size using a circular saw.
Then we laid out our pattern the way we liked it, ensured we had 1/8″ space between all of them and marked the different sizes of boards we’d need. (In our case we ended up with 43″, 70″, 26″, 17″ and full length boards.)
Then we labeled our boards A1, A2, A3, B1, B2 and so on. Why? Because eventually, every board starts to look the same and we didn’t want to accidentally screw a board into CEMENT and have it be a mistake.
LABEL all the THINGS.
We unrolled our moisture barrier and got to measuring out our screw holes. I know. You’ve probably seen a lot of plywood barn board floors that use adhesive or a brad nailers. Not our floor. Nope. Because we are laying this as a SUBFLOOR onto a cement foundation, we have to use SCREWS to secure it adequately. This was a royal pain in the PATOOT.
(See the doggy gate over the door? Bud was NOT pleased he was left out of this whole process… haha)
Doing this required us to drill guide holes – six of them into each board. Then follow the guide holes with a countersink hole so the screw heads would sit flush on the board. Here’s the drill set we used, and a great drill bit set that we like. Laying the board in place and marking on the concrete where the screws would be driven. Then, using a special Tapcon Drill bit (made for concrete) and a Hammer Drill, drilling a guide hole in position on the concrete using a masonry bit. Then re-laying the floor board and using an Impact Driver to drive the Tapcon screw into the plank.
*Phew* I’m tired just writing that all out!! In case you want a close up, this is the drill bit we used to make the holes in the concrete. Tip: Buy more than one.
Once all the drilling is finished, this is what it looks like. Yes, there are giant screw holes in the floors. We still haven’t even decided on a finish for the floor. So the most important part (at this point) was to make sure each screw was either completely flush or sat below the board so it didn’t become a tripping hazard or something that was going to hurt when you stepped on it.
And you’ve seen the “finished” look. We’ve added in our 8-foot storage wall and tidied up down there since. But to be honest, since we shared that first post, not much else has changed in the basement. I honestly think this floor was such an ordeal to put in (if you do the math, you’ll realize I was 12 weeks pregnant while laying this floor… So the drilling was punctuated by bouts of nausea and vomiting… *ahem*), that we just needed a breather on the basement for a while.
Here are some other Room Projects you might be interested in!