Friday, September 9, 2011

Staining and varnishing an OSB floor.

Like I have said before, this remodel has to be done on the cheap. With that in mind I had to figure out something that would cost me very little while still looking killer sexy after it was finished for the floor. I have 800 sq/ft of floor space in total, 640 sq/ft of that are everything but the bathroom and addition where I am going to do something different than the main part of the pad. When I priced out laminate flooring I was looking at about $700-$800 for the cheapest stuff I could find as I couldn't rely on re-stores having 40 boxes of the stuff in a colour that I would like. The OSB idea came from a reno that my dad and late step-mother did in the late 90's where they sanded and varnished an OSB floor to finish off an addition on their acreage. The end result was awesome and I figured I would price it out for my place.


3/8" OSB - $160

Industrial sander (rented)- $42

Wood filler - $6

Stain - $33

Varnish - $64

Screws - $15

Brushes - $15
Total $335 - give or take a few bucks for small stuff I forgot to add up.

After putting a ton of work into prep, getting this first coat of varnish on the floor felt so good. My back was killing me from the sanding day and I was excited to see how the wood grains would pop out once it was all shiny and stuff. I applied it with a varnish pad in very thin coats with 3 hours of drying time.
The picture above is to show the contrast between the plain sanded and stained floor and the first coat of varnish.

Since I did the majority of the stain in the evening, the spots that I did during the day dried sort of patchy because the sun dried it faster in some spots more than others. I kept that look because the overall appearance of the floor has a very uneven but almost free flowing colouring that I wasn't expecting but looks really good.

I opted out of getting the cheapest indoor clear coat possible because I didn't want this to fall apart before Christmas so I went with a mid grade and lucked out with it being on sale for the week. On the can it says that I should have needed two cans per coat but I ended up being able to do the entire place with a half can.

This stuff was super cheap and covered a huge area with a single can. I used two and a half cans to cover the entire floor but I might have been able to do it in two if I didn't lay it on so thick in the office. Once I figured out how to get it on evenly without spattering six feet up the walls I covered much more area per can.

As I think back to the first few days, this makes me happy with how far I have come with this.


  1. Stumbled upon this because we just bought a trailer, ripped out the nasty carpets and found the particleboard is all lumpy and gross from pet pee/ barf. I'm insanely cheap and since we HAVE to replace the subfloor (or seal it and go over it) I love the idea of staining the new floor and not pay for further flooring! This looks amazing!

    1. This place before I got it was owned by the local crazy cat lady so I had pee issues. Before I did any flooring I used copious amounts of peroxide on it to get rid of the smells. Super cheap way to go and after a year of me using it I never had any issues with it at all. One definite advantage I found with it because it was all sealed as one piece was when I got a puppy, there was nowhere for her pee to seep because it was entirely sealed as one surface.

  2. HI Jarret, what did you do about the markings on the osb board, did you just have them cut off the rest of the board? We are ripping out carpet in our house and will be doing stained osb in a couple of the rooms. my aunt and uncle have had osb floors in their house for 20 years and they still look amazing.

    1. I just sanded them really well with a belt sander first, palm sander second with a super fine grit then the big industrial sander when I did the entire floor. For the most part with my 700 or so square feet I sanded by hand for about four hours then the big sander took me an afternoon as I worked my way through the different grits. The advantage of the dark stain was that I didn't have to take all of the stamp out of the wood so if you look really close there is still a few spots where I didn't sand deep enough. If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask and please send me some pictures if you do it, I love seeing when other people take this and add their own flair to it.

      One thing I can say for sure though is that this floor will settle and almost form to whatever it is set on so if you have any little nails or screws poking up off the base it will eventually turn into a small hump in the OSB in time. Lesson learned for me but a little too late.

  3. Absolutly beutiful, I was thinking of buying plywood to go over my existing OSB but thtat was going to be pricey so I looked up staining OSB and your site popped up.Now I know what I am going to do Thanks.

  4. How many pieces of sandpaper did you go through on the industrial sander? I am looking to do this in my new office.

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  6. Absolutely beautiful! I am looking to do this to my house that is currently being renovated. I love how no matter what color stain used, there is always a lighter and darker contrast. Question: are your OSB floors still holding up?