Save LOTS of Money And Time with your Tiny House/Cabin Build

A guest post from Derek “Deek” Diedricksen from


This one tip probably won’t save you thousands, but collectively, these tips might…and we have a TON more to come….

And yes, we’ll be trying this April 26th-28th at our Hands-On Tiny House Building Workshop in Wilmington, North Carolina. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS, and to SIGN UP (its almost Sold Out!)

From….Note: Smaller squares would work better in a small house….

I’ve talked about this at pretty much every workshop I’ve hosted- PLYWOOD FLOORS. I’d certainly file this under the K.I.S.S. mindset (Keep It Simple Stupid!, or “Sucka” if Mr. T were sayin’ it), as its not only a money and material saver, but a big time saver (and well, time is money too!).

So check these floors out- they’re merely plywood, and they look GOOD! -AND don’t forget to consider plywood walls…

Plywood Floor Painted White….Photo from “For The Love Of Home”

Remember, you can dress up plywood with a variety of stains and polyurethanes- paints if you’d like (but plan on seeing chipping and them later needing retouching)- and after that, you’re DONE! No killing your knees installing expensive hardwood tongue and groove flooring, and no paying for those floors either!

Later, if you decide you DO want to add another layer of flooring – there’s no extra work or steps required- just pick up where you left off. For this reason, the PLY-FLOOR-FIRST method works very well for those building a home on a very small budget- if you plan on installing a “fancier” floor from the start, down the road, when money allows, you can EASILY do so.

Yes, many will comment on the v.o.c.’s inherent in plywood, and perhaps before even reading all of this post, but there are methods to contain, and allow for off-gassing, pre-installation, with plywood- all depending on the kind, usage, and application. Certainly look into this if its a concern to you.

Particle Board Flooring- Super Cheap, and sealed so as to encapsulate/reduce off gassing…

Also, to dispel one worry- “Deek, if I spill something, will it travel through the floor and soak my insulation?“- the answer is “No”. By coating the plywood with several layers of a protectant, you’re in effect sealing it, and shouldn’t have a problem. Also, you can additionally apply some flexible silicone caulk between the plywood sheets where they butt together. Silicone Caulk is pretty darn strong and durable. Don’t cheap out either- be sure to buy decent stuff, which is still very reasonable. I can’t stress this enough.

Don’t forget, if you beat the crud out of these floors over time, they can be re-stained to hide the scratches, or sanded to bring them down to a new surface (as long as you don’t get carried away with depth!). If you find that they eventually get beat beyond repair, just add another new layer of ply, or go the traditional tongue and groove overlay look.

In terms of flexing and support, you usually want to go with 16″ on-center joist work below these floors, although 24″ on-center can work as well- it just may be the cause of more bowing and deflection in the floors when your linebacker-sized friends visit. I’d go 16″ personally, or 24″, but with some intermediate blocking as additional support. 

Plywood Floors AND Walls in a Tiny 8′ by 8′ by 8′ Cabin that I built and designed (“The All Eights Micro Cabin”

Plywood floors may not be for all, but they’ll save you a ton of money, time, and aggravation in the end run, for those who do like the simple look of them. I certainly do!

Another version of my “All Eights Cabin”- again, with plywood floors, but this time painted. With the cabin being only 8′ by 8′, the installation of the floor took all of but 20 minutes (not counting the painting).

Plywood bathroom from


-Cut the plywood into strips, and lay it as you would wide planks….


-Cut it into 2′ by 2′ squares (eight per sheet) and lay it in a “tile” fashion. The grout gaps are filled with silicone caulk (you want it to shrink and expand as the wood does), and you then slap several protective coats over these floors. 

Plywood Walls- from

Here’s a video showing more of that “All Eights Cabin” shown a ways above….

Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, runs, is the author of “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks“, and a designer/builder. He also hosts workshops for The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, on his own, and is now hosting/building/designing for a new show on The DIY Network.

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8 Comments → “Save LOTS of Money And Time with your Tiny House/Cabin Build”

  1. anotherkindofdrew

    Feb 18, 2013

    We have used 3/8″ utility ply for our interior walls. Great product and great result. The finish is quite smooth and once the staple holes and gaps between sheets (purposely left at 1/16″) have been filled and sanded (either wood putty or caulk) the walls look beautiful and ready to paint or finish with a sealant.


  2. Deek

    Feb 19, 2013

    Amen to that, brutha Drew! Smart/thrifty man! It works well….


  3. steve villa

    Feb 19, 2013

    I have 14″ & 18″ woven stabilized pp tubing on 6000/lf rolls for sale at great pricing. Sold by the roll only FOB my facility in California.


  4. steve villa

    Feb 19, 2013

    Oops! Meant to say “UVI stabilized”


  5. Valora

    Feb 23, 2013

    What about old barn siding from an architectural salvage company or even your local farmer/rancher if they have some to spare?


  6. Annie Fitt

    Feb 23, 2013

    I built my little house (320 sf.) in 2001, and my plywood floors are 12 years old and holding up well to a LOT of abuse. The plan was to add flooring on top, but I’ve never gotten around to it, and the floor still looks great. I didn’t stain the plywood before sealing. It could use another sealing, but that would mean moving the furniture out so it will have to wait.


    • Deek

      Feb 24, 2013

      Same reason I haven’t coated the floors in part of my Vermont cabin….I don’t want to move all the furniture…..


  7. M

    Oct 01, 2014

    You recommend cutting the plywood into strips and laying that down like plank flooring. I was wondering – is the plywood sub floor on a tiny house structural? In other words, would changing from a 4×8 sheet to strips reduce the structural integrity of the floor? In that case, could you do the same thing with hard wood 1x stock? Thanks!


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