When we took possession of our new retail space for The Ironstone Nest, we completely gutted it: removed acoustic ceiling, paneling, entire walls and the 3-tenant-old office carpeting. I knew I wanted wood on the floor and had originally considered white-washing raw wood flooring. And then I remembered that we are in the Midwest and come December, when everyone is arriving in their slushy, wet boots, I’d regret that white-washed flooring very quickly.

So I began searching Pinterest (of course) for inspiration, but came up empty handed. I really wanted hardwood floors, but that was way over our budget, no matter how many times I tried to recalculate it. Then a few people mentioned they had seen plywood used as hardwood floors. What? I went to the internet and typed in “plywood floors” and sure enough, there they were! We calculated how many 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood we’d need and headed off to Home Depot. We ordered 45 plywood sheets and Home Depot cut them for us (for a nominal fee) to 8″ wide planks and delivered them (also for a fee) to the back door of our new retail space on a pallet. We installed each plank right over the existing linoleum in a staggered pattern with Liquid Nails and then followed with 2 1/4″ finishing nails installed with a pneumatic nailer in about 6-8 places on each board.

Once all were installed, we had a beautiful, very durable floor. But how to finish them?

Curio Floors 1

I talked myself out of the white-washed floors because I knew I’d be following every customer out the door, cleaning up after them as they left. The next best alternative? Mimic the look of barn wood! So we chose Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint color in Curio with Hemp Oil as a top coat. Not only are both all natural products and staining indoors in March in the middle of winter prohibited me from a “well ventilated area”, but the Hemp Oil would also make the surface water resistant. Perfect for a high traffic area!

This is where it got tricky. There was no tutorial out there on how to use Milk Paint on a large surface like this, all 1500 square feet of it, so I did what I could and everything turned out great.

Supplies you’ll need:

5 gallon bucket
Paint tray x 2
Plastic liner x 2
Extension pole
Drywall mixing drill attachment

Curio Floors

I mixed up 3 gallons of water with about 2 pounds of Milk Paint to create a stain (3 parts water:1 part paint). I mixed it all in a 5 gallon bucket with a drywall mixer attachment on the end of my drill.

Curio Floors 2
Curio Floors 3

Once I had it mixed, I tested the color on a scrap piece of plywood we had lying around. It was still too light. So I added about 3 more cups of paint to what was already in the bucket. I gave it a good stir with the drill mixer, performed another test patch, and it was perfect.

I brought everything out onto the floor with me so I could mix as I went along, knowing that the pigments in the Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint would settle. I had the bucket, a roller with painting tray set up for rolling the stain and then a painting tray that I set the mixer into as I used it. I set it all on a drop cloth and then just dragged the drop cloth, carefully, around the room as I stained. This system seemed to work very well.

Curio Floors 5
Curio Floors 6

I put an empty cup into the bucket and poured the stain from the cup into the painter tray. I then rolled out the stain onto a large section, wiped it down by hand with a rag and then repeated these steps until the entire first section of our space was complete.

Curio Floors 7

There were some areas of overlap on the floor, as I’ve encountered with stain I’ve used in the past. I grabbed my orbital sander and gave those areas a light sanding before I applied the Hemp Oil.

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You can really see the difference in the floors in this photo:

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Once the stain was applied everywhere, I let it dry for about 4 hours. At that time, I was ready to apply the Hemp Oil to protect and seal the wood. I used a sponge mop and another painter tray for this step. I poured the Hemp Oil into the tray, laid the sponge mop in the oil, and applied generously until the entire floor was finished.

Curio Floors 9

I can’t even begin to tell you how pleased I am with the way the floors turned out. They have held up very well to the constant traffic in and out of our store.

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June 2014 Buffet After

Let’s not forget that I stained this entire floor, all 1500 square feet of it, indoors, in March in the Midwest with no open doors or windows. There were no fumes! Using a zero VOC paint to stain whenever possible just makes sense.

We love seeing jaws drop when we tell them our floors are made of plywood. And then again when we tell them we used Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint as a stain.

10 thoughts on “CURIO AS A STAIN

  1. Sue


    You are amazing! I am always in awe of how you just jump in and create really cool things. I have been thinking about using the curio as a stain and now I have no excuse not to. Thanks for all the tips.

  2. Jelena

    That’s a great looking floor! Looking at it finished, I would have never even thought it was plywood with MMS milk paint if I didn’t know.

  3. Alexis

    I am so thrilled! I’ve been staring at unfinished shelves (custom designed and anchored to the wall) literally for months. They are constructed with bits and pieces from my former home, as well as new boards where needed, so some are stained a dark wood and some are raw. I knew I wanted to use MMSMP but I also loved the dark stained wood. Your incredibly brilliant solution for your floors has given me both my desires in one go!!! Thank you a million times over,

    1. Alexis

      Should have said “Laura’s brilliant solution” but I’m so accustomed to your brilliance, Marian, that I was on auto pilot! Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  4. Sharon

    This is brilliant. Looks great. I wouldn’t have thought to use plywood either, but works great for your shop space!
    The other thing I would note when using as a stain and in such a big area, is to stir the paint as you go, as the powder does tend to have some settling towards the bottom. I usually stir the bottom each time I go to dip my brush in again.

  5. Spring Thompson

    Love! Because I am just getting into the repurposing of old furniture and things I don’t know all about chalk paint. So this may be a stupid question… Can this be done to actual old hardwood floors. My floors are the original to the house from back in the 30’s and they are beaten up with stains and some traditional oak stain still lingering. I want to stain them really dark and I love how this turned out on the plywood and thought, MAYBE. Since it looks like it will be when it’s cold ,and my windows will not be allowed open, when I do this, the no fumes is a huge plus too!


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