Our Yurt DIY Plywood Floors

“DIY” has never felt so amazing. Without being modest, I’ll just say our yurt DIY plywood floors look amazing; they are the perfect fit. Handcrafted by us (and a few talented friends), the floors began as many sheets of plywood, which we cut, sanded, drilled, stained and sealed.


But before I get into the details of how, I want to reference why. Why exactly did we choose — quite possibly — the most difficult flooring route for our first flooring experience?

Hm, that’s funny — on a whim!

Our friend, Russ (super handy guy—mastermind behind the Travel Queen / Our Greasecar / etc.), came out to Montana in mid-July, and having spent the last year in China (and about to spend one more year there after his summer break), he was looking to help with a yurt project. He knew we needed to decide on flooring, and from my understanding, he confronted Sean one day. The whole thing happened so fast — here’s a dramatic reenactment:

Russ: Sean, what are you going to do for a floor in the yurt?
Sean: I have no idea.
Russ: What do you want to do?
Sean: I want to make plywood floors.
Russ: Plywood it is.
Sean: [Calls me.] Hi Mollie.
Mollie: Hi Sean.
Sean: We’re doing plywood floors. I’m with Russ and we decided.

And then things got real. By the time I got home from work, there was a plywood bench outside our house, a skil saw humming to and fro, extension cords running left and right as the plywood was being cut into strips, cut again, sanded, beveled, and drilled.


The first few sheets of plywood moved fast. Spirits were high, the beer was still refreshing (as opposed to sustaining), and there was plenty of daylight left.


By the time nightfall came, we transitioned up to the yurt, where a borrowed generator fueled the sander, and boards were drilled as fast as we could manage before bringing them into the yurt where Russ would drill them into place. Board by board… piece by piece.




We called it at 11pm — exhausted and ready for the project to be done. This went on for a few more days — taking half days and evenings to pick at the project.


At one point, Sean and I broke down and bought a second sander because that part took forever. By the time Russ was leaving, there were still a few boards left to place, but in general, the project (for the living room/kitchen/hallway rooms of the yurt) was complete. Sort of.



Then came the whitewashing. Even though the cans of pickling stain said “don’t use on floors,” we decided to live on the wild side and break those rules. You can see here there is a jagged edge against the lattice walls; the reasoning is that those spaces between the snow legs against the lattice will be filled in with pink panther insulation to prep for winter, followed by drywall. Thus, the jagged edges won’t be seen when our yurt construction is complete.



Then came the sealing. Instead of a standard polyurethane, we opted for the “best of the best” on the market, called Bona. Ringing up at $115 a gallon (yep — let that sink in for a minute) we wanted to make sure that nothing would penetrate this floor, especially now that we’d been into the project for over 10 days, and literally poured our hearts and souls (and stress and tears) into this floor. Plus, with two dogs in a small space, we’re not taking chances.


After staying completely out of the yurt (and in our house) for 7 days while the floor sealed, we were so excited to come back and move furniture back into the main room. I have to say, it looks pretty sharp.



Then while I was in New Zealand for 10 days, Sean surprised me and completed the same flooring process in our bedroom. That just leaves the bathroom without a finished floor at this point. Not sure what we’ll do in there yet, so stay tuned. We’re pretty much carpenters at this point, so the possibilities are endless!

Editor’s Note: Since the completion of this post last weekend, we decided to put these same floors in the bathroom. To our delight, we literally had JUST enough plywood left to make that happen. We are sealing them this week, so that by next week, we’ll be 100% ready to finally move up to the yurt as our shower situation will be worked out by then, as well as the painting on the drywall will be complete, too. Hooray for a finished yurt!

4 Comments. Leave new

Aaah. SO BEAUTIFUL. I adore your yurt and am so grateful you’re documenting the process as I’m certain I’ll end up with a yurt within the next decade or so. The time you put into that floor totally shows – it is stunning.


Thanks so much, Liz!!


So tell me, is this just run-of-the-mill plywood from the lumberyard or something special? It looks great!


Hi Mollie,
I am also curious on the details of the plywood you used (thickness, etc) and how the floor is holding up to moisture and temperature swings (if you are in a location that experiences cold winters). Any info is appreciated. Thanks


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