If you’re looking to create a feature wall in your home – whether for a nursery, a kitchen, or even a living room – a decorative wood wall is a great way to give your home that extra depth and comfort.
There’s just something about the consistently inconsistent pattern of wood that calms you down and makes you feel a little more zen.
So, if you’re ready to transform your wall right now, sit back, relax, stop reading, and watch the video above. (Trust me, it’s way better than the text.)
But, if you insist on reading, here’s how to install some wood planks on your wall on the cheap while still getting that highly professional look that will finally bring you the happiness you’ve always hoped for and make everybody like you way more. 😉
Disclaimer – Several of the links below are affiliate links. That means if you click them and purchase a product or service, I get small chunk of change. This is at no cost to you.
Step #1 – Gather the Materials
You know a project is easy when sourcing the materials is harder than the actual labor. Or maybe that’s just because I hate shopping.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Wood planks (We used some knotty pine from Home Depot in the video).
- Stain (We used MinWax Penetrating Stain. Color: Provincial 211)
- Paint brush for applying the stain (get a cheap brush you can throw away when finished)
- Clear coat (This is optional, but recommended for wood appearance longevity.)
Step #2 – Stain The Wood Planks (or pallets if that’s what you have)
Maybe you’re considering doing the staining after the installation? Bad DIYer! Slap yourself on the hand and then do it the right way. Just like back in high school Algebra, order of operations matters.
Start off by staining the wood with the paint brush. Get yourself a nice place to work in the garage, stir your stain, and start applying stain liberally to the surface of the wood with your paint brush.
If you’re bored or stressed out, just put on some Bob Ross in the background.
Once the entire surface is covered, take a dry painters rag and give the wood a good wipe. To sum it up – apply the stain to one board, wipe off the excess, move on to the next board.
You don’t need to worry about letting the stain sit there either. Just wipe it off immediately and if you want to go darker, then apply another coat once it dries.
Step #3 – Clear Coat Your Wood (optional)
You don’t have to do this step. If you don’t mind spills, scratches, and an overall shitty wall appearance after just a couple of years, the clear coat isn’t necessary.
But, if you want to enjoy the wall for years, and to avoid explaining to your friends one year down the road that “I should have clear-coated it,” then spend the extra couple of hours and few bucks to apply something to protect the damn wood.
Personally, I recommend a satin finish Polyurethane. That way the wall doesn’t get too shiny but it’s protected from stains.
Step #4 – Installation Time! – Gather the tools.
At this point 80% of your work is done, and if you have the right tools, installation will go fast. Here’s a list of tools you’ll need:
- Brad Nailer
- Air Compressor (if your Brad Nailer is pneumatic – some or battery powered)
- 4′ Level
- Chalk Line
- Measuring Tape
- Miter Saw
- Circular Saw
- Stud Finder
Step #5 – Find the Studs
Grab your stud finder and find every stud in the wall and mark each stud at both the top of the wall and the bottom of the wall. (Studs run vertically.)
Then, take your chalk line and snap a line of chalk to mark the center of each stud from floor to ceiling. If you don’t have a chalk line, you can just use your level and a pencil, but it will take longer.
This step is important, because you’re going to be nailing into the studs. Just slapping nails into drywall isn’t going to hold things in place very well.
Step #6 – Mark the wall for your first row
Most floors aren’t perfectly level. Neither are most ceilings, and while you might be tempted to just use the floor as your guide for the first row, this is a guaranteed ticket toward looking like a douche and your friends thinking “they should have hired a pro.”
Instead, take out your measuring tape and mark the wall with your pencil at the height of one board thickness. Actually a little more. If your boards are 3.5″ thick, mark the wall at 3.75″ or 4″ from the floor.
Then use your level (or even a chalk line) to make a level line across the entire wall so you can use it as a guide for your first row to guarantee level boards.
Step #7 – Nail In The First Row
Now for the fun part. Start nailing those boards in, one by one. For this bottom row, you’ll want to nail right into the front surface of the board, and make sure you are hitting a stud with each nail.
You’ll have to cut a board or two to length, and you’ll do that using the miter saw so you get a nice clean cut.
Step #8 – Install the Rest of the Boards – Working your way from floor to ceiling.
Continuing installing boards using the brad nailer – making sure each layer sits flush against the layer below it. Some of the boards will inevitably be warped, and will require some extra attention. Take your time and more people will like you when you’re done.
Also, be sure to stagger the seams in the boards. You don’t need to try to create a pattern or anything, but you do want to aim for predictably erratic with the seam placement.
Step #9 – Top Row
The top row is a little tricky, and will take a few minutes to get just right – unless your ceiling is perfectly level.
But since most ceiling are wavy, you’ll need to take some extra measures (literally) to get that last row of boards in. So, measure the gap left on the wall in several places, translate that to some fresh boards. Then, use a circular saw (or a table saw) to rip the boards down to the appropriate height.
Nail them in, and then step back, relax, sip on some Kefir water to improve your gut bacteria, and enjoy your creation.