DIY Plank Wall Tutorial

In: Home Decor Tutorials
Plank wall Graphic
plank wall behind fireplace mantle

DIY Plank Wall Tutorial
Our living room was pretty boring.  I mean boring like a Kenny G song boring.  And it’s a little Salmon colored…  Totally not intentional, it was supposed to be more beige.  I was looking for an inexpensive (duh, like that isn’t out of character…) way to spice it up a little.  Plank walls are pretty hot right now, but I didn’t really want to do the standard shiplap-esque paneling, I wanted a little more texture.

party mantle
Here’s a pic of what this wall used to look like.  Please try to look past the poor quality and party decor and just focus on the boringness of this wall.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the photos I took during the process.  They have mysteriously disappeared…  I think that the FBI or the CIA had something to do with it, but my proof is limited.

Anyway, the good thing is that it’s pretty easy to explain how to recreate it for yourself for $50 and an afternoon of your weekend.

My recipe to combat boringness:

2 sheets of 4′ x 8′  1/2″ MDF from your local Home store.
1″ brad nails and nail gun.  You can totally use a hammer and nails if you really want to get back to your roots.  I did not.  I like my nail gun.
Jig Saw

First you need to measure the wall that you plan on planking.  For my wall, I wanted to do 6″planks with about an inch space in between them. To figure out the spacing so that would fit just right between the baseboard and the ceiling, I took the height of my wall that would be covered with planks (A) divided by the plank and space size (B).  That gave me (C).  I kept adding tiny amounts to the space size until (C) was a whole number and that was the number of planks I needed to span the height of the wall.

I still had about 1/8″ left so this is where I put it so that all my planks were evenly spaced.  Right over the baseboard.  It looks completely intentional.

White baseboard beneath plank wall


Then for the width of the wall, I just added the length to the 8′ pieces for above the fireplace and staggered the joints so that they were not in a single line.
Now that you know how many strips you are going to need, you can have the nice folks at your local home store rip your MDF for you and the most tedious work is finished!
Once you get home, paint your wall.  You must paint it the color you want before your boards go up because it’s really hard to paint inside the spaces.  You also need to paint the sides of your boards.  You can choose to do the whole board if you want, but I just did the sides because I thought it would be easier to paint it on the wall.  
To measure, you can do a couple of things.  You can use a chalk line which probably would work awesomely, or you can just use your measuring tape and level- like I did.
Mark your wall where you want your boards to line up and where the studs are.  Grab a buddy to hold while you nail the boards on the wall into the studs.  Once your finished, putty the holes and the joints with paintable putty.  I also caulked the seam by the ceiling and all of the seams that butted up to the adjoining walls with paintable caulk.  If you don’t get paintable, you’ll be sorry.
The hardest part for us was around the mantle.  Luckily, the mantle isn’t flush with the wall on one side and I could slide a paper behind to trace the shape.  Then I used a jig saw to cut the shape into the plank.  do the same with the other side.

plank wall around mantle


For the outlets, use a jigsaw to cut out the notches where the planks will go, then just use some scrap to put in the sides of the outlet.

plank wall around outlets


Then you can paint, paint, paint.  I used Glidden Primer + Paint in Satin- the color is Autumn Haze.  It took 2 coats and covered like a champ. 
With the baseboard upgrade and the fireplace white, it’s not boring anymore!  Now, I love this room- minus the piles of toddler toys and chunks of play-dough everywhere!  
Plank wall behind fireplace mantle
The plank wall has been up for about a year now and the only problem is in the joints between the boards and where the boards meet the other wall/mantle.  They have separated slightly when the cold weather hit us late in the fall.  I’m going to wait until the weather warms up and if there isn’t a substantial change, I’ll caulk the seams and touch up with paint.

finished plank wall