Hello, friends! Welcome to my DIY Plank Wall Tutorial for Beginners!
We could also call this a shiplap wall, but I decided to go with the word “planks” since technically, shiplap is bought and installed as is. My planks are cut to size and, basically, I am just creating the look I like in a way that fits my budget nicely. From start to finish my living room makeover cost less than $125, including the white and seaglass paints from Sherwin Williams.
And that is just the kind of bargain I love!
I did this for the first time in my tiny living room to create a feature wall in the small space. I love how the white really stands out against the “seaglass” walls on the sides. Of all of the little re-dos I have done in my house, this is by far my favorite!
Before we get into the how-to of doing this wall, I want to mention a couple of things:
***First up, YOU CAN DO THIS! Find a willing friend or partner, and choose a wall to cover with planks. This project is farmhouse-y and fixer-upper-y, so you will not achieve perfection. My hope in telling you that is for you to try it out and see how it goes. Most likely you will end up with a workable, fun feature wall in your home and you can happily tell people “I did it”! Sometimes when we make things, we see lots of imperfections, but that just means you need to tell people not to look too closely! 🙂
***Gather all of your materials prior to starting, and prepare the wall and planks with primer.
***Read the entire tutorial all the way through before you start buying materials and DEFINITELY before you start doing any work!
***Be patient with yourself and the process. If you need to trouble-shoot something, DO IT! Don’t give up.
***I suggest that if this is your first time planking a wall (or your first DIY in your home) start with one small wall. Once you get that wall done, go ahead and shoot for a whole room. But for beginners, small is best since it’s a more manageable project with less trouble-shooting needed. You don’t want to start on a large space and get overwhelmed.
***Have fun. Enlist a willing friend who will partner with you through the entire project. Make sure they have time. At least one of you will need to operate power tools.
This plank wall took about 8 hours from start to finish, and that includes time needed to add primer to the planks.
This is my “before” picture. You can see that there was already a shelf installed on the wall. Initially I had thought to take it out completely, but I decided to keep it once I removed the trim that the previous owners had added (two pieces of baseboard trim was nailed on it). Please keep this shelf in mind as your proceed through the tutorial. We worked from the shelf down, and then from the ceiling down. You will work from your ceiling down only (in a sense, just ignore my shelf in the tutorial pictures):
Below you can see that I have started painting the side walls with “seaglass” (I wanted to paint under the area where the planks would be before I started nailing them on). The plank wall has been primed and the wood shelf is exposed.
Please note that you will want to paint your plank wall white because any color underneath it will show through the planks since there is a gap purposely left between each one. I primed mine:
Let’s start with our supply list for your DIY Plank Wall:
***Luan (this is an underlayment typically used under vinyl flooring). I bought mine at Home Depot for $11.97 per 4′ X8′ sheet. I needed 4 sheets for my 13′ X 8′ wall. You will need to unpack your math skills to figure out how many boards to purchase (square footage). Have it cut to your desired size at Home Depot, or cut it yourself on a table saw. I had mine cut 6-1/4″ since my wall is fairly small. I have seen other people cutting theirs at 8″, but that seemed too wide for my wall.
***Liquid Nails Adhesive (I used 3 tubes). Each tube cost less than $2. You will also need a caulking gun to apply this.
***Primer, a sanding block and a small sponge roller. I had a towel handy, which was great because the priming step was messier than I expected it to be!
***Also, the paint of your choice for your finished wall. I used a bright white Sherwin Williams latex paint for my wall.
***Tools: A chop saw, a table saw, a jigsaw, a finish nailer, 16 gauge nails (for the finish nailer), a stud-finder, light-weight spackle, and miscellaneous tools typically found in your garage. Please note that Home Depot often has tool rentals for the larger tools, as do rental yards in your home town.
This is my outside painting set-up. Be sure to cover your area with a tarp to keep the paint from getting where you don’t want it.
The first step in installing your DIY plank wall is to apply primer to your planks. I laid several planks on their sides to apply the primer. These edges will not be painted further, but the primer will keep you from seeing the wood between the planks on your finished wall. Don’t skip this step, but I will admit it was a little more time-consuming than I expected it to be.
Apply primer to all of your planks and let them dry. I did all of my painting the night before “work day” because I wanted to start bright and early in the morning!:
To begin your wall, you will need to find the studs using a stud-finder. And, yes, for any of you tool-newbies, there is a legit tool called a stud-finder. And guys love to think it locates, well, themselves. So I encourage you to play along with them and just roll your eyes when they aren’t looking. Lol!
Make a light pencil mark on each side of all of the studs on the wall. Add a mark down the center of those marks as shown:
Make sure you have actually found a stud by hammering a nail into the wall on all of your middle marks. Nailing your wall planks onto the studs will help the boards stay securely on the wall, rather than pulling out from just the drywall:
Draw straight lines from the floor to the ceiling along your middle lines.
PS…I want you to meet Daniel, my partner in crime. He is a construction guy extraordinaire, and while I also did a bunch of the work on the wall, I have to be the one behind the camera for the pictures. Just didn’t want you think I was sitting on the sidelines during this project!:
Straight lines drawn down the walls:
We also added a level line from side to side. This pointed out the fact that my shelf was not installed level, so we had to just go with that flow:
On each and every plank we added liquid nails to the back. This will help to avoid the planks pulling out of the wall after time:
Use your nail gun to attach the planks to the top of your wall, nailing on top of your stud-lines. Any nails shot straight into drywall will work themselves out over time, leaving you with a bunch of loose planks.
Please note that we started at the shelf, rather than the ceiling. I want you to remember that as you are working your way through this tutorial and looking at pictures. You will start from your ceiling and work down:
We used nickels to add some space between each board. This makes for a more authentic “shiplap” look. Push the boards up tightly to the nickels. You may have to work some of the nickels out, but keeping the boards tight makes for a good look at the end:
On wall corners, be sure to angle your nails a little bit towards the wall to make sure you hit a stud with the nail. Going straight in at the corners may lead to some nails accidentally being sunk into drywall only:
You can see here that we are nailing along the stud-lines:
Again, here is what it looks like to nail along the stud-lines:
As you can see, we started with longer, uncut boards to establish our pattern. We wanted a random look, and decided to use a pattern to achieve that (yes, I realize that is contradictory! Lol!). I will be totally honest and tell you that we messed up our pattern halfway through, which is fine since it’s supposed to be random anyway! Please keep in mind that I have a shelf attached to the wall. You will simply start at your ceiling and work your way down your wall, whereas you can see that we started at the shelf:
Once we established our pattern, we used a chop-saw to cut the smaller “fill-in” pieces. Simply measure from the end of an attached board to the wall’s corner. Cut your fill-in pieces to that measured length:
You can see here that we have filled in the all of the right side, and most of the left:
Now, you may have an outlet somewhere along your wall. Let me show you how to take care of that. You will need your jigsaw:
Hold your plank up against the wall and draw lines on each side of the outlet where you will need to cut. Please note that this is a loose plank (it is not nailed to the wall yet):
Now measure from an attached plank to the top of the outlet. Please note that Dan also drew a line to the left of the measuring tape that shows the actual width of the plank. You can see how much will need to be cut off of the plank from this measurement:
Mark that last measurement on your plank. You will see that you are starting to form the shape that needs to be cut out for the outlet:
Draw straight, level lines to mark your cut-out area:
This is your cut-out area after it is marked and the lines are connected:
Use your jigsaw to cut out this piece by cutting up each side until you reach that top line:
Unfortunately the picture I took of this next step on our planks came out blurry, so I added this picture from another project. It shows how to fully cut out your rectangle. Once your sides are cut straight up, simply cut into one side at a curve until you reach the top line, and then continue cutting across that top line. Now you will need to cut off that little curve:
You will also need to loosen your outlets in order for the wood planks to fit behind them (in this picture the wood is behind the top of the outlet, while the bottom screw is loose and ready for that bottom piece to be added):
You will probably need to cut the next plank to fit along the bottom of the outlets.
Here is the wall with the outlets cut out for the planks to fit properly. You may have noticed a phone jack in previous pictures (it is an open circle on the wall next to the outlets), but we simply decided to plank over that since I don’t plan on using a landline any time soon:
Now we needed to cut some width off of our boards for that bottom row using the table saw:
Our wall is almost done! Since I have the shelf, we had to start at the ceiling and work our way down again. You will not have to do this:
The wall planks are completely installed above and below the shelf:
Daniel covered the shelf with wall planks also:
Now you will need to fill in each and every nail hole with light-weight spackle before painting. Don’t skip this step unless you are going for a very rustic look:
The holes have been filled, and you can start painting with the paint and color of your choice. I did consider a “whitewashed” look because I actually really liked the look at this point, but decided to go with my original direction:
I chose a pure, bright white because I wanted the light to reflect in my small living room. You will find that the paint likes to collect in the grooves between the planks, so I used a butter knife to scrape that out as I went along. Do this while the paint is wet. This is what the grooves look like before scraping:
The wall is done and painted! And I LOVE it!