DIY Plank wall tutorial

As I’m sure you know, it’s now March. And we’re STILL working on our “January” project. To be fair, in the last 6 weeks, we’ve both been out of town twice, had guests staying with us 2 different weekends, and we were sick for 3 of those weeks. Not exactly conducive to DIYing. But spring weather is coming (Besides today, apparently. Boo, rain!) and we’re starting to feel motivated again!

Here’s where we left off. So glad to say it looks nothing like this now! We taped off the edges of our future plank wall so we wouldn’t get orange peel texture on it that might show through the gaps.


The window, too. And sprayed some texture along the mudded edge as well as over the random spackled areas on the wall. Pretty much just all over.


After that dried, we sanded all the walls and then cleaned up the room to get ready for the next step: priming! (I really cannot believe how far behind I am. Most of this has been done for a while!) We primed and painted the ceiling, primed the walls, and then sampled some colors.

Rather than go through the headache of trying to pick two colors that coordinate, I looked up pictures online of plank walls, found one I liked at Jenna Sue Design Co, and used the same colors: Valspar’s Ocean Storm and Montpelier Madison White.


1. Planning the pattern

I’m very particular, so the first step was to plan what I wanted the pattern to look like. First, I decided on 8″ wide planks. I like the wider look better, but I still wanted a good number of rows on our 8′ walls.

Then we used Excel to map out our planks. Our wall is 10 feet long, so we couldn’t use one long board all the way across. If we did just one 8 foot piece and one 2 foot piece on each row (alternating, of course), we would have to try to get all the vertical seams to line up, and that did not sound fun. So we opted for more random rows: 4, 6 and 2, 8 and 3, 4, 3 etc.

2. Prepping the planks

We decided to use 1/4″ plywood underlayment cut into strips for our planks. At $11.97 each, it’s way cheaper than buying actual wall planking, and allowed us to choose our own width. We bought 3 sheets at Home Depot and had each one cut into six 8 inch (x 8 foot) planks.

One side of each board got pretty torn up by the saw blade and even the good side wasn’t perfect, so we also sanded all the edges as we installed them. (If you cut them again at home, be sure to put the good side facing up since the back will get torn up a little more by the blade. We also found it caused less damage if we brought the blade of the miter saw down slowly.)

Word to the wise, the saw blade takes off a good amount with each cut. We asked him to measure first and cut on the marks so the planks would be the same width. Sadly, he measured each plank as he went, leaving us with a narrower last plank on each piece of plywood. So, measure and mark, then have them cut! (It turned out ok, though. We used them on the bottom row that needed to be a custom size anyway.)

3. Installing the wall

We loosely followed this shiplap wall tutorial by Table & Hearth. We started at the top with our first row. We leveled the planks so that our whole wall wouldn’t end up wonky. (We don’t generally use a level to hang things like pictures because they end up looking crooked!)


We also had one plank that seemed a bit wider than the others, so we put the extra at the top where it will be covered by trim. Luckily, on the rest of the wall, they lined up better.


We quickly realized that the white that would show in between each plank would be tedious to paint after the planks were installed, so we measured and painted lines on the walls first.


Then we continued installing planks from top to bottom, using a pneumatic finish nailer with 2″ finish nails. Normally, 1″ would be sufficient, but we put an extra layer of drywall behind there first and we wanted to make sure some nails reached the studs.

We butted up the vertical joints as tightly as possible, but left gaps horizontally. A lot of tutorials recommended using pennies or dimes as spacers, but we thought that might be too small of a gap, so we used nickels. And boy, am I glad we did. Getting in there to paint the edges with a craft brush was difficult enough.


On each plank, Andrew put a few nails in at varying angles to help hold the planks tight against the wall. We wanted our wall to be smooth, so I went along behind and used a nail punch to make sure none of them stuck out.


Not looking too shabby! (Though the pictures are. Sorry…iPhone camera. And that orb of hanging light is just that. Our old light fixture hanging from the ceiling.)


Andrew used the jigsaw to cut out openings for the electrical boxes, and then we ripped the boards on the bottom to fit the smaller space (we figured the different width would be less noticeable on the bottom row.)

I filled all the holes and vertical seams with lightweight spackle. Once it was dry, I sanded (basically the whole wall) lightly with a sanding block.


And then we were done! And very, very happy with the result! We still need to install the trim around the edges so we have a perfect, clean line, but we’re waiting to measure and cut until after we install baseboards.


The install was a bit time consuming, but a pretty fun project, nonetheless. And it only cost about $50!! (Full budget breakdown will come at the end of this project.) Since this is such a long time coming, we’ve already made a lot more progress than this. The plank wall is primed and painted, other walls are painted, closet is painted, light fixture is installed, and closet doors are sanded.

Still a ways to go, but we’re getting close! Maybe we will actually finish this room some day!

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