Nobody likes bare walls in their house. We spend time and money to find attractive paintings and decor to hang on the walls of our home. And a house doesn’t feel quite like a home until the walls are covered with decoration.
But, what if instead of putting pieces of art on your wall, you could transform your whole wall into a piece of art?
Covering your wall in salvaged, character-rich wood is so much more than painting an accent wall. It warms the room and adds a kind of visual interest that can’t be attained any other way.
In this post, I’ll show you the simple way to make a salvaged wood wall in your house.
What You’ll Need
First, you’ve got to find your wood. There is no right or wrong here. Find whatever width, thickness, color, species that makes you happy. You might use old pecky cypress barn siding like I did here or maybe you can use old subfloor planks. The only qualification is that you love it!
I find that thicknesses from 1/2″ to 1″ work best. Thicker than that and you need some serious fastening power to make sure things stay in place.
I also give any salvaged wood a cleaning with a firm bristle brush and soap and water. You don’t want a bunch of filthy wood on your wall.
Here’s the list of the other supplies and tools you’ll need:
- Stud finder (for plaster walls use this technique)
- Nail set
- Tape measure
- 2 1/2″ Finish nails
- 4′ level
- Dark paint (optional)
- 15 ga nailer and compressor (optional)
- Speed square (optional)
- Circular saw
- Mitre saw (recommended)
- Table Saw (recommended)
Before you get started, plan your layout. Take a look at potential hazards that will be in your way like doors, switches and outlets.
If you’re using pecky wood or wood with a lot of holes in it, you should paint the whole wall black or dark brown. The wall will show through those holes and if it is painted a dark color or something that blends in better with the wood it will make the whole project more attractive.
Also, decide if you will need to pull off door or window casings as well as baseboards. You can leave them all in place and butt the wood up to them, or pull them off and re-install them on top of the wood panelling. The choice is yours.
Note: If you decide to pull the casings off, you will need to install a spacer behind them because of the added thickness the wood creates.
Step 1 Mark the Studs
Using your stud finder (or magnet for plaster walls), mark the studs on the wall you plan to install on. Take your 4′ level and mark the stud all the way up and down the height of the wall with your pencil.
Step 2 Level the First Course
Just like with siding making sure the first course is level is of the utmost importance. This will set the level for all the rest of the boards and if the line is off you’ll have a real mess by the time you get to the top of the wall.
Set your level against the wall on top of the board and make sure it is perfectly level. Once you have it where you need it, tack a couple 15 ga. nails into the board on two different studs.
If you are happy with the placement, go ahead and put two nails into each stud. If you are using extremely wide boards (8″+) 3 nails might be required.
Step 3 Rip to Width
It doesn’t matter what width boards you use and sometimes it can be fun to have different widths from course to course, just be sure that all the boards on each course are the same width. This will save you time and trouble in your layout.
If your boards are different widths, then you’ll need to rip them down on the table saw to whatever width you would like to use.
Step 4 Cut & Notch
After you have the right width, cut the boards to length using the mitre saw or circular saw. Nice clean cuts will ensure the boards fit together well.
If your boards are long enough to run the whole length of the wall, great. If not, you’ll need to cut them so they end on a stud. Make sure there is enough room for one board to end on a stud and the next to begin on the same stud.
Studs are only 1 1/2″ wide so make sure your cuts end as close to the center of the stud as possible.
Set the board in its place and mark any outlets or other objects that need to be notched out. Cut these notches using a jig saw or hand saw. Cuts for outlets and switches don’t have to be perfect since the covers will hide little imperfections.
Continue working your way up the wall one course after the next, nailing on each stud all the way across.
Step 5 Finishing Up
After everything has been nailed in place, put the casings back on if you removed them and give everything a once over to make sure nothing is loose. You may have missed a few studs here or there, so now is the time to check.
Put a coat of finish like polyurethane on the boards if you’d like, or leave them bare for a really rustic feel.
There you have it! What was once a plain jane wall is now an exciting and character rich part of your home or office. So, what are you waiting for? Go find some old wood and make your own salvaged wood wall
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.