Wood Wall Tutorial

Posted by & filed under Our Home, tutorials.


Okay, so remember waaay back this summer when Audrey moved into our house for the school year? And we made a pretty little dorm room for her and I promised and promised that when it was finished I would share a room tour and really kinda flopped at that?

Remember that?


But do you also remember that in my floppy room tour I promised a little how-to on her pretty wood wall (which I ADORE)?


Turns out I am good for my word sometimes.

And this happens to be one of those times!

May I share my happy little project with you? (with photographs from 9 months ago…)


What you’ll need:
Wood (see note below)
Nail gun and nails. Don’t mess with a hammer. Rent a nail gun, make friends with a guy who has one, whatever. Just don’t mess with a hammer on this. (also, you want to buy the nails that go in on an angle if possible)
measuring tape
power saw
friends (I had Ryan and Audrey and it was great to have a nailer, a cutter and a carrier)
stain (and a cloth or a brush)
protection (eyewear, gloves for when you’re staining, whatever keeps you from getting hurt)

A note about the wood: We had big plans to make this happen for free. We scored a bunch of old pallets from the back of the UPS depot in our town and felt like the cleverest people in the world. Then we looked at them. All of the planks were different widths. And prying them apart? We called it “harvesting” and it took 15 minutes to – hopefully – successfully harvest one board from the pallet. At least six nails each and they were build to last.

So. Plan B.

We priced out wood at Home Depot but it was way more than we had planned to spend (which was $0), and we finally got clever and decided to ask them about fence boards. YES!! They were super cheap – and actually gave us a deal on a pile that had been sitting a while outside and was starting to look weathered. BONUS! Less distressing effort on our parts! We got plenty of wood for the whole wall, plus stain and supplies for about $62. It wasn’t free. But it wasn’t going to take us a year of our lives and a pound of flesh to harvest either.

My only other advice about the wood: Learn from our mistake and let the wood acclimate for a day or two inside before you cut and install. Just like wood floors – the wood contracts in a cooler environment. So taking it from August to Air Conditioning in 3 hours flat caused a good number of gaps to show up a few days later.

On to the Project:

Step 1: Staining

We got a small container of very dark wood stain. I was super intentional about not being intentional with the staining. After all, we were planing to use dirty pallet wood. I wanted them to be very un-uniform. Surprisingly a little trickier than it sounds!  (oh, and definitely wear latex gloves. doy.)

I started doing 2-3 at a time because, well, I wanted it to go faster.

A sampling of my non-uniform staining. I was pretty pleased.

It was a pretty warm August day, so the stain dried to a point of being able to be handled pretty quickly. Especially since the wood was so thirsty and I put the stain on so lightly.

Step 2: Installing

We jumped right to installation. (again, read my not above about the wood. we should have let it acclimate to our air conditioned home and not jumped right in. rookies. sheesh.)

Ryan ran the saw downstairs, I ran the nail gun, and Audrey ran in between with measurements and newly cut boards. We were a well-oiled machine. (Notice how I lost interest in painting the final wall of the room? It was all going to be covered anyway, so why bother? also, I let Oliver write his name with a paint brush. I kinda hope we’re the ones who take the wood down someday and that we forget that it’s there. It would be fun surprise, no?)

See how nicely they’re all fitting? All of the boards are the same width and that makes ALL the difference. We would have lost our minds if we tried to actually use pallet wood!

Audrey rocked the nail gun as well. Man, I love a good project like this where everything fits and goes so smoothly!

Our only challenge was the one outlet on that wall. Below was our solution. We cut board lengths to meet up with each side, then cut tiny pieces to go above and below. And of course, rather than mount the outlet to the box, we mounted it with bigger screws right onto the wood so the face plate would be flush and tidy.

Step 3: Admiring

And there it is! In all it’s glory! From first drip of stain to final punch of the nail gun it took us three hours. (But seriously, let your wood acclimate…) Below is actually a more recent photo and you can’t really see the gaps unless you look up close. So, I’m not crying myself to sleep over it. Just friendly advice for the next guy :)

Here it is as Audrey’s “dorm room”.

And as it stands now – in process to become Oliver’s big boy room/guest room when folks come to visit so they don’t have to sleep on Hazel’s trundle! (This will of course require a bigger bed, fresh paint, and a few other touches because I love re-doing spaces, but still, good to see it in use!)

Have a lovely Wednesday, friends! Have I mentioned that we’re going to Michigan soon? And that I’ve very much looking forward to it? Yay, Michigan!

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16 Responses

  1. Ashley Ward 13 June 2012 at 10:11 am

    LOVE! Totally wanting to do this when we have a house again. It looks awesome as Oliver’s room! I can’t believe you did it in 3 hours. I will probably multiply that by 3 or 4, and plan on it taking me at least that long…

  2. Vanessa 13 June 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Very nice. We are about to redo our small laundry room, but pregnancy has caused be to be extremely indecicive about color. (usually not a problem). If you have any pics of your laundry room that you’re willing to share, or favorite paint color suggestions, I’d love a little inspiration. Thanks so much!

  3. Hannah Reeks 15 June 2012 at 1:05 am

    Hi Raechel.
    I’ve been reading through your blog over the last few days. Found you through She Reads Truth. I love the look of this wall, and when my husband and I build our own house he’s already said he wants to do this as a feature wall in the living room… and now we know how!
    I’ve never been a sewer and my sisters and Mum would laugh at me if they knew I was about to say this… but I may even consider going through your sewing tutorials! My sister-in-law is pregnant and it would be really cool to be able to give her some handmade bibs and if it’s a girl some headbands and pretty shirts!

  4. Larry 11 March 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Raechel, what fasteners did you use for the cedar pickets? I am about to start this exact project on a basement wall. I’m using 6″ wide x 6′ long cedar fence pickets and I’ll be screwing/nailing into the studs. Thanks!

  5. Chaslynn 23 March 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Hey there! My husband and I are going to do one of our walls as well. It is the wall that used to be a garage door. The people who did the renovating did a pretty poor job and wallpapered that wall. When I took it down, the wall was in shambles, so we decided what better time than now to try a wood wall! These are great tips as we were going to do pallets, but we can’t find any for free around here right now. A few quick questions though.

    1. Did you use a pattern for cutting measurements or just random?
    2. For the outlet, we have 2 (or 3?) on that wall. Two are light switches, so they can’t really be covered up by furniture. What do you suggest for having those blend in better?
    3. What stain color did you use?

    Thanks so much!

  6. Pam 2 November 2015 at 7:04 am

    I’m assuming you had to nail each board into a wall stud. Any tips about making that easier to do? (Looks great and great advice!)

  7. Barry 28 January 2016 at 6:28 pm

    We have been exploring doing a plank wall, and the fence boards you used were one of my thoughts for cutting cost (they run them on sale at .99 occasionally) So I’m glad to see my theory has been proved!


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