Planking (a wall, not me)

March 18, 2013

How to plank a wall

I’m sharing some more progress in the powder room today. As you know, it’s sat in a half way done state for years now. Half painted walls, half wood-planked walls and drywall with holes, bumps and chunks everywhere.

Not pretty. A couple weeks ago I shared a little bit of progress with the floors. That was the part someone else did – aka, the easy part. I started the wall treatment last summer (yes, nine months ago) and then stalled out.

Now that we’ve gone without a toilet on our main floor for a month, I figured it was time to get my butt in gear. Maybe?

I needed to get two walls planked and painted before the toilet could go back in:

covering drywall damage

The upside down trash can is where the toilet goes, in case you couldn’t tell. ;)

There’s no installing all of this with the toilet in, so the walls had to go up first.

So here’s the thing – this is a big job. Not hard, and the installation is pretty fast, it’s the painting that takes eons. And that’s precisely why I haven’t gotten moving on this past a one small wall in the past year.

My plan for years now has been to cover up most of the walls. Two reasons for that – my mistake early on in my DIY life of using glue to install molding to the wall:

covering drywall damage

I think I’ve mentioned this before – but never, ever EVER use glue (and I used Liquid Glue, yay!) unless you are SURE the trim is staying there forever. And ever. Did I mention forever?

If you ever think you’ll want to take it down, just use nails. Glue will either forever be on your wall or will take chunks out of your drywall when you remove the trim. (I had to have the drywall in the dining/library remudded because of this.)

I also had tried this fun texture technique on the wall years ago and when I went to take it off it never went away completely:

covering drywall damage

I didn’t sand hard core or anything -- it may have come off with a little more work. But I needed to hide it.

So anyhoo, I knew I needed to cover up the walls so I decided to use these planks:

wood planks

You can get them at Home Depot or Lowe’s – they are similar to the beadboard planks (like on my island) but without the bead. They are really thin, which I wanted, and cheap ($9 for six eight foot boards). They are really so easy to install – the tongue and groove makes it like a really simple puzzle – you just slide one into the other.

Because I wasn’t using glue I marked where the studs were in the wall with my FrogTape:

keeping track of studs with painters tape

This way I could get a good grip with each nail (I used my nail gun and you’ll really want to have one for this project, unless you use glue. But don’t.)

The only other tools you’ll need are a level – uhhh, to keep things level:

DIY wood planked wall

I check every piece for level as I move up the wall. Most of the time they’ll start to get wonky and you’ll have to make small adjustments.

I also like to use a rubber mallet:

rubber mallet

You’ll want this to get the tongue and groove together – sometimes they don’t want to go and need a little tap.

I just moved my FrogTape up the wall as I worked:

DIY wood planked wall studs

Most walls are pretty straight forward – just stack and stack and stack.

I had to deal with plumbing on one wall, and at first I was going to use a jigsaw to cut out spots for all of it, but then I realized I wasn’t putting the pedestal sink back so I could just go around it:

covering drywall damageDIY wood planked wall 

I didn’t even paint all the boards back there. NO ONE will see it when the vanity is in. Perfectionist I am not.

You can also see how the sink was stuck to the wall and did damage when they took it out. The more I work on our house the more impressed I am with our builder – I mean seriously, stuff isn’t going anywhere. I’d have every baseboard in the house replaced if they weren’t IMPOSSIBLE to remove. It’s insane.

Anyway -- the boards covered that spot right up!

I gave it all a coat of Kilz oil-based primer:

 kilz primer

It’s stinky but oil-based it supposed to hide the knots in the pine much better long term and won’t yellow over time.

After a coat (I was going to do two but seriously, it’s stinky and it covered great wih one coat) I did a quick sanding to knock down the brush strokes. I tried to get my assistant to take a pic but this is what you get:

DIY wood planked wall

This is why photos of me don’t happen here on the blog. :)

So here’s the thing – I don’t caulk or putty holes till I do at least one coat of paint (and a sanding if I’m doing that). First of all, paint will fill in a TON of sins. And the dust from the sanding will fill in a lot of nail holes for you.

The holes that were left were filled:

DIY wood planked wall

I also filled imperfections in the wood too.

There parts where I had to install pieces a little higher (so they didn’t fit all the way into the one below) so they would match up to the wall next to them. You’d think they'd all be the exact same height but they’re not. You have to make some adjustments.

The great part is, when you fill it in and paint you’ll never notice. I caulked the space between these two:

DIY wood planked wall

And with two coats of semi gloss over it you can never tell it’s not snug up against the one below it.

I used a roller and brush for the semi gloss white – fill in the grooves with a brush first, then roll over it:

wood shiplap bathroom wall

I finished up the two walls at midnight last night, planning on the toilet being reinstalled first thing this morning. But now it’s pushed back to later this afternoon. Of course. :)

I’m just thrilled that we’ll have our toilet back in here after a month!

It still looks rough, I know. Every wall will be trimmed out with a board and batten technique. So I didn’t fill the holes, paint or worry about any imperfections on the edges/corners of the planked walls.

Two walls down, one to paint, and three to plank and paint! Then the vanity will get installed, boards/baseboards will go up, the top will get trimmed out with a ledge, the light changed out and new paint color on the walls (a long story).

Now I’m so excited to get this done – I just needed to get things moving and now I’m psyched to get it finished. Longest redo in the history of my house, for sure.

These planks are what I used on our stair landing and the wall down to the basement as well:

wood floor stair landing 

stained wood planked wall

I’ve seen a few ways of doing this wood wall treatment and I just like to use this stuff because it’s so easy to install and I don’t have to have anything cut down. I do have to say, the wood this time was just AWFUL as far as quality was concerned. Full of holes and knots and every other board was just a mess. I’ve never seen them so crappy. I am still using every bit I can because I have walls and sections that are smaller so I can cut down the good parts out of the wood. I didn’t have this problem at all with either one of the projects above.

So have you planked a wall? How did you do it? If you have damage on your walls it’s a great solution!

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  1. Very cool Sarah...I'm wondering what wall in my house is begging for this :)

  2. Looking good! I have so many unfinished projects around here. That is our goal for spring break next week. At least they are all indoors as we are buried in snow again!! One question though.. do you think those planks would work good for a ceiling?? My basement is unfinished and I would like to plank the ceiling. Looking for something a bit thinner than the regular tongue and groove so I don't have to move down my recessed cans as they are set for 5/8" sheet rock.

    1. Michelle I think it would work great! I'm considering doing this in a small room and staining them. Let me know if you try it!

  3. Wow, lookin' good!! My 7 year old has also really struggled with that lying groundhog, particularly since it snowed here again today. Honestly, I don't mind it because I got to sleep in. ;)

    And PS, isn't it crazy about all the spam pouring in lately? I have to go in and delete a bunch of them once or twice a day....

    1. It's horrible Amanda! I've never had spam get through like it has lately. I couldn't even keep up with it.

  4. We did our wall in this stuff... it is easy to work with because it's so light weight. Can't wait to see it complete!

  5. I hate when you bring home a bad batch! I am planning on using this in the basement bathroom. Glad to hear it goes up pretty easy!

  6. This looks totally awesome! Wow!


  7. Looks amazing! PS I'm mad at the groundhog too we are supposed to have snow here in Maryland today...what???

  8. you're such a rock star! i'm in awe of how great it looks! and i've been swooning over your basement wall ever since you did it! So fun!!


  9. We have our dining room ceiling to repair after damage from Hurricane Sandy...and I've been trying to convince the hubs to do beadboad. But I am liking this! Do you think this is possible on the ceiling? His problem with beadboard is if I start to hate it, the drywall will need repaired as well. Hmmm....

    1. Krista, it would be possible, you'll just want to make sure your beams in the ceiling are going in a direction where you could secure the planks into each one. Does that make sense? You'll want to make sure that nail gets into wood so they stay put. :)

  10. I love how planking makes a room feel "warmer"...thinking about doing this in our basement. Great job!

  11. You should have said the photo of yourself was totally intentional to show the SPEED at which you work! It's like it was fast-forward in still frame! :) The walls looks great!

  12. Your bathroom will look smashing with that planked wall. Love it.
    What a shame that the recent wood bundles are not up the quality of the old ones... but how lucky that you were able to use the older ones when you were staining, finishing naturally!

    Great post -- can't wait to see the entire project done.
    I'm sure you can't either ... you must be tired of using that upside down wastebasket as a potty .... :-P

  13. Love what you're doing in your bathroom! I would like to do the same thing in my half bath.

    You mentioned that your baseboards are snug in place and are impossible to remove..mine are too. I'm wondering how your planked walls look up against your baseboards. When I used beadboard to make a little "mud closet" area I ended up buying the huge sheets of pre-primed beadboard because it was thinner than the planks and I figured it would look better butted up against my baseboard moldings. Have you had that issue? I want to put in more wainscoting in my house but really prefer the look of the individual planks (just looks richer to me), so I'm curious how your walls look up against your baseboards. I'm not sure if I should go for the big sheet again or get the individual planks....

    1. Julie, yes, I've run into that and where I've installed beadboard on the wall I've removed the baseboards. It was such a pain to get them off! But I knew that little bit of overhang would drive me nutty. ;)

  14. I love the planking so much more than beadboard - which we have done halfway through our kitchen and too late to change out now. Ours has a lot of knots and some warping too. You did a great job getting it all together, I can't see any problems you mentioned.

  15. I would love to do this in my front room, but I have l-o-n-g walls in there. How do you arrange the planks so they look nice? The seams would be so obvious...or do you just fill the seams?

  16. I love planked walls so much! I can't wait to see it finished. We used the packaged unfinished beadboard and we had the same problem with knots and bad quality. It does looks better once it's painted, but it's a pain! We ended up using the primed MDF for our kitchen backsplash instead the next time and it was so much better.

  17. You do all the things I tell myself I am going to do. You also do a lot of things which make me add stuff to do to my list!

    When are we going to hear about you getting a book deal? Or a recurring segment on a show?

  18. We just planked a wall in our master bedroom this past weekend! We used wood from a barn that was torn down years ago on our property. It's just been sitting there waiting for the perfect project. We didn't do much more than scrub it down with some heavy duty bleach and water and nail it into the wall. We love the imperfect nature of it, and the variations in color. I'm loving your white planks though. This might be the next way I use all that leftover wood!

  19. Love the planked walls. Our house has so many doorways, I don't really have a good room to try it in, except maybe the ceiling. My neck hurts just thinking about it, though. Wanna' come to GA?! ;)

  20. I am in love with this look! I am definitely going to do some white or white washed wood walls (say that 5 times fast) somewhere in our new home. Great update!!

  21. The wall looks fabulous! Great job.

  22. Gorgeous! I want to do this on the short halls downstairs. How do you handle outlets? Do you have a post where a raised outlet cover was installed and planked around? Also, how do you determine how high up the wall to go? TSMFS!

  23. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Pinning now so I can refer back to what kind of planks you used =)

  24. GREAT tutorial! We just planked our laundry room walls and painted them white... haven't written a tutorial about it, think I should just refer people to yours, you are so thorough! Looks great!

  25. Ok, I've read this about 10 times, I'm ready to start, I think! Have you told us somewhere what you use for baseboards? Wish me lucky, kinda nervous but excited too!


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