DIY Planked State Art

July 31, 2015

Using inexpensive luan to make stained DIY state shape art.

I've had a few staining projects in mind -- I adore dark wood accents and pull them in all over our home. I think wood tones give a space a lot of character. I settled on a fun art project and it turned out pretty darn cute. :) 

I was planning to try out these finishing cloths and actually quite liked how easy they were to use:
staining cloths

But the color wasn't dark enough -- I use dark stains almost exclusively and the regular walnut color just wasn't what I was going for. 

So I went to my trusty dark walnut, it never fails me:
Minwax dark walnut stain

I wanted to make a large state of Indiana art piece so I grabbed a $10 piece of wood sized about two by four feet. I stained it with the dark walnut: 
dark walnut stain Minwax
Staining wood is one of my favorite DIYs ever. The transformation is fast and it's so quick and easy to do -- seeing the wood really shine is instant gratification. 

Even though the wood was beautiful, I had something else in mind for the art. That piece served as my backer and I stained it just in case you'd be able to see it through the planks I added. 

I'm a bit obsessed with the inexpensive underlayment you can get at the hardware store. They'll cut it into strips for you and I've used it over our fireplace and on the kitchen island so far. LOVE how cheap it is and it's super easy to work with. 

I also love that it's got a pretty linen kind of look to it. It's not the traditional wood tone, but simpler. I wanted that look for this art, so I grabbed all kinds of scraps that I had all over the garage and placed them on the board. I had to have a few more strips cut down but overall this part was all free for me. Score!: 
planked state art

There was no real rhyme or reason to how I placed them on there, but they fit almost exactly, which was a really nice surprise because they were all random sizes. 

Before I started adhering them to the wood I sanded down the edges a bit: 

They get a little prickly when cut so this part is needed for sure. They sand super easy, only a few swipes per board were needed. 

Then it was time to put them on the backer piece: 
planked state art DIY

I mostly glued the planks on because I didn't want to use a lot of nails (the board was so thin I knew the nails would come out of the back).

I glued a bit on the sides and middle and then all down the back of each plank: 

If they bowed at all I put a nail in them, and I added a few along the sides to make sure they were secure: 
Overall the glue was plenty -- these are so lightweight they stick pretty easily. 

I've always wondered how this underlayment would stain and tried it on a piece before I started. I quite liked it but knew it would look even better if I conditioned it first: 
pre stain conditioner
Someday I'll show you the difference it makes to use this stuff -- it really does help! And it only adds a few minutes onto the project time so I find it worthwhile to do. 

I went into more depth about staining in this post but it's so easy to do! The key to getting a pretty finish is keeping a "wet edge" while you stain: 
how to stain

That means working on one section at a time and not letting the stain dry at all while you work. If you let it dry you will see where you stopped. Don't be stingy with it -- a little stain goes a long way. Cover it really well and you won't have to worry about it drying fast on you anyway. 

You'll want to let it sit for about five to 15 minutes and then you can wipe it down with a clean, lint-free cloth. The longer you let it sit the deeper the color will be. I usually only do one coat because I let it sit for at least ten minutes. Don't wait much longer than 15 minutes because it will get sticky. You don't want that. 

I couldn't believe how good this stuff looked stained! Love it!: 
dark walnut stain

The next part was where I winged it a bit. I pulled up a picture of the state of Indiana and very loosely drew my interpretation of it on the board. When I say loose I mean loose. Ha! It's not perfect. 

The jigsaw did tear up the edges a bit and if I was smarter about it I would have drawn the image on the back and cut from that direction -- I think it would have helped because some of the underlayment split in the more detailed spots. These are on the bottom of the state and now I can just call this a typography map as well -- we have some big hills in the south you know.  ;) 

But really, the great thing about stain is that it hides imperfections quite well. I did another coat of stain along the edges after I was done. You could totally wait to stain till after cutting, I'm not sure why I stained early on. It really doesn't matter though -- the extra coats will only make the stain richer, which is a good thing. 

I nailed simple picture hanger into the back since the art is so light: 

And as a finishing touch I added a heart sticker for home: 
planked Indiana state art

I adore this thing! I think it's the cutest: 
Indiana state wood art

I used a small nail at the bottom to keep it straight because the one hanger on the back didn't keep it level. 

I've added a few other dark wood tones down in our basement (the top of the wall of toy storage and the planked wall on the stairs) and this fits in perfectly. I love the wood with the gray color we used down here: 
DIY state wood art
I finally painted that access door in the corner too -- it's been primed for about three years now.  

Although now I think I want to paint it the same color as the walls so it disappears a bit:
Marina Gray paint color
It's taking the focus away from my cutie Indiana art. :) 

Because I love them, here's a before shot of this space years ago after we finished the basement: 

Earlier this year I shared some other little changes I made to this space: 
I brought our farmhouse table down from the "old" kitchen last year and it's awesome having table down here. Some of you suggested I should move the table the other way against the wall when I shared that last update. Duh. I totally ended up doing that and it works SO much better the other direction! You guys are brilliant. 

The metal strips on the wall are a from years ago when I tried a cute art idea that I saw in the Land of Nod. It was a total fail. I've kept the E up there all that time although hardly anything stuck to it. Wah wahhh. The Indiana is so much cuter though, and I'll come up with another way to use those magnetic strips. 

Here's how the space looks now with the new art and the table moved around: 
marina gray paint color

I just love it! I love that it's the first thing you see when you walk down the basement steps. :) 

I think the state art is kind of trendy, but it's also super fun and I love it. Of course, yet again, I'm on the train a little late. This one only cost me $10, but if you decided to take on your own state (depending on the size) it would cost about $30. Ten bucks for the wood, about $15 for a HUGE piece of underlayment, and about $5 for a small can of Minwax. 

Have you made your own state art? Feel free to link it in the comments. :)

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  1. I love this idea!!! I need to add some unique art to the walls in my house, but I have such a hard time finding things that I loooovee... this is definitely one of those things!! Thanks for the tutorial!!

  2. Cute! We took our boys to New Harmony this summer. It was our first time to visit your state and I want to come back and explore more.

  3. I like your investment in designing your much better than store bought. Looks good!

  4. Sarah, that is about as cute as a bug! Great job!

  5. Love it! I think the closet door next to the Indiana art would be cute as a chalkboard. Especially since it's right next to your sons' toys. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Soooooo cute!!! I don't think I'm brave enough to tackle the Upper and Lower Peninsula for Michigan ;) Love it!!


  7. Very cute! It ties in well with the world map on the other wall. Looks like you're zooming in on the special place where all the adventure starts for you. (Sounds a little cheesy, but you know what I mean.) :)

  8. I love this! I've been wanting to do something with a state!

  9. What is the type of underlayment you refer to for the planks? I am not sure if I am familiar with it. Does it come in strips like that? Thanks, and BTW I love that art you made. I think it is perfect in that spot.

  10. Love it! It turned out great, such a quick and easy little project. I love the heart sticker so cute!!! I agree with your thinking on painting the white door the same as the wall, it would stick out less and put more focus back on your wood art :) I love how the table is now, it almost looks like you gained more space!

    Great work as always

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Décor


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