Create a beautiful wood accent wall for less

March 31, 2018

I've mentioned a couple times that you'll see some repeat projects -- some that I did over the 13+ years in our old house, just updated and with a twist to fit this new house. It's been FUN to take projects I love and update them just a bit. 

I loved the $50 stained wood wall on our old basement stairs so much I knew I'd be repeating it:
Stained wood wall on stairs
Make sure to check out that post for more details on the wood I used! 

This time I wanted to change it up just a bit and I couldn't be happier with it!! I went with my go-to for planked walls -- the thin 4x8 boards you can find in the lumber aisle. This one was birch and they sell for around $30 a sheet. (If you're painting you can go with a much cheaper version I shared here.)

You'll need to have it cut down into strips and Home Depot or Lowe's will do that for you, which is AWESOME. I had mine cut to 5 3/4 inches because I wanted them a bit thicker than what I used before. 

Before you start hanging the wood, give them a good sanding along the edges. It doesn't take long at all, and you'll want to do that to knock off any rough stuff from the saw. I always start at the top when installing because you can fudge behind the baseboards at the bottom if needed: 
Fun wall treatment for wall on stair landing

Make sure you use the right side of the wood! (The side opposite the price tag.)

You can use whatever you want for spacing but I prefer coins. :) I used a dime this time because I wanted a very small gap between each board:
Easy way to space between wood planks

Find where your studs are for the first board and then you can reference where you nailed as you go down. 

At least for the first few boards, I always check for level. If you're off just a bit that "bit" will get bigger and bigger as you go down the wall. So I check the first few and then randomly as I go down:
How to add shiplap to wall

Inexpensive way to plank a wall with wood

I had two 4x8 boards cut down and had to have one more cut down as well for just a couple strips. (Our ceiling here is nine feet so two would be fine for an eight foot ceiling.) The total cost was technically$90, but most of the third board will be used for another project. So I'm calling this project about $70 or so. ;) 

Yes, you can stain before you put your boards up. I prefer not to for many reasons, mainly because you may have to fudge with the lengths here and there. Then you'll have to touch up the ends again. Also, if you nail them up first and then stain, the holes kind of disappear after the stain. I do not fill the holes for that reason. 

That and it's waaaay faster to stain it all when it's all one "piece" on the wall:
How to plank a wall with wood

You can see there that I taped off around the wall and cut up a trash bag to go on the floor. It is a little stressful doing this on carpet! 

Before you stain, give the wall a quick sanding -- nothing crazy, just enough to knock down any texture and any random edges you didn't get the first time. 

Then wipe it all down with a damp cloth or a tack cloth:
Tack cloth for sanding wood

You can see how much dust was on the wall from that light sanding! 

Next, the step I've learned not to skip! I didn't do this much years ago and I've noticed a HUGE difference since I started conditioning the wood first: 
Pre stain conditioner from Minwax

This is super easy to do -- just wipe it on. It conditions the wood so the stain goes beautifully. If you ever get patchiness when you stain, this conditioner will help! You can see the difference it makes here: 
Conditioning wood before stain

My go-to stain color in this house has been Provincial by Minwax. I used it on our island, the kitchen shelves and the chalkboard frame because it looks SO good with our floors. It's a great in between brown -- not too dark and not too light:
Provincial stain from Minwax

You stain the same way you add the conditioner -- gloves are a MUST! Get a rag and just dip and rub it into the wood. Using a cloth really helps to get into spots and is WAY easier on a vertical surface like this. It went super fast!:
How to stain a vertical surface

Remember to give yourself plenty of time when you start staining -- you don't want to start and stop or you'll see where the stain dried and you started up again. 

The large IKEA frames you saw in the photo up above were a happy accident. I bought them for our old house years ago and never used them. I tried to sell them a few times and never got any bites. They made it through the move and I immediately knew I wanted them on this wall! They've been leaning up against it for five months. ;) 

After the stain dried I could hang everything up! Here's how the wall came together!:
Provincial stain wood planked wall
Forgive me, cause I'm going to share a bunch of pics for this one. Obsessed!! LOVE it!!

I used the engineer print from Staples trick for the frames -- have you tried this? If you don't know about it I'll blog about it sometime, just let me know! I got three huge prints for $10! (Update: I posted about this awesome service here!)

You just can't beat it: 
Beautiful warm wood planked wall project

I didn't want to do family pics because I have those in our foyer (and on the basement staircase). We have Disney covered in the loft and NYC is covered in the basement -- so another favorite spot of ours is Napa. 

We thought it was fitting going down to the basement because we'll eventually have a great little bar are down there. 

I grabbed some pics off my phone from our last trip and had them printed and we LOVE it!: 
Easy stained shiplap wall on stairs

The new light fixture is from Lowe's -- it's actually the recessed light converter I told you all about with a pretty white globe I found there as well. 

You can't see it when it's on, but it's white and faceted and looks a little vintagey -- which is absolutely perfect in this spot with the black and white photos and the wood:
Fun wall treatment for the stair landing

Oh! I forgot about one of my favorite parts! I saw these huge paper clips months ago and bought them for this wall immediately. (Edited to add, sadly these are no longer sold.) 

They are SUCH a fun little detail:
Blueprint prints from Staples

I hung the art and then just snapped those to the top of the frames. 

Here's a view of the wall from the basement -- and you can see how it looks with the new staircase gallery wall I shared a few weeks ago:
Wood accent wall with stained strips of wood

I've been excited to do this project because I knew it would look so good! 

I couldn't be happier with it and how everything has come together here: 
Gallery wall on stairs with wood accent wall

Gallery wall on stairs with wood accent wall

This is a great weekend project -- it takes a few hours from start to finish. I didn't use polyurethane on the wall because I just don't think it's needed. If you do this in an area that gets a lot of wear and tear you may want to!

I love every single detail! 
Beautiful wood wall project on stairs

Because you know I love them -- here's a before and after for you! 
Accent wall on staircase

wood wall on stairs

If you have any questions let me know!

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  1. SO, so perfect, Sarah! Wonderful job... thanks for the tips and tricks!

  2. This looks amazing and so simple! What an awesome way to jazz up a plain wall. I love the idea of staining it all once it is up rather than doing it all individually. Can't wait to give it a go!

    Holly from The Art of Being Holly xo

  3. This is beautiful! Did you have to cut the bottom board to fit or did you decide on the width of the boards so that you wouldn’t have to cut the last one? Any problems with the wall/trim not being perfectly square at the bottom? Love the paper clip detail!!

    1. I was going to take off the base and put it behind there if it didn’t fit perfectly, but the last one fit just right! 👍🏻

  4. Would would love to learn more about the engineered prints. Thanks.

  5. Beautiful. Great job! Just last week I went to three different big box stores by me. The lowest anyone would cut the 4 x 8 sheet down was 8”. This was not the case last year so it seems each store is changing their policy. :(

  6. Your new home is just getting better and better.

  7. how wood adds to the look of things.

  8. Absolutely LOVE how this turned out!! The stained wood looks fabulous!

  9. Very pretty and I love the light!

  10. That looks super awesome! I really love the giant paper clips :D

  11. So good!! Love the scale of those frames on that wall, and the clip detail!

  12. Looks great Sarah. I was thinking of doing something like this in my home but the wall down to the basement in my house has exposed edges. Have you ever done a wall like that? If so, what did you do with the exposed edge? If you haven't do you think it would look bad to leave the edge exposed?

    1. You can get wood corner pieces — if you look up our gray fireplace in the last house you can see how I used them there. It would look great!

    2. Here you go!

  13. It looks so good! I love the combination and contrast of the frames against the wood wall. I also picked up those same clips months ago and have been dying to use them!

  14. need to know about the printing trick!!!

  15. I love this version of your wood wall. This take is much cleaner and more modern to my eye. Nicely done!

  16. I love love love this! So gorgeous!

  17. I LOVE this! The stained wood is so warm. I was just telling hubby that I'd like to do a planked wall in our guest bedroom. I have some vintage windows I want to hang on it in lieu of a headboard ;)

  18. Looks great and love the clip detail!

  19. Such an easy and beautiful project! Would love more details on the light globe you found - I've been looking for something just like this!

  20. How did you add the clip on the frame? Are they hung by the clip or the frame? Love this! I want to add a stained wood wall going down to our basement as well!

    1. I hung the frames and just clipped it to the top! :)

  21. You just kill me, lady!! So amazingly creative, what an amazing project! I love the way the staircase looks now with this wood wall, the large prints, and the gallery wall - so friggin cozy!!!

  22. No need for trim on the sides of the wall to cover the cut edge?
    Great job. 👊

    1. It’s not perfect but not bad enough I needed to. :)

  23. Love your wall. You did a great job. And the prints look great as well.

  24. Beautiful job on the wall!! And thank you for all the details. One question...since you have a small space between the planks, using dimes, do you notice the light color wall behind the wood? I wouldn't want to see any wall color.

    1. No, not at all! If you went any wider you probably would though.


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