How to: Build a Wood Panel Accent Wall in a Weekend

Installing a wood panel accent wall is a great way to add warmth, texture, and rustic appeal to a space. In this guide, we outline DIY best practices for creating a wood panel statement wall of your very own.

diy wood panel accent wall featuring ship lap in living room

Design by Zoe Feldman

Timeframe & Tools For The Job

A wood accent wall can elevate any room in your home. Moreover, putting one together isn’t as technical or time-consuming as you might think. If you’re new to working with wood, you’ll need to learn a few basic carpentry skills to pull this DIY off. Besides that, the main supplies you’ll need include tongue and groove shiplap (cut to size), a nail gun and nails, a stud finder, a level, and a hammer. Once you’ve got the necessary supplies, you can create a wood accent wall in as little as a weekend.

Techniques & Best Practices

Prep the walls

Before you start any carpentry work, do I thorough scan of your walls. Make sure your wall is free of nails, and the surface is completely flat. 

Acclimate the wood

While you’re prepping your walls, you can also remove your wood paneling from any packaging. Leave them out in room temperature for a minimum of three days before installation. This is called acclimating the wood.

Mark the studs

Once your walls are prepped, and your wood is acclimated, you can begin to make markings on your walls based on the studs behind the wall. Use a stud finder for this step. In this step, you want to mark every stud from top to bottom along the whole accent wall with a pencil or a marker. This will make it easy to see where to nail when you’re installing the boards.

The dry-fit method

To make sure your paneling will fit properly, you can use the dry-fit method. The dry-fit method involves placing your first piece of paneling on the bottom of the wall with the tongue groove pointed up. If you like the way the piece of paneling looks and lays, you’re ready to start installing.

Glue or nails

You can use glue and nails to attach the paneling to the walls. Depending on the surface, nails can be used on their own, or glue can be used on its own. You can also use a nail gun to secure the paneling even more.

Make sure it’s level

Once you’ve got your first piece of paneling securely adhered to the wall, placing a level on the top to make sure it’s even. Making sure the first piece is level is important because it will affect how the consecutive panels lay.

Stain before or after

Finally, if you desire it, you can apply a stain to your wood. This can be done before or after installing the wall. Once your stain has dried completely, apply a sealant to protect your stain and the wood.

Using Reclaimed Wood

photo of reclaimed wood

Photo by Bernard Hermant

Using reclaimed wood is a great way to reduce your impact on the planet by giving new life to old lumber. Once it’s been treated, reclaimed wood also tends to be stronger than new wood with a unique look and feel that gives a nod to nature

If you want to treat and restore your own reclaimed wood planks, wash them with a hard bristle or brush to remove dirt and grime, then give them a good scrubbing with borax and water. Once you’ve let your boards dry out completely, sand them and then finish them off with either a stain, sealant, or paint.

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