Do you have a blank wall that needs a little extra pizzazz? Instead of resorting to traditional wall decor, why not consider adding a modern wood accent wall? This DIY project can instantly elevate any space by adding drama and dimension. And the best part? It doesn’t require a huge budget, advanced carpentry skills, or endless hours of work.
Before You Get Started
Before diving into this project, it’s important to note that the wood used for this accent wall is nominally 1×2 in size. However, availability may vary depending on your local retailers. Some stores may only carry more expensive PVC boards instead of the budget-friendly FJP (finger joint primed pine). Another option is to use MDF for this project. To ensure you have the right materials, it’s advisable to contact a dedicated lumber yard in advance.
Resizing the Boards
Resizing the lumber is often necessary for custom trim projects. To achieve a nominal 1×2 size (1 11/16 inches), you can rip a 1×4 board in half using a table saw. Keep in mind that the blade’s thickness (1/8 inch) will reduce the final width. To smooth out any saw marks, you can either use a random orbit sander with 80, 100, and 120-grit sandpaper or hand sand the edges. For an even smoother finish, consider running the lumber through a jointer if you have access to one.
Step 1: Laying Out the First Horizontal Piece
The key to this design is the aesthetic balance between the bottom leg (level) and the right side leg (plumb). To ensure the best result, these boards need to be put in place first. Using a handheld or laser level, establish a level line on the wall. Take note of any obstructions, such as vents or light switches, that might affect the placement of the boards. To avoid crowding the base molding, it’s recommended to position the level piece an inch or two higher.
Step 2: Fastening the First Horizontal Piece
Once you’ve determined the placement of the horizontal piece, cut a 1×2 board to the appropriate length using a miter saw. Secure it in place on the wall using a brad nailer and 2-inch brad nails. If the wall is made of drywall, locating the studs can be advantageous, but it’s not necessary for plasterboard or plaster walls. Using about two brads every 16 inches should provide sufficient stability. For walls with hollows, pressing the piece into the hollow can help close the gap and minimize the need for caulking later.
Step 3: Laying Out the First Vertical Piece
With the level leg securely fastened, it’s time to install the plumb piece. Unlike the previous step, a butt joint will suffice for connecting the boards vertically. Regardless of whether the floor and wall are perfectly level and plumb, it’s crucial to ensure that these two pieces are. They need to form a 90-degree angle for the miters in the next step to align properly. Double-check that the material is on the plumb line before fully securing it, as some wall surfaces can be deceivingly uneven.
Step 4: Installing the First Diagonal Piece
After attaching the first horizontal and vertical pieces, proceed to cut and install the first large diagonal board. This board will have miters on both ends, so take accurate measurements to ensure a precise fit. The length of this diagonal piece should be approximately 32 inches, measured from long point to long point of the 45-degree miters. The goal is to make sure that the miters close up neatly in the corners, aligning flush with the bottom and right leg.
Step 5: Checking Parallelism of Diagonal Pieces
As you install each subsequent diagonal piece, it’s essential to ensure that the boards run parallel to each other. Use a tape measure or framing square to measure at a right angle from the previous piece to where the next piece will go. Take measurements at three locations along the length of the boards. If all three measurements are the same, then the pieces are parallel. Having someone assist you in holding the tape measure or square can be particularly helpful for larger walls.
Step 6: Continuing the Array
Continue adding diagonal pieces until you reach the center board. Up to this point, all the boards should run from the bottom left to the top right. Once you reach the center, the direction of the array changes, and the pieces should run from the bottom right to the top left. To ensure the pieces align as parallel as possible, use a speed square to double-check their alignment. Simply place a layout square on the point where the boards connect to verify that they form a right angle.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
The final steps involve adding the finishing touches to your wood accent wall. First, run a bead of caulk along the edges where the wood meets the wall. Use a wet finger to smooth the caulk and achieve a seamless look. While the caulk is drying, fill the nail holes along the tops of the wood pieces with wood filler. Once the filler is dry, sand it smooth with a sanding sponge or wipe it with a damp cloth. Prime the wall and then paint it. By painting the wood strips the same color as the wall, you can achieve a modern dimensional look for your statement wall.
Creating an array of spaced 1×2 boards in a visually pleasing yet somewhat random pattern is a cost-effective way to transform a plain wall into a contemporary accent wall. This DIY project doesn’t require a substantial investment or extensive finish work. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice using typical tools that experienced DIYers regularly employ. Once you’ve mastered this technique, you can confidently tackle other trim jobs around your home.
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