Note: We received wood from Reclaimed Lumber Products to facilitate our project. All opinions in this post are honest and are our own.
We love – love – the house we’re in now. It was a relatively new build when we bought it in 2013, and almost all of it suits our taste really well. However, if you’ve bought a newer home then you probably know all-too-well the builder beige that ends up coating every wall. Sure, it’s nice and neutral, but we wanted to inject our personality in the house to really make it our home.
The wall in the photo below leads into our master bedroom, and it’s right off the living room. It’s a wall we see often, and I wanted to do something to make it a more special entrance into our room. I’ve loved the look of reclaimed wood for years, and knew it was just what we needed for this space.
I researched reclaimed wood quite a bit, and discovered Reclaimed Lumber Products as the perfect source for materials. It’s hard to find reclaimed wood locally, and even if you do the planks might be pretty thick or somewhat warped, making it difficult to adhere to a vertical surface like a wall.
Reclaimed Lumber Products is a full millwork shop and has wood planed down one side to provide a great surface for walls. The wood is primarily from barns in the Northwest; it’s not unusual for wood they use to be from barns that are 100+ years old, and I love the idea of there being history to the wood we’re using.
Once I found the source for our wood, I needed to pick which type to use. For me, it came down to two types:
Idaho Barn Wood Blend. I really like the variation in types of boards, and I like that the widths vary, too – 3″, 5″, and 7″ widths are included. This photo above from their website really had me almost 100% sold, but then I also saw the Oak Blend:
The Oak Blend was appealing to me because of the nail holes and the wear & tear you can see on the boards. Like I mentioned, I love the sense of history from reclaimed wood, and you certainly get a feel for that with the Oak Blend. The boards for this are all 5″ wide, which can make for an easier time laying out the pattern. You get a variation of tone with these boards, too – from honey brown to grey colors with original patina and texture.
Spoiler alert: We went with the Oak Blend. And I really adore how it turned out! But first, here’s how we did this project:
First, we measured the wall. We knew that the top portion of the wall would be slightly wider because it wouldn’t have door frames on the sides. Then we worked on laying out a rough “draft” of what the wall assembly would look like. We figured out we’d need 18 rows of boards, and the top 3 would be wider (with the third row needing notches cut for the door frames).
We figured out which rows we wanted to have a solid board running all the way across the width of the wall, and which we wanted to have multiple pieces. We also thought about coloration of the boards to have contrast, and we made sure rows with multiple boards didn’t have seams lining up with other rows. We wanted it to look fairly random and natural… but with some planning behind it.
Once we laid out our boards, I labeled the backs – 1, 2, 3a, 3b, etc. so that we could stack the wood up and make sure we attached it to the wall in the right order. We did our planning and installation on two separate weekends, but you could easily accomplish the whole project from start to finish in one day. When it came time for installation day, we laid out our materials and were ready to go.
When it came to how to secure the wood to the wall, there were a lot of options. The Reclaimed Lumber Products site recommends attaching a plywood board to your wall, painting it flat black, and then attaching the wood to the plywood.
Since we were working around a lot of elements – a wired-in smoke detector, a light fixture, a thermostat and a light switch – we decided not to install plywood to keep the thickness down. I considered painting the wall black, but since the tones of the wood weren’t that different from the beige on our walls we just left the wall as is. Black paint is probably the safest option for a backdrop, though – any gaps between boards will just look like shadows.
We bought a construction adhesive that a friend recommended – Loctite PL Premium – and ended up needing about four tubes for our project. You’ll also need a good caulk gun to use with the adhesive tubes.
This adhesive, while it works really well long-term, is somewhat slick upon initial application. We discovered the quick-grab version of this adhesive with our next DIY project, and it is much more ideal for vertical surfaces. The quick-grab version costs about twice as much as the PL Premium, so it may not be worth it to you if you’re wanting to keep your overall project costs down.
Initially we were just going with the “hold it up until it sticks” strategy (which makes for a GREAT arm workout, by the way) and then we decided to add finishing nails to help hold the boards in place. This was the perfect solution and made the installation soooo easy. You can barely see the nails, but even if you notice them I think it adds a little to the character of the wall.
Brian did cut notches to go around the smoke detector, light, light switch and thermostat. In most cases we had a seam meet up behind the device to make it easier, but for the light switch he just cut a rectangle out to allow space for the switch to fit through.
I took a photo for y’all to see just how thin the boards are against the wall. There’s some slight variation in thickness, which we loved, but the boards are all nice and lightweight, and are really easy to install.
We thought about staining the wall with stain that matches our cabinets and front door, but in the end we really like the natural finish and left the wood as is. And now here’s what you’ve been waiting for – the finished product. I can’t tell you enough how much we love this wall. It’s a real statement piece for the house now and it’s something we’ll love for years to come. And it makes it even better to have the pride of knowing that we installed it ourselves.