Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Our Basement Renovation: Part Six - DIY Small Planked Wall

I have long been a Pinterest creeper.  I love to admire all the goodies - recipes, home décor, fashion etc - that are out there.  When I started to notice DIY planked walls popping up on people's boards I was eager to try one (or two) in my own home.  

Two of the blog posts that really inspired me were from:

Sarah at The Thrifty Décor Chick

and Tasha at Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body(http://www.designertrapped.com/2015/05/diy-wood-plank-wall.html)

I took ideas and tips from both of these fine ladies and tweaked them to fit our needs.

I knew I wanted two plank walls in our basement but I didn't want to jump into the large focal wall first (which would be the very first thing people would see when they came downstairs) because I had never done anything like this before and I'm a nervous Nelly, what can I say.  (The larger plank wall will be in a future blog post).  Instead we opted to do a smaller plank wall behind our TV which is above our fireplace and surrounded by 6 feet of bookshelves on either side - it's an 18 foot entertainment/fireplace/TV/bookshelf extravaganza along one wall.  I adore it.   


Here's a drawing so you have a visual (thanks to Brad, my resident Autocad guru)

Anyway, this wee plank wall behind the TV would add some interest, colour and
texture to the small space and tie in with the larger plank wall across the room which will also be painted the same Grizzle Gray.  Plus, if we made any mistakes the large TV that will be on the wall would hide any imperfections. I have thought this thing through, y'all! This is not my first rodeo.

Step One: Measure
Measure out your space/wall to determine how many sheets of underlayment you'll need.  Each sheet of underlayment is 4' x 8' and you may want some extra for trim (or you could buy separate battens if you opt to do the trim).

Step Two: Buying Planks
One of the first things I learned from my Pinterest peeps is NOT to use thick wooden planks. Not only are they fairly expensive but they've been known to pop off due to their weight.  Ain't nobody got time for falling planks when you have a small bank account!

So off Brad and I went to the local Home Depot in search of underlayment.  What is underlayment you ask?  I believe it's used under certain kinds of flooring, kind of like a subfloor.  I don't really know or care what it's normal use is, all I know is that it's great for this project and that a 4x8' sheet of the stuff is around $21 here in Canada (and about $13 in the US).  It's not much to look at - it has a light wood colour on one side and the other has a reddish hue.  It's a little more than 1/8-inch in thickness and quite light which is great for this project.  For our wall behind the TV we used one sheet of underlayment.

Once you have your sheet(s) on your Home Depot cart you'll need to get your Home Depot Dude to cut each sheet into planks (whatever thickness you've decided to use) and you're good to go! For this smaller plank wall we went with 4-inch planks because it suited the small space and you'd see more of the planking effect at the sides of the TV.

Here's Brad grabbing our planks from Depot Dude as he cuts
the boards for our larger plank wall
Step Three: Things you'll need for this project
- underlayment planks
- brad nails
- pneumatic brad nailer
- long level and/or laser level
- sliding compound miter saw
- table saw
- sanding block with fine sandpaper
- stud finder
- 6-8 coins for spacers (we used two pennies glued or taped together)
- a good primer (we used Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Primer)
- paint (we used Sherwin Williams 'Grizzle Gray' - SW7068)
- good paint brushes (a good paint brush and Dollar Store artist brush)
- painting tarps to protect your floor
- painters tape (if needed)
- safety goggles

Our Extra Step: Prepping the Wall

Before we got into planking Brad built out the wall behind the TV for a few reasons: A) to allow a space for the TV/AV wires to be organized but not seen, B) to bring the TV out a bit so it was more in line with the bookshelves so everyone, no matter where they were sitting, could see the TV and C) to give the wall more support to handle the very large, very heavy TV that would be hanging off of it. There's actually two layers to this additional wall but you get the general idea.

Layer one of the wall build-out.

Brad is a Type A person like his beautiful wife so he wanted all that messy wiring from the TV, receiver, DVD player, Wii etc to be organized. It's a lot of wires so Brad, in his wonderfully brilliant wisdom (truly!), used conduit tubing to run the wires from under the TV, which then turn 90 degrees and run into holes he cut into the back of our lower cabinets where the receiver and video game consoles are housed.  Doing this keeps the extensive wire collection organized and makes my man happy. Once the framing was done, a piece of 1/2-inch plywood was added to the front followed by the TV mount.  The hole you see in the next picture will be hidden by the TV.

Note: By putting a sheet of plywood as the base of this new wall, it also gave our wall enough strength to hold the underlayment planks. If you're securing it to a normal wall you'll need to make sure you're nailing into wall studs (hence the stud finder in the list above). 

A look at where the wires will enter the conduit piping.
Our inner Type A's are in heaven.
Bookworm Design Detour
For this first planking project we primed the newly built-out wall and then painted it the dark Grizzle Gray so the cracks in between the planks would be dark gray and no primer would show through. In hindsight, after doing the large plank wall, this was the harder/more time consuming way.  Now I'd suggest adhering the planks to the wall (instructions below) then priming and painting the entire wall all at once. This is why all of the following pictures feature a gray plywood wall.

Step Four - Planking
You're now ready to put up your first underlayment plank.  It's easier to do this with two people so grab a partner.  It is vital that this plank is level. Your ceiling probably isn't level and that's, sadly, quite normal.  You want the first plank to be level regardless of your wonky ceiling.  Use a long level (or laser level) under your first plank to make sure it's straight.

Once you're sure it's straight, pop some brad nails every eight inches or so, top and bottom ensuring that you hit as many wall studs as possible.  If you have a long wall you'll have to add another section of board to finish off that first plank. Measure the size of the board needed, cut it with the sliding compound miter saw then lightly sand the edges and ends of the plank (watch out for fine slivers!!). Make sure you tuck the edge of the second plank up tightly against the first.  Ensure it's level and secure with brad nails. 

Now you're ready to do the second row!  If you have leftover plank from your first row use it as the first board in your second row.  This will help to stagger where your planks join together along each row (you don't your seams in a vertical row).  This will help to give your finished wall that casual, devil-may-care feel that we're going for.

Spacers: Before securing the second row of planks you'll need to put spacers between the bottom of the first row and the top of your second.  We used sets of two pennies adhered together.  We used to different ways to bind the pennies together - 1) with electrical tape and 2) we glued two pennies together.  Gluing was the easier choice.  If you're going the tape method just make sure the electrical tape isn't influencing the spacing of the planks.  

Place one set of coins towards one end of the plank and the other at the other end (you can add more spacers depending on how long your board is). For an 8 foot board I'd use at least 3 spacers.  Place the new board up tightly against the pennies (this is where having an extra set or two of hands is required). Using the level make sure this second row of plank is level.  Nail that sucker in top and bottom along the length of your plank (into studs preferably).

Keep going with this method - ensuring that you're level every couple of rows.  We had a few spaces that were slightly bigger than the others and we're not sure how that happened but it still looks good and the TV will cover most of this wall.  But for two Type A people it kind of bothers us but we're working through our issues on it. ;)

When you get to your last board you may have to cut it less than the original width to have it fit against your baseboards or in our case, the top of where our fireplace mantle will be.  For this long cut we used a table saw and two sets of hands to guide the plank to ensure that it was cut straight.

Step Five: Wood Fill
Now it's time to fill all those little nail holes with paintable wood filler.  Squeeze a bit on your finger (it's fairly dry and sandy) and wipe it into each hole.  Ya, it's not fun and it's messy.  You may opt not to fill the holes if that's the look you're going for (or if some of the boards will be covered up by something like our TV above our fireplace).  With a sanding block, lightly sand the wood filler until it's smooth with the planks. Vacuum any dust off the wall.

Step Six: Painting
Using a brush, with not too much paint on it, paint the seams, crevices and edges of your wall in your primer paint.  You may need a small artist's brush for the crevices where your normal brush couldn't reach. Then roll (or brush) the boards with the primer.  Once that is dry (it doesn't take long) you can brush and roll two coats of your main colour of paint on your seams and boards, allowing time in between coats for the paint to thoroughly dry. Also make sure that you don't use too much paint when doing the crevices because you don't want them filling up with paint!  If you do get a little too much use a wooden skewer or something similar to take away the excess paint.  We didn't have issues with too much paint.


We are very happy with the outcome of our first plank wall.  It was a fun and easy DIY project that gives the media room some added oomph and interest.  I like the fact that we were able to work out the kinks with this wall before trying it out on the much larger focal wall. 

Step Seven: Moulding
There's only one step left and that's moulding but I'll add that final picture later.  We plan to add moulding (1-1/4-inch strips of underlayment) along the sides to give it a cleaner look but won't be tackling this until we do the moulding for the large wall which has to wait until the trim and baseboards are done.  Everything is linked in the big circle of home improvement.

So that's our small plank wall in a nutshell.  I hope the directions are clear.  If not, I encourage you to look at the other two blog posts by Sarah and Tasha to see if their descriptions (which helped inspire me) make more sense to you.

Upcoming Home Renovation Posts:

Custom Cabinetry - is that the cost of the cabinetry or am I buying a small country?

Fireplace - To Gas or to Plug in?  That is the question.


Mildred Mclaughlin said...

Wow I am impressed with that. And I also like the color. It is not one I would have gone with at first. But after seeing how you made it look so good, I would have to reconsider. I love wood walls and you all did a really good job with this one. I might have to try this out.

Mildred Mclaughlin @ My Better Basement

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks Mildred! We love the dark gray because it adds some contrast to the lighter walls. From what I've seen online a lot of the shiplap/plank walls tend to be white (which I also love) but I think that gives it a more farmhouse feel.

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