Thursday, 14 April 2016

Our Basement Renovation: Part Seven - DIY Planked Wall

Some of you may remember the wee planked wall we did behind our TV in our basement media room in January of this year.  It adds some modern/rustic cache to the room and some interest behind the TV.  We love it.  And it was a great way to practice for a bigger decorating project -- a large planked focal wall which is the first thing people see as they descend into our basement.

For this large planked wall we opted to use wider planks of underlayment. What I love about underlayment is that it's light, easy to work with and it's pretty cheap with a 4'x8' sheet costing about $21 here in Canada (and about $13 in the US).  With the wall behind the TV we went with 4" planks which suited that small space but for a large wall we wanted more oomph.

Some of you may be wondering what underlayment is.  Underlayment is a thin sheet that is used on top of a foundation or subfloor to absorb roughness and imperfections so that the flooring can be installed on a smooth surface and also give the flooring an added bit of support.  It's the Spanx of the flooring world.

I've been wanting to do this large planked wall for evah ... ok, months.  Brad was on board and the guru when it came to installing the wall but this baby was my vision.  He completes me.  For this large planked wall we went with 7-3/4" planks (this would maximize the 4x8' sheet of underlayment and also takes into account the thickness of the blade). After cutting our planks we were left with wee strips - about an inch or so in width - that we immediately thought would be perfect as a trim piece along both sides to give the wall a more finished look.  Waste not, want not.

Installing the wall
One of the biggest differences between our small planked wall and this bigger one is that I didn't paint the wall dark gray beforehand.  This saved us on paint (which can be costly) and time.  Looking back I still would do it this way but this method may add a little extra work later on.

I've outlined some of the earlier steps in my posted titled DIY Small Planked Wall which includes buying underlayment and getting your planks cut at the store so you can check out the finer details in that post.

What You'll Need
- underlayment planks
- brad nails
- pneumatic brad nailer

- stud finder
- long level and/or laser level
- sliding compound mitre 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

Step One - Finding Studs
Mark off the studs in your wall because whenever possible you'll want to be nailing into a stud for added support.  Use a stud finder to find your stud and use the laser level (if you have one) or a long level to mark off in pencil where your studs are vertically on the wall.  By doing this you won't have to continually find the studs and the planks will cover up any pencil marks.

Step Two - Installing Your First Row of Planks
We started at the top left corner of our wall. Because this wall has a few bulkheads along the top, a window and two electrical receptacles to deal with we knew that we would have to use a saw (sliding compound mitre saw) to cut down the length of several boards to fit our space.  It's a pain but a necessary one. We (meaning Brad) measured the first space along the ceiling which butts up against the corner and the edge of a bulkhead.  Then we cut the board and sanded down the edges to get rid of little gnarly pieces just waiting to become slivers in our hands.

This next step is important.  Your first plank MUST be level. Not almost level.  Totally level. You may end up with a bit of a gap above it due to your ceiling not being straight and that's fairly normal because walls/ceilings are often wonky.  Them's the breaks.

Place your first board on the wall and, using a long level or laser level under that plank, ensure that it's level.  You'll want another set of hands to help hold the board/level.

Once you're sure it's straight, pop some brad nails in with your pneumatic nailer every eight inches or so, top and bottom ensuring that you hit as many wall studs as possible.  

The pneumatic nailer.  Loud but awesome.
If you have a long wall you'll have to add another section of board to finish off that first row. Measure the size of the board needed and cut it with the saw. 

We did this wall in February which is cold here in Canada
so we set up shop in our garage to do the cutting.
Next, lightly sand the edges and ends of the plank (watch out for fine slivers!!). Place the plank on the wall and ensure that you tuck the edge of the second plank up tightly against the first.  Double check that 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 want 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.  (You can see more about spacers in my previous planking post here)

You can see our penny spacers as well as
the bulkheads that we had to contend with.

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 as much as possible).

Keep going with this method - ensuring that you're level at least every couple of rows.  With this wall we also had to deal with two electrical outlets but they weren't as scary as I was predicting. The plate that goes around the receptacle will hide the not-so-straight cuts. S'all good.

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.  We opted to go right to the floor and may or may not add baseboards along this wall.  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.

Ain't she a beaut!?!?  I'm in love.

Step Three: 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.  With a sanding block, lightly sand the wood filler until it's smooth with the planks. Vacuum any dust off the wall.
Step Four: Priming and Painting
This is my wheel house, y'all. While I think the natural 'wood' look looks kind of good on its own I was more than eager to see this planked wall transform into dark gray bliss.  But first we needed to prime.

With a brush I brushed primer over all of the seams and edges first making sure to get in all the grooves. 

Then, with a small foam roller I rolled the primer on the boards.  If I found a spot within a groove that wasn't primed I went over it with a very fine painter's brush (a cheap craft brush from the dollar store).  Then comes the fun part ... painting on the colour.

Sherwin Williams' 'Grizzle Gray' (SW 7068).
Ain't it perrty!?
I used the same method to paint two coats of the Grizzle Gray onto the wall.  This is some awesome paint and I'm so happy with it as our accent wall colour.

Using a normal sized brush didn't quite get into all of the cracks and crevices between the boards so I ended up using a small artist's brush to do touch ups after the first coat of gray went on.  This step added a little more work but painting the entire wall in gray before the planks went on would have cost a lot more and also added time. 

We are so happy with how this wall turned out.  It adds some interest and texture to the basement without being too much.  We still have to do trim work around the windows and baseboards but all in good time.  For now, I'm happy which means that Brad is also happy. :) This was a big project that we broke up over two weekend.  I couldn't be happier with the result.

If you'd like to see the progress of our basement renovation check out the tab at the top of my blog 'Our Home Renovations'.


Janine K said...

Looks great Laurie, the colour gives it a modern look without taking away from the warmth of the room 😊

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks so much,Janine. We're going for a modern rustic kind of feel. I love the look of the boards and the clean lines and colour of the paint to modernize it a bit. I'm so happy it turned out well. We still have to do baseboards/trim and doors but we're almost there. I still have posts about the fireplace and the custom cabinetry to post.

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