Chris Loves Julia DIY: Planked Wall Tutorial

by Julia MarcumNovember 8, 2016

We have this wall in our living room that has stumped us for 3 years now. It has odd angles surrounding it, and is too close to the seating area to have something substantial like a credenza on it – we tried.
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But! It’s the perfect candidate for an accent wall complete with a wall treatment. We explored everything from attaching laminate flooring, to wallpapering, but found the biggest bang for our buck to be adding faux shiplap. The project can be done in a weekend for under $75 – including paint!
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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 5mm 4×8 sheets of poplar plywood: This is what you’ll use for your planks. It comes pre-primed and is available at Lowe’s for less than $15 a sheet. We purchased 3 sheets and had leftovers.
  • Red Devil Onetime Lightweight Spackling: This is our favorite spackle! It requires no sanding or priming and dries fast.
  • Stud finder
  • Chalk line or long level
  • Finish nailer or a hammer and small finish nails
  • Paint color of your choice (We used Kwal Crave, available at Sherwin Williams)
  • 1/8″ Spacers

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First, using your stud finder, mark all the studs on the wall with a pen on the top and bottom of the wall. Since you will be covering the wall with boards, you’ll want to mark the studs on the entire height of the wall. The easiest way to do this is with a chalk line. If you have two people available, one will hold the line at the top while the other holds the line at the bottom where the stud is marked and then you can snap it and a line will appear. If you are doing the alone (or one person is taking pictures ;), drive a screw into the top stud and you’ll be able to hook the chalk line onto the screw and bring it down to the bottom of the wall and snap the line – voila!

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Now you’re ready to attach the “shiplap” (which is really just the thin plywood cut into planks) into the studs. We calculated the height of our walls and determined that with 8.5″ planks, we wouldn’t have any partial planks so that’s what we went with. We love the chunky planks, but you can decide what would look best on your walls. We cut the planks using our table saw, but most home improvement stores will make the cuts for you, though some charge 50 cents a cut.
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Because each board was only 8 feet long, we knew we’d have to use more than 1 plank for each length of the wall. We staggered the seams and also butted them right up against each other to minimize the appearance, and even used spackle (see below) to further camouflage seams. This allowed the 1/8″ gaps, we achieved using spacers, between each board–that shiplap-look– to steal all the attention.
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Once all the boards were attached to the wall, I went back and filled in all the nail holes and seams and then it was time to paint! Because these boards are already primed, I was able to skip that step. I did, however, have to brush each gap first to make sure paint got in there, and then used a small roller on the planks. We decided to go dark to disguise our air returns and thermostat and it worked like a charm. It ended up taking two coats of Kwal’s Crave, a deep charcoal with warm blue undertones.
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White shiplap is everywhere now, but I love the sophistication of this darker version.
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The wall is pretty enough to leave as is, or you can add a gallery of frames, shelves for books, or large art. We hung this tree rings print from Minted and an art light on the wall that still feels simplistic but eye-catching.
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For under $75, we’re thrilled with what we were able to add to our living room. Is this something you’d try in your home?


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About The Author
Julia Marcum
Julia and Chris Marcum of the popular DIY blog, ChrisLovesJulia.com, bought their first home in 2009 and have been writing about their renovation adventures ever since. Now in their second home, Chris (a marketer by trade) and Julia (a color and design enthusiast who studied art in college) have expanded their project know-how to show readers helpful DIY and design tips, as they turn another fixer-upper into something unforgettable. You can follow their progress at chrislovesjulia.com, or through social media via Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Pinterest.
7 Comments
  • Amy
    November 10, 2016 at 7:41 am

    How did you install the art light though?

  • Deb
    November 10, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Beautiful and so elegant.

  • Kaitltn
    November 10, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    How did you attach the light?

  • Cindy
    November 14, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Hi Homes.com,
    Enjoy your posts but this one has some key points missing and I’m hoping more pics and possibly an add on to this tutorial could be done because some neighbors and I would love to try this (the pics are always edited/photoshopped which makes it hard to since you can’t zoom in to see the important details as you try this task yourself) What we’re looking to see and learn about is the wall corner and the opposing side where there is no wall and how were these placed by the baseboard?? Pics would be incredibly helpful. The post also didn’t mention what they used for spacers.
    Thank you Homes.com for all your advice.

  • Allison C McDonald
    January 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Is the light battery operated our wired through the wall? Thanks!!!

  • Maria
    February 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Why did you use a small roller on the planks instead of a normal one?

  • Sarah
    March 14, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    What is the paint color on the adjacent wall!? Beautiful job!

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