Have you ever talked about a project or planned a project for so long that it became an image in your head. And then when you finally got around to actually completing the project, the end result was far different from that image you’d been carrying around in your head??? Well, that was this wood wall project for me. Susan and I have been talking about this project for, oh… let’s see, at least 12 months now. Not exaggerating. I realize that makes us sound like total procrastinators. Which, let’s be real, is completely accurate! But this project had some unique circumstances that put the delays out of our control.
For instance, there was the small detail that we didn’t actually have a house to put this wood wall yet. We broke ground on the construction of our new home in January 2013. And this wood wall project has been floating around in our heads since those early conversations with our builder about framing of the house. We had our builder recess this wall in our living room and build a floating ledge underneath. Originally, we thought that we’d purchase reclaimed wood or barn boards to fill this recess. But after pricing these options, we quickly realized we needed an alternative. But, there was no rush since the wall didn’t actually exist yet. So we took our time researching projects that others have done such as this amazing wood wall and these beautiful antiqued boards. We started to feel confident that we could tackle this project ourselves and save a boatload of money in the process. So, we did.
It all started with a lumber order from 84 Lumber. The guys down at 84 are amazing. Seriously. Any single, straight girls in the Charlotte area need to do this project just to justify a trip down to 84 to meet these guys. Anyway, as I was saying, we ordered our lumber. Various 1x’s all in beautifully knotted pine. We got several 1×4’s and 1×6’s and a big ol’ 1×10 and 1×12 to add some dimension. But, boards of the same width would also produce a nice result also. Just make sure to measure the area you want to cover, and order enough square footage to fill the space. We had approximately 90 sq. ft. (yes, it’s a BIG wall!!)
We decided to use all of the leftover paint from the interior of our house, which really worked well because it tied in all the colors throughout the house. This step is really easy, and really fun. Imperfection is key here. Put your perfectionist tendencies aside during this step (don’t worry, you can pull them back out during the wood cutting step). Just slap some paint onto the boards using cheap, chip brushes. Don’t worry about covering every inch of the boards. Bare spots are good. And be creative. Use 2 or 3 colors on some of the boards. Get crazy.
Let the paint dry at least 4-5 hours before moving onto the next step (overnight is best!).
Second step: SAND the boards.
Susan was an excellent sander. I attribute it to her large forearms. She could wrestle bears with her forearms. I swear. They also come in handy for those 1.5pood farmer’s walks at the gym. Anyway, if you also have large forearms, you’ll find this step easy. The rest of us will work up a sweat. Make sure to use We have a small, power sander that we were hoping we could use and save all the elbow grease. Work smarter not harder, right?? Unfortunately, it was creating a swirling pattern on the wood. Regardless of how we held the sander, or which direction we pointed the sander, we were getting swirling patterns and arcs in the wood. Since we didn’t like this look, and knew that it would be enhanced once we put stain onto the boards, we opted to hand sand. Yep, we sanded 90 sq. ft. of lumber by hand. Used those little, square sanding blocks. Very heavy grit. 220 is best. The goal here is to sand off some of the paint to reveal the grain and knots of the wood. You’re trying to help the stain out a bit, without sanding off all of the paint. Focus on the areas of the board that have great grain, or lots of knots.
Third step: STAIN the boards.
In the picture on right, only the board at the bottom (brown board) is stained. The other boards are just painted. This picture illustrates what the stain does to the boards. It really pulls out the grain in the wood. You can use any color stain that you wish. Darker stains really pull out the grain of the wood, and give the board a very rich looking finish. Lighter stains also pull out the grain of the wood, but in a more subtle, less dramatic way. We used a variety of stain colors, just like we used a variety of paint colors. We used 2 shades of grey (hehehe), 3 shades of brown, and a clear stain. Apply the stain using an old sock or rag. We bought a big bag of rags at Lowes for around $2. I would paint some stain onto the board, and then Susan would immediately start rubbing the stain into the wood. If you want more of the stain to soak into the wood, just wait longer before you start rubbing it in. Just play around with it and see what looks best.
Now that you have some lovely painted, sanded and stained boards, the only thing left to do is get them up on the wall! We chose to go with varying lengths, which really added to the color dimensions of the wall.
The rest is pretty self explanatory… measure, cut, nail, repeat. We used a stud finder to locate the studs and made sure to nail into studs each time.
Like I was saying, this project didn’t turn out anything like I had pictured in my head for the past 12 months. It turned out SO MUCH better!!! Isn’t it nice when that happens????