4 Easy Steps to DIY a Wood Slat Accent Wall

By Nicole
nicole

Hi! I'm Nicole

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A wood slat accent wall used to only be seen in finer hotels with a mid century modern vibe to them. But not anymore! Bringing that relaxing, hotel-esque feel into your home, has become more and more desirable. At first people adapted ways to make their bedroom feel more hotel-like. And then their bathrooms. And now, how can we bring that comfortable, I-never-want-to-leave ambience, into our entire home? A wood slat accent wall lends itself to a subtle airy feel that is both inviting and cozy. Perfect for a bedroom, kitchen, or really anywhere you have a blank wall and want to add dimension to a space. Want to elevate a room that’s kind of blah? Let’s build a wood slat accent wall!

Header Image

I have built several accent walls in my home over the years. And I honestly can say that none of them have gone out of style. From my very modern black shiplap wall

Accent wall using black shiplap

To my board and batten wall….

Accent wall using board and batten

To now, my latest love–wood slats accent wall

Monochromatic wood slat accent wall painted green

Choosing a Wood Slat Accent Wall Style

There are several different styles to choose from when building a wood slat wall. A few factors you’ll want to consider before starting are: a color scheme, the direction of your wood slats, and what type of wood you’re going to use.

What Color Scheme Do You Want to Use?

Do you like moody dark walls? Warm wood tones? What’s your preference? As shown in the picture above, I chose to keep this wall very monochromatic, by painting the wood slats the exact same color as the wall. It’s moody dark walls for me. 🙂 (This accent wall is painted with Sherwin Williams Shade Grown).

Another option that I love and have rendered in my own home is the stained wood slat wall on a painted wall. In my kitchen remodel, I chose to stain all of my wooden slats Golden Oak and attach them to a Behr White Moderne painted wall. I love how it really makes the stain color of the slats pop and gives a very modern look….

Black kitchen island with a Golden Oak stained wood slat accent wall behind it

Of course this doesn’t have to be limited to a white wall backdrop. A black wall with stained wood slats is very stunning too. As seen in this beautiful room done by Our Faux Farmhouse….

Wood slat accent wall with black as the backdrop paint color

Photo Credit: Our Faux Farmhouse

What Direction Do You Want Your Wooden Slats to Run?

In addition to the color of your slat accent wall, you can also have fun with the design. A vertical wooden slat wall is stunning, but horizontal wood slats can make a room feel bigger and more spacious. I’ve also seen people take some boards vertical and some horizontal. Have fun with it! It’s amazing what you can come up with when you think outside the box….

Accent wall with horizontal slats

What Type of Wood Do You Want to Use?

The type of wood you choose to use really comes down to your budget. If you’re wanting to save money, although time consuming, cutting your wood slats from a sheet of plywood is a much less expensive route.

If you plan on staining your wooden slats, I highly recommend purchasing a sanded pine plywood sheet. Be sure to really look it over and make sure one of the sides is really good quality with little to no gouges. If you have some money to spare and want to save yourself additional sanding time, birch plywood, is the best option when it comes to plywood. You’ll have a few options to choose from regarding the thickness of the plywood. I personally like a 3/4″ sheet. But, thickness really boils down to personal preference.

Another cheaper option is MDF…if you’re planning on painting your slats, I would definitely go this route!

However, if you’re willing to splurge a little more, dimensional lumber is the way to go. This route will save you lots of time. Depending on the width you’re wanting each of your slats, you’ll be able to choose the exact size you desire. If you want each slat to be 1 1/2″ wide, buy enough 1×2’s to fill the space needed and you’re ready to go. But, as mentioned before, this is a much more expensive way to go, especially if you’re planning on covering a lot of space.

4 Steps to Recreate My Kitchen Slatted Accent Wall

Wood Needed for Wooden Slat Accent Wall:

Plywood or dimensional wood (Determine which type you want to use)

Measure the space where you’re wanting to attach your wood slats. Figure out the width of your slats and how much space you will have between each board (thickness of your spacer board).

Here’s how we’ll do the math to determine how many slats you’ll need: Let’s say your wall is 48″ long. You’ve determined that each slat will be 3″ wide and your spacer is 1/2″ thick (space between each slat). Divide 48 by 3 to get number of boards needed…this equals 16. But now we need to account for the space between each board, since we won’t need boards to cover these spaces. Simply multiply 16 by .5 (1/2″) which equals 8″. This means you’ll need to take away 8″ to account for the spaces between each board. Since each slat is 3″ wide, we’ll need to subtract 2 boards. This takes away 6″ which gets us closes to 8″ without going over. Meaning we’ll need a total of 14 boards.

Materials Needed for Wood Slat Accent Wall:

1 1/4″ nail gun nails

Wood Filler 

Paint or Stain (I chose Varathane Golden Oak Stain)

Polyurethane (Optional)

Tools Needed:

Miter Saw 

Table Saw (Optional)

Nail Gun 

Orbital Sander

Level

Tape Measure 

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Step One: Paint!

The very first thing you’re going to want to do is paint your wall. It is so much easier to paint first and attach your boards, rather than trying to paint around your boards. This probably goes without saying, but I felt like it was still worth mentioning. I chose Behr White Moderne for all the walls in my kitchen. It is my favorite go-to white paint!!

Wall painted white off set with a staircase

Step Two: Rip Wood

Now is the time to rip all of your plywood slats to the desired width. I find it easiest to use my table saw for this. But a circular saw will also work. Because plywood comes in massive 4 foot by 8 foot sheets, I like to have Home Depot (or wherever you buy your lumber) rip them down to a manageable size for me.

For this project, knowing I wanted my slats to be the length of the wall, I had them rip my plywood into two 2 foot by 8 foot sections. If I wanted shorter slats, I would have them rip my boards into two 4 foot by 4 foot sections. These smaller sheets are much easier to get up onto my table saw than the heavy big sheets. But, I do still solicit help from my older kiddos or my husband for the first few passes through my saw. Just makes things a little easier and my cuts more precise.

If you decide to go with dimensional lumber, you might still want to make cuts. For example, if I wanted each of my slats to be one inch wide, I would purchase a 1x10x8 pine board and run it through my table saw nine times at one inch per slat. (Note: a 1×10 is actually 9 1/4 inches wide). This is definitely the much cheaper way to go, rather than buying a narrower board and getting less cuts out of it.

Step Three: Sand and Stain

Let the sanding begin. First sand all of your slats with a 120-grit sandpaper and then get that extra smooth finish with a 220-grit sandpaper. An orbital sander will make this go a lot faster!

Once all the sanding is done, your boards are ready for stain. Throw on some tunes and plan on staining for a little while.

I like to start off with a PreStain Conditioner first. This will make your stain go on much more evenly and give you a much nicer finish. Simply brush the PreStain on three sides of each slat. No need to let this dry for long. By the time you’re done applying the PreStain to each slat, you’ll be ready to start staining the first slat you PreStained.

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MinWax Pre-Stain can

You’ll want to stain three sides of each slat. The unstained side will be against the wall, so no reason to stain it. Let the slats dry and you’re ready for step four!

Wood slat accent wall stained wood slats

Step Four: Cut and Attach

Now you’re ready for the real thing! Find the center of your wall using a tape measure. Simply measure the full width of the wall and divide by two. Measure to that distance and mark the spot. (For example: If my wall is 60 inches long, I divide that by two, which is 30 inches. Now I measure in 30 inches from the end of my wall and mark this spot). This is where you’ll want to place your first board.

One board place in the center of a white wall running vertical

Measure your wall from top to bottom and this will determine your first cut. I like to do my cuts a few at a time, because no wall is perfectly straight/square. So, inevitably, I would cut all of my boards and have some of them turn out to be too short. Not good. Once you determine how long your first slat needs to be, make the cut using your miter saw.

Using a level to ensure the slat is straight on the wall, attach with a nail gun. I like to attach my slat in the center first. This enables me to still move it back and forth, if I still need to straighten it out some. Once the level reads that it’s straight, use your nail gun to attach it to the wall a few more times. Usually 4-5 nails per board will secure it in place. (Nail it to wall on top, bottom and middle of slat and then two more spots for good measure). 🙂

(Note: I prefer not to use any glue to attach my boards. This makes life much easier for you, should you want to remove them at some point….The nails really are all you need. But if you’re still worried the boards are going to pull away from the wall, when attaching your boards, drive the nails in at an angle. Now, they aren’t going anywhere!)

From here you can work your way to the left and the right. Attaching boards as you go.

For the spacing of my kitchen wall, I turned one of my slats on its side and held it flat against my last attached slat, then I nailed a new slat in right next to the spacer. Once both boards are attached, the spacer can get stuck some times. It’s a tight space. To make things easier, cut your spacer board a little shorter (maybe one foot). This will give you space to pull the spacer out. Overall, this process goes very quickly. Simply attach slat, place spacer, attach next slat and repeat. So Simple!!

Wooden slats spaced apart from one another on a white wall backdrop

Angle cuts can be a little tricky….

Stained wood slat accent wall finished

Once I got to this section of my wall, I worked smarter not harder and used this nifty angle cut tool! SO EASY to use!! I’ll link it here. Save yourself some headaches and pick this thing up!

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Angle finder tool against an angle on a white wall

If your modern wood slat accent wall is in a high-traffic area, like mine is here in the kitchen, you will want to add a quick coat of polyurethane. One to two coats will be plenty. Just enough to be able to wipe off dust or any other stuff that gets on them.

(NOTE: Depending on the type of nail gun you use, you may have some nail holes. If they don’t bother you, just leave them alone. They will be very small holes, if any, that you see. But if you’re painting your slats and you want to fill in these nail holes, use wood filler and then sand and paint).

So, what do you think!? Ready to go tackle a wall? Not sure you’re ready to tackle an entire wall? No problem! Start small and just do a portion of a wall. Oftentimes, those accent walls look the best! Start in a corner and work your way out however far your heart desires.

Wood slat accent wall with white boards on white painted wall

The sky is truly the limit on how creative you can get with a wood slat accent wall! More than anything, enjoy the process!! And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below. I answer every reply I get. I love helping you guys with this stuff! You never know what you’re capable of until you try!

Until next week,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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FOYER:

Planter

Lamp

DINING ROOM:

Macrame

Chairs

Rug

BEDROOM:

Nightstand Light

Rug

Corner Chair

KITCHEN:

Chairs

Rug

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