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DIY Accent Walls: What to do / What NOT to do

Accent walls are an inexpensive (and quick!) way to add rustic charm to your living space. Following a few tips can go along way to saving you time and future headaches.

A lot of people swing by the shop looking for wood for interior accent walls and typically, the first question I ask is "Do you own or rent?".

While owning your home opens the door to any installation process you can dream up, renting can be a bit more tricky - but doable!


HOME OWNER - For the typical homeowner, speed and beauty go hand and hand. Start and the bottom row center of the wall and push your way out. This enables the weight of the board to begin resting on the floor and subsequent rows to rest on the board below. By starting in the middle, you're able to showcase your full boards more prominently and save your cuts for the end of the rows - burying them in the corners. While some people have the luxury of a chop saw, others will be making not so precise cuts with their circular saw. By saving those cuts for the corner of the wall, they will be less noticeable to you and more importantly, the guests who marvel at your handy work!

Brad nails and an air compressor will be your friend on this one. Since you're starting at the bottom of the wall to take the weight, we are less worried about boards falling off the wall if your board design doesn't exactly line up with wall studs. In a perfect world, you will have marked your studs on the wall and all of your boards will be a perfect length to split the studs 50/50. We don't live in a perfect world! As long as you can hit one somewhere along the board, the rest of your nails will act as a balancing act since your board rests comfortably on the one below. Screws can also be used during your installation - but remember, they will eat up your drywall and if and when you ever decide to go in a different direction, that's going to be quite a patch job. Unless you are attaching to stone or brick, using glue is not recommended. Why? Well, it's permanent. Oh sure, you CAN remove glued on boards. But, you'll take pretty much all the drywall down with it. You just went from small patch jobs to full float and tape mode.


There's a bit more involved on a renter install - but your landlord and your deposit will be a lot happier for it. With your stud finder, mark the studs on the wall in pencil. Using 1/4" plywood, lay the plywood on the ground and with wood glue, attach your accent wall wood to the plywood. I recommend laying all the plywood down on the floor in front of the wall, already cut to dimension of the wall. As, each section dries, simply attach the plywood to your wall into the studs using screws - screwing through the accent wall board - through the plywood - and into the wall stud. Why do it this way? Well, if and when your landlord is ready for it to come down, you'll quickly be able to locate the screws attached the whole thing to the wall and you wont have a massive patched job staring at you.


As wood dries, it shrinks. Ever notice the gaps on your wood fence? Everything looks great at first! No gaps! But after about a year, you can clearly see your neighbor climbing in and out of the hot tub. With green wood, the principle is the same in your home, too. However, there are ways to avoid this shrink and not leave gaps in your new, beautiful accent wall.

#1) Use old wood/dry wood. The key word here is DRY wood. If it's been in your shed for a couple of years, great! If its in a wood pile at the dump... avoid it.

#2) Dry your own! If you have the patience and the space, place your wood stacked and separated in a hot / dry environment. Garages work well for this purpose. However, a wood worker friend of mine has a great trick. He places his wood in his attic crawl space - forgets about it for six months - and comes back to his perfectly dried wood ready to go for his project!

#3) Buy kiln dried. At Capital Home Supply, we offer a kiln dried cedar option. It allows for minimal movement on a fence and stable boards for accent / ceiling installation.

#4) Tongue and Groove. Whether using Capital Home Supply's tongue and groove unfinished pine or utilizing our oak options, T&G will provide the provide an ease of installation and a kiln dried moisture content that will minimize board movement.

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