The Tools You Need Plus How-to Install a Barn Board Wall

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Are you ready for a full on tutorial post?! Yes! Okay. You have all been asking for the specific ‘how-to install a barn board wall’ post for a while. Today, I’ve got that for you, plus a full list of all the tools you need to get the job done!

This of course all stemmed from our dining room reveal in which we highlighted our new barn board accent wall.

Here are the tools and supplies you need to achieve this look:

I’m going to try to break this process down into the most steps possible to address all the questions I’ve had from readers. Here it goes.

The first thing to do is to wash your walls and dry them with a lint-free rag. This is also where you’ll have to decide if you need to paint or prime your wall before planking. We didn’t do this step because it wasn’t a big deal to us. But if you wall is …let’s say… bright purple…and you’re adding white barn board on top, you will see the purple peeking through. So you’ll want to get at least a coat of primer on there before planking.

Once the wall is prepped, it’s time to measure. Measure the full length and height of your wall and calculate the total square footage (Length times height). Then add 20% to that number to know how much wood or planking to buy. There will be some waste left over, but typically a 20% overage is good enough to get the job done and not have too many random boards in the end.How to plank a barn board wall

If you are using natural wood (versus say plywood or MDF) for your planking, you also might want to acclimate it before nailing it to the wall. This just means, buy it, bring it into the room you’re planking and let it sit there and adjust to the environment for a couple of days. Wood expands and contracts, so acclimating it will help reducing swelling once it’s on the wall.

Step two is to find the studs in the wall. There’s no easier way to do this than with a stud finder. It costs a few dollars and it’ll be your best friend any time you want to hang something up that’s heavier than a couple of pounds. Mark the studs with a light pencil line. In a typical home, they will be about 16″ apart.

Now create your planking pattern on a piece of paper. There is no wrong or right way to plank, but there are two main schools of thought. One way staggers the boards (like how hardwood floors are laid), the other way lines up the seams for a more modern look. Seeing as we’re working with rustic barn board, staggering is the best and more classic option. You want to create your stagger pattern so that you have a set number of ‘standard’ board lengths that simply repeat.How to use a mitre saw to cut barn board!

In our case, we used differing combinations of the following lengths: 48″ (the length our boards came in), 36″, 18″ and 9″. We created different linear patterns with all those cuts, making sure no seams lined up. We found four combinations that looked good and then simply repeated that pattern. This way, we were able to bring a few boards to the mitre saw at a time and cut a bunch of lengths at once, knowing they’d all fit into the pattern. BUT, I’d caution against cutting everything at once because you don’t want to find out that your wall is crooked or warped and have boards that won’t fit. I’d say never cut more than two plank patterns at once.How to plank a wall with barn board

Use your level and start at the ceiling with your first board. Make sure it’s nice and straight and then (wearing safety glasses) use your nail gun to attach it to the stud. You’ll probably want two nails in this first one. Then proceed with each board in your pattern, nailing first into the stud and then all along the board every 6″-8″ or so.

I recommend going lengthwise along the wall so that you can account for any gapping as you go. It’s a good idea to have a rubber mallet handy, just in case you need to pound an irregular board into place. The rubber mallet is forceful, but much gentler than a regular hammer!

That’s it! It’s really that simple.

Here are some things to watch out for: outlets and switches! If your wall has outlets and/or switches, you’ll want to mark them and cut them out using a jig saw. Also, if your boards don’t line up perfectly with the floor – meaning your boards are 4″ wide and you’re left with a 3″ gap at the floor, you’ll have to rip the board lengthwise using either a circular saw or a table saw. This might be a situation where you have them cut the board for you at the hardware store – which most will do if you ask!

Don’t miss the full reveal post where I explain how I finished styling the space!

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