I am SO happy to finally be sharing with y'all the process of how we installed this accent wall because it was the FIRST accent wall we ever built together and it is so special to us.
Now with that being said, it was our first wall...so there are a few things we would do differently now that we have 7 more months of DIY experience behind us, but don't worry I will share with y'all what we would change about the process. Remember, we make mistakes so y'all don't have to!
If you are feeling a little intimidated by this project, then check out our "tool-less" tutorial on how we repurposed our lamps in this room using only baking soda+paint!
1x4 common board wood (if we did this again we would use pre-primed MDF or pre-primed pine): Home Depot, Lowe's
2.5 in brad nails (we have an angled nailer, so we use angled nails)
9 inch paint roller
Paint: we first painted the wall Snowbound in semi-gloss by Sherwin Williams, and then later on we painted it Slate Blue in matte by Benjamin Moore
Miter saw: Home Depot, Amazon
16 gauge brad nailer: Home Depot (exact one we use), Amazon
PART 1: DETERMINING THE MEASUREMENTS
Determine the number of squares you would like per row on your wall as well as the thickness of the boards you wish to use. We chose to have 6 squares per row and used 1x4s because we liked the thicker look to match our trim. I suggest you make a few sketches with potential square sizing to help with a visual of the space.
Use the equation at the end of this section to determine the inside width of each square once you have determined the number of squares you would like.
To determine the height of each box divide the height of the wall by the number found above (width of the square) in order to see how many squares can fit vertically with roughly the same height and width. Round to the nearest whole number and use the formula again, replacing the width with the height. This will be the actual height of the inside of each square. Make sure when you are finding the height of your wall you are factoring any trim or baseboards. We chose not to remove our baseboards and we added a 1x4 curved trim piece at the top of our ceiling. We used the curved piece instead of a regular 1x4 because we have an angled ceiling.
PART 2: INSTALLING THE BOARDS
OPTIONAL: We did paint our entire wall first before installing any boards, however we had to do so much touch up work that we basically repainted the entire wall after the boards were installed. So this step could probably be skipped and you could just wait to paint until all of the boards are installed.
The first part of installing the boards involves framing out the wall with 1x4s (or whatever size boards you have chosen). Cut a piece of 1x4 measuring the entire width of the wall. We cut 2 pieces of 1x4x8 to 7ft long to make up the full width of 168 inches of our wall.
Nail in the two horizontal boards using 2.5in brad nails roughly every foot. Try to hit a stud when possible, however the pieces of wood are light enough that it should not be an issue. If you feel like you need more adhesion than just the nails, then you can add liquid nails on the back of each board. The liquid nails will add extra strength, but will make it harder to remove the boards should you ever change your mind.
Cut two pieces of vertical boards at the previously determined height. Remember, this height is NOT just the height of the wall, but rather the height of the wall with the baseboard and top trim piece subtracted. Our height was 98in.
Install the two vertical framing pieces following step 2.
With the framing done use the miter saw to cut a piece of scrap wood the same width of the inside of your square. You will use this as a spacer while installing the vertical boards to make life MUCH easier. Our spacer was roughly 23.75 width.
Cut the rest of the vertical boards at the determined height. We had to work around our windows, so we simply cut one board into two pieces that would fit above and below the window
Install the remaining vertical boards using the spacer. Nail each board into the wall starting from the bottom and working your way to the top.
With the vertical boards installed it is time to move to the horizontal boards. Cut two pieces of scrap wood the same height of the inside of your square. You will use both pieces as spacers while installing the horizontal boards (refer to photo above).
Cut your first horizontal piece measuring the width of the inside of the square. Conveniently this will be the same size as the previously used spacer for installing the vertical boards. Ours was roughly 21.8in.
Install the horizontal boards using the two newly cut spacers. The reason we cut two spacers was so that the horizontal piece could sit on top of the two spacers making it easier for us to nail the board into the wall.
We moved from left to right installing the horizontal boards one level at a time, but you could also start at the bottom and work your way to the top.
PART 3: FINISHING TOUCHES
Use the 60 grit sandpaper to sand over every board, especially at each joint where to make the surface as level as possible. If we had used pre-primed MDF (which we would have next time) then we could have skipped this step.
Apply wood filler at every joint where wood meets wood.
Sand over everything against the 150 grit and then 220 grit. Once again we could have skipped this step if we used MDF.
Once the sanding is finished make sure to wipe off any saw dust with an old rag or tacky cloth.
Time to caulk! Caulk every joint where the wood meets the wall. I use my finger and a damp rag to smooth out the caulk.
Allow at least 24hrs for the caulk to dry and then begin painting! Use the 2in angled brush to cut in the inside of each square.
Use the 9in roller to then fill the inside of each square and the 4in roller to paint all of the trim. We found it easiest to roll the vertical boards first and then the horizontal.
We used a paint+primer in one, but if you are not using a paint with a primer then make sure to apply a coat of primer first.
Allow at least 1 hour for the first coat to dry and the apply a second coast following steps 6+7.
Enjoy your new accent wall!
UPDATE: I initially painted the accent wall white because the rest of the walls in our room were grey. However, I never quite liked the grey and after 4 months I finally bit the bullet and painted all the walls AND ceiling white...which meant I could paint my accent wall my first true love...BLUE! Yes, I know, that means I painted this wall a total of 4 times before it was "done." Crazy? Yup!
OPTIONAL: After painting the entire wall I decided I wanted the baseboard to be blue as well, so I used painters tape to cover the wood floor and then used the 2in angled brush to paint the baseboard. Do not be alarmed if the first coat is very thin as this is normal. You may have to wait longer than 1 hour for the paint to dry to apply the second coat.
We also did not sand the baseboard first, but afterwards we realized we should have done so with 220 grit sandpaper to allow the paint to adhere better to the gloss of the baseboard. We got lucky with the type of paint we used that it adhered well to the semi-gloss of the original baseboard, but we definitely suggest sanding first.
For links to everything you see in these photos, check out our Master Bedroom page!
Q: What would we do differently if we did this again?
A: We would definitely use pre-primed MDF or pre-primed pine instead of whitewood. There was so much sanding with the white wood to make it smooth and to address the natural bowing of the wood.
Q: What is the blue paint color in this room?
A: Slate Blue by Benjamin Moore, matte finish for both the wall and baseboard
Q: What is the white paint color in this room?
A: Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore, matte finish for walls and ceiling