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How to Build a DIY Wood Slat Wall

Updated: Jan 28, 2021


After moving into our new home I spent quite a bit of time on Pinterest (you can follow us here) trying to figure out my "style." Casey and I determined that we loved simple and minimal designs with clean lines and lots of natural elements, which some would classify as "scandinavian."


I came across a few wood slat walls and decided we HAD to build one! Because we have an angled ceiling in this room I thought it would also be a fun opportunity to bring the wood wall up onto the angled ceiling to create a waterfall effect.


Rather than purchase fluted paneling (yes they do make this now) we decided to save money and build one ourselves! Plus, building it ourselves enabled us to also build a matching bedframe so that the wall would serve as a headboard and both pieces would flow into one another.


We were able to complete this project in one weekend and with very few tools!


MATERIALS

TOOLS

PART 1: DETERMINING THE MEASUREMENTS FOR THE LOWER WALL

  1. Before we cut anything we marked out the width of the bed frame (to-be built) that we would build for the room. We used this West Elm bed frame as our inspiration and luckily the dimensions were listed online, so we knew the width of our wall would need to be at least 62 inches.

  2. After determining the width of the future wall we played around with spacing between 1x2 boards. We settled on 1/4in and then discovered that 4 tongue depressors stacked on top of one another is 1/4in, so we taped them all together and used them as our spacer.

  3. Next comes some math. To determine how many 1x2 boards we would need to cover a space of 62 inches we used this formula: (width of future wood wall / (width of 1x2 + width of desired space). Using our measurements: (62/(1.5+0.25))=35.4 boards. We rounded up to 36 boards because we would rather have the wall be slightly wider than the frame rather than be too short.

  4. We then measured the height from the top of the baseboard to the top of the wall to determine how long we would need to cut the boards. The tallest part of the wall measured at 76.26 in with the lowest part measuring at 76in (most houses do not have completely level ceilings/walls so you will have to measure at several points). We could have removed the baseboard and started directly from the ground, however because our wood wall was not going to extend the full width of the wall we did not want one part of the wall to have baseboards while the other part did not.

  5. Because we did not remove the baseboard we decided to make the bottom of the board a miter cut so it would look as if the board were flowing into the baseboard. Make sense?

  6. This step may be different for you all depending on the angle of your ceiling. If we had a regular non-angled ceiling then we would have made regular straight cuts on all of our 1x2 boards that would butt straight up against the ceiling. However, our ceiling is at a 45 degree angle, so every vertical board on the wall would need a 45 degree miter cut to fit into the angle of the wall.



PART 2: INSTALLING THE LOWER WALL

  1. With all of the measuring out of the way we finally began to make our cuts! Remember, from all of our measurements we determined we would need 36 1x2 boards cut at varying heights (76 to 76.26in) with a 45 degree miter cut at each edge. Tip: cut only a few boards at a time and make sure they fit because ceiling heights can vary every so slightly making some boards too short or too long.

  2. After all 36 boards were cut we sanded the front of each board (no need to do the back or sides because it will be going against the wall and the space between each board is very narrow). We started with 150 grit sandpaper and then finished with 220 grit.

  3. Don't forget to wipe down each board with an old rag or tacky cloth to get rid of all the saw dust!

  4. For staining we decided it would be best to stain all of the slats inside our guest room where we would install them because we didn't have a large enough space in our garage for so many boards!

  5. Normally we would apply wood conditioner first, but after testing the stain on scrap wood we liked the uneven look of the stain without wood conditioner. We wanted this wall to look very natural.

  6. We stained only the visible parts of the boards, so the backs were left natural.

  7. Once the slats were dry we used our angled Dewalt nailer to nail the boards to the wall starting with the very middle of the future wall. We started with the middle slat first and added slat on either side, but you could also start on one end and work your way to the other end.

  8. Use your level to make sure the first board is completely straight because if it is not the entire wall will be crooked

  9. We used roughly 6 nails per board at various heights. We chose not to use liquid nails because: 1) the slats are very lightweight so there was no concern of them falling over and 2) in case we ever want to remove these slats (highly doubtful) there will only be nail holes to fill rather than ruined drywall to replace which is what happens with liquid nails.

  10. After the first slat was secured, we placed the spacer on either side of the board while we nailed the second board into place. We started nailing from the bottom of each board and moved our way up while sliding the spacer up as well to make sure the spacing was even the entire length of the board.

  11. Make sure to use the level every few boards to ensure your slats are remaining completely vertical!



PART 3: INSTALLING THE ANGLED CEILING WALL

  1. With the entire lower portion done we moved on to the angled ceiling wall.

  2. The length of the angled ceiling wall was roughly 43in and we made 45 degree cuts at each end. On the end that would butt up to the lower wall the 45 degree cut is facing inward, whereas on the far end the 45 degree cut is facing outward.

  3. After cutting came sanding and staining following the same steps as the lower wall.

  4. We used the same method of nailing using the level and spacer as we did for the lower wall. For this angled ceiling wall we made sure the first nail at the bottom went directly into the top of the board below it. We also made sure the ceiling board lined up with the lower wall board.

  5. Because these boards are smaller we used only about 4 nails per board. The final nail of each of the angled ceiling boards went into the stud where the angled wall met the flat ceiling wall.

  6. Once again, make sure to recheck with a level every few boards to ensure the boards are not crooked.

  7. After all of the boards are up take a step back, look up and enjoy the feature wall you have just created!!




Not ready to take on a wood slat wall yet? For a more beginner level DIY check out how we refinished these wooden nightstands!


For links to everything you see in these photos head to our Guest Room page where we have all decor and furniture items listed!