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How to DIY a Plank Wall – no power tools needed!

Ok as promised, the easiest (well relatively easy, especially if you aren’t going up a staircase) add character to your home DIY plank wall – no power tools required! Earlier this week I showed you all the pretty details of my new entry, but now I’ll show you the nitty gritty of how I got it done (or get er’ done for my redneck friends).

 Easy step by step instructions to DIY plank wall - no power tools required!

So I would like to tell you that I totally planned and measured and drew elaborate plans before starting this, but you know that’s not my style. I have been obsessing about planking this wall and it was finally fall (see the deal I made with my hubby here) so I innocently drove to Lowe’s thinking I would start “just looking” at what kind of supplies I would need…

well “just looking” at a home improvement store  for me is kind of like “just looking” at puppies (don’t get the Mr. started on how we ended up with our dog Buddy)… 20 minutes later I found myself loading up my car with 10 ft whitewood trim. You can find this over by the other moldings, it’s about 1 inch and 1/2 wide and only 1/4 inch thick (just ask someone if you can’t find it the people at Lowe’s are great). I guessed I needed 18 or so…2 trips back later I guess measuring sometimes is a good idea… Once again I was the crazy lady with boards hanging out my passenger window between the car seats.

Now if you have 8 foot ceilings you don’t need to look like a loony bin driving down the road with them sticking out your window, just grab the 8 foot boards, but we had to be all difficult and have 9 foot ceilings.

You’ll also need:  

liquid nails

small finishing nails


small level (more on this later)

wood filler

nail set

white paint


First up I painted the wall white, it was much easier to paint it before all the molding was on and bonus once I had it all painted SURPRISE when the MR. came home from his business trip – there was no going back :)  

Then I painted all the planks, mainly because I know how much the Mr. would appreciate stripey zebra print garage floors – they go so well with all my technicolor spray paint polka dots (I know, I know, he is SO lucky to have me). You’ll still need to do a touch of coat, but it was easier to have one coat down.

A snow covered street

Next plan your boards and spacing out,  I decided to make my spacing the exact width of my level (13 inches). It made it so much easier not to measure every time. I just stuck my level between each board and went to town.

Wall and Plank

 It’s best to take a little time and plan this part out so you can avoid light switches, outlets, railings and any other crazy corners or whatnot your wall might have. This makes your cutting so much easier down the road. I used painter tape to mark it all out.

 Then I measured the height of the wall and cut my boards to fit, here is where I wish I had some cool power tools, but alas all I have is this lame hand saw and miter box. Which is really all you need – these boards are super thin so they take about 2 seconds to cut through and a miter box and saw only runs about $10.

how to plank a wall no power tools required

Now onto the first board, which I needed a little help with…

The key with getting the Mr. on board with any of my DIY projects is this 1. it’s gotta be cheap 2. don’t involve him…

he is not handy…he knows he is not handy…he has been known to freak out in the middle of many a DIY project and yell “we are ruining our house!!” (it always make me laugh which doesn’t help the situation).

I tried not to involve him, I really did, but getting the first board absolutely straight is imperative to this project working out, and hello, you know I don’t like to measure or be picky with the level. So I did what I normally do I sighed…a lot…and then said “do you think you could pretty please help me with just this one board (ahem, here he is 15 boards later….).

Wall and Plank

Once I enlisted his help, I dotted a little liquid nails every 6 inches on the board (not too much you don’t want it to squeeze out the sides) and slapped it on the wall. We still couldn’t get it totally straight because none of the boards were totally straight, no worries though just put a little finishing nail or 2 to keep it in place. Once you have the first one down the rest are a breeze!

Countersink your nails with the nail set and fill in the holes with wood putty.

A close up of a nail hole

I ran a bead of caulk up both sides and the top and the bottom, then ran my finger along it to smooth it out. This really helped it match the look of the rest of our moulding. Add your second coat of paint and you’re done!
A bakehouse entry way with bench

Unless you are going up your 2 story staircase…then it’s a bit more work. This really isn’t any harder unless you are afraid of heights, falling off ladders, breaking your neck etc…

I won’t give you the exact details of how we set up our ladder on the staircase, because I don’t want any one to try it this way themselves (this is my big “Don’t try this at home kids!”) but I will say it involved a stack of vintage books and several discarded cinder blocks. Yeah, it was totally safe and OSHA approved. If you have the proper ladder though, you will be fine!

Here is where the Mr. and I began to argue about who was worth more alive me or him…I finally made my case about half way up the wall when we started to talk life insurance policies. I was relieved to switch spots for a while as I was starting to imagine my obituary in the newspaper “local crazy blogger woman breaks her neck foolishly attempting an ill advised DIY project while using a pile of vintage books to level a ladder..” you get the idea.

Really though once you master the ladder, it’s just a matter of cutting your boards at the right angle on the bottom to run up your stairs. The miter box has 2 different angles on it, neither were exactly right but the caulk filled in the little bit that it was off.

DIY paneled wall

So now that you know how easy it is, go forth and plank…your walls not the exercise move, although I could probably stand to do a few of those too…

I got a little obsessed with how this looked and did one more wall at the top of the stairs with it, I’ll be back next week to share that along with some easy wall art you can make too!

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  1. Thank you. Love this and now truly think I can do-it-myself on the half walls in my tiny bathroom. You have such a great sense of adventure (as well as style), and I wish you lived next door!
    PS Thom Felicia’s boat house is adorable. I’m glad to have another picture of it. Got to go click ‘follow’ on your Pinterest boards.

  2. Love, Love this look! Do you think this would work on plaster walls? I would nail where studs are and glue down with liquid nails as well. At least that’s what I’m thinking I could do over painted wallpaper. Of course I would caulk and paint the second coat of paint, too. Let me know what you think. I’m looking online for all ideas to do a wall in my dining/living room. If you know of anyone who has done anything like this on plaster walls please email me and let me know. Thanks,[email protected]

  3. I love this look! My entry way leads straight into my living room which overlooks the lake. Do you think I could carry this all the way thru both rooms? Thanks for all the ideas!!!

  4. I just did this in my room and after reading your tutorial I can’t believe you did this without power tools! That’s some serious dedication. But it looks amazing so it was worth all the extra effort! Ps you need to get the Ryobi brad nailer!

  5. Kelly,
    I stumbled upon your blog from Pinterest. I LOVE your style. And I love your writing. And how easy you make it all sound. My hubby is a builder and a very good one too. The garage and trailer are filled with all the tools possible and yet I find it so difficult to do anything. Mainly because I lack ideas. And because he could do everything faster and better. But guess how excited he’s about the wife’s projects after building all day for paying clients .. not much! He’s also never on a business trip .. I might have to just girl up and take matters into my own hands. You have certainly given me a lot of inspiration and I thank you for that!

    1. Hey Ashley! I didn’t have the paint for our trim anymore nor do I have it written down (doh!) so I picked a different white. It’s not straight up white I picked one with a cooler gray tone to it. Thankfully it worked with the trim. Although if I knew my trim color I would have done that :)

  6. Love it! Thank you for posting your husbands 2 rules! I thoughts was the only one with a husband who isn’t into DIY!! I was starting to feel bad. I did an even easier version of wainscot in my hallway – using trim pieces from the craft board section at lowes that were already 48″ so I didnt have to cut them! I did have to cut the horizontal piece at the top though. And I have yet to put a second. Oat of paint on them. But I love it and it made a huge difference.

  7. Oh my- what an awesome job- love the no power tools idea especially- and it looks so professional- you would never know it involved old books and cinder blocks!! Lol

  8. I have these same walls! Just goes with living on the lake! When I do my reveal, I will post your tutorial…no need to reinvent the wheel..except I’m sorry to say I do have a power saw! Lucky I know. I love doing projects when my husband is out of town, but I have to get him a glass of wine and have him enter the front door as in a tv reveal!

    Beautiful job and I can’t wait to see the other wall you did!


  9. Wow , that is really neat. I love that look too. I used to do all the redecorating when my hubs was on a business trip. He always had a surprise and there were no spats about if it should be done or not. I think he like avoiding the mess too. Nice job!

  10. A miter box- how the HECK have I never heard of one of these!?! And all this time I’ve been putting like 5 projects off just because I don’t have a miter saw. AH!

    This turned out really great- I’m in love. Funny thing- I do my projects while my husband is on business trips as well…..it just goes much better that way. ;)

    Anyway- yes. Awesome job, it looks like a million bucks. Oh and sweet score on the bench!

  11. I love this technique and did it myself a couples years ago:) I didn’t like how the back of the kitchen island looked and did this plank look. It came out great and the best part was how easy it was. I did use power tools though which made it go super fast. Best part is that these thin pieces of wood sit right on top of the baseboard.

  12. Sounds like our hubbies could be the best of friends!! I plan to try this in our upstairs bonus room. I hope mine looks as fab as yours! (fingers crossed)

  13. Amazingly beautiful… and no power tools! Wow! You plank wall looks fabulous. It really works with your decor. Thanks for the great tutorial. I have an upstairs bathroom that I need to be madeover and your planked wall would look great in it! Thanks, so so much!

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