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This post has been a long time coming...
I am happy to finally share how to install a plank wall, and how to avoid...the biggest mistake EVER! (of course I wasn't planning on the biggest mistake ever part...life happens)
Let's start with a little shot of my wall shall we? I know you are jealous...ha ha ha! I have been wanting to paint over this since the day we moved in (cough cough...5 years ago) but it always got put on the back burner. Until now.
My sister-in-law, Lisel, came to help me paint my room one weekend and we also got the plank wall up too. I had her use the stud finder and she went above and beyond by using a yard stick and a marker to let me know exactly where every stud was down the wall (above). Thank you Lisel! You could also use a chalk line to easily mark your studs.
It was very helpful. And lest you think I was sitting back eating bon bons or something...I was outside cutting wood to build my Farmhouse Storage Bed. Yay for teamwork!
Blurry selfie, ready to conquer the cave room.
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Let's back track a bit and see where my mistake began. It began with tempered hardboard. I have read several plank wall tutorials saying they used this material. But, only one mentioned it wasn't working, and they scrapped it early. Well, they were the smart ones, I should have done the same, but I am stubborn.
I figured all the other tutorials worked so I would be fine...after reflecting on it in hindsight...I think the "tutorials that worked with hardboard" had cut smaller (not as wide) planks. At least that is the only thing that makes since in my mind.
*FYI* Even though I used a material that I DO NOT recommend for you to use, the following process of how I planked my wall is still great, just use 1/4 plywood or Underlayment and you should be good to go!
I measured my wall and figured out that I needed 4 pieces of 4x8 hardboard to cover my wall, with some left over. I got it for less than $40 and was so excited about the price.
To avoid the boards bending while they were cut I suggested that the Home Depot guy cut two boards at a time so they were more sturdy and to help keep the cuts straight. It worked. I had him cut the planks at 6 inches wide.
I think this is the easiest and fastest way to get your planks up on the wall and have them staggered without you doing any math! Who wants to do math right?!
Start with your first 8 foot plank and nail it into the studs. Make sure you use a level and DO NOT follow the ceiling line which will most likely NOT be level, mine wasn't, even if you can't tell in the photos.
Next, I took a new 8 foot plank and held it against the end of the wall and marked on it where it met the other plank. You could just measure the space from the end of the plank to the wall and then mark that measurement on your board. I just used the board and saved myself a step.
Then I cut my plank to fit that space and nailed it on, still checking for level on the first row. You can see my left over piece sitting against the wall. It will be used for the beginning of the second row.
In order to perfectly space your plank rows you need to use something really high tech like...pennies. Or, if you are really rich you could use nickels or quarters. Apparently I am poor, all I could find in my house was pennies. :) Place your plank up against the one on the wall then slide it a bit to add your pennies, then slide it back so the pennies don't fall out. I used two, one for each end of the board I was attaching to the wall.
Then you continue in the same pattern...adding one plank at a time, one row at a time. Some rows will have 2 planks some will have three (or more if your wall is super long). Grab a plank, measure it to the space on the wall, mark, cut, and install. Use the left over piece from the same plank to start the next row. I used a miter saw to make my cuts. Hopefully you get a better idea of the process from my photo above...
At this point it was going awesome and I had visions of my plank wall painted and finished by the end of the day. ha ha
If I had used 1/4 plywood/Underlayment my vision would have come to pass. But I didn't, I used hardboard. I didn't realize that one of my 4x8 pieces of hardboard was warped, they looked perfectly fine in the store. So when I started planking the wall I noticed that some of the planks were bent...and they wouldn't lay flat.
The planks pulled away from the wall, nails and all.
I had to remove the warped boards, this is a photo of the first one I noticed. I even tried using liquid nails on a few to help flatten them and make them stick to the wall...but it didn't work. Arghhh!
What's a girl to do? A PB&J was definitely in order...(that is our code for "Personal Ben & Jerry's, my husband is very creative like that) Lisel and I had a few scoops. Ahhh, much better.
I went through my planks and pulled out all the good pieces and set the warped ones to the side...then I finished planking with the straight pieces. The straight pieces went on great.
For my last row I had to use a jig saw to cut my planks in half to fit the space. Don't worry about your jigsaw cuts being perfect either, just make sure your jigsaw cut ends are against the moulding and you can use caulk to cover up any uneven parts! I also notched out the pieces to fit the vent and the corner.
So maybe you are thinking, "Hey, that wasn't so bad, just make sure to use non warped hardboard, Right?" WRONG!!! Read on...
I planked this wall back in April. I ended up not painting it right away, because I got started on my window and figured I could just paint the wall and the window at the same time. Turns out it was good I waited because when we started getting buckets of rain look what started happening!!!! Boards were warping out like crazy.
I know this is a picture of only one board popping off the wall (need I remind you that these were the straight boards that went up) but my whole wall was covered with popping off the wall planks! WHAT!!!????
After frantically shooting a million and one nails into the popping planks and probably destroying my drywall forever. I had the presence of mind to take a photo. See all the nail holes? Completely ridiculous. One nail didn't do the trick it was more like 5, 6 or 7 nails.
I waited to paint this wall for almost a full month after installing it and I would weekly have to secure more boards. I wanted to cry, but I wasn't giving up yet, I mean the wall was already filled with holes, taking it down was just more work.
I will NEVER use hardboard again. I knew from doing my Final touches post in my Master Closet Makeover that the 1/4 plywood works great for a plank wall. Sadly I realized it would have only been about $20 more to get the 1/4 plywood/underlayment. Seriously? Sometimes cheaper is not always better, it would have been worth every penny.
I hope you can learn from my mistake, because the process is very easy and simple, and pretty quick, IF you have the proper materials.
I filled all the nail holes with spackle, then I waited about a week and luckily no more boards popped off the wall, even with rain.
I painted two coats on the wall before I caulked, then finished up with the last coat of paint. You could caulk first... I just forgot. :)
I caulked the top, bottom and sides. You can see the difference the caulk makes, I wouldn't skip this step! I makes it look crisp, clean, and finished.
It took me three coats of Behr Ultra pure white semi-gloss to get it looking nice and white. I cut in the edges and rolled the paint on with a roller. I kept a butter knife on hand for getting paint out of the cracks when I accidentally applied too much. It mostly it went on quickly without going into the slats.
Sorry for just boring pictures of a plank wall but I am STILL working on my bed, it is getting close. The end of the school year has really stopped work for me, plus the rain that has been going non stop for a month. Maybe I should have started my bedroom when I had less going on...oh wait....that would be...never. :)
We have been sleeping on our bed pushed to the center of the room for over two months it is pathetic. This is real life DIY at my house folks! My poor husband.
There you have it! I am sooo happy to be done with this part of my room. It is always a little disheartening when you expect a project to be done in one day and it takes two months, lol! So think plywood/underlayment people not hardboard, it is so worth the extra dough.
Have you planked a wall before? If you have any tips I missed please share in the comments, we would all love to hear them!
*UPDATE* I received a very nice email from the manufacturer of the hardboard I used. I am coping the information below as it can be very useful and hopefully eliminate any problems for you if you choose to use hardboard. Good Luck!
To understand why the planks popped of the wall you first need to understand how it is manufactured.
We start with wood fibers, wash and dry them, add linseed oil, form into a mat and put into a large heated press. The heat and pressure activate the lignin’s in the wood which work as a natural adhesive to bind the fibers together. That’s it, no resins, no formaldehyde, no chemicals. In fact, the EPA uses DPI as an example in their educational materials on Green and Sustainable Manufacturing.
So what does that have to do with your struggles to put in on the wall? When it comes out of the press it is only at 3 – 7% moisture content. Being stacked in a unit it stays this dry. You then take it home and put it in an environment that may have 50-60% humidity. As the wood fibers absorb this moisture they swell and grow. It is very minimal, but enough to cause problems if not accounted for.
With any of our products we ask that the panels are spread around the room in which they will be installed at least 24 hours before hand. (48 in the case of basements). This allows them to acclimate to the humidity level and become balanced with their new environment.
Next, we recommend using adhesive, not nails to install. Adhesive will give a little as the panels expand and contract. Nails don’t give so as the panel expands the only way it can move is away from the wall. DPI recommends Loctite PowerGrab.
This leads to the final tip. You gapped your planks side to side, this is very good, but you should have also gapped them end to end to allow for the expansion. An 1/8” is all it takes. Fill this gap with a good quality paintable caulk just like you did with joint compound. The caulk will give a little and allow expansion and contraction while the joint compound is too rigid. Now when you paint it will look like one solid plank.
These three simple steps will insure you do not have panels popping of the wall in the future.