Pallet walls have become the new trend lately, but many people (myself included!) can be intimated by the mechanics behind actually DIYing this project. The good news for all of us is that this project is actually very doable – especially when you have the step-by-step instructions for a path to success!
Our best friends, Michelle & Adam, just finished building this BEAUTIFUL plank wall in their master bedroom…AND offered to let me blog about how they did it! :)
After a big breakfast of pumpkin pancakes and eggs, Adam (a.k.a. Mr. Handyman), walked me through every step of the process they completed so that I could share the details with you all. Just as a note, they finished this entire project in one day!
I’ve outlined each of the steps below in an easy to follow way, and at the bottom of the post you will also find a complete material list and required tools list. I apologize in advance for the length of this post but we wanted to give you every single detail so you are completely prepared if you attempt this yourself!
Also side note: “Plank wall” and “pallet wall” are interchangeable terms. I refer to this project as a plank wall because they used wood plank flooring for this project. Some people do this project with new or used pallet wood in which case it could be called a pallet wall.
M & A have been working on their master bedroom remodel since March of this year. The room felt very stale with white walls when they moved in so their goal was to add a natural, soothing element that would make the room feel warm and inviting.
After painting the walls and adding recessed lighting themselves, M&A felt like their room was still missing that soothing, natural element. They decided adding the texture of a plank wall was the answer…and here is how they accomplished it!
Step 1: Get a vision for the project.
- Figure out what wall, and more specifically what area of the wall, you want your planks to cover. (For example, M&A only did a portion of their main accent wall.)
- Decide whether you are going to use pallet or plank wood.
- Benefit to plank wood – M&A used Better Blue Pattern pine wood flooring from Home Depot, which has tongue and groove edges allowing the planks to fit tightly together. Using a brand new wood also helps ensure that the wood isn’t severely warped which would make it difficult to align the planks tightly together.
- Cost – while you might be able to get used pallet wood for little to nothing, this type of plank wood is only $4.50 at Home Depot for a long 1” x 6” x 8’ plank. They bought 40 planks but only ended up using 30-ish for this entire project!
- When picking out your wood planks, try to select the straightest planks with little to no warping. Also take into consideration the pattern of the wood grain when selecting. You might want a very standard smooth wall or you might want your wall to have personality in the different natural textures of the wood.
Step 2: Find your Studs
- Using a Stud finder tool and blue painters tape, mark your studs on your wall. You only need to use a small piece of blue tape to mark the stud. (For reference, studs are typically placed 16” apart from each other.)
Step 3: Find your Outlets and light switches
- If the wall you have chosen to cover does not have any outlets or light switches, you can skip this step!
- Otherwise, make sure you know where your outlets and light switches are located. If you are planning on using the outlets and incorporating into the plank wall, you will need to cut the wood eventually as you work your way down the wall. We will get to these instructions later in the post!
- M&A added light fixtures and light switches to their pallet wall by using the existing outlet as their energy source. Don’t freak out! I will explain exactly (and easily) how you can do this too if you want to in details to follow J You definitely need to decide if this is something you want before beginning the project.
Step 4: Measurements
- Measure the area that you want your plank wall to cover and measure the stud spacing for studs within your specified project area.
- Graph the measurements out on a piece of paper. You need to decide what plank lengths and pattern type you want to use. M&A used 3 different row patterns (each pattern had different plank lengths).
- In the picture above, they originally had planned for 4 patterns but to avoid having planks begin and end at the same spot (i.e. pattern 4 and then would have repeated with pattern 1 which both had 28” planks on the right side), they decided only to use the top 3 patterns and repeat that pattern all the way down the wall. The chose to cover a 120” wall space.
- M&A had painted that specific wall a dark accent color (Behr Ultra Coffee Bar) and wanted to leave some of the wall uncovered to give it a dark accent on both sides. They alternated plank lengths so none of the plank ends aligned with each other.
- 1st Pattern Lengths: 18” – “80” – 22”
- 2nd Pattern Lengths: 50” – 70”
- 3rd Pattern Lengths: 66” – 54”
Step 5: Attach External Studs
- While the plank wall will most surely be a great selling point when M&A go to sell this house one day, they wanted to make sure that if a future buyer didn’t want the wall, they could easily take it down without severely impacting the dry wall. To do this, they added external studs to hang the wood planks from. The external stud is screwed into the actual stud behind the dry wall – hence the reason why you mark your studs from Step 2.
- M&A used 1” x 3” x 8’ pine wood for the 6 external studs they hung. Based on your drawing from Step 4, you might need more or less than 6 external studs. Take into consideration the support the wood planks will need based on your specific project measurements.
- Using a level tool, make sure your external stud is hanging straight down before screwing into the wall.
- Use 4 2” wood screws (long enough to go through the dry wall and into the main stud behind the dry wall) in order to fasten the external stud to the wall. Put the four screws vertically evenly spaced on the stud for the best support.
- M&A wanted to keep their baseboards showing on the bottom of the plank wall so they ended up having to saw off about 1.5 inches from the bottom of the external stud before hanging to the wall.
Step 6: Cut Planks into Desired Length
- At this point, you should already know the pattern and board lengths you want to use for your project. Double check that the lengths you are planning on cutting make sense with your stud spacing. You want each plank to span the length of two studs at a minimum.
- You can do the math to figure out how many plank rows you will need based on your ceiling height. For M&A’s room, they had a 8’ ceiling so they would need approximately 19 rows
- 8’ ceiling times 12” per foot divided by 5” (width of plank less the tongue length) = 16 rows
- Using a table saw, cut your planks into the specific lengths you want. Be very precise when cutting so that the planks align exactly on both sides once attached together.
- Since they will be alternating 3 different row patterns, they would need at least 6 cuts of each length for each pattern.
- Because your planks are tongue and groove, the top row is going to need one extra step. In order for those planks to be flush against the ceiling, you will need to saw off the tongue (top) portion of the plank. M&A took off about ¾”.
Step 7: Attach plank wood to the external studs, starting from the top.
- M&A used a heavy-duty nail gun attached to an air compressor and 1 ¼” 18 gauge nails to attach the planks.
- Began at the top of your wall and work your way across. For the very top first row, use the specific planks with tongue removed so that they are flush against the ceiling.
- If the plank was perfectly straight, with little to no warping, and fit tightly to other planks, M&A only used 2 nails in each external stud. If there was some warping (which unfortunately is inevitable), they would use 3 nails in each stud and attach with a little brut force to bend the wood slightly and tightly fit together. You can manipulate the wood slight by attaching to one stud, and then strongly but gently lift it up to the next stud to attach.
Also take into consideration the texture of your wood planks. M&A chose their best planks to put at eye level to bring attention to the most unique textures.
————— MAJOR DECISION POINT ————
Step 8: Option A – Plank Wall with no Electrical Details
- If you are not doing any electrical changes (i.e. adding lights, extending outlet into plank wall, etc.), than repeat step 7 all the way until you get to the bottom of your plank wall.
- You might have to saw off a portion of the last row depending on your plank width and wall length.
- You are FINISHED!!!! Congrats!!
Step 8: Option B – You decided to tackle the Electrical Process and Add fun lighting details!
- You must keep following the post!!!!!
- Make sure you read the instructions linked below before adding any more wood planks!
————— Continue at your own risk!!!! :) ————
So you’ve decided to take the leap and add gorgeous light fixtures to your project! Don’t worry – this is actually much easier to do than you would think! Follow these step-by-step instructions on how to add the light fixtures…
(PS Marlowe Lane is not liable for any potential outcome of your project but we do think these are very detailed instructions and should result in you being able to successfully install your light fixtures to your plank wall.)
Step 9: Know where you want to attach the Light Fixture.
- When you get to the section that you want to attach your light, you will need to prep the wood plank for with the light fixture mount. (This is the silver bracket that comes with the light fixture kit.)
- M&A didn’t know exactly where they wanted their light fixture right off the bat so they held them up to decide on each level of plank as they went (aka they “eyed” it as they went!)
- Thinking Ahead — Right now M&A have a queen bed but they spaced the lights wide enough that they would still look good/be functional if they were to get a king bed one day.
Step 10: Attach Light Fixture mount/bracket to wood plank.
- While you will use the bracket that comes with your light fixture, you will need to use wood screws to mount it to the plank wood instead of the screws that come in the kit.
- Before you screw on the mount, you will need to prep the plank by drilling holes. First, place the bracket on your plank and using a pencil, mark the wood with the holes you will need to drill. This includes the large circle in the center of the bracket which the wires will need to go through. For M&A’s light fixture, they also needed to drill two small holes which screws on the front of the light fixture panel will eventually screw into the mount to secure it. See two small yellow boxes on picture above for visual.
- Once you have drawn the holes on the wood, you will need to use a spade drill bit to make the large holes. For the two small holes, M&A drilled out a large hole behind the two small holes because the light fixture actually just screws directly to the metal mount and it just needed space behind it so it wasn’t interrupted.
Step 11: Connect light fixture to the wiring that will go to Light Switch and outlet.
- M&A bought a wire extension casing from Home Depot that has the black, white, and ground electrical wiring in it. Connect the black wire to the light fixture black wire at the end, making sure the actual wires are touching, then using the plastic electric wire caps, screw the cap on to keep them covered. As with all lighting wiring, make sure you connect white to white, black to black, and ground to ground.
- Repeat this step to connect the white wires together and the ground wires together.
- Adam says he is paranoid when it comes to making sure the electric items are completely covered so he also used electric tape to ensure all of the wiring was covered and it was ultra safe (see pic above).
Step 12: Mount wood plank and hang light fixture.
- Once your light fixture wiring is connected to the wire extension, make sure you run the wire extension through the mount hole we created and then hang the wood plank using the wood nails. Once the plank is up, you can now finish hanging the light fixture by screwing in the fixture screws and securing it.
- You will see in the picture above that the wire extension is still visible and controllable. THIS IS IMPORTANT :)
Step 13: Keep hanging planks until the point that you want to hang your light switch.
Step 14: When you are ready to hang the light switch, connect light switch wiring to light fixture wiring.
— This wiring is different than above! Please read thoroughly. —
- The light switch is a transfer point for your electrical. This is the junction where we connect the yellow extension casing flowing from the light fixture, down to the light switch, and also connect to another white electrical casing that will flow to the outlet. Our outlet is going to be the power source for these lights.
- The light switch only needs the black wiring attached to it. From the yellow extension wiring casing, connect the black wire to the light switch black wire. You would do this by wrapping the wire around the screw and tighten the screw.
- Then take your additional white electrical extension and connect that black wire to the second screw on the light switch. Again tightening the screw once the wire is wrapped around it.
- The white and ground wires from the yellow casing will need to be attached to the white extension by screwing the electrical caps on. Again keep white to white, and ground to ground separate.
- Wrap electrical tape around all of your wiring caps.
Step 15: You will need to cut a hole in your plank board to attach the light switch.
- Measure your plank for the size of hole you will need for your light switch. If you are crossing two planks to make this hole, make sure to account for the tongue and groove aspect when measuring (it will make your wood piece smaller when they are attached). Make sure to account for the wiring that will come out to the side of the light switch when measuring for your hole.
- Use a jig saw to make two small cuts vertically into your plank. Then using a dremel, follow that cut and cut the top horizontal line.
- Make sure you cut your plank before nailing it to the wall. Also make sure to check that the cut you made is correct before nailing up!
- SIDE NOTE: M&A were able to put the white extension wiring in the groove of one line of planks from the left wall to the right in order to get to their outlet. If you do not use tongue and groove, you would need to cut a space in your external stud to allow the wire to transition across the back to the outlet.
Step 15: Hang Light Switch to plank wall once wiring is connected.
- Screw light switch bracket to pallet wall using wood screws. Make sure screws are not too long that they would go into dry wall.
- It is IMPORTANT that you screw the light switch on straight. The face of the light switch will eventually fit on top of this piece and will not be straight is the light switch isn’t straight.
Step 16: Screw on Light switch face
- M&A used light switches that have a removable, magnetic face to hide any screws. In this case, you would screw on the face, and then place the magnetic face on once it is in place.
Here is the finished product….
So here is where you would be so far….
Step 17: Keep adding planks until you get to outlet.
Step 18: Once you get to your outlet, follow these steps:
- Take off outlet face and unscrew from wall.
- MAKE SURE YOUR ELECTRIC BREAKERS ARE TURNED OFF before you start messing with the outlet!!!! Check and double check. If your breaker if not turned off, the only part of the outlet you should ever touch is the outer metal bracket.
- Pull the outlet out of the wall slightly so that you are able to attach the two wiring extensions that are now flowing from the light switches.
- You will put the black wires on the outlet black side and tighten the screws. Then put the white wires on the appropriate white side of the outlet, and tighten the screws.
Step 19: Follow same process that we did for the light switch to cut holes in the plank wood to fit the outlet face.
- Using jig saw and dremel, cut a hole in the plank wood. Make sure to measure the appropriate size and account for wiring coming out of the side of the outlet.
- Once the wires are connected to the sides of the outlet, add black electrical tape ALL over so no hot wires showing.
Step 20: Attach outlet and outlet face to wood plank.
- Make sure to use wood screws when attaching the outlet to the plank wall.
- Then attach the outlet face using the normal screw it came with. M&A kept their white outlet because it is hidden by their bedside table so no one can see it. Otherwise, they probably would have gotten a brown outlet face to match the light switches.
Final Step: Measure the very bottom/last plank row before you attach.
- M&A had to cut the last row of plank slightly in order for it to fit properly above their baseboards.
AND……TA-DAHH!!!!!! Your project is now complete and ready to enjoy!!!!
Here is a detailed list of everything you might need on your next Home Depot/Lowe’s shopping trip :)
Tools Required for Projects w/ No Electrical Details:
- Stud Finder
- Blue painters tape
- Table Saw
- Tape Measure
- Graph paper & Pencil
- Step Stool/Ladder
- Heavy-duty Nail Gun
- Air Compressor
- Drill Bits (Spade Bit in particular to create holes)
Additional Tools for Light Fixtures:
- Jig saw
- Wire Cutters
- Wire stripper
- 1” x 3” x 8’ Pine Wood (External Stud)
- Wood Plank or Pallet choice (M&A used 1” x 6” x 8’ Better Blue Pattern Pine tongue and groove wood flooring)
- 1 ¼” 18 gauge Nails
- 2” Wood Screws
Additional Material for Light Fixtures:
- 2 Light Fixtures
- 2 Light Switches
- Wire Nuts
- Electric Tape
- Electrical wire in white or yellow casing
Good luck if you attempt this project!! And please share with us if you try it! We’d love to see how it turns out!!