Learn how to create an easy DIY wood accent wall with a modern minimal design using affordable materials and just a few tools in one weekend.
If you saw my plans for Noah’s room remodel, you may have noticed the stunning accent wall inspo on my mood board. I love a wood accent wall, but I also love a modern minimal design style, and a lot of the accent walls I’ve seen are a little too over the top for me.
So when I saw that inspo photo, I knew it was perfect for Noah’s room. I bought a miter saw specifically for this project, and honestly, I didn’t even have to use it. Home Depot made all the cuts for me, so this turned out to be even easier than I thought. This is such a great beginner DIY project that anyone can do, and I broke down every single step for you so you can copy it to the tee. Here’s the full tutorial!
Supplies You Need:
- 1×3 MDF boards, cut to size
- Brad nailer (I love this one from Hart)
- 1 1/4 inch brad nails
- Liquid Nails (optional)
- Level (or laser level if you’re fancy!)
- Measuring tape
- Paintable caulk (optional)
- Paint and painting supplies
Clean And Paint Wall
To start, clean the wall you plan on accenting with the MDF boards and paint the desired color. It’s way easier to go ahead and paint it first rather than after the boards are up, because they are pretty close together.
Allow the paint to cure for at least a day before installing the boards, so make sure you plan ahead.
PS: I used Forest Edge by Behr for this wall in Eggshell finish.
Plan Your Wall Layout
This part takes a little creativity and a lot of math. I wanted my top boards to overlap for one foot right over Noah’s headboard, so I decided to make the top boards 4 feet long and the bottom boards 5 feet long. This gave me that one foot overlap on a standard 8 foot ceiling.
Then I used graph paper to scale to decide how many boards I needed and how far apart they should be spaced. I ended up going with a two-inch spacing between the boards where they overlap.
I also took into account where the outlets were, and adjusted the placement of the boards to accommodate for them so I wouldn’t have to cut any chunks out of them. It looks a lot cleaner when all boards are solid and outlets aren’t jutting into one.
Cut And Paint Boards
Lucky for me, the man in the wood cutting department at my local Home Depot is AMAZING and cut every single board for me to the four and five foot dimensions I needed. If you can get your store to cut them for you, I highly recommend doing that because it saves you a lot of time and mess. But you can definitely cut them at home with a table saw, miter saw, or circular saw.
Once all your boards are cut to size, give them one coat of paint. The second coat will go on after you install them, so no need to make them look perfect just yet.
Install The Bottom Boards First
I lined up all my bottom boards leaning against the wall to adjust the placement to go around the outlets. Using a tape measure, I spaced them seven inches apart. (Three inches for the top board and two inches on both sides for spacing)
Once all the boards were in laid out where I wanted them, I was ready to start attaching them to the wall.
How To Attach MDF Boards To A Wall
Line up your board in place at the bottom of the wall using a level. Using a brad nailer, shoot one nail through the top third of the board, then the bottom third. That’s enough to keep it in place so you don’t have to hold it anymore. Then you can go back through and nail in the gaps in the top, bottom, and middle.
You can use Liquid Nails on the back of the MDF boards if you’d like to give it extra stability, but if you ever decide to remove the boards you’ll likely rip off the drywall. For that reason, I didn’t use Liquid Nails. I only used brad nails and it held up just fine.
PS: I LOVE the brad nailer from HART because it doesn’t need an air compressor. It’s completely cordless and has its own built-in air pressure. Plus, it runs on battery, so it’s safer when you’re going up and down a ladder.
Next Install The Top Boards
Once all your bottom boards are installed, now you can pop on your top ones. Same concept, start by lining them up in place, mark their spots, and nail them up one by one in between two bottom boards.
It helps to have a helper with this, so they can hand the board up to you on the ladder and help hold it in place while you put in the first two nails.
With the bottom boards, they were probably resting on the baseboard or floor, but with the top ones, you’re having to hold them up while you nail. A buddy is a must for this step.
Caulk Seams And Apply Second Coat Of Paint
Once all your boards are up on the wall, you can caulk all the seams if you’d like. I chose not to do this, because the boards sat very flush with my wall. I knew the paint would create a bit of a seal around the seams, too. But feel free to caulk away if you want to.
Apply wood filler in all the nail holes (optional also) and paint a second coat on each board, remembering to paint all visible edges, too. Don’t forget about the top and bottom edges of the boards. They’re easy to overlook but can be seen if you’re sitting or laying down below them.
The Finished Wood Accent Wall
Here it is! My finished wood accent wall in Noah’s room is all done, and I am just crazy about it!
It’s a little different from the original inspiration photo, because I liked the look of chunkier MDF boards versus the skinnier ones in the picture. It looks like they may have used 1x2s. Any size would work, but I wouldn’t suggest anything wider than a 4″ board.
This is such an easy project for beginners, especially if Home Depot will cut all the boards for you, because there are no mitered edges or difficult measurements. It’s all just straight boards lined up on a wall. It sounds so simple, but makes a huge impact.
And if you’ve never used a brad nailer, don’t be intimidated. Truth time…I had never used one either! This was my very first time, and it’s the easiest tool I’ve ever used in my life. Even easier than a drill. I promise.
Love That Wood Paneled Ceiling?
I installed that, too! We wanted to cover the popcorn ceiling without taking all the time and effort to scrape it, so we installed these cedar planks right over the popcorn. Here’s the tutorial for how we did it, along with some tips for pulling it off easily.
Want More DIY Projects?
I’m in the midst of remodeling every room of our 1970s house and I’m sharing it all right here on the blog. We just finished our bedroom and dining room, and we’re in the middle of remodeling our fireplace and living room now. Next up is a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, kitchen, and office. Whew, I’m getting tired just thinking about it!
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