Reclaimed Barn Siding Wall Application: Do It Yourself or Don't?

Thinking about installing a reclaimed barn wood accent wall in your home? Here's a look at what the project entails to help you decide if you should try it yourself or hire a professional.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Rustic, Refined Focal Point

To add texture and architectural interest to this generously sized Atlanta great room, its tiny, contractor-grade fireplace surround was demolished, then replaced with a floor-to-ceiling reclaimed barn siding wall application. Since the wall also houses a flat-panel TV and the control for a fireplace ventilation fan, the installation of the reclaimed siding was left to a skilled professional.

Select the Planks

Plank selection is one of the most important factors for an interior reclaimed barn siding installation. Depending on the size of the barn and how its exterior was finished, you're certain to come across a wide range of finish options. Planks with random areas covered with faded paint can add color and contrast to an interior space; however, the faded color will also limit the range of palettes that can be used in the room. For versatility, choose weathered planks void of paint.

Choosing Coordinating Paint Colors

Most interior designers prefer barn siding with gray, sun-faded coloring since gray is considered a new neutral and works well with every color in the spectrum. To create a color scheme that works effortlessly with accent walls covered in grayed reclaimed barn siding, choose colors with gray undertones.

Remove Trim

Before reclaimed barn siding can be cut and installed on interior walls, decorative trim will need to be removed. This is relatively simple to do, as it only calls for a mini crow bar and a steady hand. By removing baseboards or crown molding in a do-it-yourself manner, homeowners can cut down on reclaimed barn siding installation costs.

Paint the Wall

Homeowners with basic do-it-yourself skills should consider tackling the removal of outlet covers and switch plates, as well as painting the walls. Since rustic barn siding is imperfect and none of the planks are exactly the same, there will be irregular gaps between each plank. To help mask these gaps, painting the wall behind the planks black will cause them to recede visually.

Create a Clean Edge

While the tops and bottoms of each reclaimed plank will remain irregular once installed, the ends need to be uniform, clean and crisp for a level installation. To create a straight line along the edges, a chop saw or table saw is required. Since saws require a great deal of skill and safety precautions, all cutting is best left to the professionals.

Cut Boards to Size

For a staggered look, scraps cut from each plank are used to randomly fill the wall. To keep the look more seamless and balanced, most contractors prefer to use the shorter boards along the edges of the walls, keeping longer spans of wood in the center.

Notch Out for the Mantel

For a seamless look, it's best to envelop the mantel with barn siding rather than installing it superficially. To do this, the planks that sit above and below the mantel should be cut to size so that the mantel appears recessed into them. A measuring tape is needed to determine the exact height and length of the mantel, and then those measurements are used to make the appropriate cuts.

Ensure a Level Fit

Once the ends of the planks are given clean cuts, the next step is to focus on plank placement. It's best to start with the plank that will sit just below the mantel to create even spacing from the floor to the ceiling and around the mantel itself. Once the proper height is determined, a level is needed to ensure a straight fit.

Attach the Siding

Most contractors prefer to use nail guns for fastening reclaimed barn siding to interior walls rather than screws. Due to the rough nature of the wood, there's usually plenty of rustic surface to help mask the nails, resulting in a seamless look. Homeowners who want to add an additional layer of industrial style to their barn siding wall may consider stainless steel screws rather than basic wood or metal screws.

Mark Outlet Notches

For exact outlet or switch placement, a plank will need to be measured, marked and then notched out before being installed on the wall. This is done by using a measuring tape to determine the exact placement of the outlet or switch, then marking the planks with colored chalk or a carpenter's pencil. To ensure a perfectly straight line, it's best to keep a speed square or a straight edge handy.

Create Holes for Outlet Notches

Before a jigsaw can be used to create a notch for accommodating electrical outlets and switch plates, a pilot hole must be drilled into the plank. To do this, a paddle bit is added to a drill, allowing a space for the jigsaw to be inserted to cut a rectangular box.

Add Outlet Box

For exact placement, installing planks with notches for outlets or switches requires a great deal of skill. Since this installation was left to a professional, the fitting of the outlet into the plank was completed quickly and without any waste. Homeowners attempting to outfit planks with notches themselves should know that if the placement is even slightly off, it's likely the entire plank may become waste.

Cut and Install Bottom Piece

The second-to-last planks to be installed are the bottom planks. To ensure a seamless installation, any nearby features such as fireplace hearths or stairs must be measured so that planks can be marked, then cut to size to fit around them.

Cut and Install Top Piece

To finish the project, top planks or "crowns" are added along the tops of the walls, creating a clean line just below the ceiling.