How to Add a Rustic-Meets-Mod Wood Accent Wall

Give your bathroom a modern update with a trendy wood-clad wall. For an added custom touch, a playful graphic welcomes you to your daily shower.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Materials Needed (covers 8 feet)

(2) 4’ x 8’ x 1/2” birch or oak plywood (may vary depending on size of wall)
(8) 1”x 2”x 8’ trim boards
(1) 1”x 4”x 8’ trim boards
finishing nails
wood putty
drywall knife
nail set
wood glue
printer and paper
removable shelf paper
craft knife
paint brush
painter's tape
sandpaper and steel wool

Prep Wall to Be Covered

Begin by removing the existing drywall from the area to be covered (Image 1). Cut the plywood into three 16" strips that are 8' long. Note: most home improvement stores will tackle this step for you and save you lots of time and trouble. Determine the length of your wall and cut the strips to size. If wrapping the strips around a corner, one edge will need to be cut with a 45-degree mitre cut (Image 2).

Attach Boards

Attach the strips to the wall starting at the floor and working your way up to the ceiling. Use finishing nails to secure the strips to the studs near the top and bottom of the strips so the nail heads will be covered by the strips of trim later (Image 1). Fill any small gaps at the corners with wood putty and a drywall knife (Image 2). Leave enough extra putty to be sanded away for a smooth finish.

Add Trim

Attach a piece of 1x2 trim vertically to both ends of the plywood strips to frame it. Measure the distance between the side trim to determine the length of the horizontal trim strips. Cut the trim strips to fit. If wrapping around a corner, cut one end with a 45-degree mitre cut (Image 1). Attach trim strips over the seams between plywood strips using finishing nails after applying a bead of wood glue to the back of each. Use a level for accuracy (Image 2). Add 1x4 trim boards to the bottom to serve as a baseboard for the project. Sink nail heads slightly with a nail set. Fill any small gaps and the nail head hole with wood putty (Image 3).  

Add Phrase

Print the word or phrase of your choosing on paper and then tape to removable, adhesive shelf paper. Cut out the word with a craft knife (Image 1). Apply the shelf paper template where you want the word or phrase to go on the wall. Use wood glue to paint the inside of the template (Image 2). The wood glue will prevent the stain from penetrating the plywood causing the phrase to be lighter. Allow the glue to dry completely before proceeding.

Stain Wood

Remove the template. Sand the entire project except the word or phrase. Mask off the walls, ceiling and floor around the project with painter's tape. Add stain in as many coats as necessary to obtain desired color, sanding lightly between each coat with fine-grit sandpaper (Image 1). Protect the stained finish by varnishing the entire project including the word or phrase (Image 2). Add additional coats as desired, sanding lightly with very fine-grit sandpaper between coats. Remove painter's tape and admire your new rustic-meets-modern accent wall (Image 3).  

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