How to Make a Wooden Slat Wall on a Budget (Weekend-Project)

I always wanted to make a wooden slat wall, but with recent wood price hikes I was about to drop this project at first. But hold on, there must be a cheaper version to get the look but for a fraction of the price! And there is, just read along.

1. Rip the Plywood into Slats

For this project I used 1/2″ thick birch plywood ripped into 1″ wide strips by using the table saw. Ripping a 4’x8′ sheet of plywood is nearly impossible by one person, so I definitely recommend handling just 2’x8′ sheets and using another person to guide for straight cuts. After cutting, I used my orbital sander and sandpaper to smooth out the edges.

2. Stain the Slats

At first I used Varathane Dark Walnut to stain the ripped plywood strips. After I stained a couple of strips I figured that the stain would look to dark and too cold on top of a almost black wall. So for the remainder of the strips I used Varathane Early American Stain which is a little lighter and warmer. In the end, I actually love the fact that I used two different stains as it adds more character.

Wooden Slat wall

3. Paint the Backwall

While the slats are drying, I painted the wall in Urban Bronze (SW7048). At first I painted the entire wall, but I didn’t like the look of the window surrounded by the dark color. So I changed the color around the window back to Agreeable Gray (SW7029) and made sure that the transition between the two colors lines up behind the curtain.

4. Attach the Slats

I realized that I would not have enough slats to cover the entire wall when leaving a space of a jenga block (about 3/4″) between the slats. Hence, I started attaching the first slat about 20″ from the left corner by using heavy duty liquid nails and the bradnailer. As some of the slats were not ripped perfectly even, I still used the laser level throughout the installation to make sure the slats are straight.

Stained slats

And here it is, slat after slat, the stunning wooden slat accent wall. The wood just adds the warmth needed in contrast to the dark wall. You never look at the slats from the side where you can notice the plywood. I think using plywood and spending more time on ripping but only a fraction on costs compared to hardwood is absolutely negotiable.

In the end I’m actually happy that I didn’t have enough slats which forced me to center them on the wall, leaving about 20″ of blank wall to the left and right. While this room is currently used as an office, the layout can be easily re-purposed by placing a queen-size bed with two night stands in front of the accent wall. As this is not our forever home, I want to make sure design features accommodate the new owner.

Accent wall

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