How to DIY a Vertical Wood Slat Wall

Are you guys ready for this?! Today we’re going to walk you through how we did our wood slat wall in our new living room space. We are in love with how it turned out so we wanted to share with you how to DIY this baby. 

Gather Tools & Materials 

You can also rent these power tools from your local hardware store if you don’t own or want to invest in buying. 

Plan out Design

Fist, you need to plan out your overall design for where you will place your slat wall. It could be in a living room as an accent wall, behind your headboard, in a cozy nook, down your hallway, the options are endless. Make sure you know the full overall design of whichever space you’re putting this in before you get started on the slat wall. 

As you can tell, if you want to avoid a lot of unnecessary work, doing a lot of the design elements you may be incorporating first, before installing the slat wall, will help avoid additional work, costs, and mistakes. 

Cut Down Strips of Wood

Once you know your design and have gathered your materials, it’s time to get to work! 

Using our table saw, we cut down (4) 4x 8′ sheets of MDF, we cut 1/2″ strips and placed them 3/4″ wide apart on the wall. If you don’t have a table saw, you can also buy this pre-cut, but it does cost more. 

Note: Jamie said if we did this again, he would use real wood. The MDF wood grains are hard to paint, and it absorbs the paint fast, so additional coats of paint were needed. However, it would have cost 4-5x more than the MDF. So we saved a ton by using MDF over real wood.

Paint Strips of Wood/MDF

From those four sheets of 4×8 MDF boards, we got around 250 (ish) slats of wood for our wall. And then it was painting time! 

We created a little DIY paint booth in our shop and sprayed three sides of the boards. We didn’t do all four sides because Jamie knew he would have to nail the boards up, fill the nail holes, and repaint them, so he avoided an unnecessary step. 

We used Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams for our accent wall in their Emerald Urethane Enamel. We painted all of our doors and trim in this color and finish, so we had leftovers on hand; otherwise, you probably wouldn’t necessarily need to invest in the Emerald line of paint. 

Once painted, we popped them up our ladder to let them dry on. Who would have known this would make such a handy drying rack! 


Install Slat Planks

Once all the boards were dry, we got to installing the boards. One by one, Jamie measured the wall, cut down each piece with his miter saw to fit the height of the wall needed, applied liquid nails adhesive, secured to the wall, and nailed into place with his nail gun.

To ensure each slat plank was the same width from each other, Jamie used 3/4″ tile spacers as well as his laser level to ensure each plank was perfectly straight. 


Fill Nail Holes

Once all of the slat plank boards are up, it’s the fun part…time to fill all of those nail holes! One by one using wood filler, fill every single one. See all of those white spots, that’s where Topher has filled in the nail holes. 


Once all of the nail holes are filled with wood filler, it’s time to sand the wall down using an orbital sander – sand before you paint (we didn’t grab a photo of this). We sanded before a coat of paint and after one coat of paint because Jamie could tell the walls weren’t perfectly soft to touch, and it was bothering him. Sanding after your first coat of paint won’t be necessary if you’re walls are looking good! 

Paint Wall

And then it’s painting time! As we mentioned, we used Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams in their Emerald Urethane Enamel. And we rolled and brushed that final fourth side while installed on the wall. You might want a tiny, tiny artist paintbrush as well to get into those tiny grooves in some areas. 

Dance Party

DANCE PARTY!!! YOU DID IT! And that’s a wrap. We’re thinking from start to finish it took Jamie a good 40 hours with the help of 15 hours from Topher, so if you’re doing this project solo plan for a good seven days of hard work. I had to give Jamie a good two weeks before I asked him if he thought it was worth it or not. Those first two weeks were a little rocky as he kept saying, we’re never doing that again! But now that he can kick back and relax and admire his hard work, he loves the look of how it turned out and is glad we went in this direction. So if you’re up for a little challenge and want a unique accent wall, you can do it! 

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