Inexpensive Barn Wood Accent Wall

I love the look of barn wood when it is used as accents in a home. The price of barn wood is not something I love. Monte and I were walking through our neighborhood one evening and saw a beautiful stack of barn wood in a neighbors driveway. They were installing a beautiful accent wall in their entry. He let us in to see what he was doing. The wall was stunning. I loved everything about it except the price. Our neighbor said it was costing about $5000 for their accent wall. It really was beautiful but there is no way that I am willing to pay that much for one accent wall.

Three of our sons are married with homes of their own. Our youngest son mostly lives on his own but still has a room here. I was wanting to design his room to fit his personality but also be something I would love. Adding barn wood as an accent wall would fit our home design and his personality perfectly. I needed to come up with a way to add beautiful barn wood and not spend thousands of dollars.

I love wood and I love figuring out painting techniques to get my desired results. Monte and I made a trip to Home Depot to see what we could find. We decided that using cedar fencing would work perfectly.

Buying the Cedar Fencing

Home Depot shopping

The most time consuming part of purchasing the cedar fencing is sorting through the wood and finding straight pieces. Some of the pieces look like ski’s or twist like crazy. If you don’t get straight pieces making and creating the accent wall would be very difficult. The cedar fencing wood was not completely dry but we didn’t worry too much about it. Hang tight to see how this proved to be a problem.

After purchasing the wood we headed home with the load and I got busy creating barn wood out of cedar fencing.

The technique

Each piece needed the top cut off so it as straight. We decided to do that during the installing process. No sense bringing the saw out twice. I set up a station to get busy and gathered my sander and painting supplies. Barn wood is meant to be a little rough but I wanted to give all the pieces a quick sanding to knock off the extreme roughness. I didn’t want to inflict slivers on anyone especially me.

Step 1 Sanding

inexpensive barn wood

My mouse sander is my favorite. It fits in my hand perfectly and is easy for me to manage. I decided to do everything in steps meaning I sanded all the wood first. That took a little time and my hand was vibrating by the time I got done.

Step 2 Whitewashing

creating inexpensive barn wood
inexpensive barnwood

Whitewashing means thinning down the paint with water. I began by adding some paint to my sour cream container then adding water until it was a lot thinner. I use about 60% paint and 40% water but I honestly don’t measure. If I’m doing a small amount I’ll stir it with my paint brush if it’s a larger quantity I will use a painting stir stick. After it’s mixed it is time to get whitewashing.

inexpensive barnwood

The whitewash is pretty thin so it goes a long ways and applies quickly. Every cedar board needed to be whitewashed so I followed this step on each board. Not only does it paint on quickly it also dries fast. By the time I got each of them whitewashed I was able to start sanding.

Step 3 Sanding

creating inexpensive hardwood

The whitewash is the base for each board. I didn’t want the base to be too perfect so I used the sander to rough up the look of the whitewash. It was another chance to smooth the wood a little. It didn’t take a lot of sanding just enough to take away the perfection of the whitewashing.

Step 4 Adding the color

making inexpensive barnwood

I wanted the wood to have different but subtle colors throughout the wall. This step gave me the varying shades or barn wood. The colors I chose to work with were grey, blue and brown. It will look more authentic and I was able to use product I already had. I didn’t know if I wanted the exact amount of each color so I did a few of each to see how it looked on the wall.

inexpensive barnwood
inexpensive barnwood

Barn wood looks weathered so I didn’t want to cover each piece completely. The grey I had on hand is a stain. I used a cheap disposable brush to apply the stain. I dipped it in the stain and randomly painted it on the whitewashed board. Some areas were heavier then others. I want a weathered look so I tried to be very random. It is important to paint in the direction of the wood grain. When the application was finished on one board I took a rag and wiped it in the direction of the wood. It looks best when it is subtle so using a rag to wipe off the excess helps with that.

Wiping off the excess

making inexpensive barnwood

I painted five boards grey then I did the same thing with the blue. Paint a few boards and set them aside. The brown I was using is the Annie Sloan soft dark wax. I have a specific wax bush I use but follow the same technique applying randomly on the wood. Apply the wax lightly then wipe off the excess. After I had five of each boards done I started the next step.

Step 5 Another Sanding

inexpensive barnwood

My sanded got quite the workout for this project. Because everything is done so lightly it doesn’t take long for the paint, stain or wax to dry. I gave everything one more quick sanding. Just to get the rustic weathered look I was after. Some of the raw wood showing through the paint, stain and wax techniques I used.

inexpensive barnwood

The Final Step

The final step is nailing the wood to the wall. Monte took the time to find all the studs in the accent wall and used a level and pencil to draw a line up and down the wall. This made it super easy when it came to installation. We decided to start from the top and work our way down to the bottom. That way if there was a partial board it would be at the bottom and less noticeable. I had Monte get started with the installation while I continued to add the finish to the cedar planks. My only instruction was to stager the colors so they were distributed around the wall. There were a couple of doors to work around which required more cutting and measuring but it still went up fairly smoothly. The installation took longer then the final step of painting so I was able to help Monte when I got all the painting done.

The finished Look

inexpensive barn wood accent wall
inexpensive barnwood accent wall

We are so happy with the way it looks. It is the perfect accent to our son’s room. Remember when I said that the cedar planks not being dry wouldn’t be a problem. They were not super moist but we could tell by lifting them that they were not 100% dry. We didn’t worry too much about it and got busy on this accent wall. Monte always makes things tight when he’s working with wood. He had a hammer on hand and was knocking each board tight against the one above it. Over time we realized the wood shrank. I remember walking into the room and noticing a small gap between the boards. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. It has stopped shrinking now but I can’t believe how big the gaps are.

barnwood accent wall

Here’s a close up of the gaps. I think it adds to the authentic barn look but came as quite a surprise. So here’s the warning, make sure the wood you use isn’t wet at all or you will end up with some shrinkage and gapping.

The cost for this accent wall is only $200 for the wood and some time to give it a rustic weathered feel. That is substantial cheaper then the several thousand it would have cost to purchase barn wood. It was worth the work for me to make and create such a charming wall in our home.