Saturday, January 14, 2012

Barn Wood Wall

Have I told you all that I've been working on designing our offices at Resonate Church over the last few months?  I was waiting to post anything about it until it was TOTALLY done.  But that is slow coming.  And I can't wait any longer to share one of the projects that actually is complete - a beautiful barn wood wall!  I was first inspired by Katie's wall here and Austin's wall here.
Katie's wall (r) - with short pallet planks.  Austin's wall (l) - with long salvaged planks.
These inspiration pics just kept burning inside me, until I couldn't stand it and had to create this somewhere!  Enter our Lead Pastor's office. He wanted it warm, but still similar to the colors and the mid-century-modern style that we are doing in the rest of the office suite.  I thought a barn wood accent wall would be a fun new twist on the mid-century wood paneled offices of the 50's and 60's.  It also perfectly reflects our rural location of Pullman.  So enough talk, here's how I did it.

First I had to find barn wood.  Although I could've asked around at a lot of local farms (I scouted a lot of piles of old barn wood!),  I chickened out and looked around our barn.

Bingo.  I found 5 very old pallets and a few long planks of wood.  (The barn is getting cleaned out so it was perfect timing to re-purpose this old wood!)  They were all varying lengths, widths & thicknesses, and colors - but that's all good!  All the better for my wall.

I quickly took them to our garage, so giddy that this treasure was right under my nose. (Picture me dragging them down our driveway saying "Mine! All mine!") The pallets were so dirty and smelled like hay & manure.  So a good cleaning was in order.  

But first I had to dismantle them. Ugh. Easier said than done!  Rusty nails and screws and old wood, meant that a hammer wouldn't work.  And a drill wouldn't work. As you can see from the picture above, the only way I could take them apart was with skillsaw!  Here was the pile I was left with:

And here's the scrap pile of 2x4s that they were cut from:

Next, I prepped the wood.  I removed all those pesky rusty nails with a hammer and pliers. Then, since the skillsaw was a rather sloppy cut just to get everything dismantled, I trimmed each plank's end with my miter saw for a nice square cut.  Oy, my girly hands were getting tired at this point!

Now I could finally clean the wood & get rid of the lovely manure smell.  I scrubbed the loose dirt off with a dry scrub brush, then sanded everything with a sander & medium grit sandpaper.

This was my favorite part!  After a light sanding, the wood not only got cleaned up but the beautiful mill work patterns began to pop out.  I had to be careful not to over-sand, or I would've lost that distressed look and the different textures of each plank.  But I also couldn't under-sand, or it would've given splinters to anyone who ran their hand over the wall.  And it still would've smelled like manure.  So take note: sand lightly!  Here's a close up:
My precious barn wood was finally ready to go onsite and be installed. Phew!  I brought my miter saw, nail gun, level & tape measure so I could cut-to-fit each piece. I marked lines on the wall where the studs were, so I could nail each piece securely.  Then, starting from the bottom baseboard and going left to right, I began nailing each piece, leveling as I went.
 As you can see on this left side of the wall, the planks are all flush against the corner.

On the right side, I left it open until I was done.  Then I measured and cut each piece to fit.

I also left odd spaces around outlets and conduits for last.  Then I cut small scrap pieces to fit in these gaps.

Once the wood was installed, I addressed the small spaces between the planks.  Notice in the above pictures, you can still see some white peeking out from in between the boards?  As mentioned before, Katie's barn wood had thin plywood veneer behind the planks.  Instead I used wood-colored caulk and smoothed it in any gaps where I could still see the white wall.  Caulk comes in tons of colors these days, so I bought tan and almond to see which one matched my wood best.  I ended up using tan colored Dap caulk. It worked really well, and saved me the time & cost of installing plywood.
After this big weekend project, here's the final product that greeted the staff on Monday morning:

I'm so happy with it!  I love the combination of short and long planks of barn wood.  I love the different colors, textures and sizes.  Its greyed and weathered, yet warm enough that it looks great with the rusty orange wall and warm wood bookshelves that are on the adjacent walls.  Its also doubles as a tack board (but is much cooler than your basic office cork board!) - perfect for an office!

Stay tuned for more of my design projects around the Resonate Church offices!


  1. This is really great, Star! I have been thinking about doing the same thing, but it hasn't happened yet. I haven't used my husbands mitre saw yet either. A little intimidating for me at first. Good job, it looks amazing!

  2. Thanks Robyn! I totally understand being intimidated about power tools - I still can be. But if this helps, I think the miter saw is my favorite tool now. I'm better friends with it than my sewing machine (which still scares me a little). BTW I love your blog!

  3. How long did the the entire process take?

    1. It took a few hours to prep the wood (cutting apart, cleaning, sanding) and a weekend to install in the office and finish (final sanding, cleaning & caulk). If you were determined, you could complete the process in one weekend (two full days) - especially if this was in your home and all your tools, etc are already on site.