If you’re looking to spruce up the exterior of your home or even the interior, have you considered making a wood slat wall to create a point of interest where there is none? You may be asking yourself, what is a slat wall? Read on to find out.
After posting about getting the exterior of my house painted in the Glidden paint color Khaki Bronze, I left you with what else I had planned to do to the front of my house with this Photoshopped image.
We had thought about removing the brick steps and having new ones made, but it was too costly. It will be a future update.
House Exterior Before Adding a Slat Wall
One of the projects that we could do was to add interest to the flat front exterior of the house without having to spend a lot of time or money doing a major renovation.
I decided to add a slat wall on the brick wall between the window and the front entry.
Since the front of my house is traditional with a modern vibe, I decided to go with it. It actually was the best and the most budget friendly way to give the front of the house some curb appeal.
I had every intention to start this wood accent wall right after the house was painted, but then it got hot outside… very hot. Too hot to work outside.
Then we traveled a lot and before we knew it, summer was over and we hadn’t gotten any of the front exterior makeover projects completed.
With the arrival of fall, the temps and humidity have gone down and we got back to work. I am happy to be able to report that the wood slat wall is now checked done on our to-do list.
I even added 3 hydrangeas and small mounding Japanese holly along the front beds where we removed the overgrown shrubs.
The horizontal wood slat/accent wall stained in the same color as the front doors and garage door adds not only a new focal point to the front of the house, but more importantly, it adds balance that was needed to increase the curb appeal.
First off, for anyone who isn’t quite sure what a slat wall is.
What is a Wood Slat Wall?
A wood slat wall is a feature or accent wall made using wood boards that are spaced equally apart on a wall. It can be created to go vertically or horizontally. A slat wall can also be made using metal slats which are commonly sold to create storage for garage walls.
It can be made for many different functions – to use as a privacy screen, a garden wall for vines to grow, or simply to add a modern architectural and decorative feature such as I did.
Creating the feature wall of horizontally placed boards was not hard or expensive once we got our act together. It can be completed in a day after you complete the initial staining and painting.
I wasn’t exactly sure how to build the wood slat wall as the tutorials I was finding were for garden slat walls or privacy screens. I picked up a few tips from this post that helped me to get the look I was envisioning.
This is one thing I like about DIY projects. You can design and create projects of any kind in your own style.
Once the project is completed, it is a nice feeling of accomplishment that you designed and made something from vision to completion on your own.
How to Make a Wood Slat Wall on an Exterior Brick Wall
- Wood boards – I used cedar, but you can also use treated pine. I used 1″ x 3-1/2″ wide boards, but you can use any width for your design. You will need boards to place horizontally, but will also need 2 or 3 boards to place vertically that will be attached to the brick wall. These may be a longer or shorter measurement depending on your design. Once these boards are attached to the wall, the horizontal boards will be screwed into them.
- Wood stain – I used Behr Semi-Transparent Waterproof Stain & Sealer in the color Chestnut
- 3″ wide bristle staining brush
- Wood screws – 8 x 1-1/2″ (choose a color to go with your exterior as they come in black, rust, white, silver and gold)
- Concrete flat-head screws/anchors – 3/16″ x 1-3/4″
- Wood and concrete drill bits the same size as your screws
- Countersink drill bit for the wood screws
- Bubble level
- Power saw
- Power screw driver
- Sander and 220 grit sandpaper
- Work table or saw horses
- Measuring tape
- Painter’s tape
- One piece of scrap wood board to use as a 1″spacer as you build the wall
- Wood jig to help drill screw holes in both ends of each wood board in a uniform way
- Exterior Liquid Nails
Time needed: 3 days
Hanging the wood boards on the wall is a two person job so make sure you have a second set of hands around to help you when it comes time to actually attach the boards to the wall.
- Measure wall
Determine how long you want your slat wall to be and how high. Then figure out what width you want your boards. Mine are 3-1/2″ wide.
Do the math to figure how many boards you will need if you put a 1″ space between each and how long the wall will be.
- Find center point on wall.
Use painter’s tape to mark center.
- Make a wood jig.
To make the screw holes uniform on the ends of every board, make a jig with scrap wood, screws or Liquid Nails that will fit on the end of your boards.
Once the jig is made, find the center on the top piece of wood and drill two holes as shown in the photo below.
We made the holes so they would be 1″ from the end on each board.
- Sand Each Board Lightly Before Staining
This sanding step will remove the factory milled finish on your boards. If you leave this on, the wood stain will not penetrate the wood as well.
- Pre-drill screw holes on the ends of each board.
Use your jig to mark where each screw will go on the ends of each board.
Once marked, remove the jig and then use a countersinking drill bit into each hole.
When it is time to screw the top boards into the support boards, the screw heads will be lower than the wood’s surface.
Doing this will make the slat wall look professionally done.
- Pre-drilled holes should look like this.
When the boards are lined up, the holes should also be in line with each other.
- Stain boards
Once boards are cut to length, stain each one with wood stain to achieve the desired color. I stained both sides so all the wood, even in in the back is sealed with the protective stain and finish.
I set up two folding tables to make the staining process go faster. I also used two foam blocks to keep the board I was staining off the table.
Let dry overnight.
- Install vertical mounting boards on brick wall.
Use painter’s tape to mark center of the wall and where the boards will end on each side of that center mark.
Hold up one board and place vertically on wall. Use a bubble level to make sure it is straight.
Use a concrete screw and power screw driver to attach the boards both at the top, middle and bottom. This was the hardest part of the job. It takes some muscle to drill the holes into the brick.
Note: If you can, figure out where the horizontal boards will be placed on the wall so you can drill the screws into the wall where they will be hidden when a horizontally placed board goes on top.
- Add Two or More Vertical Boards
We added 3 vertical boards, one in the center since our horizontal boards were long. We didn’t want them to warp over time, so we attached the back center of each horizontal board with Liquid Nails as we didn’t want to see screws in the center section.
To make it easy to know where the center of each horizontal board was, I centered a piece of painter’s tape on one board to use a guide.
As we were about to attach one board to the wall, I would first line it up on my work area with the taped board and then apply a dab of Liquid Nails on the back. Then I would carry the board over to the wall to be installed.
- Begin attaching horizontally placed boards.
Starting at the top, place first horizontal board right up against the roof line. Use a bubble level to make sure it is perfectly level.
Countersink wood screws into the pre-drilled holes on the ends to attach the board to the two outer vertical boards.
Have your helper hold up a long section of a scrap piece of wood that is 1″ thick and place it against the edge of the first board.
This is your spacer and will be used to evenly space each board as you work your way down the wall.
- Cut boards to fit around objects on the wall
We had a water spigot low on the wall and cut and fit the horizontal boards as needed around it so it would not to block access to it.
- Keep adding horizontal boards.
Once you get towards the bottom of the wall, add boards as far down as you can go as long as you can keep them spaced evenly. If not, don’t add any more boards.
Working from the top down helps to keep the most visible section of the wall perfectly spaced. If the boards don’t fill the bottom section, you won’t see it as easily as you would if there was an uneven gap on the top of the slat wall.
How to Attach a Wood Slat Wall to a Brick or Concrete Wall?
This was the hardest part of the entire project. To attach the vertical wood boards or slats to the brick, you need to use a concrete drill bit and concrete screws or anchors. Both are sold at the home improvement store.
This is what they look like.
I found them in blue and also in white. Since they will be counter-sinked into each board that will then be covered by a horizontal board it doesn’t matter what color they are. Having a power screwdriver will make it much easier to drill these into brick or concrete.
TIP: Buy extra drill bits. They dull very fast.
Adding House Address Numbers to the Slat Wall
UPDATE: To finish the budget-friendly front exterior makeover, I added modern house address numbers and this modern style planter that I plan to place on the far side of the garage door.
You can read how I attached these numbers in this post: Modern House Address Numbers.
I also added a Corten Steel planter that has taken on a rusted aged look over time.
It looks great with the new house paint color, brick and the painted and stained wood doors and now the slat wall. All of these elements help to bring more interest and color balance to the front exterior.
Future Exterior Projects: I am not sure if we will get them done soon, but I also plan to add two modern wood benches to the porch area. I have instructions on how to make these, but I want to keep searching some more to see if I can find affordable ones with the right dimensions that are already made. :-) Less work for me to do.