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Living with builders’ finish, plain magnolia walls – not sure what to do with them? Here’s a way to give your room the wow factor with some cheap planks of wood, paint and a little fun!!
Plain walls builders finish magnolia
Plain walls builders finish magnolia

Take some cheap, thin planks of wood, give them a lick of paint and literally nail them to the wall.
This makeover is simple yet effective and you don’t have to spend weeks getting the look perfect, the more distressed and irregular the better the look!!

We sourced our timber from a merchant who sold “off the shelf” pre-cut into 10mm thick by 100mm wide by 1.8m long rough sawn softwood planks, just plain old cheap timber!

Untreated rough sawn timber planks 1800mm by 100mm by 10mm
Untreated rough sawn timber planks 1800mm by 100mm by 10mm

The end result is really up to you, depends on the depth of colour or amount of distress you prefer. We started by painting on a coat of quick dry water based white emulsion and letting it dry for a couple of hours. We then followed with a coat of garden timber paint in slate grey, although any kind of paint will do. Then after a couple more hours another coat of white and 2 more hours drying. Now the fun begins – by gently sanding the wood, marks and knotts start appearing, these can be enhanced with a little extra sanding around them, cracks look good especially if you sand back to the wood in some places, but that’s the whole idea don’t worry about the technique just sand away and the finish will reveal itself like magic before your eyes.

Finished distressed look wooden wall plank

Distressed wood effect on real planks.
Distressed wood effect on real planks.

When you have painted and sanded enough planks to cover the walls that you have picked to apply the finish to then it’s time to start cutting them up and applying them. Start at the top of the wall and work you way down cutting the planks into irregular lengths and fixing them to the wall. We used an inexpensive nail gun that can be purchased for around £30. The nails we chose were 18ga 25mm brad nails. Be careful if nailing your planks to the wall when driving the nails close to services such as electric, gas and water. We chose the 25mm long nails, allowing 10mm for the planks and 15mm for the drywall, as this meant they would not protrude beyond the drywall and interfere with pipes or wires being run through the wall. Use a digital wall detector if you have any doubt where your services are.

Applying planks to the wall with nailgun
Applying planks to the wall with a nailgun

The colour combinations are endless using single or mutli colours, we used white as a top to give the slate a smokey look but any colour can be used ie., terracotta on top with a grey underneath to give an autumn effect and depending on the size of wall you are doing, you may have odd tins of paint to use thereby cutting the cost even further, the paint doesn’t have to be expensive, just run of the mill emulsion. The best part is you can experiment until you get the look you want, just paint over and start again! You can even try distressing the wood further by hammering it or hitting it with nails and even painting over areas with vaseline before painting to stop the paint being absorbed in certain areas. We applied a clear stain as a final topcoat to seal the surface but this is completely optional.

Distressed wooden planks for walls.
Distressed wooden planks for walls.

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