Whitewashed Plywood Plank Wall: Finally Starting the Fun Parts!

We’re finishing a room in our basement as part of a Fall In Love room makeover collaboration with a bunch of other fabulous bloggers. Read more about it and find links to all the other bloggers here.

whitewashed plank wall

At least Dave thought this part was fun. I guess I found the whitewashing part that I did pleasant enough, but mostly I think it’s fun to have a room with four walls in the basement, one of which is even nice to look at.

So when we started this room, there was a wall framed out here (we don’t know why. I guess sometime or other someone thought they might finish this room). But we felt that it would benefit from an actual wall:


Otherwise, look at all that crap you can see on the other side! Also, cats.

We didn’t do a lot of research about making a plank wall beforehand. I said, “we should do a plank wall!” and Dave was all, “yeah!” and then we figured we’d just go to Lowes and buy some boards and put them on those studs up there. We got all the way to the part where we went to Lowes and were standing there, looking at all the boards. And the prices.

We had decided on wider boards and on whitewashing over staining or opaque paint. We wanted a more modern look in here, but we also liked the idea of some wood grain showing through. So we priced out 1 by 10s, and figured that it would cost it around $300 to do the whole wall.

That seemed like kind of lot.

“Maybe we should look at drywall, just to see what the price difference would be,” I said.

We looked at the drywall. It was cheap. Really cheap.

But we didn’t WANT to drywall.

Later on, Dave would report, “I was really nervous when we were walking over to the drywall. I REALLY didn’t want it to be so much cheaper than wood.”

Then I came up with the absolutely brilliant idea of buying sheets of plywood and having them ripped into planks. It turns out that, had we bothered to research plank walls at all, we would have come across this idea already in any number of plank wall tutorials. Do your homework, kids!

Okay, so anyway, that’s what we did, and, even after the fee for cutting it, it was under $100 for the whole wall. Still more than drywall (probably. We didn’t price out all the extra stuff we would have needed to buy to do drywall), but close enough to justify not drywalling. Which is the most important thing. I remember how much Dan hated hanging drywall on Roseanne. He couldn’t wait to stop doing that and open that motorcycle shop.

Here is our plywood, cut into planks:

plywood cut into planks

We bought three 4×8 foot sheets (I’m trying to remember how thick it was….I want to say like 1/2 inch? I’ve seen other people save money by buying it thinner, which would be fine going over an existing wall). It’s supposed to be 25 cents/ cut after the first two, but the guy who cuts ours didn’t want to do the math and just told the cashier to charge us $2. We had each sheet cut into six planks, so it should have been a whopping $3.25, I think.

Here’s Dave cutting it to the right length (his miter saw wouldn’t go through the whole width, so he had to turn it to do the other side):

plankwall05s plankwall06s

He started out trying to cut it all with his saw on the floor, because he didn’t feel like moving his whole table set up from the garage, but then he realized that was really bad for his back:


And here is it going up on the wall:

plank wall part way done

Dave screwed these in instead of nailing them, btw, because he hates nailing things. Mysteriously, he bought a nail gun when we were doing the doors, but so far has decided it’s too much trouble to drag it out for either the doors or this wall. I think he might need to return the nail gun. Most of the tutorials I (eventually, like after we started doing this) read suggested using a nickel or a penny to leave a gap between the planks. I assume this is so that they’ll still look like individual planks, even after you paint them. But, of course, we weren’t adding this to an existing wall; this IS our wall, so we cared more about not having a bunch of gaps with light streaming through. So we just got them as close together as we could and checked periodically to make sure everything was staying level.

Okay, so there was an inexplicably big gap in the framing on one side of the door, and Dave decided to Kreg Jig an extra board in there so there would be enough studs to screw the planks to.

plankwall07s plankwall08s

For the most part he just had to cut the planks to the right length and screw them to the studs, but he needed to rip the last couple around the door.

Back when I was at the Haven conference, I filled out a form to try out Kreg Jig’s new project kit (affiliate link). They sent it out to me awhile back, and the Kreg Rip Cut that’s included in the kit came in very handy for this project. One of the Kreg Jig reps showed me how this worked at Haven, and I was very eager to (have Dave) try it out. “Ah! So it’s like a table saw but without cutting your arm off?!” I remember exclaiming. Basically, it’s a guide that you attach to your circular saw to make it easy to rip boards nice and straight, as if you had a table saw. Which we don’t. They’re expensive, and I worry Dave would cut his arm off with one. So I think the Rip Cut will probably serve us well in place of a table saw for the foreseeable future. I didn’t even realize Dave was going to break it out and use it for the plank wall, and we have another project in mind where we’ll use it more, so I’ll talk more about it then. And take pictures of it and all that. Anyway, we really like it so far, and it saved a ton of time over trying to get an even cut with the skil saw without it.


So, with the help of the Rip Cut, Dave got the final planks in place around the door, and then all that was left to do was the whitewashing. The thing I like about whitewashing is that if you mess it up and it looks all funny, you can always just paint plain white over it and pretend it never happened.

But it was fine!

I mixed half white paint and half water (it’s a semi gloss white from Clark and Kensington that we bought for the still unpainted dining room chairs and are slowly going through for other projects). I wound up needing two coats of it to get the transparent/opaque balance I was looking for.

And now we have a wall! Four walls, even! The trim and door won’t be staying that putty primer gray color, by the way. A good blogger would wait until this wall was REALLY finished to show it off, but I’ll just come back and add the better pictures when I have them instead. Anyway, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It’s starting to look like a ROOM in here! Except for the ceiling. Remember: don’t look up!

plankwall01s plankwall10s

DIY Whitewashed Plank Wall from plywood.....easy and inexpensive project!

Thanks to Kreg Jig for sending out the project kit for us to try out. I was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own.


Linking with:

Thrifty Decor Chick November Before and After


Whitewashed Plywood Plank Wall: Finally Starting the Fun Parts! — 21 Comments

  1. It’s so pretty! I really like the white wash look. A lot.

    Don’t you hate the lumber aisle? I always ask Nate before we go in “You know what we need, right?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” And then we get in there and stare at the boards for 30 minutes. *forehead slap*

    • Thanks, Katja! The gray is actually just the primer the door came with….I have big plans for the color on the door and trim 🙂

  2. I love how the whitewashing turned out! Four walls AND a door? You are on the homestretch!
    Also, just tell everyone the ceiling is “industrial” – that word covers a multitude of “would-normally-be-covered-by-drywall” sins 😉

  3. Homework is for the birds!! Plus think of how awesome you felt when you thought it was your idea! Come on that’s worth something!! The wall looks great. It’s coming together!

  4. I found this while searching for planked ceilings. I want to cover the exposed floor joists overhead in our basement. There is a lot to do and I figured I could buy 2-3 sheets of plywood with each paycheck, cut them into planks, and over time nail them on place to create a ceiling.

    • great idea! adding that to my list of “when we finally get around to finishing the ceiling” potential plans 🙂

  5. If you want a tongue-and-groove look but without an actual gap, a trim router with a 45, 60 or 90 degree bit set 3-5mm deep gives a great shadow line between boards while keeping weather/light-tight.

    Great tutorial. Thanks

Like all human bloggers, I love comments :)