DIY Slat Wall | Easy Affordable Feature Wall

As you all probably know, I love a good feature wall! I’ve done many different kinds and have experimented with adding wood elements in different patterns and designs to more than one wall in my home. However, I’ve never done a DIY slat wall before, and it’s been on my list of things to try for a long time.

Let’s get started on this DIY slat wall!  

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The idea for a slat wall came to me at a perfect time, because I have this little door leading into my newly created cat closet that I wanted to hide, or at least draw attention away from. I decided a slat wall would be the perfect way to make the door blend into the wall. This is feature wall is also pretty affordable!

Materials & Tools you will need to Build a DIY Slat Wall:

What Type of Wood to Use for a Feature Wall

I chose select pine boards, which are definitely the pricier option for this project. These boards are finish boards and are called select because they are meant for interior trim and require minimal sanding. They are the prettiest and most convenient option. 

If I were going to do this on a larger wall, I would definitely look into a cheaper option. With a little determination and a sander, you can make lower grade wood look just as beautiful. So, don’t despair if select pine is out of your budget!

Other wood options for this project would be:

  • Common boards: These boards are about a third the price of the select pine boards, but they require a lot more work. It will be harder to find boards that are straight, so if you choose this option make sure you test every single one before you buy it.  They will also require A LOT of sanding. These boards are very rough and will require hours of sanding them smooth to prep them before you can begin.

How to Pick Straight Boards

To make sure you buy straight boards, pull them out one by one. Place one end of the board on the floor and hold the other end. Then look down the board, and you will be able to see if it is straight or crooked. Make sure to turn the board and look at all four sides when you do this.

  • 4’x8’ plywood sheets: These are also much more budget-friendly than the select pine boards, but will also require much more work to get them prepared. You will need to have a table saw or circular saw to rip down your sheets to create your boards. Some stores will do this for a small fee! They will also require a lot of sanding to get a smooth enough finish. A big plus for this option is that you can more easily choose the width of your slats, which can help with planning. 

How to Calculate Materials for a DIY Slat Wall

To figure out how much wood you will need, you first need to decide what size boards you are going to use and how much space you want in between each slat. 

I used 1×2 boards (which are actually 1.5” wide, not 2”), and decided to leave a ¾” space between each slat. To make sure everything was even the whole way across, I needed to take the full measurement of my wall and factor in my board and space measurements.

Depending on the space you decide to leave between boards, you will need to find an appropriately sized spacer. One of my boards turned on its side gave me a ¾” space between each slat, which worked out perfectly.


Wall length / (board width + space width) = number of boards

The longest select pine boards available are 8ft. My ceilings are 9ft, so each slat required one board, plus an extra foot. Also, this slat wall covers a door and door frame, so I had a lot more cuts and measuring to account for than I would have if it was just a plain wall. Make sure you consider all the variables for your individual project! I got my boards cut to size and then got to work on the next step. 

How to Prepare & Stain Pine Wood for a DIY Accent Wall

Before I stain wood for any of my projects, I always apply wood conditioner. Wood conditioner ensures that your stain will go on evenly and smoothly. This will allow an even finish and prevent your boards from looking blotchy.

I am using Minwax water based stain for this project. Water based stains are safer and allow you to stain inside your house, but also cost a bit more than oil based stains. I think this extra cost is worth it. You get these stains tinted at the store, much like paint. 

The stain I chose was actually two colors mixed together: Classic Gray and Ipswich Pine. I put equal parts of each color into a cup and mixed them before applying them to my boards.

I applied the stain to the front and both sides of my boards, but not the back. If you are doing a regular wall, the ends also wouldn’t need to be stained, since they will be touching the ceiling and floor.  I stained one end of the boards that were on my new door, because the tops are visible when the door gets opened.

Step By Step Instructions To Build A DIY Slat Feature Wall 

Now that you know how to choose your wood, calculate how much you need, and prepare it for your project, let’s actually get this wall done!

Paint the Wall

While you give the stain on your boards time to cure, paint the wall that will show behind them. I chose to go with black for a striking contrast with the wood stain, but you can choose any paint color you would like for this. Make sure you paint every part of the background walls where the slats won’t cover. (I made this mistake and had to go back and fix it. Don’t be like me.) 

Attach Your Stained Slats to the Wall

Once the paint and stain is completely dry (and I mean DRY), you can start attaching your wood slats to the wall. 

I used my nail gun to attach the boards while I held them in place. Then, I nailed the first one in the right place according to my formula, pushed my spacer board up against it, and then my new board up against that. I then pushed my level against the other side of my new board to make sure it was straight all the way up. Continue until your wall is done and you are completely sick of the whole thing! 

Fill the holes with wood filler

After all of my boards were attached (including the foot-long boards needed so the slat wall reached the ceiling) I went back over every board with wood filler to fill all of my nail holes and the seams where the one-foot pieces at the top met the long 8ft pieces, to make them look like one continuous board. After the wood filler dried, I sanded the boards smooth again. I did it by hand and used 220 grit sandpaper. This step is a bit tedious, but it really finishes off the project and I don’t recommend that you skip it!

Stain again!

After my wood filler was dry and sanded down, I went back to every board again and covered the wood filler with more stain so it would all blend in.

Caulk the Rest

You may need to use caulk between some of your boards and the wall if there are some gaps that nails won’t solve. Because I used black paint, I used a black caulk for this so that I wouldn’t have to worry about going back and painting over the caulk later. Depending on what color you painted your wall, your choice of caulk will vary from mine. 

And that’s it! I love how the black looks peeking out between the stained boards, and I especially love how the whole thing disguises my cat closet door. Tag me @designingparkside with your own DIY slat walls or other affordable feature walls! I would love to see them.

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More Feature Wall Ideas

How To Create An Easy Box Moulding Feature Wall

For this feature wall, I did some simple picture frame moulding. You can get as elaborate or simple as you want with this style and add boxes inside boxes, or designs using separate pieces of trim in between them, like a chair rail, but I liked the simplicity of just a few boxes on the wall. 

accent wall made from wood picture frame moulding

DIY Modern Accent Wall With Moulding

This is a feature wall and an art display all in one! I don’t have to choose pictures to hang or wonder if the room “needs” something. This modern accent wall with moulding has more than enough character all on its own, and it didn’t cost much more than some paint, boards, and my own time.  

modern accent wall with diagonal moulding

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