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Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved a good wall treatment. Heck, I even put accent walls in my dollhouse growing up–my Barbies were always living through home renovations.
Even though my style has evolved over the years (goodbye bright orange and blue sheer curtains), my love for wall treatments and accent walls has always stayed consistent.
Luckily, my mom lives right down the road and is always willing to let me have free reign in her house.
She’s always loved blue and anything that reminds her of the ocean, so I knew color was top priority for her new accent wall.
But I didn’t just want to paint on a pattern. Instead, I wanted to add some texture and bring some calmness to her bathroom.
The solution: create a textured accent wall using shingles.
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
If you’d prefer to buy shingles, there are cedar shingles available on Amazon that are the same shape.
Before we start cutting, we want to knock out the majority of our sanding. It’s easier to sand large sheets of plywood than individual shingles.
Sand your plywood with 220-grit sandpaper.
Then start cutting by ripping your 1/4″ plywood down into 5.5″ strips.
Once the plywood is the correct width, cut your strips into 11″ pieces using your miter saw. The length of each piece doesn’t have to be the exact same length, but they should be within 1/2″ of each other.
To make consistent size cuts faster, I clamped a spare board to my miter saw to act as a stop. That way, I could just slide the wood over and cut instead of having to measure every time.
Next, we need to cut the shape of the shingles.
I set my miter angle to 50-degrees, but you can use a less-steep angle if you prefer.
I clamped a board to the fence of my miter saw to use as a stop. I wasn’t too concerned about making sure the first cut ended perfectly in the center.
When you make the second cut, the point will center itself up if you’re using a stop.
After cutting each shingle, sand off any rough edges and remove any splintering that might have occurred from cutting your plywood.
Typically, I would recommend Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner before applying any stain, especially a water-based one.
For this project, I opted to not use pre-stain for two reasons:
If you want more consistency in color and want the shingles on the wall to remain smooth to the touch, apply pre-stain following the instructions on the can before applying your stain.
Applying Minwax Wood Finish Water-Based Solid Color Stain is a two-step process.
First, paint on the stain in the direction of the wood grain.
I say “paint” it on because the stain is actually 5x thicker than traditional oil-based wood stain, so it really does feel like you’re using paint when applying! For this, I use a foam brush, but you would also use a brush like the Purdy XL.
Next, using a synthetic staining pad, wipe the stain in the direction of the wood grain. Since the stain dries so quickly, you want to make sure to wipe off the excess stain within 2 minutes of applying it.
I found that the easiest method was to apply the stain and wipe the sides of the shingle first and then tackle the front.
Overall, the staining process took about 1.5 hours to complete. Usually, it goes by much quicker, but we had HUNDREDS of shingles to stain. After all’s said and done, we used approximately 1/4-1/3 of a can of each stain color.
Note: we got our stain tinted to match HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams paint colors. You can get Minwax Wood Finish Water-Based Solid Color Stain color-matched to anything at your local Lowe’s. The possibilities are endless! Also note that color-matching is only available at Lowe’s and for the SOLID stain. It’s not available for semi-transparent stains.
There are a few reasons why I chose Minwax Wood Finish Water-Based Solid Color Stain for this project over paint. First, I wanted to maintain the grain and texture of the wood. When you look at each shingle, you can see the wood grain. It’s not prominent, but it’s a little added detail that adds more character to the wall.
Second, the stain is quick to dry and only needed one coat. After an hour, we could start hanging up all the shingles without worrying that we would scratch the color off.
Finally, I wanted more variation. Paint would provide a perfectly consistent color across every piece and I didn’t necessarily want that. The color of the solid stain is still very consistent, but between the wood texture and the ability to wipe off more stain on some pieces, the solid stain gives just a little more dimension.
It’s always important to protect your wood after staining by adding a sealer.
Since it’s so many pieces, I opted to use spray Polycrylic rather than the traditional brush-on option. The spray means I can work faster and avoid drips on the side of the shingles.
We used 2 cans of Minwax Polycrylic Clear Matte Aerosol Spray. I only spent approximately 30 minutes spraying the shingles over the course of three coats.
Remember: whenever you’re adding any finish to a project (stain, paint, sealer), it’s important to follow the instructions on the can for dry-time and the number of coats required.
The reason we added the plywood backer was to avoid hitting any pipes or wires that were behind the wall. Since this wall requires so many nails and likely has plumbing hidden behind it, we didn’t want to take the risk.
And by adding the plywood backer, we also don’t have to worry about the nails coming loose from the drywall since the majority of our shingles won’t hit studs.
To install the plywood backer, cut your plywood down to the size you need.
Then, mark all the studs on your wall and secure the plywood to the studs using 2.5″ screws.
When placing the bottom piece, add a coin underneath the plywood so that it isn’t sitting flush on the molding or countertop. This will allow for some contraction and expansion over time.
Since the shingles come to a point at the bottom, we can’t just start hanging shingles. If we did, we would have triangles of exposed plywood all across the bottom.
We’re going to cut a strip of plywood to approximately 5.5″ wide that will span across the entire bottom of the wall.
If the bottom of your wall is not going to be all the same color, you’ll want to lay out your shingles how you’re going to hang them and determine where you want to transition colors.
Make sure to double-check your measurement so that the color changes underneath a shingle and not abruptly in one of the triangle gaps between shingles.
Once your bottom strip is cut and stained, hang it using 5/8″ nails.
When hanging your first shingle, grab a level to make sure it’s nice and straight. Once we install the first row, we’ll only use the level on the first piece in each row.
Once you’re happy with the shingle position, nail the shingle into place with 2-3 nails. Place your nails close to the top of the shingle so that you don’t see the nails once everything is installed.
When you get to the end of a row, measure the distance between the last shingle installed and the wall in two places. Cut your shingle down to the smaller of those measurements and nail into place.
Then, start on the next row. Rather than lining the first shingle up with the wall, we’ll leave a gap between the wall and the first shingle we hang.
The first shingle will be lined up with the seam of the 1st and 2nd shingle on the row below it.
To make installation a little easier, we decided to make a little jig. To make it, we attached a 3.5″ piece of wood on top of a 7″ piece of wood.
To use it, you simply push the bottom piece of wood up against the bottom of shingles that are currently in place and then place your upper shingle on top of the jig.
Even with the jig to help with spacing, you still want to eyeball it and make sure the the point of your upper shingle in is line with the gap between the two shingles below it.
Once you’re happy with the spacing, add 2-3 nails to secure the shingle in place.
Repeat the installation process until your wall is complete. When you get to the final rows on your wall, you’ll need to cut the height of your shingles down to fit into the space. Keep adding new rows until the top row is close to a triangle.
For the top row, you’ll be able to see all of the nail holes. You can either leave them, or you can fill them with wood putty and then apply a little extra stain on top.
Note: When hanging your shingles, you want them close together, but not forced together. You want to give the shingles enough space to expand and contract with the weather, so don’t worry about installing them tight up against one another.
There you have it! Now you know how to tackle a DIY shingle accent wall. The real question is, what colors are you going to stain yours? Something bright and colorful? Or something more natural and neutral?
Get inspired and check out all 200+ Minwax color options.
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