Back Button

Design Ideas for a Rough Cut Wood Wall

Rich Finzer

Like a blank canvas, an unfinished wall presents a world of possibilities. If you have decided to plank one using rough-sawn lumber, you have many choices of wood types and layout. You could use recycled/reclaimed antique planks or you could have lumber cut at a mill.

There are advantages and drawbacks to using rough-sawn lumber.

Board and Batten

A board and batten wall is made from wide planks hung a small distance from one another and battens that cover the gap between them. It's a classic design often used to plank the exterior walls of wooden barns. It is easy to construct and when completed presents an old-fashioned look. It also requires additional framing. Firing strips are laid horizontally across the studs at regular intervals and function as "nailers," or attachment points. The vertical planks are attached to them. To conceal the gaps between the planks, narrower boards called battens are fastened over them. For the wall to have a consistent appearance, board and batten planks are uniform in width. A typical width for a board is 10 inches, and a batten might be 3 inches wide. The battens conceal the fasteners used to hold the boards. The batten fasteners are installed in the gap between the underlying boards.

Half and Half

Instead of planking the entire wall in board and batten, you might consider wainscoting instead. You could orient the boards and battens horizontally to a height of perhaps 3 feet and install sheetrock on the upper portion of the wall. Horizontal mounting would allow you to attach the planks directly to the studs instead of installing firing strips first. This will use less lumber. As rough-sawn lumber, particularly reclaimed or antique wood, is expensive, this would keep your wood budget under control.

Tongue and Groove Paneling

If you prefer a more even surface, you could install rough-sawn planks using tongue and groove lumber. As rough-sawn wood sometimes has uneven edges, when the tongues and grooves are cut, the resulting plank widths will be uniform, permitting a tight fit between them. It also allows you to blind nail, thereby concealing the nail heads from view. You can choose from numerous wood joints, such as shiplap or tongue, groove and bead.

Wood Varieties

Unless you've already acquired your planking, you can consider many wood types. Reclaimed woods might include chestnut, oak, cypress, or sugar maple. If you intend to have your planks milled locally, black cherry, western red cedar or hemlock might be good alternatives as well.