DIY Tongue & Groove Accent Wall Installation

Updated: Sep 25, 2018

We’ve added some helpful hints and tips at the bottom of the instructions. We recommend taking a look at these before starting your installation to make the process easier.


1.) Mark your studs. You can use either a stud finder (a small handheld battery operated tool), or a small finish nail. Find both edges of the stud as you'll want to mark the middle. Use a long level, or a level against the edge of a long straight board, to mark the stud positions from floor to ceiling.

  • To find the studs using a nail, drive one in near either side of an outlet or switch. If it slides in and out of the wall easily you are not on a stud. It should be firmly pinned into the wall and require a little bit of force to move it in or out if you have hit the stud.

  • Studs are generally going to be 16" apart from each other, but always check with your finish nail or stud finder to be sure.

2.) Mark a line along the bottom of the wall where you will align the bottom side of the first row of your accent material.

  • You will want to use a level to ensure that this is completely leveled and straight as many floors are not.

  • If you'll be installing flooring after your accent wall, you may want to tuck the flooring under the first row of your accent wall. In that case, start your first row high enough to accommodate the flooring.

  • It is always safest to leave a small gap between the bottom of edge of your accent wall and your flooring as this is easily covered by trim later on.

3.) Start your first row with longer pieces to help you stay straight on the starting line you drew previously. Have the groove (concave/indented) side down. Use your finish nailer to nail the top and bottom of each piece into the studs you marked previously.

  • You will want to face nail the bottom edge of the board, just above the groove.

  • When nailing the top side of each piece hold your nail gun at approximately a 45 degree angle downwards to nail through the tongue (top side) into each stud.

4.) When you get close to the end of the row, measure the size of the piece you need to be flush with the edge of your wall. If you want to avoid wasting any material, choose a piece that is at least 8" longer than you need to finish the row. Cut what you need to fit and save the cut off piece for another row.

5.) After you have finished the entire row you will want to use your level and ensure that it is straight.

  • We HIGHLY recommend doing this for every row you finish before starting the next. If your pieces are even a small degree off from being level it will offset the entire wall resulting in either the entire wall being tilted, or having gap between pieces to bring your rows back to being level. It is much easier to catch the mistake right away rather than finding out the hard way later.

6.) For your second row (and the rest of the remaining rows) you will begin by fitting together the groove side of each piece with the tongue side of the row below. Make sure the pieces are fitted together as tightly as possible with no spaces or gaps. Make sure your joints (ends of each board) are at least 4 inches apart from joints on the rows above and below each row.

  • Use a scrap piece of accent material as a “tapper piece” and tap this piece with a hammer to fit each board into place. Do not use a hammer directly on your intended accent boards as this may damage the material.

  • Take your finish nailer and nail the tongue (top side) of each piece into every stud on the wall, again, with the nailer at a downward 45 degree angle).

  • When you get to the ends of each row do the same as on the bottom row. Measure out a piece that is at least 8” longer than needed, and cut it to fit into place (flush with the edge of the wall and in line with the ends of other rows) so that wasted material is minimized.

7.) As you get to the top row/rows of your accent wall you will not be able to nail through the tongue of your boards as they are against the ceiling. For these, face nail the top side of the boards into each stud.

  • When you get to the last row of your accent wall you will not be able to see the studs you have previously marked to be nailed against. We recommend going along your second to last row using a pencil and lightly marking (on the face of the boards) where each stud is so you will know where to drive your nails. After you have these marked, piece together your last row to fit tightly against your ceiling (if there is a slight space it can later be covered by trim). Use your level and mark where you should face nail each board into the stud to make sure that you do actually drive your nails into the studs. Once you have these marked, face nail your top row, and your beautiful new accent wall is complete!


Hints and Tips

  • If your rows starts to get a little bit slanted, you can intentionally gap part of the next row slightly to get back on track.

  • Don’t always put a shorter piece on the same end. Try mixing them around with variable lengths for each board, and different placement of longer and shorter boards in each row. The more random the placement of varied species and various lengths of your pieces can be, the better your accent wall will turn out.

If you are using accent material with variable widths…

  • Use a different width for your second row.

  • Install your rows randomly. Avoid patterns. In other words, don't install a 2 1/4" row, then a 3", then 4", then 5" and repeat. Rather, you might install a 4", then a 3", then a 5", another 3", a 2 1/4", a 4", and so on.

  • As you approach the top of the wall, consider the area left and the material left. You will want a wider board at the top of the wall so that if you have to rip it to fit, you won't be ripping an already narrow board down to an even narrower width. If you take 1/2" off of a 4" piece, it will still look good, but if you take 1/2" off a 2 1/4" row, it might be too noticeable.

  • Randomize your colors and grains. Try to avoid putting too many pieces that look similar all in the same area. Pay attention to pieces in the row you're working on AND on the row just under it.

  • Before you get too far, you may want to determine how many rows of each width you can make with the material you have. To do this requires some basic math. If each bundle of material is about 6' long, count the number of rows in the bundle and multiply times 6 to get the number of LINEAR feet you have of that width in the bundle. How many bundles do you have of that width? Calculate your total linear feet of that width in all your bundles. Then do the same for the other widths.

  • Now measure the length of your wall. Take the total linear feet of each width divided by the length of your wall to determine how many rows of each width you can make.

  • You may determine that you can make 10 rows of 3”, 12 rows of 4", but only 6 rows each of 2 1/4" and 5”. You can use the information to plot out your "random" layout, so you don’t accidentally wind up with 4 rows of 3" at the end!


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