How To Create a Rustic White Wood Wall

So far the rustic white wood trim on these bathroom walls has been the easiest project of the house to tackle. With much less effort than, say, doing a left-handed cope on some baseboard, it adds a layer of texture to the mostly white room, without being too overbearing.

Here’s how I did it, in just a few easy steps.

What I Used:

  • Rough sawn cedar boards (1×6)
  • White and gray paint (specifically Benjamin Moore Valley Forge Tan and Soft Chamois)
  • 4″ roller and 2″ chip brush
  • Miter saw (Can also be done with a circular saw, hand saw, or pre-cut and your local big box)
  • Finish nailer (16 ga with 2″ nails)
  • Tape measure

What I Did:

Step 1: Getting What You Need

For my bathroom wall I used some 1×6 rough-sawn cedar boards that were left over from trimming out some of our porch beams. While you can use any 1×6 for a smooth finish, I suggest rough-sawn for a rustic look. I know my local Lowe’s carries rough sawn cedar in the lumber aisle.

The stuff I had was pre-stained an awful maroon color, something I’ve been correcting with my hand planer for the exterior wood, one board at a time.


For the bathroom, all I needed was a little paint.

Step 2: Making it Rustic. And White

I started by rolling on a medium tan/gray (Benjamin Moore’s Valley Forge Tan). You could use almost any shade of brown gray or tan for the base coat.

I found it easiest to roll on a coat of the base color with my 4″ roller. I also rolled the back to keep the wood fully protected from any moisture in the air from the shower in the full bath.


I know a lot of people try watering down paint with actual water, but for this weathered look “dry brushing” is a better technique. With just a little paint on the brush, paint over the wood a number of times to build up the paint without gooping it on.


Gooping.  It’s a technical term.


Here’s what they looked like finished. I tried not to make it too consistent between boards.


Step 3: Attach

My bathroom was a small area, but I still maximized my wood by measuring full lengths, and then using the leftover on the next course up, making sure to end the wood on a stud.

Since they were 6″ wide I cut them with the miter saw, but this is the part you can hand-saw or have pre cut (after taking all your measurements ahead of time, of course) if you don’t have a tool addiction like I do.

One-bys can be attached with 2″ finish nails. The best idea is to nail directly to the studs. In my case, I noted the stud locations before drywalling, but if you can find even one stud, it’s a pretty sure bet if you measure 16″ out you’ll hit the rest of them.

My Bostitch finish nailer did the job just fine.


I started the first board using a level and then used shims to keep the boards about 1/8″ apart as I moved up the walls.

In this case I went about three and a half feet up with 1x.


Step 4: Finishing Piece

You could run the 1x all the way up the wall (and I think it would look awesome, so I was very tempted to go that way) or finish it off with a slightly thicker piece.

An actual 2×4 looked too thick, so I ripped one down to 2×3 on the table saw. These were cedar boards also left over from trimming out our windows.


After trimming them down to size on that gorgeous miter saw, and painting them, I attached them the same way the rest of the boards went in.


And that’s all there is too it.

You could do this with any type of 1x–horizontal or vertical– but I’d be hesitant to put a thicker board on the walls.

After that, it’s just sit back and enjoy. Or in my case, continue tiling the tub, the master bathroom, and installing floors and cabinets.

5 Responses

  1. I love the rustic look of the wood on the walls.

    Just a thought, but that looks like a pretty rough blade for doing finish work, have you tried with a 60 or 80 teeth blade for the miter saw ? Makes a huge difference !

  2. I love the look you’ve got going here… Rustic, yet the boards remind me of the beach…you (& maybe Mystery Guy) are innately creative!

  3. Looks beautiful! Is it just one color of paint – the Valley Forge Tan – or is there a second shade layered on to make it look more white? Oh wait, I just saw that the materials list includes a white paint, too. It’s VFT with the roller and then Chamois with the brush – is that right?

  4. Hi! What finish paint did you use on rough cedar? I’m trying to select a finish for cedar beams and I’m afraid anything other that flat will not work in such porous surface.

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