How to Make a DIY Plywood Accent Wall for a Midcentury Modern Look

Cast aside traditional paint or wallpaper accent walls and build this DIY beauty with plywood boards.

We love shiplap walls in a farmhouse setting, but some decorating styles call for a more contemporary wood accent wall. For a modern twist on a wood accent wall, we used large plywood panels (2 x 4-foot boards) and placed it in a classic running bond pattern on the wall (like you'd see in a traditional subway tile pattern). We love that the grain does the talking here—no paint needed! You can play with the plywood panel sizes, too, to customize the look you want.

It might look like a job for a pro, but it's surprisingly simple. With help from a partner and our easy-to-follow steps, you can complete this DIY plywood wall in a weekend. The unique accent wall will be the perfect blank slate for midcentury-modern design or a nature-inspired living room.

sitting area with plywood wall and decor
Jacob Fox

How to Make a Plywood Accent Wall

This DIY plywood accent wall is easier than it looks. Plus, the plywood boards are accessible at most hardware stores.

Supplies Needed:

  • Hard plywood boards, trimmed to size (size will vary depending on your design and wall size; ours were 2x4 feet)
  • Table saw (optional)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Level
  • 3/16-inch all-purpose anchors with screws
  • Construction adhesive or nail gun (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions

Complete a showstopping room makeover without much effort. We'll show you how to install a plywood accent wall.

Step 1: Make Design Plans

Before you begin, draw a plan for the dimensions and placement of plywood on your wall. Every plan will differ due to the size of your wall, size of your boards, and your desired layout for the boards.

It's important to start with plywood that is flat. To help with this, let your plywood boards lay flat for a few days at home to acclimate. If you choose to use 2x2-foot or 2x4-foot plywood pieces from a home improvement store, the pieces might not be uniform in size and will likely require trimming with a table saw.

If the boards are warped, you might see between the seams of your wall. If this is a concern, paint the wall your desired color before you begin.

Editor's Tip: Most hardware stores will cut your plywood for free at the store. However, make sure the pieces are uniform before you start building; trim as needed.

drilling corner hole for plywood wall

Step 2: Mark and Drill Corner Holes

Measure and mark a hole at the corners of each board, 1 inch in from both sides. Then, drill holes in the corners of the boards using a 3/16-inch drill bit. If you have a large-scale design, consider also drilling a hole between each corner at the top and bottom of the longest length.

making pencil measurements with level tool
Brie Passano

Step 3: Mark First Row

Use a level and pencil to mark a line across the wall where the top of the first row of boards will be. Remember to measure from the top of the floorboard trim, not the floor, to get an accurate measurement.

Editor's Tip: Not all walls are square, and not all floors are level. Plan for inconsistencies to avoid unpleasant surprises.

marking drill hole to plywood with pencil
Brie Passano

Step 4: Mark Holes

Hold your first plywood board against the wall and mark hole placements. Depending on the size of your boards, you might need a partner to help with this step.

making wall hole with electric drill
Brie Passano

Step 5. Insert Anchors

Remove the board from the wall. Drill pilot holes into the wall at your marks. Insert anchors into holes, following manufacturer instructions.

Step 6: Install Boards and Finish

Hold the first board in position, lining the holes up with the anchors, and screw to wall. Repeat steps 4-6, one board at a time, until the plywood accent wall is finished. This will allow you to make small adjustments as needed.

Editor's Tip: For a permanent installation with less chance of warping, you may need to use construction adhesive on the back of the boards or use a finishing nailer to secure the panels.

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