Whether you are creating an accent wall or have decided to feature reclaimed wood siding on every wall of your restaurant, you need to know how to properly install care for it. Incorrect installation can compromise the beautiful, homey look of reclaimed wood paneling by making it look sloppy. Improper aftercare can ruin even the best installation by not ensuring the long-lasting quality of the appearance of your siding. Know the right steps to installation and aftercare and you will have reclaimed wood paneling you can be proud of for years to come.
How To Install Reclaimed Wood Paneling
The process of installing your siding is surprisingly simple. All you need is a vision for how you want your siding to look, the right tools to install it, and the wood itself.
Prep your wall:
You will need to ensure that you have a clean and level wall before you start installing your panels. Sand down any bumps and fill in any holes to make it a flat surface. Then, paint it to match your reclaimed wood so that any gaps in the paneling will not reveal a strikingly different wall. The panels will be a mix of age brown shades, so aim for a neutral paint color that works for all of them.
Grab your tools:
You will need a saw for trimming to make your panels perfectly fit your wall. Use either a power saw or a simple hand trim saw. Also, you need an air finish nailer or a hammer and nails to fasten the panels to the wall. If you’re using a hammer, use a nail punch, too, to set the nails below the surface of the siding. Be sure to use nails that are about one and a half inches to one and three-quarter inches long. You may also want construction adhesive to properly secure your panels.
Create a straight edge:
First, measure your wall from top to bottom at both sides to ensure that they’re equal. On one side of the wall, measure down from the ceiling to about six inches above the floor and mark that spot. Do the same on the other side. Connect the marks with a level and create a line with a string or chalk. This is where you’ll align your first row, giving you room to cover discrepancies with the trim.
Find the studs in the drywall:
If you’re mounting on drywall, use a stud finder to locate the studs behind it. Finding these now will allow you to know where to screw in the reclaimed wood panels. Mark each stud at its bottom, middle, and top and use a small level to connect those marks.
Start your first row at the bottom:
While starting at the top may be easier for projects with more complicated wall shapes, starting at the bottom is typically the best option. No matter where you start, take your time installing the first row as it will determine the rest of your wall’s appearance. Working from left to right, set each piece of wood even with the straight line you marked. Put a small amount of glue adhesive to the backs of the wood pieces and stick it to the wall. Double-check its straightness with a level. Then, nail each piece of reclaimed wood on the stud lines.
Finish out the first row:
Continue putting up wood pieces until you reach the end of the wall. At this point, you will likely need to cut the last piece of board to make it fit.
Start the second row:
To achieve the right paneling look, you’ll want to offset the board joints by about four to six inches. Once you find the board length that looks best to you, lay it in the same direction as the first row and complete that row. Try to incorporated different colors of panels so that you don’t have an uneven distribution at the end.
Repeat until the wall is done:
Keep laying down your panels until you reach the top. You made need to cut the last row to width to properly fit the top of your wall. Install those final pieces and then either do the same for the six-inch gap at the bottom of your wall or leave it open for trim installation.
How To Care For Your Reclaimed Wood Siding
Now that you have beautifully installed reclaimed wood siding, you may be tempted to sit back and never think about those panels again. That option might work for those who want to replace the siding in a few years time, but those looking to keep this siding up for a longer period of time need to perform some upkeep.
For paneling with a non-smooth surface, use a brush with gentle bristles to remove dust. A light touch with a horsehair brush is a great cleaning solution for panels that are textured, weathered, or otherwise naturally distressed. Be careful to not brush too aggressively and to only do so when necessary, as it can remove the patina and aesthetic of the panels.
To rid smooth paneling of dust, use a slightly damp, soft and clean cloth to wipe it down. Take care to not use too much water, as it can damage the wood. Commercial waxes and treated dust cleaners are not a great option, as they can also damage your reclaimed wood paneling. Other cleaners to avoid include two-in-one cleaners with acrylics or urethane polish and industrial cleaners with citrus oils, tung oil, ammonia, or silicon.
If there are ever spills on your paneling, be sure to quickly remove them with a soft cloth and a cleaning product that is recommended for the finish you use. To keep the paneling in good shape, be sure to prevent rapid fluctuations in temperature and humidity as much as possible. These sudden changes could warp your wood and ruin your siding. If you’re away from your restaurant for an extended period of time, you shouldn’t turn off the building’s HVAC systems or reduce heating and cooling too drastically.
If your intention with reclaimed wood siding is to create a welcoming, warm environment for your customers, then you need to install it and care for it correctly. Let your creative side shine with your paneling placement, properly secure everything, and use safe products to create the reclaimed wall you’ve always imagined.