DIY Slat Wall with Shelves

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Don’t you just love a quick and simple project that makes a big impact? That’s just what our DIY slat wall project was! Let me take you through it!

Are you looking for a simple wall feature that also adds storage? A Slat Wall with shelves may be just the project for you!

Slat Wall Inspiration

In February 2022, I decided I wanted to eliminate our home office and make it a plant room. Unfortunately, my husband was not on board (he had good reason – he uses this office a few days a week when he works from home).

If he wouldn’t let me convert his office into a plant room, I was at least going to install some kind of plant wall — after all, this room is right off our front door and gets amazing morning sun.

I scoured Pinterest and Instagram for an idea I liked and saw some fun wooden slat walls — XO My Home‘s stood out, but you know I had to make it my own!

Keep reading to see how we went from this to that!

Home Office Redo

Blue Metal by Behr is one of my favorite paint colors.
Blue Metal by Behr

In March 2022, I painted our home office from a light yellow to Blue Metal by Behr. It’s a color I’ve been in love with for about two years now — I’m slowly sprinkling it all over my house.

Afraid the dark walls in the small room might be too cavelike, I wanted to lighten it up a little with some natural wood accents. I sanded and refinished the existing desk, but also wanted a focal point for above. I wanted something I could put plants on, but something more interesting than a plain old shelf.

One the walls were painted dark, I knew I wanted to lighten them up a bit.

A slat wall made of natural wood was perfect — it would match the desk and pop against the blue. And… if I designed it right, I could add some matching shelves I could adjust and rearrange (one of my favorite pastimes).

The natural wood of the slats matches the desk perfectly.

DIY Slat Wall

I had a few ideas for a DIY slat wall and I was pretty sure it would be simple to install, but I wasn’t entirely sure about the materials and measurements.

Since our desk is 52″ long, I wanted the slats above it to be about the same. I wanted them natural wood, about 1″ apart, and I didn’t want to do a lot of transporting and cutting.

I checked out Lowes and see what they had. I found exactly what I needed and my plan came together perfectly.

Slat Wall Materials

I used the following materials to for my DIY slat wall:

Loading up my cart at Lowes with supplies for my slat wall.

I purchased the wood and screws at Lowes Home Improvement.

I purchased the topcoat on amazon (I haven’t been able to find it at local hardware stores).

I used the following tools to install my DIY slat wall:

Slat Wall Preparation

Before installing the slats onto the wall, there are some important steps to take.

Straight Wood

First, when you’re wood shopping, examine each piece of wood before purchasing. Make sure all the pieces are straight, solid, and not cracked. Check for unsightly knots (some nots are okay, but they can get gnarly).

Lay the pieces out on the floor to ensure they are straight.

Sanding & Cutting

Next, it’s important to prep the wood by sanding. Some of the wood from hardware stores is in rough shape. It will look better — and feel better — if you sand it down a bit.

Use a low grit sandpaper (80 or 120) for rough wood and a higher grit for wood that’s pretty smooth but needs just a little sanding.

Before installing your slat wall, be sure to sand down the wood with some sandpaper.
Get rid of that rough edge with a bit of sandpaper.

I didn’t end up having to cut the slats to size, but I cut the shelves. If you need to do any cutting, now is the time to do it, then run some sandpaper over the cut edge to smooth it.

Apply Topcoat

Next, it’s a good idea to apply a topcoat to your wood. Topcoats protect the wood and prevent it from discoloring. Many top coats add a shine to the wood, but the topcoat I used, General Finishes, is flat.

I'm applying a flat finish topcoat to the slats so they don't get discolored.

I set up sawhorses (in my foyer, of course) and applied the topcoat to the nicer side of the slats using my favorite 2″ paintbrush. After each coat (I did two), I gently sanded the wood with a high grit sandpaper (220) so it was nice and smooth.

Slat Wall Installation

After I prepped the wood, it was time for the fun part — installation!

Determine Placement

I purchased the slats to be installed over the desk, so I used that to determine placement and height.

Try to use the architecture or furniture in your room to do the same. Hold a few slats up in different places in the wall to determine your starting point.

Find Studs & Drill Holes

Find studs on the wall using a stud finder. Hold the first slat up on the wall and make a mark on the wood where the stud is. Using a drill bit, make a hole in the center of the wood slat.

Pre-drilling holes will prevent the wood from splitting. Try to use a drill bit that’s close to the size of your screws, but it doesn’t have to match exactly.

Pre-drilling holes in the slats help ensure the wood doesn't split.

Install the First Slat

Use your level to hold the first slat up to the wall. It’s essential that your slat is level. If this slat is crooked, the whole slat wall will be crooked.

Using your screws, screw the bottom slat into the studs of the wall.

MAKE SURE the first slat on your slat wall is level — otherwise the whole wall will be crooked!

Space & Install the Second Slat

I knew I wanted to use force to hold the shelves of my slat wall in place, therefore I needed my slats spaced perfectly to pinch the shelves.

I used the wood I purchased for shelves to determine the width between each shelf. I didn’t even measure.

After spacing the shelf, we installed the second slat, pushing down on the shelf to make sure it was a snug fit.

Tip: Using a board as a spacer is quicker and easier than measuring every space — even if you don’t plan on using shelves.

Repeat this process until your slat wall is complete — either lining all the slats up evenly, installing them randomly, or adding some kind of design.

We opted for a bit of visual interest by offsetting 4 slats 12″. It created a little nook on the left side. More on this later!

We chose to offset 4 slats by 12" on the slat wall for some visual interest.

We originally installed 12 slats, but the perspective was a little off, so we added 2 more slats and that felt better — scientific, I know.

Slat Wall Shelves (Optional)

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted my slat wall to be functional, instead of just being decorative, so we added shelves. This wouldn’t be possible if we installed the slats to be vertical — at least not easily.

When I was purchasing the wood and installing the slats, I was intentional with what I was purchasing and how I was spacing. The space between the slats is an exact .75″ to match the size of the boards of wood.

For flexibility, we cut 4 shelves: two 10″ shelves and two 18″ shelves.

These shelves will slide into the slat wall and display plants.

I placed them where I think I’d like them, by carefully wedging them between the slats. I’ll probably reconfigure the shelves often.

Finishing Touches

Offsetting the slats added some visual interest and also allowed us to add some fun touches to the wall.

The nook on the left ended up being the perfect size for our (already owned) clock.

Offsetting the slats also created a space on the right that worked out perfectly for installing a macrame plant hanger and spider plant.

I’d love to say this was the master plan all along and take all the credit, but this was actually just a happy surprise. I love the way it all came together!

Slat Wall Admiration

Finally, the last step to this fun and simple DIY slat wall project is to stand back and admire our masterpiece.

Our DIY Slat Wall with shelves and plants.
This DIY Slat Wall was easy to install, looks amazing, and adds so much function to this office.
Slats in the back, plants in the front. What's not to love?

Slat Wall Cost & Time Breakdown

So, the real question — how much did this cost?

That answer will vary based on what tools and materials you already have, but here’s what I spent:

  • 14 slats @ $4.55 each = $63.70
  • 2 boards @ $7.42 each = $14.84
  • Sandpaper Variety Pack @ $6.85 (with a ton left for future projects)
  • Gold Screws @ $8ish (lost the receipt!)

In all, I spent about $95 on this project since I already had the finish, paintbrushes, and tools. If you don’t have these items or if you need to replenish your inventory, it may cost more.

From start to finish, the slat wall probably took 4 to 5 hours — most of which was spent sanding and applying the finish. Attaching the slats to the wall took about an hour.

DIY Slat Wall

And that’s it! It may seem like a lot of steps, but each one is pretty simple. And if you have little to no DIY experience, this is a great place to start!

Are you inspired? Are you going to go install a slat wall of your own?

Melissa, Life with Less Mess

PS- Don’t forget to pin this for later!

6 thoughts on “DIY Slat Wall with Shelves”

    1. Hm. Honestly? I haven’t dusted it since I put it up! Probably shouldn’t announce that. The boards are smooth and I usually dust with a microfiber cloth, so I don’t anticipate it being a problem!

    1. They aren’t screwed in, they are held in by the horizonal slats because there’s just enough space and depth. If I want to store heavier items on the shelf I would need to secure them with screws.

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