Create a dramatic 3D wall treatment with multi-hued hardboard panels featuring peekaboo holes that reveal bursts of verdigris copper color.
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On a piece of paper, map out the arrangement of the different plank widths for your accent wall before cutting all the strips to width from MDF sheets. While you're doing that, plan the layout to place wider strips centered over wall outlets and switches for easy-to-make cutouts using a jigsaw.
Use a circular saw to cut the 4 x 8 sheet of 3/16-inch hardboard to length to fit between the ceiling and floor or baseboard. At the top and bottom of the sheet, make matching marks indicating the width for each strip. For the wall shown, we used a mix of 4-in-wide and 8-in-wide strips with an occasional 16-in-wide strip. Use a length of straight lumber or 8-foot straightedge and draw lines connecting pairs of marks.
Along each line, use an awl to mark the locations where you'll drill holes. The indentations will later help hold the drill bit in position. Holes can be parallel from row to row, offset from column to column, or a mix of offset and parallel holes as shown here. For example, when spacing holes 8 inches apart from center to center, place the first hole 8 inches from the top of the panel on one line and 4 inches from the top on the next line. Then alternate back and forth.
Place a piece of scrap lumber under the hardboard so that it runs the length of the first line. Using a 2-1/8-inch hole saw, drill holes at each awl mark. Repeat for the remaining lines on the panel.
Clamp an 8- or 10-foot-long 1 x 6 board on top of the hardboard sheet so that it serves as a guide for the base of a circular saw. (It should be a uniform distance from the line where you'll cut.) Set the saw to cut about 1/2 inch deep and rest the panel on a sheet of foam insulation at least 1 inch thick. Cut the strip and label it at the top in the order it was laid out on the panel.
Lightly sand the cut edges and face of each hardboard strip. Clean off the sanding dust and prime the surface. Sand smooth any primed rough spots. Then apply two coats of paint to the outside face and edges, allowing the last coat to dry overnight. (Avoid painting over the numbers you wrote on the backs.)
Unroll copper flashing, cut 8-foot-long strips, and lay the copper strips on a protected work surface that's smooth and clean.
Mix a strong solution of TSP cleaner and water in a squirt bottle according to label directions and spray onto a copper-flashing strip. While wearing chemical-proof gloves, sprinkle Comet onto the moist copper and scrub the surface. Rinse strips with clean water.
Scrubbing removes a coating on the flashing so the verdigris solution can create an evenly mottled blue-green verdigris patina. Check your progress by spraying the copper with water. If the water beads up, keep scrubbing. This verdigris treatment shouldn't affect the adhesive backing on the copper.
Wear gloves while pouring 4 ounces of white vinegar and 3 tablespoons of Miracle-Gro crystals into a 32-ounce spray bottle. (Use a piece of paper to make a homemade funnel for pouring crystals.) Fill the bottle with water and mix until the crystals dissolve.
Use only Miracle-Gro water soluble azalea, camellia and rhododendrons plant food (#93117) because this version works better for the oxidation process than other Miracle-Gro formulas. For deeper blue-green color, add more Miracle-Gro to the solution. Use less for lighter color.
With the copper strips still laid out on a protected work surface or on concrete, thoroughly spray the surface of each strip with the verdigris solution and allow the copper strips to dry. Repeat as needed until the desired depth of oxidized color is achieved. We sprayed the copper surface approximately five times.
After the strips dry the color you want, spray the oxidized surface with two coats of Minwax clear polyurethane to protect.
Use scissors to cut each copper strip in half lengthwise to create 4-inch-wide strips.
Remove or modify base moulding on the wall, depending on the look you want. Cut scraps of hardboard to use on edge as temporary spacers between panels.
Hold the first hardboard strip where you intend to install it on the left side of the wall and mark a guideline top to bottom along the straight portions (not around the holes) of the right edge.
Begin peeling the backing from the first copper strip and center it over the line on the wall. Smooth the strip in place, being careful to keep it plumb and centered over the line. If necessary, have a helper hold the strip at the top of the wall while you peel the backing downward and smooth the strip in place.
Position the first hardboard strip vertically with the help of a level and nail it to the wall. (A pneumatic nail driver and compressor will speed this and the remaining strips while leaving less conspicuous holes than a hammer and nails.)
Select the second numbered hardboard strip, position spacers between it and the first strip, and mark a guideline on the wall as you did for the first strip.
Apply a copper strip plumb and centered over the line. Position the spacers and nail the second strip in place. Repeat until all of the copper and hardboard strips have been installed. Fill nail holes as needed and touch up the paint.