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Give a dull wall wow power. Make this hip decorative wall treatment in a weekend using fun and colorful splatter-painted MDF and aluminum trim channel.
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Measure the height of the wall where you'll install the planks, and divide that by the combined width of a plank and channel (5-3/4-inches and 5/8 inch). For example, a wall 8 feet (96 inches) tall can accommodate 15 planks and 14 channels, leaving a 1-inch margin at the top that becomes a shadow line. Adjust the quantities of planks and channels to fit other wall heights.
Cut the MDF panels into 5-3/4-in x 8-ft-long strips using a table saw. If necessary, cut the strips to exactly 96 inches long.
Measure carefully to ensure the most planks from each MDF panel. Because of MDF's weight, work with a helper to hold the MDF panels stable on the saw.
Lightly sand the edges and faces of the MDF strips with 120-grit sandpaper before painting. Vacuum and wipe away sanding dust.
Create a satin finish on the channels using 220-grit sandpaper.
Wearing nitrile gloves, remove dirt and grease from the aluminum channels using a rag moistened with lacquer thinner. Work in a well-ventilated area.
Use a 4-inch roller to apply primer to all faces of the MDF strips. Let dry.
Do not allow primer or paint drips on the edges of the MDF. These bumps could interfere with laying the aluminum trim channel on the edges during installation. Use a damp towel to remove any drips.
Re-sand, vacuum, and wipe off all sanding dust. Using a 4-inch roller, paint the faces with the base color (Gold Infusion, #6007-4A). Apply a second coat, if needed. Again, watch for drips along the edges and ends.
Before splatter painting, protect your work surface and the floor below with craft paper or a drop cloth. Lay four or five MDF strips edge-to-edge at the center of the work surface. You can wipe splatters from exposed edges and ends later using a damp towel.
Begin splattering with the darkest color. Dip the tip of a brush into the paint, about 1/4-inch. Holding the brush above the MDF strips, snap your wrist, and send the paint splattering randomly over the faces of the strips. Apply only a third of the total amount of splatter you plan to use. Let those splatters dry and use the same splatter technique to apply the lightest paint color and then medium shade, letting each dry before applying the next. If you want more splatters, repeat in the same order.
With a little splatter practice, you’ll become familiar with how much paint to have on the brush and how much of a snap to give the brush. You can also experiment beforehand with the size and type of brush you use as well as the distance you hold the brush above the planks.
Splatter-paint the remaining MDF strips, repeating the process in Steps 3 and 4, and work in groups of four or five strips.
To match the splatter finish from batch to batch, prop previously splatter-painted strips in view so you can make adjustments in technique and color saturation as you go.
Position the first MDF strip on the wall starting at the floor. Use a carpenter's level to make adjustments. Nail the strip to the wall.
Lay a narrow bead of clear silicone along the top edge of the MDF strip you just installed, positioning the bead where the wall meets the MDF. Use only a small amount of silicone to avoid squeeze-out when pressing the aluminum trim channel in place. Press the aluminum channel in place.
Nail the second MDF strip resting on the aluminum channel. Check for level and make adjustments before nailing it to the wall. Add a bead of silicone to the second aluminum channel.
Repeat Step 3 to build the wall up to the ceiling. If desired, repeat all of the above steps to add more 8-foot sections. Continue checking for level and making micro-adjustments as you work to ensure MDF strips and aluminum trim channel pieces remain level as they reach the ceiling.
Cover the nail holes with spackle or wood putty and touch up the paint as needed.