Fence picket walls

Slowgal59March 7, 2013

I would like to use old fence pickets to cover the interior walls of a room instead of sheetrock. I am trying for a slightly rustic look, like the wall in the picture. The boards I have are old but not rotten. I would like to lightly sand the boards and then paint or whitewash them. This seems easy and cheap, so there must be something I am not thinking of. Will the boards be too hard to get smooth enough for interior walls? Can you help me think of potential problems in using this material. Thanks!

This post was edited by Slowgal59 on Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 9:40

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Expansion and contraction, so you end up with gaps as the boards have flat or radius edges at the least.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:20AM
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The material in the picture looks more like shiplap siding than fence pickets.

What you want to do will only look similar---like boards lined up on a wall---not a wall covered with interlocking pieces.

The ease of what you want to do depends on what kind of wood the pickets are. If they are cedar, getting them as smooth as the picture is doubtful. But, rough or even semi rough cedar does provide a rustic look and effect.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Thanks Handymac and Millworkman! Will the typical aged cedar picket be cupped, warped, etc or a pain to work with? I don't want to spend time or money on milling. As these will not interlock, I would like to press them together tightly to minimize gaps. Will the old soft cedar be more forgiving of expansion? Should I do this project when the climate is humid and warm, when the boards will be most expanded? It is for a coastal mid atlantic shed that may get turned into a seasonal guesthouse. The climate is not severely humid. The structure will never be heated, and mostly not air conditioned.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 12:47PM
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The boards will have gaps all along the edges without milling.

Most cedar fence planks cup a bit, mainly because of the grain and lack of complete drying before use.

The lack of heating/cooling is less of a factor than the normal temperature and humidity swings. Those are the two major factors in wood movement.

The results of doing the project in a low or high weather condition will simply result in which problem may occur during the opposite weather condition.

Example, you assemble the planks on the wall when the temps/humidity are the highest. As the temps/humidity go down, the wood shrinks and gaps show.

If you install at low temps/humidity, as the conditions rise, the wood will expand and bow/push away from the wall.

This is natural. The wood movement is also one reason finishing has been so popular. Finishing can minimize some of that movement.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 6:51PM
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Fori is not pleased

I'd be sure paint the wall behind to match so that any gaps you get are a feature and not a bug. :)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:16PM
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" Will the typical aged cedar picket be cupped, warped, etc or a pain to work with?"

Yes ... I've done some garden furniture with them and it's a PITA. And if you plane them flat and sand them smooth, there goes all that "aged wood" look you wanted.

How smooth do they have to be?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 4:16PM
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