Lightweight Wood Walls for a Travel Trailer or Van

When we first started building out our Airstream, one of the top things on my wishlist was wood plank walls. But we began to reevaluate that plan as we began bringing in loads of heavy items during the remodel. It all adds up and we didn’t want unnecessary weight on the walls on top of it all. We kept a couple of the original interior divider walls and as many of you know, they are pressboard and can’t easily be painted. That’s why I ended up wallpapering all of them. I chose a vintage-esque pressed tin effect wallpaper which worked great but I still wanted to add more warmth and texture to the space. I kept searching around for a wood plank wall solution. I saw a couple of options at Home Depot but they required nailing to the wall and well, there was nothing to nail to since my base surface was that nasty original plasticky pressboard. I considered pallet wood, which I used in the bathroom, but it’s so heavy and the pressboard walls definitely wouldn’t support the weight. Enter Stikwood! This company is the answer to my prayers. They make super thin 1/8″ planks of real wood with strong adhesive backing. Because they are so thin, application couldn’t be easier. All you do is score the wood on both sides with a utility knife and snap! I was able to do both kitchen walls in just an afternoon. Another huge plus for me is that many, if not all of their styles and color of wood are reclaimed!

I agonized over the color of wood and ended up choosing “golden oak.” I thought it was a nice, neutral warm color that didn’t compete with our dark wood countertops and flooring. This particular wood is actually made from reclaimed pine. It has knots and nail holes to give it lots of character. Because of all of these variances, you don’t have to be afraid to nail into it and change your wall art around. It’s already got holes in the wood so what’s adding a few extras! 🙂

Tools Needed

  • Stikwood recommends cutting with a miter saw, but I used a heavy duty utility knife without issue
  • a metal speed square to use as a guide when both marking the cut and making the cut
  • a pencil to mark your line — I like these carpentry pencils
  • a cutting surface — I keep a scrap piece of plywood around to do projects on so I don’t ruin our countertops or flooring!

Tips

  • If you’re cutting a curved area (the whole side wall of an Airstream is curved!), what I found worked best is to hold the plank next to the curve and sketch the curve onto the board. Make the cut and then make little additional cuts as needed until it’s a perfect fit.
  • If you’re making a longways cut in the board and don’t know how to make a straight line down the length of the board, that’s what your speed square is for! Check out the 3:12 mark of this video.
  • Vertical spacing is important! One concern we had for thin wood planks is how they would behave with the various temperature and humidity fluctuations that a travel trailer experiences. In one area, we did have a couple of planks pop up when they swelled during a particularly humid day. I replaced that section of wall and this time, left about an 1/8″ of spacing between each plank vertically to allow for the contracting and expanding of the wood. This did the trick! Not a single issue since!
  • Make sure you apply the planks to a clean, dry surface. Don’t apply over wallpaper!

Sheena is a free-spirited adventurer who designed and renovated a 1975 Airstream in 2016 and travels the US with her husband and mohawk-sportin’ poodle. She’s a business owner, self-taught carpenter, blogger, yogi, professional photographer and a lover of the outdoors and healthy living.

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