DIY Wood Photography Boards


DIY wooden photography boards are a great weekend project

I’m sure you’ve seen these all over the place. The first time I saw them, I wanted to jump in my car and buy all the materials to make it. Problem: I was still in my apartment and I had no space for them. I barely had space for my props as it was so there was no way I could have the space to make these or store them (even though they were flat, but still, I didn’t want to accumulate more).

I vowed to myself as soon as we moved to a house, this was one of the first projects I was going to tackle.

Of all the posts that I’ve seen, I decided to take the method of Lindsay & Gina’s. I loved Gina’s idea of using tongue and groove boards and I loved how Lindsay did the distressed look on the wood boards. What’s great about these is that everyone’s turns out different and everyone’s is unique in their own way.

So first, go to your local hardware store and pick up some tongue and groove planks. I followed Gina’s steps by getting a 8′ one and having them cut them into two 2 1/2′ sections and one 3′ section. I bought three 8′ planks so that gave me a total of three photography boards in the end. I put three 2 1/2′ sections together for two different boards and three 3′ sections together to give me one larger board.

I bought sandpaper to sand down the ends of where the planks were cut. There were some pretty nasty shards of wood that I didn’t want to risk getting splinters over. So just grab some sandpaper and sand the ends until they’re smooth. Grab some wood glue and in the groove, make a nice, thin line of glue and then insert the tongue into the groove and press hard together. If some ooze out, quickly wipe it away with a paper towel. Repeat with the second piece until you have three wood sections melded together and repeat on the other two boards. I let them dry overnight.

After they have dried overnight, you can begin the painting process. I went to my hardware store and picked out three sample paints. I knew I needed a base brown so I picked that up along with a plain white and a bright teal. Colors are so hard to choose! I have a feeling I’ll be making more. I want a purple and a grey one (haha, surprise surprise, my wedding colors).

As Lindsay describes in her tutorial, you’ll want to dilute the brown paint with water, about 50/50 (as you see in the picture above, although you can’t really tell there’s water in that container). Have loads of paper towels on standby as you begin the “staining” process. Dip your paintbrush in the diluted brown and brush it all the way down one plank, then immediately take a paper towel and wipe it off. It’ll give you the stained look. As you see in the above picture, the one on the left is prior to wiping off with a paper towel. Continue this process until your boards are done. Lay out to dry for 20-30 minutes. They dry fairly fast because it’s a very thin coat of paint.

Once your base layer has dried, dip the tip of your brush in the colored paint (not diluted) and VERY, every so lightly, brush your board with quick strokes up and down. This step was the step I had the most trouble with because I didn’t know what type of pressure to use when brushing the boards. Basically, you want to be a light as possible. I learned the hard way that it’s easier to add on than to take off. So start extremely light and keep adding if necessary. My teal board was a lot easier to paint as I knew the pressure and the strokes to take. You can dab a little paint at a time on certain parts of the board and then take your brush and quickly run it through with lots of strokes. I tried that but I think I dabbed too hard on some areas so some areas came out darker than the others. After some quick trial and error, my discovered my method was to dip the very tip of the brush in the colored paint, press it against a paper towel, then with fast brushing/stroking motion up and down, run the paint brush on the board. It gave you a light wispy paint coat & I just continued to add to it until I achieved the desired paint level. Experiment and find your method! To achieve the distressed look is to be light and wispy with the paint brush. You want the brown to show through. You don’t want to cover it heavily in the colored paint. You might as well just paint boards then :)

I actually fell in love with the dark brown stained look so I decided to make that my third color. That was the easiest to do as all you had to do was paint on the diluted brown and wipe it off with a paper towel.

I hope this tutorial has helped you :) feel free to ask me any questions!


Posted on June 12, 2012

dinner for two by julie wampler



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  1. 06/12/2012 at 7:58 am

    I’ve been meaning to do this for ages but, like you, am struggling to find space in my little apartment. I wonder if my boyfriend will consider moving just so I can make these? ;)

  2. 06/12/2012 at 8:02 am

    Love your little tute! I’m the queen of DIY and have yet to make any photo boards. I don’t even have to buy the paint because I have so many different leftovers in our garage from past projects. I must make some colored boards stat. I love your white board the best!

    • 06/12/2012 at 8:45 am

      Really? That’s funny cause the white is my least favorite one in how it turned out (to me at least) but Jason and now you, have said you both really like it. Maybe I just have stared at it too long lol

  3. 06/12/2012 at 8:48 am

    These are nice! I do this too – you can glaze them with ‘crackle glaze’ as well for even more texture. Or ‘beat them up’ for a more rustic, er, beaten-up look! The possibilities are endless!

    Nice tut Julie! x

  4. 06/12/2012 at 8:49 am

    Too funny. These have been on my project list FOREVER. I think I might just tackle them this summer! Thanks Julie. By the way, I love the white one too :)

  5. 06/12/2012 at 8:54 am

    What a fabulous idea, Julie! Surely going to give this a try. :)

  6. 06/12/2012 at 8:58 am

    They turned out so great! I have a small condo so that’s been my stumbling block too…but when we get a bigger place I’m gonna be all over this.

  7. 06/12/2012 at 9:08 am

    Your boards look SO good Julie! Love the colors you chose too! I went with turquoise and brown when I made my first ones, but I am dying to do white.

  8. We are still in our rental townhouse, or I would be going to the hardware store today. It has been on my to do list for too long! As soon as we move out, I am making these!!!

  9. 06/12/2012 at 9:26 am

    This post is very helpful! I am always looking for ways to improve my photography!

  10. 06/12/2012 at 10:47 am

    I have been wanting to do this for so long! I love the idea of using the tongue and groove boards! Yours look great!

  11. 06/12/2012 at 11:48 am

    I’ve been meaning to make some boards, too. I thought about using beadboard, but I love this idea! I’m looking forward to seeing how your food looks on these boards!

  12. 06/12/2012 at 12:05 pm

    These look great! photo boards have been on my to do list forever and I’ve got to get them done! Thanks for the inspiration and reminder to do it! Great idea to use the tongue & groove boards too!

  13. 06/12/2012 at 12:20 pm

    Julie! You have answered my prayers. I have been searching for that little extra “something” to take my pics over the edge. Homemade photo boards!! I can get Kevin, my handy bf, to help me with these! Thank you SO much for posting this tutorial. Seriously… saved my life. :)

  14. 06/12/2012 at 12:32 pm

    I love these!! And I think the white one is my fave too. It’s got this great New England White wash thing going on :) Perfection. I’m going to the store this weekend!

  15. 06/12/2012 at 1:36 pm

    These look great – love the white one!! You are incredibly handy!

  16. 06/12/2012 at 3:51 pm

    Awesome tutorial Julie! I’ve been meaning to make these but I just never got around to it. Now that Jason is home, maybe we’ll finally get a couple done this summer.

  17. 06/12/2012 at 3:55 pm

    they look awesome. i am loving mine!

  18. 06/12/2012 at 4:05 pm

    They turned out awesome! I’m still loving the tongue and groove pieces trick. I really want to redo mine now – they were such a pain and didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.

  19. 06/12/2012 at 4:31 pm

    I was actually going to tweet you and ask where you found the board planks to paint! This tutorial is so helpful. Im so glad you posted this. I cant wait to get back to the US and go out and buy some materials to make these! Photos are my hardest part of posting bc I dont have the right resources and I dont want to go out and get it all. No space in the apartment like you and I dont want to make them and not be able to take it home! I really cant wait to do this when we get home! :) I absolutely love the teal one and would love the purple as well (ps great wedding colors!!!!)

  20. 06/12/2012 at 4:52 pm

    Ok, you’re going to make me do this too, now! Thanks for the push :)

  21. 06/12/2012 at 4:59 pm

    These look awesome, Julie! You did such a great job and I LOVE the colors!! I’ve been wanting to make boards for sooo long. Thanks for the motivation to finally get around to it….now I just need to find a free weekend.

  22. 06/12/2012 at 6:11 pm

    I am obsessed with these tutorials. I love my board and am probably going to make at least two more this weekend. dreaming of colors!

  23. 06/12/2012 at 7:12 pm

    They turned out great! Thanks for the quick tutorial!

  24. 06/12/2012 at 7:17 pm

    Love all 3 boards Julie! You did a great job. Hadn’t thought of using tongue & groove. I need to start on my boards that have been sitting on the floor for a few weeks now. Not sure how the milk chocolate color I got is going to turn out, but I can always cover it up with white if the dark doesn’t turn out so well.

  25. 06/12/2012 at 10:05 pm

    i’ve had these on my to-make list forever, + this might be the inspiration i’ve needed to finally do it. yours turned out great!

  26. Jennifer @ Mother Thyme
    06/12/2012 at 11:13 pm

    Great tips! Love that blue!

  27. 06/13/2012 at 2:51 pm

    I love this! Photo boards have been on my husband’s to-do list for a while now, but I feel like I can tackle them on my own after this post!

  28. 06/13/2012 at 4:55 pm

    look how cute! I totally dig the white one.

  29. 06/14/2012 at 5:57 am

    What a brilliant idea! I’ve got some hardboard backgrounds but I love the look of the slats

  30. 06/15/2012 at 1:58 am

    These look great and a fantastic idea! I really need to get some more props, the other day I took the door of my daughters play house so I could take my pictures using the back of it…yeah I know just another crazy thing we do as bloggers right? ;)

  31. 06/21/2012 at 12:20 am

    I have been wanting to make some boards too! I think you just inspired me to tackle this project!!! I love the blue board, but I think the white is my favorite too. I have been using some extra pieces of bead board paneling for a backdrop:-)

  32. 06/30/2014 at 1:59 pm

    great and amazing tips..thanks for sharing !!

  33. 11/25/2014 at 7:46 pm

    Does the woodglue provide enough support? I bought materials today after looking at an other tutorial, and they left out the glue part. The boards seem kind of flimsy- did the glue hold it all into one piece well enough atleast for some good food styling? Thanks for sharing!

    • Julie
      11/26/2014 at 3:37 pm

      Yup, it provides support. Totally depends on what kind of wood you bought. Mine was pretty thick so it wasn’t flimsy.

  34. Melinda
    01/07/2015 at 1:23 pm

    I think I’m going to do a grey board!!

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