I have wanted some distressed look backgrounds for blog photography for ages. I checked out a bunch of fake ones. Real wood was expensive. Vinyl gave some flashback. Paper ones are not long lasting. So I decided to do what so many other bloggers have done before and pinterest it! I went with two sets of boards painted a different colour on each side so I have four to choose from. The total cost including tax was under $40 (Canadian) so just $10 per backdrop and I love the way they came out.
DIY Distressed Wood Photo Backdrop Supplies
I used these packs of 3ft panelling or wainscotting. They were under $11 per pack, so really affordable. You get 30″ wide by 32″ long and the wood is fairly thin so light enough to move around my apartment. Add a tube of carpenters glue if you don’t have suitable glue at home. I used No More Nails since we had some but they had bottles of glue near the wood for under $4 that would be plenty for this project.
I got two small paint samples from Lowe’s for my project. Before you pick out you colours, check which brands they carry in a non-shiny finish. Para was the only one not in Satin Finish at my local store. So that limited my colour choices a little. The wood is really yellow so you want to stain it darker first without making it look new. I went with Coconut Leaves to stain, rather than an actual stain, and Jo Jo Whitewash so my white was not too white. These tester pots of paint were less than $5 each.
Did you know you can tint your own paint using the little tubes of acrylic paint for artists? I picked up a mixed pack of colours for $2 at Dollarama to make my pink and blue paints. Since you are watering down the paint later, this little 231ml (around 8oz) pots are plenty for the two packs of boards.
Starting Your DIY Distressed Look Wood Backdrop Project
The pack says to open it and allow the wood to breathe for 24 hours. Sometimes it is compressed in the packaging and you don’t want it expanding once glued. It also has a fairly shiny finish on the beaded side that will look new in photos. So you want to bang it up (gently as the wood is thin). I enlisted my trusty little helpers who were more than happy to help claw the wood. Add in some dings from a bag containing various bolts and stuff I took from his tool box and I was ready to start gluing.
It works best if you place the glue in the hole rather than on the lip. You will want to line up your wood to check the lips are not broken. I had a few pieces where they were crushed at the sides that could only be used as end pieces. Honestly, the full 30″ is a little much and I ended up breaking off a piece after painting, so decide while gluing if you need it all.
Painting Your DIY Distressed Look Wood Backdrop
Starting out, you will want to paint all of the pieces brown to darken the wood. Making it look older and not so yellow is a huge step in this so take time to get the colour right. You want a brown that is slightly greyed and not too dark. Mix your brown paint 50-50 with water and stir well. On the recommendation from someone on pinterest, I cut into my brush a little to give it a messier edge too.
Use a small brush to paint a corner to see if you have the right mix. The watery paint should seep into the wood a little and stain rather than look like painted wall. I ended up mixing a little extra water to get mine how I wanted it. “Stain” all sides of the wood with your brown paint-water mix and allow to dry for at least four hours. If your paint is too thick, you can use a rag to wipe off any excess after about a minute.
You can see above that I still get the grain of the wood in my photos which appear lighter and the darker knots in the wood still show through. I recommend using the rougher back side of the panelling if you want to keep the natural wood look. Make sure you use a drop sheet or garbage bag, something to protect your workspace. Watered down paint is messy!
Once dry, you can go in with your colour coats. What I really wanted was that distressed white look. Do the same with your white paint. Mix it with water until you get the desired consistency and paint over the “stained” wood. The darker brown shows better through the wood than the more yellow pine would. I made mine thin enough that I did not need to rub it with a rag but lots of other tutorials recommend it.
Tinting White Paint With Artists Acrylics
Did you know that you can tint white paint with artists acrylics. You won’t get a super bright paint like buying in store, but I had a set of Dollarama acrylic paint I bought for my nails so thought I would try it. Simply squeeze out the colours you want into a small bowl and mix with water. Remember you are mixing them with a lot of white so don’t go too light trying to get your perfect shade! You want it darker than you think. Then slowly mix the watery acrylic mixture into your white paint. You can add more white paint or acrylic tinted water as needed until perfect.
I didn’t even use the whole tube of red to make my pink and added the tiniest amount of blue to bring down the bubblegum pink and give it a hint of lavender. On the blue, I mixed some blues and greens to get my perfect shade. Then water down the acrylic and white paint mixture to get the same consistency you did for the brown and white and paint it on. It it a good idea to leave the mix for 5 minutes before painting to allow the colour tint to settle. Mine needed another good stir as some colour bubbled to the surface.
Remember if painting the reverse side that there are knotty holes and areas where glue may not have completely sealed. Watch for paint dripping down the back! When completely wet, it can easily be wiped away with a wet rag.
My DIY Photo Backdrops!
DIY Natural Aged Wood Look
Whitewashed Distressed Wood DIY Photo Backdrop
Muted Pink Look Wood DIY Photo Background
Baby Blue Old Wood Look DIY Photo Backdrop
You get a sneak peek of a couple of my NaBloPoMo posts since I was trying out my new DIY backdrops. I definitely prefer the look of the rougher back of the wood, but the colours are useful to have. Since I broke a piece off now (three-four slats), I can stand up the remainder as a “wall” in photos if products are standing up too.
Total Cost of my DIY Distressed Look Wood Backdrops
- Two packs of panelling at $10.50 each (Knotty Pine 32″ Panelling Packs at RONA)
- Two pots of paint at $4.95 each (Para Paint tester posts at Lowe’s)
- Paint Brush $1.49
- Artists Acrylics $2 (Dollarama pack of 10-12)
- Wood Glue $4
Since I already had glue and acrylics, this cost me $36.60 including tax. I am now looking more forward to 30 posts in 30 days with my new backdrops!