DIYdiy projects

diy project: slatted wood map art

by Kate Pruitt

I’ve been seeing a lot of slatted wood lately, mostly in large-scale designs like Morgan Satterfield’s lovely front porch screen or this incredible house that popped up on Desire to Inspire yesterday. I’ve never come across slatted wood as wall art, but after seeing this wall map project from Natalie Gluic, I’m thoroughly convinced that this is a great way to showcase the beauty of the slatted-wood construction.

After giving the strips of wood a rich, deep red oak stain, Natalie traced and painted in a graphic map to add an extra layer of interest. I actually love the abstraction of the map design spanned over the slats, and the subdued paint palette gives the piece sophistication. Constructing the slatted wood is relatively straightforward, and from there you have tons of great options for how to customize it for your own walls. I could also see this looking incredible installed on an outdoor wall with some plants tucked in here and there. Thanks so much for sharing, Natalie! — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • 20 pieces of 1″ x 2″ x 8′ framing lumber for the slats
  • 2 pieces of 1″ x 6″ x 4′ lumber (as the two foundation pieces to hold the slats)
  • Minwax Red Oak wood stain
  • a few handfuls of 1 3/8″ framing nails
  • a variety of acrylic paint colors to paint the map
  • satin finish polyurethane



  • hammer
  • some rags for staining
  • white chalk
  • saw
  • coarse-grit sandpaper
  • a spacing tool
  • paintbrushes



1. Stain the Wood: Start by staining all your wood — lay down a tarp and wipe on the Minwax stain with an old rag, wait 5 minutes for the stain to set and wipe off the excess with a dry rag. Let the stained wood dry overnight.

2. Construct the Slatted Wood Piece: Start by laying out the slats of wood on the two foundational pieces. Space them out to get a sense of the spacing between the pieces. Make sure you calculate the amount of open space between each slat and find a spacer (a piece of wood or something similar; I used a level) that matches that width, and start nailing down your wood. Pay attention to where the ends of the wood sit, but mine ended up a bit uneven, and I actually liked that “rough” look. Nail the first piece flush to the end of the foundational pieces and put your spacer between each subsequent piece of wood until all the wood is nailed in.

3. Trace the Map: You’ll need an image of the map you want to trace with a clear outline. Then “scale” it to a ratio that is similar to your large map. Next, add some stripes over the map, using the same spacing ratio that you selected for your slatted wood piece (for example, my slats were 2″ wide, with 1″ of space between them, so I used a 1″ to 2″ ratio on my scaled map). Then divide the scaled map into lateral “chunks,” almost like a grid. Now transfer the map outline by following the outlines in each grid “chunk” of the scaled map.

4. Paint the Map: Plan out the colors for your map and dilute the acrylic paint with some water to make it a bit washed out. Then simply paint on the slats, following the lines between the provinces/states. Finally, carefully outline the “borders” with a fine brush dipped in light gray paint. This might take some time :) Let the paint dry.

5. Finishing Touches: Lightly sand the dried paint with a coarse-grit sandpaper to make the color seem weathered and rubbed off. Wipe off any excess dust from the sandpaper, and brush on two coats of polyurethane.

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  • How inspiring! We have slats like this left over from another project, and this gives me a great idea of what we can do with them. Thanks for sharing! Cute pooch, too.

  • I love the slated wood idea, it works so beautifully with the bed and the flooring. I would love to know where she got the bed from too.

  • I, too, would love to know from where the bed was purchased. I’ve been searching the world over for something just like that!

  • It is, indeed the Ikea Malm in medium-brown – I searched for a teak vintage bedframe for a couple of months, then realised that the Malm frame had the same look for under $300.00. I haven’t regretted it since :)

  • This is amazing! Love the glasses pillow, the puppy, and (especially) this project. Maybe I’ll have to make a fun slatted wood map of my own.


  • I would anchor the slats together while mapping and painting and then after paint dries separate them apart and anchor in place; seems like that would be easier; just a thought; a great project and idea

  • I plan on doing this with a map of North Carolina. I am going to use two additional “support” slats on the outsied edges to help align the curved boards. I will use a spacer (as you did) every time I add a screw to prevent that wavy appearance. …You just can’t find more than a few straight boards at my local hardware stores!

  • Very cool! Gorgeous pictures, and attention to detail. Really wish I could pin some of your projects on Pinterest! :( Hopefully that will be an option in the near future? Thanks!

    • Hi Karolina –
      You can definitely pin these to Pinterest. You just need to install the Pinterest “pin it” button in your browser. Click into the post and pin from there. We are looking into adding the Pinterest button in the future to make it a little easier. You can also repine from our DIY board – http://pinterest.com/designsponge/diy/ Thanks! Amy

  • Kate, which paint color did you use on your walls? I like the contrast of the map art against it. Thanks

  • Love this project! I’m curious as to how you would hang it after it is completed…seems like it would be pretty heavy…? Maybe not? What kind of hardware was used to install it?

  • I LOOOOVVVEEEEE this SOO MUCH! I am CANADIAN and living in the states…have been looking for Canada art. Any chance you could share where you got the map? Thanks!

  • I love this… while I can’t even TRACE a straight line I am handy w/ a foam brush…so I’m thinking about finding some inexpensive prints (think michaels, hobby lobby) and cut it in strips and then decopouge the on. May give a nice visual change from the norm. Thanks for the idea! Yours is beautiful!

  • Love this! I would think it would be a bit easier though to draw the map first with all the slats pushed together, then separate and screw to the boards. just have to be careful with the ends matching up and the like.

  • I love this map decor idea! For those who aren’t as artistic, perhaps cutting a large maps to match the slats and using mod-podge to adhere the map would be an idea?

  • Thank you for your inspiration! I wanted to do this as soon as i saw it. Working at a furniture store i have easy access to a woodshop so I ordered lumber and did it! Well i am right now working on the big one like yours above but i used the scrap wood and built a mini version for my Youth Christmas Banquet where we all had to make and bring our own gift. It turned out great! And was a fun project. Here is the link – http://www.flickr.com/photos/31312037@N05/sets/72157632371004755/ .. Thank You!

  • I am trying to figure out the best way to mount this to the wall. I see others have asked, but I see no answers. What is the best way to mount this flush against the wall, as the photos suggest?? Do you drill straight through the foundational pieces, or do you put in anchors to the wall and mount hanging material to the back??