Shiplap Wall

9 Materials
6.5 Hours

We... the Pickle and I, have an ever growing list of home improvement/nesting projects that we're working our way through... to really make our house OUR home... We decided to start with the shiplap wall in our living room... it was one of the easiest of the projects on our list and a great place to get started.
Here was our blank living room wall... we'd removed all the art that was up and patched all holes and repainted our home this past winter - Revere Pewter... and we knew we wanted to bring some warmth and character into our main living room... so we decided shiplap would be it.
Getting the planks cut
We picked a good quality 3mm maple veneer ply from Home Depot - the square footage worked out that we needed 3 sheets (which would give us a few extra strips) and we had the 5" x 8' strips cut on this sweet machine at home depot - way quicker and safer than cutting them using the table saw at home as the sheet material is so flimsy.
Quick sand cleanup
Once we got the planks home I gave them all a quick light sanding to remove any fuzzed edges or splinters and to make sure the face of the boards was nice and smooth...
Looking for studs ;)
Using a stud finder we marked the edges of the studs in the walls...
Marking out the studs
...and then used the level to draw the lines up and down the walls at the edges of each of the studs... we would be nailing the planks into the studs... no glue required for this thin ply material.
Measuring the plank cut
Now we didn't worry about the vertical seams where two pieces of plank would but up against each other... our wall was not an even width so as we moved along cutting each piece the seams all ended up in a random pattern... We started with an 8ft plank butted up on the right wall and up to the ceiling. Using the level we ensured that the first plank was level... make sure you get this first plank level folks. Your ceiling may not be perfectly level but you will not notice any small gaps that you may have to make between plank and ceiling to ensure you are starting out level.
Once you are satisfied with the first plank put two nails in the plank starting at one end working across the plank nailing into every stud... if the end of the plank does not land on a stud thats okay... still put two nails into the ends... the wood is light and will hold into the gyproc. From here we measured across from the end of the first plank over to the wall on the left... then we took one of the 8' long planks and cut this short piece from that plank...
Plank edge cleanup
Have some sandpaper on hand to clean up any fuzzies on the edges of the planks that are being cut down.
Nickel spacers while nailing planks in place
To get the spacing between the horizontal rows of shiplap planks we used nickels as spacers... working back and fourth we measured and cut planks if one shorter than 8' was required and then carried on with the remainder of the plank that was just cut as our next plank used on the next row down...
Making our way down the wall
We worked our way down and back and forth across the wall... spacing with nickels and nailing at every stud and at the ends of each plank..
Cutting around the outlet
And then we came to the electrical outlet... we pulled the cover plate off... measured down from nickel width to top of outlet, and from the perpendicular wall to the edge of outlet, and also the width of the outlet...
We then transferred these dimensions to the plank being installed over where the outlet was located and cut the notch out with a jigsaw...
Completed wall
The very last plank that was required to finish the wall was under 5" in width. We measured from top of the molding at the base of the wall, minus the thickness of the nickel... this was the width that our last strip of shiplap. Two planks were ripped down using the table saw and then the custom width piece nailed into place.
Preparing the paint wash
I created three paint wash samples using two greys and chalk white from the FAT Paint chalk paint line... The whitewashed sample really stood out for us as the look that we wanted for our shiplap wall in our home. Now if we were going to paint this wall I would fill all of the little nail head holes with a wood filler, allow it to dry and then sand away the excess... BUT because I was going for a more washy natural an weathered look I decided to leave the nail head holes.
Mixing the FAT paint and water
To create a paint wash I gathered the following... FAT paint which I put into a separate container, a jar of water, one of my favourite CLING ON brushes, a mixing container (glass bowl) and some clean rags...
I begin preparing the paint wash by wetting the brush and shaking it out, then dipped the tips of the bristles into the paint, then I pounce the brush in the mixing container...
For the paint wash I work with the paint and water, but not directly from either of those containers onto the surface I want to paint... I will work the paint and water together in the mixing container at a rough ratio of 1 tip dip of paint to 1 dip of water.
...after the dip in water and some pouncing in the paint that was already put into the mixing container I dip into the paint then mix then dip water then mix again... I will do this a couple times with the paint and water into mixing container to get a bit of paint wash build up to work from... the rags are kept handy to wipe off/blot away excess paint wash that gets out of control or drips...
Work along one plank at a time being sure not to drip down onto the planks below... I started from the bottom planks and worked my way up the wall washing each plank with my paint wash... starting at the bottom allowed me to get my technique nailed down before painting an area that wasn't going to be hidden by a couch ;)
If you want to be sure how your piece will look always do a few tests planks with your extra material as the final finish will look different when it is dry from when it is wet with the wash at first.
I paint washed the planks one at a time from bottom to top - working from the bottom up allowed me some practice before I was painting planks that wouldn't be hidden behind the couch ;) Take look at the post over on my blog for additional detail about all of these steps and for waaaay more photos!
Time to sand
Once the wall is dry I use a 220 grit sandpaper to smooth the wall... regardless of the finish applied to the wood the grain will likely slightly lift... the light sanding will smooth that out along with the finish making it as smooth as butta!
After sanding the wall got a vacuum and a wipe down and the furniture was put back into place... for now we're leaving it the big bare beautiful shiplap wall but I've got plans for some custom artwork in the works so stay tuned for that!... because of course I'm going to share how to make it! ;)

Resources for this project:

FAT Paint
Tacklife DMS04 Stud Sensor with Large LCD Display LED Indicator Multi-Wall...
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

18 questions
  • Joan Dillon
    on Jun 23, 2016

    I've seen people use the cheaper laminate flooring for a wall covering in a color of white or wood stain. No backing would be required and the second step of finishing it would be eliminated. I wonder what the cost difference would be? Also, my home depot will only make two cuts and then they charge a fee for the rest. Would you happen to know what they charged for all the cuts?

    • Hey Joan, I think typical cuts are a dollar a piece - but they were feeling nice that day and didn't charge - as the boards were stacked each cut actually cut three boards.

  • Pam
    on Jun 23, 2016

    Why do you space the boards?

    • Bob
      on Jun 23, 2016

      Wondered that myself. Seems like the spaces would become dust collectors after a few years. ??

    • Anne Thomas
      on Jun 23, 2016

      With such thin wood, it would shrink or swell with varying levels of humidity in the house.

    • Kay Ellen Tomlinson
      on Jun 23, 2016

      It would also make it look like real shiplap

    • The spacing is an aesthetic choice - like Kay mentioned to give it the authentic shiplap look.

  • Theresa Primeaux Simoneaux
    on Jun 23, 2016

    Here's a question concerning the spacing between boards. Doesn't it dusty and grimy in that space? Or do you "grout" it like tile?

  • Aud7492923
    on Jun 23, 2016

    It looks great. You mention you used nickels as spacers - did you just leave this gap between the planks or did the paint process fill it?

  • Mary
    on Jun 24, 2016

    Why did you choose a veneer? Eventually won't that bubble or peel?

  • Aba7147062
    on Jun 24, 2016

    lovely, would like to know was your previous wall wood or brick before you add the wooden planks on?

  • Tam309638
    on Jun 29, 2016

    Could you tell me the approximate size of your ship lap wall? Just trying to figure out a rough estimate, price-wise, for a larger wall. Your results are wonderful! Thank you for your very clear instructions. Tami

    • Grandmaquilts
      on Jun 30, 2016

      Assuming a 8 ft ceiling: 96 inches high, divided by 5 inches (width of each piece of "ship lap". You will need 20 Rows or courses. The length of your wall will determine how many "strips" required for each row. ie: A 13 foot wall will need 1 (8 ft) and 1 (5ft) piece to complete a 13 ft run. That is 1.625 strips per row, times 20 rows is 32.5 strips. 9 (48 div by 5= 9) strips per sheet. 33 strips divided by 9 is 3.6 or 4 sheets. I hope this helps~ I'm just a quilter- I left out "seam allowances!

    • My wall was s about 8' high and then I think around 11' wide! :)

  • Jce4957223
    on Jul 10, 2016

    How much did this project in total cost u and what tools were needed?

    • Hi there! That full cost was 134.50 - for the breakdown of the cost and the tools used checkout the full blog post ;) All the details plus some can be found there! You can find the link to the blog post at the bottom of the post above! :)

  • Catherinecaywood@gmail
    on Jul 17, 2016

    my question is about your shiplap wall in the living area of your house, wanted to know where the light in the adjacent room was purchased. I'm speaking of the wooden one that you c an clearly see pictured. you can reach me@

    • Hi Catherine - the light was purchased from Urban Barn (in Canada) - I think I've seen a few knock off DIY's for this style of light out there - there really isn't a lot to the light fixture! :)

  • Linda Sanders
    on Oct 30, 2016

    I absolutely love your wall and the detail directions from start to finish. I also love your sofa and have not been able to find one quite like yours, wold you share with me where you purchased it? Again great tutorial. Love the whole look.

  • Christine Sandow
    on Feb 12, 2017

    My home is lath/plaster walls covered by masonite panels with trim that was very tightly glued and nailed (pics attached). That wall has a doorway that is rounded at the top, like your left wall window cutout. We painted, but, as the photo shows, the paint highlighted the cuts on trim and the nails on the rounded door. When seeing your article on shiplap, I am hopeful that I can apply the shiplap by nailing over the painted masonite. How could I finish the shiplap edges on the rounded top of the doorway? Thank you for this great project, very well done!

    , interior rounded doorway
    • WendyLou
      on Jun 1, 2017

      I am not a professional, however, if I were you, I would look into wood trim that I could soak in water and make pliable and form fitting. This would be similar to the techniques used to put an edging on a round table.
    • Hi Christine I can't see the photos that have been attached - you could just cut to fit each plank so that it follows the curve of the rounded door - holding them in place one at a time as you go along, marking the shape of the door in the area where that plank is to go, cut it to fit the contour of the door and then nail it up into place. If you give the edges a sanding so that they're smooth you should be able to paint or stain them to match the rest of the planking!
    • Gail
      on Jun 6, 2017

      Google 'flexible molding'. There are numerous designs and may be your solution to trimming around curved doors or windows.
    • DMA
      on Oct 30, 2017

      Re: MASONITE
      Verry difficult to nail into! You might have to drill a starter hole 😟
  • Susan
    on May 4, 2017

    Why did you put a nickels worth of space between the planks. Brilliant idea to use quality plywood, btw. Could one use 1x5 pine, spruce or fir boards if they'Re cheaper?
    • I used the space for the overall aesthetics - it was just the look I was going for. You could definitely use 1x5 or whichever size boards you like - 1" would be pretty thick to nail to your wall though - so I would recommend some additional adhesive for those - you'd likely need something construction grade.
    • Karen
      on May 23, 2017

      It's also smart because the wood can expand and contract, so leaving some space helps keep the smooth look.
    • Kristine Kelley Bailey
      on Jul 25, 2017

      Ship lap always leaves a small gap, that's what sets the look apart from say... paneling which was also a huge trend at one time. Without those gaps, it looks like one had a wooden wall they didn't like and simply tried to hide with lots of paint. This project pictured, I love. Feathering My Nest left the paint thin enough to let some wood grain show through, it is the best planking project I have seen yet.
  • Carol Cole
    on Sep 30, 2017

    what is the thickness of the plywood?
  • Itsmemic
    on Jan 29, 2018

    Looks great..but why all that dipping and pouncing back and forth between containers? Why didn't you just mix the paint with water and use it like that? I don't get all that extra work. I am sure you have a reason so let's hear it !!
  • Lynda
    on Jan 29, 2018

    This is exactly what I have been looking for. I just shiplapped my lvrm wall and I wanted to color wash it a grey. Love your grey color. Can you please tell me the names of the colors of Fat Paint that you used. And was 1/2 pint of each color enough for the whole wall? Thanks so much
  • Sara
    on Jan 29, 2018

    what is FAT paint?
  • Janise Janise
    on Jan 13, 2019

    Would the type of wood that you used work well in damp areas like small bathrooms or do you think it may warp?

  • Cindy
    on Jul 17, 2019

    What did you do on each side to make sure smooth? Did you caulk the edges?

    Thank you!

Join the conversation

2 of 125 comments
  • Kim
    on Feb 11, 2018

    candlesI am definitely going to do this in my entry & also my "Babe Cave" (enclosed garage) game room. The wall in my "Babe Cave" has 2 doors that I will transform into sliding barn doors, then the shiplapped wall in between will be the backdrop for a freestanding "outdoor" fireplace that I light candles in for the ambiance! Thanks for the inspiration! ♡♡♡
  • L. Creative
    on Mar 20, 2018

    I agree it looks gorg, and even BARE! I would look on Pinterest for gallery walls which are very popular now. Make use of that big gorgeous space with tin letters and family photos and fun arrows, etc! I’m working on one myself (have a metal ampersand I love)

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