How to Easily and Inexpensively Create Beautiful Shiplap Walls!


You’ve probably seen countless gorgeous pictures of the ever-popular shiplap walls. Shiplap walls are a great way to add texture and a farmhouse feel to a room. In your own home, you can use shiplap to create a shiplap accent wall, frame a fireplace, or cover all the walls in a room.

Shiplap (Feathering My Nest)

See post: Feathering My Nest|Shiplap Wall


A project like this might seem daunting at first but it really can be quite simple. Also, there are great alternative materials you can use instead of real shiplap. If installed properly, these alternative materials can look just like real shiplap for a fraction of the cost! Consider where a shiplap wall might look great in your home and get started by reading below about how to shiplap a wall.

Shiplap Wall (Pat Rios)

See post: Pat Rios|The Wood Spa|Shiplap Walls Made of Plywood


What is Shiplap?

Before we delve into a step-by-step tutorial, let’s take a moment to ensure that we all know the answer to the question “What is shiplap?”. Shiplap is a wood board that has a groove cut in the edge of it so that it fits in nicely next to another shiplap board. When shiplap boards are fit together with one another, it looks like there is a small gap between the boards because of the pre-cut grooves. However, the wall behind doesn’t show through at all because of the way the grooves are cut.

Celebrate & Decorate (Chloe Crabtree)

See post: Celebrate & Decorate (Chloe Crabtree)|How to Shiplap a Fireplace or a Wall


Fortunately, you can get the look of shiplap without having to purchase these specially-made boards. Read on for all the details about how you can make inexpensive plywood look just like shiplap!


How to Shiplap a Wall

Here are step-by-step directions on how to create a DIY shiplap wall that looks great and costs very little. There are, of course, various options for exactly how you accomplish this so I’ll make sure to explicitly call out these options in the steps so that you can choose your preferred method for creating a beautiful DIY shiplap wall.


1) Choose a wall, room or fireplace to add shiplap to

There are so many options for where you can put up shiplap. Take a good look around your home and consider where it might look best. Here are a few pictures for inspiration.


You could shiplap an entire room or entryway.

How to Shiplap a Wall (Heather)

See post: Heather|DIY Shiplap Wall...Easy, Cheap, and Beautiful Part 1


You could create a shiplap accent wall in a dining room, living room or bedroom.

Shiplap Accent Wall (Stephanie Coon/Rehab to Fab)

See post: Stephanie Coon/Rehab to Fab|Shiplap Wall on a Budget!


Additionally, you could also create a shiplap accent wall in your bathroom. A popular trend right now is putting up shiplap on the wall behind your sinks. It gives bathrooms a true farmhouse or even modern farmhouse feel.

Shiplap Bathroom Walls (Stephanie Coon/Rehab to Fab)

See post: Stephanie Coon/Rehab to Fab|My Master Bath Got a Shiplap Transformation!


Lastly, you could also choose to shiplap around a fireplace, creating a shiplap mantle. 

Shiplap Wall Ideas (Celebrate & Decorate (Chloe Crabtree))

See post: Celebrate & Decorate (Chloe Crabtree)|How to Shiplap a Fireplace or a Wall


2) Decide on your board material and board placement

There are numerous types of wood boards you can use to create a shiplap wall. For the most authentic look, use actual shiplap boards. For a less expensive alternative that still looks great, buy plywood sheets and cut them into 5 to 8 inch wide strips. Another inexpensive alternative is plank paneling. If you prefer a solid wood look but not the expense of shiplap, consider pine boards. There are so many options and all can be made to look great! For this specific step-by-step tutorial, we’ll assume that you are using plywood sheets.


Another decision you should make before you begin is how you want to place the boards on the wall. One example is below, where every other board end aligns. Other options are to make every single board end align or to randomly space boards so each row has a seam in a different, seemingly random place. There is no right or wrong way to do this. This is simply based on your style preference.

Shiplap Boards (Stephanie Coon/Rehab to Fab)

See post: Stephanie Coon/Rehab to Fab|Shiplap Wall on a Budget!


3) Gather your supplies

You will need the following supplies to complete a shiplap wall: Plywood sheets (measure your wall to determine how many sheets you will need), a nail gun, two nickels, a level, a stud finder, a measuring tape, paint filler, paint, a paintbrush, sandpaper and a saw (a miter or table saw is best, but you could use a hand saw if you have nothing else to use). If you do not own a nail gun, you could choose to use a hammer and nails, although that will make this project a lot more labor intensive. It is probably wise to buy or borrow a nail gun from someone for this project.

Shiplap Wood (Heather)

See post: Heather|DIY Shiplap Wall...Easy, Cheap, and Beautiful Part 1


4) Cut your plywood into strips that are 5 to 8 inches wide

The exact width of your boards is personal preference, but shiplap often is about 5 to 8 inches wide. Therefore, it makes sense to follow a similar width. If you’d like, many home improvement stores will cut your purchased wood for free. Otherwise, you can use a table saw to cut your plywood into strips. It’s up to your personal preference and how confident you are that you’ll be happy with the cutting done by someone else. You’ll need to measure your walls to be able to estimate how many boards you will need to cut. 

How to Install Shiplap (Hoosier Homemade)

See post: Hoosier Homemade|Shiplap Wall for UNDER $40


5) Sand the edges of your boards as needed

Sometimes after you cut the boards, there will be sharp edges or little splinters sticking out. Therefore, take some time to sand the edges of the boards if needed. This doesn’t have to be done perfectly so there is no need to spend a lot of time on it. You can use a piece of sandpaper and only sand specific problem areas. There is no need to pull out an electric sander for this little job.

Preparing for Shiplap Walls (Feathering my Nest – Lacey Haskell)

See post: Feathering my Nest – Lacey Haskell|Shiplap Wall


6) Paint your wall the same color that you plan to paint the shiplap

You don’t have to do a perfect paint job. The purpose of this painting is to ensure that the small gaps between your boards don’t show through a different color than your boards. You don’t have to fully cover the wall or even get to the very edge of the wall.

Paint Walls Before Adding Shiplap (Chelsea @ Making Manzanita)

See post: Chelsea @ Making Manzanita|How To Install A Faux Shiplap Wall


7) Find and mark the studs on the wall

To ensure that your wood stays on your wall, take some time to use a stud finder to find the studs in the wall. Mark the studs with a pencil so you will know where to drive the nails into the wall. This is a simple step that won’t take long to complete. However, it is invaluable in order to ensure that your project is completed as professionally and safely as possible.

How to Add Shiplap (Pat Rios | The Wood Spa)

See post: Pat Rios|The Wood Spa|Shiplap Walls Made of Plywood


8) Start nailing boards to the wall, ensuring that they are level along the way

Start with the top board, ensuring that it is level by using a level to check. Put nails into each end of the board and wherever there is a stud. This will ensure that the ends are securely nailed down and that the board will not fall off the wall. Depending on the width of your wall, you might have to cut down that first board to fit or you might have to add another board onto that same row. Simply measure and cut additional boards as needed. Ensure that you are placing the boards properly to align with your design plan for how the ends of the boards should line up row-by-row.

DIY Shiplap (Feathering my Nest – Lacey Haskell)

See post: Feathering my Nest – Lacey Haskell|Shiplap Wall


9) Nail up all additional boards, using nickels to space them evenly apart

It turns out that nickels are the perfect width for creating gaps between boards for a shiplap look. Place a nickel at each end of the board and nail down the next board. Keep going until your entire wall is covered in boards. You might need to cut your last board length-wise to fit properly at the bottom of the wall. Precise measuring and a table saw are the best ways to do this.

Installing Shiplap (Pat Rios | The Wood Spa)

See post: Pat Rios|The Wood Spa|Shiplap Walls Made of Plywood


10) If needed, cut boards to fit around outlets

It’s much easier if you are working with a wall that doesn’t have any outlets on it. However, if your wall does have outlets, you can work with that. Take the outlet cover off and measure around the outlet. This will give you the dimensions you need. Next cut out a rectangular shape from your boards that match those dimensions to ensure that the outlet will not get covered up by the wood. Then install the board as you would any other board.

DIY Shiplap Ideas (Feathering my Nest – Lacey Haskell)

See post: Feathering my Nest – Lacey Haskell|Shiplap Wall


11) Fill nail holes with wood filler

You can skip this step if you don’t mind seeing nail holes. However, I recommend filling the nail holes with wood filler to ensure a smooth feel and professional look. Lightly sand over the wood filler once it’s dry to give it a smooth finish.

Shiplap Wood Ideas (Sawdust & Whiskey)

See post: Sawdust & Whiskey|DIY Shiplap Wall


12) Paint the boards

Most people choose to paint their faux shiplap boards white. However, you can choose whatever color you prefer. Even black shiplap walls are gaining popularity lately. Give all the boards a solid coat of paint, making sure that you get in the grooves for a seamless look. 

Painted Shiplap Walls (Heather)

See post: Heather|DIY Shiplap Wall...Easy, Cheap, and Beautiful Part 1


You should now have a stunning shiplap wall that you created all on your own!


Other Shiplap Wall Ideas

Did you know that you can also create a faux shiplap wall without even using wood? It’s true. You can. Of course, it will look less realistic than a shiplap wall made from wood, but these no-wood options are easier and less expensive than wood shiplap walls. They are certainly worth considering. Here are two ideas:


1) Use peel and stick shiplap wallpaper to create a faux shiplap wall that is easily removed

This is a perfect option for renters who want to be able to easily remove anything they put on walls. Furthermore, it’s very easy to install it, taking a lot less time than installing a DIY wood shiplap wall.

Shiplap Living Room (Heather)

See post: Heather|DIY Easy Faux Shiplap Wallpaper


2) Use a pencil to draw lines on a white wall to give it the look of shiplap

 This might sound like an unusual suggestion but look at how great it looks in the below picture! The key is that you should ensure that you are smudging the pencil lines along the way to create a textured, more dimensional look. Take a moment to view this great video of the process used to complete this look. 

Shiplap Bedroom Walls (Rob & Courtney M, Hometalk Team)

See post: Rob & Courtney M, Hometalk Team|The Easiest Way to Get a Faux Shiplap Wall


I hope you now feel inspired to transform a wall in your home into a gorgeous shiplap wall. Although the process might seem daunting at first, if you go step by step you can definitely do it. This is a project that can be completed very easily in just a weekend! Take a moment now to walk around your house and find that perfect wall. Then start planning and buying supplies. Refer back to this step-by-step tutorial as needed to complete your project and stay inspired along the way. When you complete your project, share your process pictures and your final pictures on Hometalk to inspire others too!


Written for the Hometalk community by: Mary | The Handcrafted Haven

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