Affordable DIY Shiplap Walls

5 Materials
$60
1 Day
Easy

Adding shiplap to your walls gives your home an instant modern-farmhouse vibe and luckily there’s a super affordable way to DIY shiplap in your own home that will fit into any home improvement budget!

The real magic behind this project is the material used to create the actual shiplap. With this method, the shiplap is installed over your existing drywall saving you time and cost. Can you believe that it only cost us about $20 per wall for the shiplap and Chris had it up in few short hours (spread out over a few days, but who’s complaining?) That’s less than a can of paint in many cases! I just love a project that takes really simple materials and turns them into something unexpected. You know, projects that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Chris started out by cutting the full MDF sheet – which was purchased at the local hardware store for less than $20 – into 6″ strips using a circular saw and a straight edge guide to create the actual shiplap pieces. It took him 3 sheets to do approximately 20 liner ft. of wall from the floor to 4.5 ft. up the wall. 


 To get his starting point, he found the highest point in the floor and marked the start of our shiplap based on the height of the baseboard we planned to install at the end. He applied plenty of construction adhesive to the first piece of shiplap and set it in place on the wall using his mark and a level as his guide for where to place it – NOT measuring off the floor all the way across.  He then tacked it into place with a few brad nails to hold it tight and level while the adhesive dried.

Before lining up the next piece, however, it’s really a good idea to paint the top edge and part of the wall above each piece as you go because it can be difficult to get into the gaps with a paintbrush after everything is installed. Chris just applied one quick coat of paint and moved onto the next piece, applying adhesive and tacking it into place.

To make sure all of the gaps were even, he used 1/8″ tile spacers in a few spots between each strip of shiplap and continued to check every piece with a level as he worked his was up. You can also use something like a few nickels if you don’t have any tile spacers.

I can’t believe how fresh and new these half-walls of shiplap have made the whole room feel! This isn’t a project that we had planned on completing this year, but I’m so glad that Chris decided to jump into this quick update on a whim one day! By using thin 1/4″ MDF and sticking it right over the existing drywall rather than buying the 5/8″ or 3/4″ lumber the home stores sell as shiplap we avoided tearing the walls down to the studs and significantly prolonging our timeline. I also love that this project made such a big difference without us having to set aside a big budget for it. 


  • For further guidance on any of the steps in this project, feel free to reach out and I can ask Chris for more information. And follow me on  Instagram and keep up to date on my stories to see projects like this in action!
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Sunny
    on Jul 4, 2019

    Wow, fresh, easy and inexpensive!! My kind of project! I'm fact, I think I will definitely do this in my horribly outdated living room!! But, my question is, what is the color on the top part of the walls? It looks like it will be perfect, too! 😁 Thanks!

  • Paula P
    on Jul 22, 2019

    Love the shiplap look you created. How did you create the brick outline of your door?

    • Natasha May
      on Sep 8, 2019

      Good eye Paula! I didn’t even notice but, I would love to know as well.

  • Carolina
    on Sep 7, 2020

    It looks so fresh and beautiful. Nice job. By the way, I have the exact antique dresser that you have but mine needs a little TLC. What did you do to yours that looks so good? just sand and stain?

Join the conversation

2 of 15 comments
  • Susan S
    on Aug 8, 2019

    FYI ... most home stores will cut the panels into strips for you.

  • Jacx
    on Jul 3, 2020

    You need molding to finish it off. That should stick out further than the ship lap. It adds so much. Beautiful job, love this

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