SHIPLAP Tutorial for Rookies

The DIY Playbook
by The DIY Playbook
13 Materials
Step 1: Get Plywood Cut Down (Free At Lowe’s!)
Shiplap can be a very cost-effective project because plywood is so darn reasonable! I used maple plywood and had two sheets cut down (in store… for free!) to 5 1/2″ strips. You can get your strips cut down (they called it ripped) to whatever size you want. I bought two sheets and had quite a bit leftover. For $24 per board, this stuff is a steal!
Rookie Tip: The plywood I bought is very light and flimsy and did do a bit of chipping when I cut it down, so if you want wood that’s a bit more sturdy, consider buying plywood that’s thicker.
Step 2: Cut The Shiplap To Size And Label

You don’t HAVE to do this step next, but I didn’t want to paint ALL of my wood since I knew that a lot of it wouldn’t be used. To identify exactly what wood needed to be painted, I pre-cut the plywood to fit every area in the bathroom.

The day I tackled this project, Matt was out-of-town and Casey was at work, so I had no choice but to do it all by myself. I would hold the piece of wood approximately where it would end up going on the wall, then I marked the wood and headed to the garage to cut it down with a miter saw.
Step 3: Prime The Walls And The Boards

After the pieces of wood were cut and labeled, I primed the walls and the boards. I’m not sure if priming the wall behind the shiplap is totally necessary, but it will save you from having to get a tiny paint brush into the little cracks after it’s hung. The same goes for the sides of the boards. Priming the front and sides of each piece before it was hung really saved me tedious painting work later in the project.
Step 4: Hang The Shiplap!

Since I already had all of the boards cut to size AND primed, all I had to do on day two was hang, caulk, and putty. The hanging of the boards took no time at all since they were all cut and ready to go.
We secured the boards to the wall by squeezing liquid nails onto the back of the board and then nailed the it to the wall at every stud. Once the first board was up, we simply placed the nickels along the top of that board to create a consistent seam, and then nailed on the next board (above the first). We used that same method all the way up the wall.

Keeping the nickels in the seam as we nailed the next board was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Once the board was secure, we pulled those nickels out and used them on the next board.
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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 16 questions
  • Lynne Starr-Coggins Lynne Starr-Coggins on Aug 06, 2018

    It’s absolutely beautiful! I have one question; Do you label the boards in the order they were cut?

  • Cinderella Cinderella on Aug 07, 2018

    I am definitely inspired and I am trying it in my bathroom and maybe more, I assume that you puttyed the naihead holes, but where did the caulking go?

  • Shuganne Shuganne on Aug 07, 2018

    What sort of set up did you use to cut the plywood at home?

    Plywood is thin layers of wood commercially glued together. Thicker plywood would not eliminate the problem of chipping.

    Try (1) supporting the wood better if the uncut piece is dangling off one end; (2) putting a piece of painter's tape on the backside placing it so that you will cut the tape, as a light support for that bottom layer; (3) using a scrap piece of any wood for heavier support under your cutting piece. (4) using a finer blade so each tooth cuts out less wood; (5) ensuring that the blade is fairly new and the teeth are sharp.

    It's like greasing and flouring a cake pan. Most recipes don't say it; most bakers just learned it early in their baking days. Sorry if I went on a bit; there's always something more to learn! - Shuganne

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  • Joyce Joyce on Sep 30, 2019

    Very cool. I just might try this one. Cheap, pretty, and not tooooo hard to do. =}

  • Mike Winters Mike Winters on Oct 01, 2020

    I did this to our bathroom 2 years ago. I used 1/4 b/c plywood. Lowe’s will cut the first cut free after they charge. I had them cut in to two 4x4 pieces. Went home home and cut myself into 5 1/2 wide. Sanded down and rounded edges a bit. It dark walnut stain and 3 coats of polyurethane. Also doing this for flooring in our foyer.