DIY Modern Shiplap Wall Treatment

Full tutorial for creating a modern shiplap wall treatment in your home. DIY tutorial with a complete list of supplies and materials.

I’ve been dying to update our powder room ever since we first had guests over to our house. The powder room is the main guest bathroom, and it was looking pretty sad after we first moved in. The first project we decided to tackle was a modern shiplap wall treatment.
Now, I know that the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear shiplap is farmhouse style. And if you know me, you know that I’m definitely NOT a farmhouse style girl.
So, how exactly am I going to make shiplap work in my home?
Well, I think shiplap can look polished and put together as a modern wall treatment if you do it the right way. It’s a great way to add texture and interest to the walls. And, wall treatments are a great way to make a home look more custom.
Let’s get into all the DIY details.

Before we started any actual DIY work, we had to make a plan. That way we would know exactly how much material to buy for the project. This plan involved a little bit of math, but don’t worry, it was pretty easy.
To create the modern shiplap look that we wanted in the powder room, we decided that we would put the shiplap on the lower 4’ of the walls. We also decided to use 5” boards for our shiplap. That size seemed to look the best - not too big and not too small.
First, we measured the lengths of all of the walls and added them together to get a total wall length in feet. Since the shiplap was only going to be on the bottom 4’ of the walls, we multiplied the total wall length by the height that we wanted for our shiplap (4’). This gave us the total shiplap area.
Next, we took our Total Shiplap Area (that we calculated before) and divided by the Area of 1 Sheet of Plywood (32 square feet). We rounded that number up to the nearest whole number to get the number of plywood sheets that we would need for the project. 
Once we did that math, we had our final number of sheets of plywood for the project. We went to the hardware store and bought all the materials. Once we got home, it was time to turn the plywood into our shiplap boards. We used a table saw rip (or cut) the plywood into 5” strips. DIY shiplap boards!
Starting at the bottom of the wall, we placed the first board directly above the baseboard trim. On the back of the board, we used some wood glue to help attach it to the wall.

Then, using a level, we double checked to make sure the board was straight. This is extremely important because the first board is the basis for the rest of the boards going up the wall. You don’t want it to be crooked. Once it was level, we used a brad nailer and 1.5" brad nails to attach the board to the wall.
Next, we placed a {affiliate link} tile spacer on top of both ends of the first board to create a gap. Then we took the second board with wood glue on the back and placed it directly above the tile spacers. We attached it to the wall using the brad nailer.
Then, we just continued up the wall repeating this process, making sure to include tile spacers in between each board. Once we reached 4’ up the wall, we stopped and moved to the next wall in the room.
Quick Tip: There was a section of the room had an outside corner. So, on one wall, we cut the shiplap boards ½” longer than the wall length. That way, it would overlap the shiplap board on the second wall creating a corner.
One wall that was a little more difficult to do was the wall with all of the plumbing. For boards that intersected with the plumbing, we used a {affiliate link} coping saw to cut curved sections out of the shiplap. We weren’t extremely precise with this because we knew that any mistakes could be filled in with wood putty later.
Another difficult area that we ran into was an outlet on the wall near the sink. This outlet happened to be right in the middle of the 4’ mark on the wall. That meant there would be shiplap on half of the outlet and painted wall on the other half.
To make this look less visually jarring, Ben came up with an idea. For the shiplap board that was going to overlap that outlet, Ben used the miter saw to carefully cut 3 chamfers. Chamfers are basically just sloping edged cuts.
First, he measured and marked where the outlet would be. Then, he flipped the board over and used the miter saw to make 45-degree cuts in the back of the board (the part that would be touching the wall once it was installed).
Once the 3 cuts were made, he flipped the board back over to reveal the angled cuts.
You can see that the cutout in the back of the board is the same size as the outlet. Then, the edges of the board gradually slope out. The miter saw made some extra cut marks that we didn’t want, but we just filled them in with wood putty once the board was on the wall.
Finally, to finish off the top edge of the shiplap, we installed 1x2 boards as trim. We cut each trim board to size and used the brad nailer to attach the trim to the top shiplap board. This created a small ledge on top of the shiplap and visually helped everything look finished.
After everything was installed, we used wood putty to fill in all of the nail holes. We also filled in any mistake cuts that were made around the plumbing and the extra cuts around the outlet. Then, we used caulk to fill in the vertical seams between boards and the gap between the top trim pieces and the wall. This made everything look seamless and built in.
Once everything was dry, we sanded the entire shiplap wall treatment twice. First with 80 grit sandpaper and then with 120 grit sandpaper.
Then, we primed and painted everything with a glossy white paint.
Then, once everything was dry, we stepped back and admired the finished shiplap! Psst: There’s a sneak preview of the window and the rug in the finished room!
Christene @ Keys to Inspiration
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 6 questions
  • Pat Riddle Pat Riddle on Jun 17, 2017
    in the bathroom .....How about moisture problems ? Real wood may warp.

  • Pauliegirl1 Pauliegirl1 on Jun 18, 2017
    You said you used plywood 8x4, what was the thickness?? And did you use a plywood that had a maple or oak finished top?? There are many types of plywood that range in price...I have several areas I want to do, so cost and type are a concern!! Thank you for your info; and the wall looks GREAT!!

  • Jody Price Jody Price on Aug 07, 2017
    What did you put between each shiplap piece? Or did the paint seal them?

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