How to Create a Dark Vertical Shiplap Accent Wall

Brooke Jones
by Brooke Jones
8 Materials
2 Hours

A few weeks ago, we wrote an article about our home office makeover. The main feature of the makeover was the dark vertical shiplap wall behind the desk. Since posting that article, we’ve heard from a lot of people wanting to know the details about how I did it. So, in this article, I’m going to show you how.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • brad nailer
  • 1 1/2″ brad nails
  • shiplap boards (I found mind at Home Depot.)
  • paint (I used Benjamin Moore Hale Navy.)
  • smooth foam paint roller
  • stud finder
  • tape measure
  • air compressor

Determine How much Shiplap is Needed

The first thing I did was determine how much material I needed. I did this by doing a rough estimate of the wall area: width x height. Since part of my wall is angled due to the slope in the ceiling, I measure the highest part. That way, I knew I would have enough.

When we built our house, shiplap was hard to find. But now, you can find it at pretty much any local home improvement store. I found mine at Home Depot. It’s 4 inches wide and already primed.

Paint the Shiplap

It’s best to paint shiplap before putting it up, at least the groove part of the board. I learned this the hard way when building. Since we weren’t using a sprayer to paint our walls, it was impossible to get the paint in the grooves with a roller and brush. So I ended up buying a cheap sprayer to paint the grooves. Lesson learned.

I had some help from Brooke on this project. First, she used a brush to paint the groove part of the boards.

Then she used a foam roller to paint the rest. If you’ve never used one, they are great for smooth finishes on trim, doors, and of course shiplap. Rolling after you use the brush gets rid of any brush marks in the finish.

Find and Mark Your Studs

Running the shiplap vertically does present some challenges. Since the studs also run vertically, you’re only able to nail a few of the boards to actual studs. But you can nail to the very top and bottom of the wall, and thankfully our framer put horizontal braces between the studs half way up the wall. This meant I could nail to the top, bottom, and middle. And the pieces that happened to overlap the studs could be nailed anywhere on the board.

So I used the stud finder to find and mark the studs as well as the horizontal braces. I marked the studs on the baseboard since any mark on the wall would be covered.

Determine Horizontal Coverage

Another challenge of running the shiplap vertically, is having to cut a piece length wise to fill in the last space. You probably want to avoid doing this unless you have a table saw. Thankfully, I was very lucky here.

The width of my wall worked out so I could use full pieces all the way across. But 9 times out of 10 this will not be the case. If you’re not so lucky, no need to worry. You can cover any gaps between the shiplap and the wall with a piece of 1×2″ trim around the edges and paint it the same color of the shiplap.

Measure, Cut and Nail

Now that all of the calculating was done, it was time to start cutting and nailing. Since I was going to to be able to use full width pieces all the way across, I started on the far left. Otherwise, you may want to start in the middle and work your way out on each side. That way you will have the same width piece on the left and right when you are finished.

I took one piece at a time, measuring from the top of the baseboard to the ceiling. Since part of my ceiling is angled, I had to cut most of my pieces at the top on an angle. To get the angle, I took the pitch of my roof, which I knew was 10/12 and converted it to an angle. If you don’t have this type of sloping ceiling, you don’t have to worry about cutting your boards on an angle, and your job will be much easier.

To nail the boards up, I used a brad nailer. Brad nails are smaller than finish nails, but for this type of project, you don’t need tons of holding power from your nails. Where I could, I nailed into the tongue of each board. Since the tongue is covered by the next piece, this meant less hole filling at the end. Oh, and please overlook the saw dust in my hair.

I repeated this for each board until the wall was covered.

Finishing Touches

Once I nailed up the last piece, I filled all the nail holes with spackling and did all of the paint touchups. And that’s it! You can see more images of the shiplap wall in home office makeover article.

For this and other DIY tutorials, checkout the Plank & Pillow blog.

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Brooke Jones
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  2 questions
  • D D on Dec 11, 2019

    Very sharp! I'm curious as to why you choose to hang the shiplap vertically rather than horizontally? We would like to do something to make the lower 5+ feet of our enormous family room walls more interesting and had not considered horizontal shiplap. I'm concerned it is a passing trend that could date our house in a few years should we decide to sell. However, the vertical application seems richer looking, way less farmhouse and more appealing. Do you feel it is a solid decor option that will stay on trend awhile?

  • Jenny Jenny on Aug 28, 2021

    I’m with John on this, couldn’t you just glue the ship lap top to bottom and let the tongue and groove do the rest? Great job though and a lovely colour. 😊👍

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3 of 39 comments
  • John ogurek John ogurek on Aug 28, 2021

    like the looks but i have one thing to ask, the wall studs run the same as your ship lap boards, which means you only had nailers every 16in. so what is holding the pieces in between? i know the tongue and groove helps, but where you had no studs, i would think liquid nails, very cheap, and would work much better then just nailed at the studs. but maybe the groove is deep enough to not worry about no nailers, but for me i would have used liquid nails. if for nothing else, just a cheap ins. that you wont have issues down the road. jack

    • Joanne lueke Joanne lueke on Aug 30, 2021

      If you read his description, the studs had horizontal braces in between so he could nail top, middle and bottom. If you use adhesive and later want to change that wall you would ruin the drywall trying to remove the shiplap.

  • Lynne Lynne on Aug 28, 2021

    Awesome job! I really like the color you chose.