When I heard people talking about “shiplap” years ago, I had to google it. I thought it was some boat themed decor. It is not. Shiplap is a household term used across America, and for good reason. It’s a clean look that can be either modern or rustic.
Best of all, shiplap is an easy DIY project. It can be done in a weekend, doesn’t cost a lot, and provides instant gratification. I recently jumped on the shiplap bandwagon and created an accent wall in my living space. This wall was quoted up to $2300 by a constructor. I made mine under $100!
I love how the shiplap provides division of space in my family room. It defines and accents this family office area while providing the perfect shabby chic style. Ready to do your own, here’s everything you need to know.
1. Purchase Your Wood
Depending on where you live, you can buy actual “shiplap” or you buy plywood that is cut down to six-inch strips. The shiplap will easily be twice or three times more. But it requires no power tools to install. Shiplap comes with grooves that are designed to fit together perfectly. If you have the tools and feel comfortable with a table saw, save money and purchase basic plywood boards. These large board (they will come in 3’x6’ usually) will then need to be stripped or cut into 6” long strips. This is easier with a second person, so grab a friend. It will take about 10 minutes to cut 4-5 boards into the planks.
2. Prime Time
You’ll want to paint the wall white before installing the shiplap so you don’t have to paint the seams afterward. You can also prime the boards if they aren’t already primed. My boards were primed with a clear coat. It was the first time I used it, and although I had my doubts, it worked great and didn’t alter my white shade I picked. This will save you time in the future. If you have a white wall already, you can skip this part.
3. Mark the Studs
With a stud finder, mark all the studs down the entire wall. These are usually 16-24 inches apart, so once you find one, you will quickly learn how far apart your wall studs are. Mark the studs vertically with a chalk line. This will ensure that you attach your shiplap on the studs so the installation is secure.
4. Hang the Shiplap
You want to install shiplap by starting with the first board at the top of the wall, next to the ceiling. Most people will look up rather than down, so if you need to have a smaller piece near the baseboards that will be less noticeable. Align your first board with the ceiling and then simply nail it to the wall. You can use wood glue as well for even more reinforcement if you’d like.
5. Place the Spacers
Once the first panel is level, the others should be as well, but to be sure you line them up correctly, put spacers between each board. Pennies are the perfect spacers, and is what I used for my wall.
6. Rinse and Repeat
Continue to add board by board, until the entire wall is covered. You want your shiplap seams to be staggered, much like subway tile or brickwork. To do this, when you place the second board, put it underneath the first and either cut it shorter, or slide it over. Then use a miter saw to cut a board the exact space you need to fill in the side edges, where your wall ends.
If you have to deal with an outlet or window, you might need to use a jigsaw to hang the shiplap around these features.
7. Add Trim
When you get to the baseboard, you can either 1) cut a smaller panel, and hang the shiplap to meet the baseboard or 2) remove the baseboard, continue the shiplap to the floor, and then reattach the baseboard. It’s your choice depending on the look you want.
After the boards are all hung, you’ll need to caulk the seams and edges where the trim meets the shiplap. This provides a more finished look. You can also caulk around windows, outlets, and sockets. I didn’t caulk around outlets, because I found it already had a great fit against the wall.
8. Fill the holes
First go around each hole and set it, to make sure it is not above the surface of the wall. Then add putty to the nail holes and ensure the holes are sanded smooth and ready for paint.
9. Paint Time!
The final step to install shiplap! Yes!!
Once the putty and caulk dry you are ready for paint. It’s a good idea to lightly sand the surface, but because shiplap is already smooth it doesn’t require a lot of sanding. You can use a brush or a roller, but avoid using too much paint otherwise, it can seep into the seams. Several light coats are better than one or two heavy coats.
Once it’s all said and done, step back and admire your hard work! I have been so pleased with my shiplap addition. It adds instant charm, texture, interest, and style to any space.
It works in kitchens, bathrooms, family living, or office areas. It’s easy, affordable, and customizable. Thank goodness for the farmhouse style showing us all what we never knew we have always been looking for!