How to Install Shiplap Walls ⋆ 🌲

STEP 1: Calculate how much plywood youll need for your shiplap walls

Measure the height and length of the wall, and then multiply the measurements to determine how much plywood you’ll need. For example, a wall eight feet high and 10 feet long will require 80 square feet of plywood. A standard 4 X 8 sheet of plywood contains 32 square feet, so purchase three sheets. Don’t sweat the extra plywood: It’ll give you a little wiggle room in case you make a cutting error.



Plain wood paneling is not technically shiplap but makes a beautiful interior wall with the shiplap look. You can invest in real shiplap boards for your walls, or simply use plywood paneling, which is often done on home design programs.

AC plywood makes a great shiplap wall, as the A side comes pre-for quicker, easier installation.


STEP 4: Rip your plywood into shiplap boards

Measure the plywood sheets precisely and then “rip” them to obtain eight individual boards that are exactly eight feet long and 5⅞ inches wide. Ripping simply refers to cutting the plywood lengthwise. The trick to getting uniform-width boards is to snap a chalk line at the desired 5⅞ inches and then cut along the outside of the line. The blade of the saw will eat up ⅛-inch of the plywood. With meticulous measuring and cutting, you’ll get uniform results.

2. Find Mark Studs

Next, you’ll want to determine where the studs are. Use a stud finder and mark off with a pencil where the studs are so you know exactly where to nail into the shiplap boards. Once you locate the studs and mark them with a pencil, take your level and make a vertical line on the wall where the stud is. This way you will know where the studs are all the way up the wall and the shiplap will never fully cover your mark.

How to Install Shiplap on a Wall

Installing shiplap boards on a wall isn’t hard as far as DIY home projects go, but it does require you to be precise. Be sure to measure the area carefully before you begin cutting or laying your boards to ensure that everything ends up being even in the end. You should also locate any studs in the wall to anchor your shiplap.

Here’s the basic procedure you should follow for installing shiplap in your home after you’ve measured everything out:

  • Prepare the shiplap boards. If you’re preparing your own shiplap boards rather than using pre-milled shiplap panels, you’ll need to paint and cut the wooden panels into boards before they can be installed on the wall.
  • Make cutouts for electrical outlets. Depending on which wall you’re installing shiplap on, you’re probably going to run into a light switch or two. Outline the shape and location of the outlets and use a jigsaw to remove a section of the board. This will provide access to the outlet after the shiplap is installed.
  • Install the shiplap. Once your boards are painted, measured, and cut to the length of the wall you’re installing on, you’re ready to begin placing them on the wall. Starting at the baseboard, nail the shiplap boards onto the wall with a finish nailer, securing them to the wall at the studs.
  • Finish the shiplap. After installing the shiplap boards, the final step is to finish them. Caulk over any unwanted gaps between the boards. Use a small trim brush to touch up the paint and cover up any raw unfinished edges that are still showing.

Each shiplap project may have slightly different parameters depending on the layout of the wall and the materials you’re using. But as far as DIY home projects go, installing shiplap boards is more about careful measurements and cutting than it is about brute strength or calculations.

6. Paint Boards

When painting, we love to use our HANDy Pro Pail because you will want a mini roller and a brush and the pro pail fits both. It has a magnetic strip on one side for the brush to hang on and it’s large enough for a roller to sit inside.

Since the shiplap will probably be a statement piece that people’s eyes will be drawn to, you’ll want to make sure it has a nice finish. No drips or air bubbles. We prefer to use a mini roller because we like to roll one board at a time. We don’t like to roll over two boards at once because you want to ensure the boards look like separate boards. Taking a brush to paint the crack or separation between the boards might be needed as well.

We prefer to paint our boards after we hang them. We’ve painted beforehand a few times but we always end up having to go back and touch up spots from moving and hanging once they’re up, so now we just leave it until we hang.

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Shiplap FAQ

How Much Does It Cost to Shiplap a Wall?

The cost of installing shiplap boards on a wall depends on the type of material you use and the size of the wall you’re covering. However, you can expect to spend between $1,500 and $2,000 for both materials and labor to install a shiplap wall. Installing the wall yourself and milling your own shiplap boards out of plywood can help save you money.

Do You Start Shiplap From the Top or Bottom?

When you install shiplap boards, you should always start from the bottom of the wall and work your way up. This allows you to slot each new shiplap board into the gap or groove created by the board below it.

You don’t want any large gaps left at the end, so be sure to measure your boards carefully and keep your spacing between them even for a professional result.

Can Shiplap Walls Be Used in a Modern Home?

Shiplap is a versatile design element, and it works just as well in modern home designs as it does in rustic ones. Here are some of the reasons why shiplap is so versatile:

  • Neutral: Shiplap often comes in neutral shades such as white, cream, black, gray, and unfinished wood. These neutral shades are a perfect backdrop for other architectural features or decor. Neutral and monochromatic color palettes are a popular choice for modern home designs.
  • Texture: Modern home designs usually depend on texture in surfaces and materials rather than clutter to help define the space. Shiplap is a smart way to add visual interest to the room without overwhelming it.
  • Fusion design: Even though many modern home designs are minimalist and feature inorganic materials such as stainless steel or glass, these materials act as neutrals in the space and don’t clash with shiplap. Shiplap is a great choice for marrying both traditional and contemporary decor.

Are Shiplap Walls Only for Farmhouse Style?

Shiplap can be used for many different types of home interiors. These are a few of the interior design themes that shiplap is a good match with:

  • Coastal/Beach: Shiplap is often found in beach houses and other homes near the water since it is reminiscent of the siding on a boat. White shiplap is a good option in coastal designs since it can help ground other brighter coastal colors such as coral pink or aquamarine.
  • Nautical: For a look that is more Cape Cod than Key West, white shiplap boards are also a good accent wall with nautical designs. Paired with bright red, navy blue, and metallic fixtures, shiplap gives nautical rooms a snappy and cheerful appearance.
  • Farmhouse: Shiplap is a popular option for rustic interior designs since it helps evoke a farmhouse feel. Pair farmhouse shiplap walls with other wooden or craftsman elements such as basket storage, quilts, and furniture in neutral shades or subtle earth tones.
  • Contemporary: Even though shiplap is associated with rustic interiors, it pairs just as well with modern designs. Try keeping your shiplap in neutral colors and pairing it with modern design elements like lucite tables or globe lighting to give it an updated look.

Installing shiplap boards helps you make your room more interesting, and the versatility of this design element means it fits in well with almost any interior.

Do Shiplap Walls Make a Room Look Larger or Smaller?

Shiplap usually makes a room look larger when the boards are arranged horizontally, especially if you’re using a light-colored shiplap like white shiplap boards. This is because the long lines of the shiplap pattern help draw the eye across the room, giving the illusion of more space.

If you want to use shiplap but don’t want the room to appear larger, try installing a dark-colored shiplap like black shiplap instead. Dark colors make a room look smaller than it really is and can help make large vaulted spaces more cozy.

Can You Install Shiplap Walls Vertically?

Horizontal shiplap looks great in a range of different interiors, but another option for installing shiplap is to install it vertically. Rather than making rooms look wider, installing shiplap vertically helps draw the eye upward, making the room appear taller. This is a good option for installing shiplap in alcoves, stairwells, and other areas that may naturally look small or cramped.

Finding the studs before installing shiplap

In order to locate the studs underneath your exist

In order to locate the studs underneath your existing drywall, invest in a stud finder if you don’t already own one, or borrow a friend’s stud finder. Turn on the device and hold it flush to the wall. Depending on the model you’re using, the finder will beep, light up, or otherwise indicate when it’s passing over a stud within the wall.

With chalk or a pencil, mark each spot where there

With chalk or a pencil, mark each spot where there is a stud.

There are also methods for locating studs without a stud finder. You can find them in this article.

Why is it so important to find the studs before installing shiplap over drywall? Without knowing where the studs are, you won’t know where to anchor your shiplap boards securely. If you only nail them to the papery drywall, they could rip right out, causing significant damage. You want each piece of shiplap to be firmly anchored to at least one wall stud, preferably two.

If your drywall is already finished and painted, so much the better! If not, tape and mud the drywall seams before installing the shiplap. Taping and mudding offer extra protection against insects, pests, odors, or drafts that might seep through the wall.

Measure and mark each wall

Hendrickson Photography/Shutterstock Hendrickson Photography/Shutterstock

Once you’ve decided to install shiplap, the most important part of the preparation is finding the studs in the wall. This can be a simple process if the wall has recently been built, but for most installations, this won’t be the norm. Instead, you’ll need to use an electronic stud finder to locate each of the wooden beams that make up the structure of the drywall. Lowe’s reports that generally, studs are spaced either 16 or 24 inches apart from one another, so once you’ve located the first stud, simply move your stud finder across the wall to locate the next one, which will help you determine the standard distance used in the construction of your home.

You will need to locate the center of every stud along the wall and mark their positions. Draw a vertical line from the floor to the ceiling in the center of each individual beam. This part of the project might seem time-consuming, but it’s the most important step to ensure a successful installation (via H2ouse).


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