Shiplap – It’s having quite the moment in the decor world and I love it. It goes hand in hand with farmhouse style and I’ve been patiently (big fat lie – no patience here my friends!) waiting to add some to our builder-grade house. I’m in the process of updating our master bedroom and I knew this would be the perfect place to add a DIY shiplap accent wall. Check out what we did and how we did it on a budget!
DIY Shiplap is a fairly easy project that dramatically changes the look of a wall or even an entire room. It can be rustic if you want or you can paint it a dramatic color for a more modern look. It’s also relatively inexpensive to add a shiplap focal wall.
If you are intimidated by the thought of permanently adding boards to your walls, I get it. It’s a semi-permanent change to add shiplap to your home. It can be removed, but not without work. So just know that before you start.
DIY Shiplap Wall
Let me start by saying this is not a complete overhaul of our room. You can read more about our plans here. When I redo a space, I have to figure out how to get the most bang for my buck and shiplap fit the bill. Here’s what we started with:
And here’s what we have now!
DIY Shiplap Wall – How to Do It
I’ve read a million tutorials on Pinterest for adding shiplap and let me tell you – I underestimated the time of this project tremendously. Partly because it turned out to be a super busy week for the Mr so he was unavailable to help until later in the evenings.
If we had two days from morning to night to work with no interruptions, it would’ve been done quicker. It’s also not very nice to your neighbors to use jigsaws in the driveway at 11pm. (Sorry neighbors!). Kidding – they totally would’ve let us know if it was an issue.
The other problem was that our bedroom is upstairs at the back of the house so it was no less than 8 million and one trips down to the garage to cut. And half of those 8 million, we forgot the tape measure and had to go back for it.
So if you’re taking this on – get help (my skill level is not up to completing this alone), buy two tape measures, and plan for a few days. And also make sure your neighbors are night owls like ours and don’t mind, or else do it during the day.
Shiplap Wall Supplies
- 4 sheets of 4×8 plywood – Our wall was 21 feet by 8 feet and we used nearly every bit of the 4 sheets. We had Lowes rip the boards into 8″ strips. Word to the wise on this – if you own a table saw (we do not), do it yourself. We had half the stack that was not the same size. It was pretty frustrating and we ended up having to cut small sections off some of the boards which is not easy with a jigsaw across 8 feet of wood. This plywood is very thin so it’s pretty splintery (is that even a word?).
- Sanding blocks – I bought a contractors pack of six sanding blocks and used two of them. Not too shabby. You will need to sand all the edges of any cut sides of the boards.
- Paint – Our walls were tan so we needed to paint the wall first in the same color we were painting shiplap. We spaced our boards with pennies and I didn’t want to see tan behind the white shiplap.
- Roller covers/Paint Pole – This makes your job so much easier than brushing the whole area by hand.
- Liquid Nails, Nail Gun, and Nails – We applied Liquid Nails to the back of each board before we nailed it to the studs.
- Caulk – You will need to caulk the top and the sides after putting all the boards up – chances are your ceiling isn’t level and there will be a small gap that needs caulk.
- Jigsaw – You will need this for cutting around outlets and windows.
- Pennies – use these for spacers for your boards
- Level – Keep this close by and use it often. You don’t want to finish nailing a board and realize it’s not level.
- Tape Measure – Pretty self-explanatory on this one! And if you’re like us, buy two!
Get Started and Add Some Shiplap!
We started by taking off all the outlet covers and painting the wall in the same color as the shiplap. I bought a contractor grade paint at Sherwin Williams in a flat finish (it was $11 per gallon during the 40% off sale). You don’t need fancy paint for this step because it won’t be seen.
However, if you don’t paint the wall behind the shiplap, you may be able to see your original color between your boards.
Mark all your studs with chalk after you paint the first coat. We didn’t use a stud finder – just our knuckles to tell where they are. Most houses built recently will have studs 16″ apart.
We chose not to take off the crown moulding or baseboards for our wall before we started. The plywood we used was so thin that you don’t notice it’s not actually behind the trim. This is what we used:
Our boards were 8″ wide. However, the distance between the trim and the top of the window was not in increments of 8″. This was the first hiccup. We cut down the first board to about 6 inches so we wouldn’t have a tiny strip right below the ceiling.
Make sure your first board is level.
Chances are your ceiling or trim will not be level. It’s ok if you have a gap at the top between the ceiling or trim (you will use caulk to fill in the gap).
Apply Liquid Nails to each board before placing on the wall and then use the nail gun to nail into the studs. Space your boards with pennies (or nickels if you want thicker). We tried to stagger the ends so they didn’t all line up perfectly.
From here we just tried to make it look kind of random – we didn’t need to have any seams line up in a particular order.
Here’s a look during our progress: You can see how we have a smaller strip that goes right above the window. However, when you paint, it’s barely noticeable. We used one long board and notched it out to account for the top of the frame.
This required lots of measurements and maybe one or two trips back down to the garage because we may or may not have gotten it right the first time – hehe, I think you can figure which one it was!
You can see the nail holes pretty much line up because we tried to always nail into the studs. You don’t want these puppies coming off the wall anytime soon!
And sorry for the crappy pics. It was long days and nights and it’s the best I had at the moment.
Keep going and notch out with the jigsaw around your outlets. You will also need to unscrew your outlets a bit from the wall or the covers won’t fit back on correctly. Careful when doing this because there is power in there!
When we got to the bottom, we didn’t have near 8 inches to fit a board so we cut down some narrower pieces. This is why I recommend starting at the top. Most of the bottom of our wall is hidden by the bed or night stands.
The smaller pieces aren’t as noticeable as they would be if we had them on the top.
Once you have all your planks up, you will need to caulk the top and the sides to fill in any gaps. Give the caulk adequate drying time (some of our caulked areas were pretty thick so I waited until the next day to paint).
I used Sherwin Williams Duration paint in matte for our shiplap. I used Panda White because that’s the color of all our trim and doors in the house. It’s not a bright white but it’s not yellow either. It’s more of an antique white.
Two coats of paint and I used nearly the whole gallon for the shiplap. I used a brush to cut in at the top, around the windows, and the bottom, and a 4 inch roller for the rest.
I picked a smaller roller because I didn’t want too much paint filling in all my gaps between boards. Let it dry and pat yourself on the back! You are done!
Let it all dry and then the fun part of decorating starts! You can find my DIY hoop wreath tutorial here.
This is our second DIY shiplap project and I definitely like the look of these boards better (you can see our bathroom shiplap here) The wood we used in the bathroom was rougher and thicker. I like the smoother finish of these, but it all depends on how rustic you want your wall to look.
Now for the budget breakdown for our DIY Shiplap Wall:
- Wood – $53
- Liquid Nails – $8 for 4 tubes
- Nails – $9.50
- Sanding Blocks – $3 for two
- Paint and Supplies – $65
- Caulk – $5
- Jigsaw/Level/Tape Measure – already owned
- Nail Gun – already owned
Total Cost: $143.50
This DIY shiplap took up quite a chunk of my budget for the master bedroom update, but it was completely worth it. Big impact and it’s just what I wanted. That’s part of budgeting – figure out what matters the most to you and put your pennies there.
Here’s a tutorial for my super inexpensive DIY industrial farmhouse pendant lighting – my favorite DIY yet!
UPDATE for 2021
I originally did this project in early 2017. It’s been nearly 4 years and I still love our shiplap wall just as much now as I did then.
I’d love for you to pin it!
Thursday 17th of September 2020
we have a wall about this size and i am just concerned about how to map out the seams to make it look effortless like yours. What size boards did you use and how did you map out where the seams would go when one board ends and another begins so it looks random
create and find
Friday 18th of September 2020
We actually just randomly chose. There is no rhyme or reason to where we put the seams as long as we didn’t put one right on top of another. We cut only a few rows at a time so we made sure to get it spaced like that. The boards were all cut from the sheets of plywood and then we used the saw to cut them down to different lengths.
I hope this helps. The good thing is that it’s supposed to be random and not perfect so whatever you choose will look amazing.
Thursday 4th of June 2020
Just wondering how it’s held up? Have you have any warping? I want to do mine but am a little concerned that the 1/4 inch plywood will warp over time. Thanks!
Wednesday 16th of October 2019
This is beautiful! My only hesitation is with the liquid nails. Does it cause issues with the drywall when the shiplap is removed? I don't plan to remove mine (whenever I get it done LOL) anytime soon, but at some point I'm sure it would be removed for redecoration. Also, what size nails did you use? Thanks!
create and find
Wednesday 16th of October 2019
My husband found the nails we used Debi. They are 2” 50mm straight finish nails. 16 gauge. The brand we used is Bostich. I’ll update the post with the info too and thanks again for the kind words!
create and find
Wednesday 16th of October 2019
Thanks for the kind words Debi! I can't believe I didn't add the size of the nails!! I will certainly find out and let you know. It's been a while since we did this project so I'll do some digging and get you an answer. And as far as removing the boards after using liquid nails - it would almost certainly cause damage to the wall if we removed them. My husband and I discussed this before we did the project and we both agreed that it was highly unlikely we'd ever remove it. We know that if we ever do, we'll have to repair the existing wall. So, it's worth considering if you think you might change your style quickly. I've loved the shiplap look since I was a kid. That's not to say I'll never change my mind, but I was pretty sure I'd love it for many many years to come. But definitely a good point that should be considered. Thanks!
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