Shiplap has quickly grown to be a popular way to add interest and texture to walls. I see it everywhere! Unless you are lucky and find it on an existing home during renovations, shiplap can be very expensive. Traditional shiplap has a tongue and groove which means the pieces fit together; that is where you see the gap. I knew I wanted add shiplap into our house decor but since we are always mindful of cost, I began to look around for other options.
After seeing other people using other materials to make faux shiplap, we decided to give it a try. We had a few small spaces where I wanted to add shiplap as a finish, so it seemed like a safe place to experiment. The below outlines step-by-step how we created a DIY shiplap finish for our walls. For more details or photos, check out our finished Mudroom and Guest Bathroom Posts.
Below is a list of materials and tools that we used for our project. Take appropriate safety precaution when using these tools.
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- 1/2 inch plywood (4×8 foot sheets)
- paint/primer combo, Color used is Sherwin Williams Extra White
- wood filler or painters caulk
- 220 grit sand paper
- 2 inch finish nails
Instructions for DIY Shiplap
1. Begin by cutting the sheets of plywood into 5 7/8 inch strips. TIP: By cutting to this length, you will get exactly 16 boards if you prefer a 4 foot length or 8 boards if you prefer an 8 foot length. J used a table saw to cut our plywood sheets; however, your local lumber supplier or Home Depot will often cut to your desired dimensions at no additional cost.
2. Once your plywood strips are cut, lightly sand with a 220 grit sand paper on the top and edges of the boards. This is to your preference; I wanted a smoother board with less wood grain, so I sanded more.
3. When sanding is complete, I recommend to pre-paint at least the first coat or it is difficult to paint between the edges once it has been nailed to the wall. TIP: Paint the wall behind the shiplap the same color you will be painting the shiplap or it will be visible.
4. We were applying the shiplap to small lengths of wall, so we cut the boards one at a time after measuring the length, wall to wall. If you have a longer space you are applying shiplap, you will need to run the boards seam to seam (later you can either fill with wood filler or painters caulk, or if you prefer leave the seam visible for a more rustic look).
5. Prior to nailing the shiplap on the wall, use a stud finder to located the studs; mark them. Then using a 6 foot level, draw a line the height of the wall over the studs. This will guide you as you nail each piece of shiplap to the wall.
5. Beginning at the bottom of the wall, we applied the first piece of shiplap directly over the top of the base trim. We used an Angled Finish Nailer to nail the shiplap to the wall. TIP: Because we were applying 1/2 inch plywood over 1/2 inch drywall and you want the nails to be at least 1 inch into the wall, we used 2 inch nails. We used two nails per stud.
6. Continue to add pieces of shiplap to the wall using a 1/8 inch tile spacer (or a Nickel) between the pieces to evenly space them and create the look of real shiplap. Don’t worry about small gaps at the ends of the wall as those can be filled later.
7. If you prefer a smoother finish like me, use a putty knife to add wood filler or painters caulk over the nail holes, seams or other gaps you want filled. Allow to dry and sand smooth.
8. Finish the project by painting a least one more coat of paint. And there you have, your completed DIY Shiplap!