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How to Install Stunning Shiplap in 4 Simple Steps

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By Joyful Derivatives

Faux shiplap is all the rage these days – I think we can thank Fixer Upper and Joanna Gaines for that. I too am a huge fan of shiplap. Since the start of our home remodel in 2016, I’ve added shiplap to just about every room in our house! We have used two different types of shiplap in our home – the first being a formal-ish style of tongue-and-groove planks (as shown in our master bedroom below) and the second being a more rustic/farmhouse style of spaced plywood planks (as shown in our master bathroom below.)

Both types are stunning and add major style to a space, but I thought I’d teach you all how to install the less-expensive (and in my mind, prettier) spaced plywood version today! As always, let me know if you have any questions!

HOW TO INSTALL FAUX SHIPLAP

MATERIALS & TOOLS

  • 4×8 sheets of 1/4″ underlayment plywood
  • Crown Moulding
  • Primer
  • Paint & Brushes/Rollers
  • Caulking
  • Spackling & Putty Knife
  • Stud Finder & Sharpie
  • Measuring Tape
  • Table Saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Sander
  • Nails & Nail Gun
  • Pen & Paper
  • 2-3 Nickels (for spacing the boards)

INSTRUCTIONS

STEP 1: CUT AND SAND SHIPLAP STRIPS

The first thing you need to do is prep your shiplap wood strips. We purchase the basic 1/4″ underlayment wood from Home Depot and the cut it down (the long way) into just under 6″ strips. We’ve tried having Home Depot cut it down for us, but ran into a lot of issues with them being uneven, so if you have a table saw and can cut them yourself, that’s what we would recommend. After they’re cut to size, you’ll want to sand down all the faces and edges to get the wood splinters off before installing.

shiplap

STEP 2: MARK STUDS, MEASURE, CUT AND INSTALL THE WOOD

The next thing you want to do is go around the room with a stud finder and mark where all the studs are. I find it easiest to locate the stud, measure from the edge of the wall to that spot, and then mark it about every foot from the floor to the ceiling using my tape measure and that measurement.

shiplap

After you get all your studs marked, your next step is the wood installation. To do this, pick one wall in the room as a starting point. In some rooms you’ll want a line of your shiplap to line up a certain way with something else in the room (like the top of the tile work in our case) so be sure to think that through and start with the wall that contains that line.

Begin by measuring the boards you’ll need for the entire wall and marking them down on a notepad. We usually have a note page that looks like this:

34 1/2″
34 5/16″
34 1/2″

It’s important to measure each board individually as you move down the wall because changes in the angle of the wall or thickness of the texture can all affect the size of board you’ll need.

Once you have a full wall’s worth of measurements, cut all your boards and sand their cut edges.

To install, start either at your purposeful line or against the floor or ceiling. We typically start at the floor for rooms without a purposeful line because it makes stacking and installing easier than going down the wall.

Install the first board by nailing it into each stud on the wall, paint the seam between the boards (using the paint color you’re planning to paint the shiplap with – this is so the seams don’t look odd once everything is painted), and then fill all the nail holes with spackling. For the next board, space it off the last one using nickels and repeat. Do this until your whole wall is complete.

Here’s an action shot of Chris installing ours above the tile (our purposeful line) in the bathroom. 🙂

shiplap

After you have one wall completed, use its seams as a guideline for installing the next wall and then continue to work your way around the room. You’ll quickly realize that there are lots of places where the wood will need to be notched or holes will have to be cut for things like windows, doors, outlets, etc. We recommend using a jig saw to complete these cuts.

The last thing you want to do before moving on to painting is caulk all the corner seams. I like my seams to look like they go all the way around the room, so after I apply caulking up the corner I go back with a putty knife and clean it out each of the seams.

Here’s how our room looked after all the wood had been installed:

shiplap

STEP 3: SAND, PRIME AND PAINT

Give the spackling and caulking about 24 hours to dry before moving on to the sanding. After you’re confident it’s all dry, go over the entire room with a power sander. You’ll want to primarily focus on sanding down the spots where you’ve filled holes, but it’s also a good idea to give all of the wood one final sand down before you paint it. Caution – it’s gonna get dusty! Chris ended up opening the window completely, setting up a fan to blow the dust out the window and wearing a face mask to help breathe. Be sure you clean the room thoroughly after you’re done sanding. Wipe down all the walls with a rag and vacuum/sweep all the dust out.

Once all your wood is sanded down nice and smooth, it’s time to paint! Start with a stain-blocking primer (it helps keep the coloration from the wood from seeping through) and then give it 2 thick coats of paint. We typically use a standard 9″ roller like you’d use to paint any large wall or surface.

Here’s how our room looked after primer:

And then after paint:

STEP 4: TRIM

Your last step to finishing off the shiplap is installing trim along the floor and ceiling. For the floor, use whatever floor trim you’ve got throughout the rest of the house. For the ceiling, we’ve done both 3/4″ quarter-round and crown moulding. If you have a little extra in your budget, go for the crown moulding! It looks SO PRETTY. But, I like the quarter round too, so either will look nice.

We highly recommend that you paint your trim before you install it. Then, after you’ve nailed it all in, go back and fill in all the holes. Final step is to sand down the spackling and touch up the paint. Now, you should have a stunning room of faux shiplap!!

Here are our two bathrooms – both of which have shiplap walls like we’ve just discussed. 🙂

(Sources for this bathroom can be found here)

reveal

I hope this tutorial gives you the steps to installing some stunning shiplap in your own home!

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