How to install a shiplap wall in your home

Hey friends! It’s Amanda, your favorite NYC interior design enthusiast. I’m so excited to share this super fun DIY project with you – installing a shiplap accent wall in your home!

I know, I know – shiplap is nothing new. But it’s a classic for a reason! There’s just something about those beautiful, overlapping wooden boards that bring so much warmth and character into any space.

So, if you want to add a little rustic charm to your home (who isn’t?), consider installing a shiplap wall. Trust me, it’s easier than you think! This is a DIY any homeowner can tackle.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to install picture-perfect shiplap walls in your home. Get ready to pick up some power tools and get your fix of that farmhouse feel!

What is Shiplap, Anyway? A Little History Lesson

Let’s quickly review what shiplap is before we get to the fun stuff. I promise to avoid boring you with technical jargon!

How to install a shiplap wall in your home

Shiplap refers to wide, horizontal wooden boards with overlapping edges installed on walls or ceilings. This overlapping creates beautiful, visible seams between each board, giving the surface a planked look.

The history of shiplap boards dates back to the 18th century when they were commonly used to build rural cottages and barns. The overlapping design made them naturally weather-resistant, ideal for exterior walls.

Over the centuries, shiplap evolved beyond practicality and became a popular decorative feature, used to add texture and visual interest to walls. And that, my friends, brings us to the shiplap craze we see today!

Nowadays, shiplap is most often made from pine or cedar boards, but it can also be found in other woods like oak or fir. The most common widths range from 3 to 6 inches.

And just so we’re clear – shiplap differs from tongue-and-groove boards that click snugly together. Shiplap boards intentionally have gaps between them to showcase those beautiful seams!

Add character to your home with a shiplap wall

Gather Your Tools and Materials for the Project

Now comes the fun part – prepping for your shiplap project! The right tools and materials will make the installation process go much more smoothly.

Here’s a checklist of everything you’ll need:

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Tools

  • Tape measure – to measure your wall and size the boards
  • Level – to ensure even installation
  • Stud finder – to locate studs behind the wall
  • Nail gun (and compressor) OR hammer – to attach boards
  • Circular saw or miter saw – for cutting boards to size
  • Drill/driver – to drive screws as needed
  • Sander – for smoothing rough edges on boards

Materials

  • Shiplap boards
  • Finishing nails (1 1/2 to 2 inches)
  • Wood filler
  • Primer/paint
  • Wood screws (1 1/4 to 2 inches)

Don’t panic if you don’t have every power tool on this list. You can make do with a hammer, saw, and some elbow grease if needed.

Here’s a pro tip: Buy a few extra boards in addition to your measurements. It’s always good to have spares handy for any mistakes!

How to install a shiplap wall in your home 1

Plan Your Layout – Horizontal vs. Vertical

Once you have your supplies, it’s time to start planning the layout. Here are the two most common options:

Horizontal shiplap consists of boards running horizontally across the wall. It gives a clean, linear look and can make rooms appear more expansive.

Vertical shiplap consists of boards running vertically from floor to ceiling. It adds a more traditional, rustic look and can give the illusion of a taller wall.

While horizontal shiplap is likely the more accessible option for first-timers, don’t hesitate to get creative! You can even do a diagonal shiplap for a more dynamic look.

Think about the overall aesthetic you’re going for, and choose a layout that enhances your space. I like to Visualize the finished look with some quick sketches before committing.

Measure Twice, Cut Once: Size Those Boards!

Now for the part that makes most people nervous – accurately measuring and sizing those shiplap boards! Don’t stress, friends. With some simple math and double-checking, you’ve got this.

Here are the steps:

  1. Measure the length and height of your wall in inches. Account for any outlets, windows, etc., that you must work around.
  2. Determine the width of your boards for horizontal shiplap. For a standard look, boards are usually 3 to 6 inches wide. Wider boards mean fewer seams.
  3. For vertical shiplap, determine your board length. The standard size is 8 to 10 feet.
  4. Use the measurements to calculate how many boards you need. Here’s the math:
  • Horizontal shiplap: Wall Length ÷ Board Width
  • Vertical shiplap: Wall Height ÷ Board Length
  1. Multiply the number of boards by the width/length to get your total linear footage of the shiplap needed.
  2. Add about 10% to allow for imperfect cuts and spacing gaps.
  3. Measure, mark, and cut your boards using a circular saw, leaving a 1/8-inch gap between the boards.
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I know math is the worst. But measuring precisely will ensure your boards fit together perfectly. Take your time and double-check all measurements!

Achieve the shiplap look youve always wanted with these tips

Time for the Fun Part – Installing Those Pretty Boards!

Are you ready to see your shiplap vision come to life? Now, we get to the rewarding part: installing those beautiful boards onto your wall!

Follow these tips for a smooth installation process:

  • Secure a straight edge (like trim) along your starting wall to anchor the first row. This keeps things neat and straight.
  • Place the first board against the straight edge, level, and plumb. Nail or screw into studs or use adhesive.
  • Use spacers to leave a 1/8-inch gap between boards as you install them. This allows the wood to expand and contract.
  • Alternate ends as you install boards to distribute seams evenly across the wall.
  • Use wood filler to patch imperfections. Sand until smooth.
  • Around outlets and switches, measure and mark openings carefully. Use a jigsaw to cut slots.

Take your time, check your work with a level, and step back frequently to ensure evenly spaced boards. Before you know it, you’ll have a perfectly overlapping shiplap!

Get the perfect shiplap look for your home.

Apply a Finish for Long-Lasting Beauty

Your shiplap wall may look complete, but it needs a finish for protection and enhanced beauty!

Fill nail holes with wood filler, and once it’s dry, sand the surface smooth. Then, wipe away the dust before finishing.

You have a few options for finish:

  • Stain – Stains penetrate the wood grain to accentuate texture. They are perfect for a richer, more rustic look. Consider a gel stain for a more straightforward application over gaps.
  • Paint – Paint provides an opaque, protective layer and endless color options. For best adhesion and durability, use 100% acrylic latex paint.
  • Clear polyurethane preserves the natural wood color while adding water resistance and durability. Use a foam brush for smooth application over grooves.

No matter your choice, apply 2-3 thin coats for best results, lightly sanding between coats. If desired, add character with a dark glaze over the top.

Let your finish fully cure before stressing the wall – no hanging photos yet! Patience pays off.

How to style your shiplap wall

Style Your New Focal Point!

Once your shiplap is fully installed and finished, the fun continues. Now, you get to style your statement wall and make it the focal point of your room!

Here are some fun ways to complete the look:

  • Hang some boldly colored or patterned artwork for an instant style punch. Metallic pieces also look gorgeous against natural wood tones.
  • Add shelves or floating ledges to hold plants, decor items, or books. Stagger them at varying heights for interest.
  • Install antique-inspired sconces or pendant lights to illuminate your feature wall.
  • Arrange a textural area rug on the floor below to define the space.
  • Add plush pillows, cozy throws, or an armchair to create a reading nook.
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The options are endless! A feature wall is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your style loud and proud.

The best part? You get to claim the credit for installing this stunning focal point yourself. Talk about bragging rights!

Create a cozy and inviting living room with shiplap walls

Preserve Your Work with Proper Care

Now that your shiplap wall is complete, you’ll want to take proper care of it to retain its beauty. Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Use a soft bristle attachment when vacuuming to avoid causing any scratches or damage.
  • For dusting, use a microfiber cloth and wood cleaner. Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Immediately wipe spills and stains, as wood is prone to soaking up moisture.
  • Reapply protective finish every 2-3 years or as needed. Use painter’s tape around boards to avoid getting finished into the gaps.
  • Use a wood stain pen to touch up scratches and nicks to refresh the color quickly. Spot fixes are okay, but complete repaints should be avoided.
  • Inspect nails/screws occasionally and re-set any that pops out to avoid protrusions.

With proper care, your shiplap wall will stay beautiful for years, so admire your work and think fondly of the day you installed this fantastic focal point in your home.

Shiplap Walls in the Bathroom

Bring On the Questions! Your DIY Shiplap Q+A

After reading this, you will feel confident enough to take on your very own shiplap wall project. I know that you’ve got this.

But…I’m sure there are still some lingering questions. (There always are with DIY projects!)

So, let’s have a little Q&A session. Ask me those shiplap questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them for you! The more details you provide, the better, so I can provide helpful answers.

I would also love to hear about your project plans! Thanks to this post, you’ll soon install a fantastic shiplap wall, and I know you’ll create something beautiful.

Now grab those supplies, turn up your favorite tunes, and install your stunning new shiplap accent wall. I can’t wait to see the finished product – be sure to share photos!