The True Cost of Shiplapping Your Walls

As a woodworker with over 15 years of experience working with all materials and designs, I’m always eager to take on new trends and techniques. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from folks interested in shiplapping their walls to create that popular rustic farmhouse look. And I get the appeal – shiplap can transform the feel of a space with its horizontal wooden boards and charming, vintage-inspired aesthetic. But before you grab your tools and head to the lumber yard, it’s essential to understand the full scope and cost of a shiplap project. In my experience, many hidden expenses and details can impact your budget, so I wanted to share my insights to help you make an informed decision.

The Allure of Shiplap

Let’s start with the basics. Shiplap refers to comprehensive, horizontal wooden boards installed on walls with the edges overlapping, like siding. This creates beautiful, visible lines where the panels meet, adding great texture and visual interest. Shiplap became trendy thanks to its frequent use on the HGTV show Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna Gaines use it in all design schemes, from modern to farmhouse.

The versatility of shiplap is a considerable part of its popularity. It can work in many aesthetic styles, from coastal to industrial. I’ve used reclaimed wood shiplap on accent walls in sleek, contemporary spaces and full wall treatments in craftsman-style mountain retreats. Stained, painted, or raw, shiplap infuses rustic warmth and enhances architectural details. It’s just plain gorgeous stuff.

The True Cost of Shiplapping Your Walls

However, it’s crucial to consider whether it’s the right choice for your home and project goals.

Assessing Your Space

The first step is to evaluate your space to determine if Shiplap is critically suitable. Consider the size and layout of the room, lighting, and how the area will be used. Here are some key factors:

  • Examine the walls for any existing damage, warping, or moisture issues. Shiplap will only look as good as the surface it’s installed on. Any imperfections could show through.
  • Look at wall construction – is it standard wood framing or masonry? Shiplap can only be correctly installed on a wood structure.
  • Check for potential obstacles, such as vents, outlets, or switches that would interrupt the shiplap boards. These need to be worked around.
  • Larger rooms may require wider shiplap boards so the lines don’t overwhelm the space visually.
  • Shiplap looks best with abundant natural lighting. Dim spaces may not show off the wood details.
  • High-traffic areas could be better for shiplap. Grooves collect dust and are hard to keep clean.
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Do your homework to ensure your walls are primed for success. This will prevent hassles down the road.

Material Matters: Choosing Your Shiplap

Once you decide shiplap is feasible for your space, the next extensive choice is material. Here are the most common options:

Natural Wood is the gold standard for beauty, quality, and longevity. There are many species to choose from – pine, cypress, cedar – each with distinctive grain and texture. Wood offers a warm, organic feel that artificial materials can’t duplicate. The expense is higher, but natural wood can last for many years with proper care. Stains allow you to alter the color while showcasing the natural patterns.

MDF: For a more budget-friendly alternative, consider MDF (medium-density fiberboard) shiplap, which is consistently smooth and affordable. Primed MDF readily accepts paint. However, MDF is prone to swelling and warping if moisture seeps in, especially around sinks or exterior walls. Careful caulking and sealing are a must.

PVC: Vinyl shiplap is the most waterproof choice, making it ideal for bathrooms and laundry rooms. It won’t warp or crack. But vinyl lacks the richness of natural wood. Seams are apparent, and the manufactured perfection can look artificial in some settings. Durability is also questionable long-term.

Think about your needs, budget, and style goals. Consult a knowledgeable salesperson at your local lumberyard to pick the best shiplap material for your project.

Which is the Best Ship Lapping Wood

Cost Breakdown: Materials, Tools & More

Now, let’s discuss the actual numbers. I’ll explain the significant cost components so you can create an accurate budget.


This is where material choice makes a significant impact. For example, a 1x8x12’ pine shiplap board may cost around $35-$50, while a similar MDF board maybe $20-$30. Prices fluctuate based on type, grade, and size. Be sure to calculate precisely how much you need through careful measurements. Don’t forget additional trim boards for edges and seams.

For a 10’x12’ accent wall, you may need:

  • 25 1x8x12 shiplap boards = $1000 for pine, $600 for MDF
  • 10 1x3x12 trim boards = $200
  • 23 tubes of adhesive = $150


If you’re installing shiplap yourself, you’ll need specific tools like:

  • Circular or miter saw for cutting boards ($100-$300)
  • Drill/driver for securing panels ($100-$200)
  • Level and measuring tapes ($20)
  • Eye and ear protection ($30)

Many DIYers already own these essential tools. However, renting specialized equipment is also an option. Just be sure not to skimp on safety gear.

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Additional Supplies:

  • Quality primer & paint adds $200+
  • Caulk/sealant = $75
  • Wood filler = $25
  • Drop cloths & sandpaper = $50

These materials ensure professional-looking results. Pick neutral paint colors if you need help with long-term decor plans.

Installation: DIY or Hire a Professional?

Installing shiplap is a project where skilled experience makes a real difference. Doing it yourself saves money but has a learning curve. Here are some tips:


  • Watch online tutorial videos to understand the process thoroughly before beginning.
  • Have someone assist you, especially to hold boards in place while fastening.
  • Work slowly and methodically. Precision is crucial for clean lines.
  • Be prepared to redo areas if mistakes occur. Patience is key.

Hiring a Contractor:

HomeAdvisor says the average cost to install shiplap is $3-15 per square foot. Most accent walls cost between $1500 and $4000. However, the ease of having an expert handle the project may be worth the price.

  • Find reputable local contractors through online directories like Thumbtack or Houzz.
  • Read reviews and look at past project examples to evaluate expertise. Meet in person.
  • Get quotes from 3-5 contractors outlining the scope, timeline, and estimated cost.

Either route you choose, be sure to account for installation labor in your budget. Don’t underestimate the time and effort this process requires.

What it really costs to shiplap a room

Hidden Costs: Finishing Touches

As with most home projects, the finishing details often exceed your budget. With shiplap, carefully caulking and sanding seams smooth, which is crucial for a seamless look, adds work hours. Wood filler tackles any cracks or defects. Second coats of paint may be needed to get full coverage across the textured shiplap.

Unexpected delays or mistakes can also drive costs up quickly, so padding the budget by 10-20% is wise. If doing a DIY install, you may need to redo sections. Additional trim work could be required to cover uneven areas. Be prepared, or these surprise expenses can wreck your budget.

Long Term: Maintenance is Key

Your work isn’t done once the shiplap is up. Proper maintenance keeps it looking fresh and prevents costly repairs down the road:

  • Use a soft brush attachment to regularly vacuum dust from seams
  • Every 6-12 months, apply a protective coat of polyurethane
  • Immediately fill any cracks or chips with color-matched wood putty
  • Check for leaks or moisture damage, repair and seal ASAP
  • Expect to refinish every 5-7 years with sanding and re-staining

Factor ongoing maintenance into your plans and budget. Well-cared-for shiplap can last for decades.

Boosting Resale Value? Maybe, Maybe Not

Will shiplapping your walls increase the value of your home? The jury is still out. As increasingly common design trends can lose their uniqueness over time, some buyers may view shiplap as dated in the future.

Shiplap has excellent appeal and potentially boosts value in certain home styles, particularly rustic or farmhouse. But for resale in general, neutral, versatile improvements are safer bets.

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The shiplap can be removed without major structural work if future owners prefer a different look. This flexibility is a perk when weighing investment vs. enjoyment.

Do Your Homework First

This overview will help you better understand everything involved in shiplapping your walls. While the upfront material costs may seem reasonable, they thoroughly account for tools, installation, finishing time, and maintenance. Read up on the process so you know what to expect. Get multiple quotes and shop around for the best pricing in your area. Do your homework before finalizing plans and budgets.

The investment is worthwhile if you’ll personally enjoy the rustic shiplap aesthetic in your home for years to come. Just be realistic about the effort and expenses involved. With careful planning, you can create the striking, textured look you love while avoiding surprise budget pitfalls down the road. Feel free to reach out if you have any other shiplapping questions!


Does shiplap need to be installed on studs?

Shiplap boards should be securely installed onto the wall studs, just like drywall or other wall paneling. The most robust mounting method uses long screws or nails driven into the studs.

Can you install shiplap horizontally or vertically?

Traditional shiplap is installed horizontally to create the signature lined look, but some modern designs use vertical applications for a different visual effect. Both require precise measuring and installation work.

What type of paint finish works best on shiplap?

A satin or semi-gloss sheen provides a subtle shine that highlights the depth and texture of the shiplap. Flat or matte paints can minimize the drama of the overlapping lines. Primer helps the paint adhere smoothly across the boards.

Does shiplap get heavy? How is it supported?

Thick wood shiplap weighs a lot, and this weight adds up across larger installations. Proper nailing into studs provides critical support. Specialized construction adhesives distribute the weight for ceilings or walls without stud access.

Can shiplap get wet?

You’ll want to avoid direct water contact whenever possible. Sealing and caulking provide some protection, but excessive moisture causes swelling, warping, and potential mold growth in the wood. Opt for PVC or composite shiplap in damp areas like bathrooms.

This comprehensive guide gives you the confidence to take on a shiplap project with realistic expectations of the work and costs involved. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any other questions!