How to Install Shiplap


When I heard Joanna Gaines talk about “shiplap” I had to google it. I had no idea what this was that she kept adding to the house after house after house. Today, shiplap is a household term, and for good reason. It’s a classic look that can lean to both modern and rustic styles.


Best of all, shiplap is the perfect DIY project. It can be done on a weekend, doesn’t cost a lot, and provides instant gratification. I recently jumped on the shiplap bandwagon and created an accent wall in my living space. This wall was quoted up to $2300 by a constructor.  I installed my shiplap for just under $100!

I love how the shiplap provides division of space in my family room. It defines and accents this family office area while providing the perfect shabby chic style. Ready to do your own, here’s everything you need to know.


1 Get the wood. Depending on where you live, you can buy actual “shiplap” or you buy plywood that is cut down to six-inch strips. If you are able to find real shiplap at your local Home Depot, get that. Shiplap comes with grooves that are designed to fit together perfectly. It also is more expensive.   If you try to do a shiplap wall with basic plywood boards, it’ll be cheaper, and will require more work on your part.

2 Prime it. You’ll want to paint the wall white before installing the shiplap so you don’t have to paint the seams afterward. You can also prime the boards, which will save you time down the road. If you have a white wall already, you can skip this part. My wood was primed with a clear coat.

3 Mark the studs. With a stud finder, mark all the studs down the entire wall. This will ensure that you attach your shiplap to the studs so the installation is secure.

4 Hang the shiplap. You want to install the first board at the top of the wall, next to the ceiling. Most people will look up rather than down, so if you need to have a smaller piece near the baseboards that will be less noticeable. Align your first board with the ceiling and then simply nail it to the wall. You can use wood glue as well for even more reinforcement if you’d like.


5 Place the spacers. Once the first panel is level, the others should be as well, but to be sure you line them up correctly, put spacers between each board. Pennies are the perfect spacers and are what I used for my wall.

6 Continue with the second board. You want your shiplap seams to be staggered, much like subway tile or brickwork. To do this, when you place the second board, put it underneath the first and either cut it shorter or slide it over.

7 Keep going until the entire wall is covered with shiplap. Then use a miter saw to cut a board the exact space you need to fill in the edges.

8 If you have to deal with an outlet or window, you might need to use a jigsaw to hang the shiplap around these features.

9 When you get to the baseboard remove the baseboard, continue the shiplap to the floor, and then reattach the baseboard.

shiplap installation tutorial

10 After the boards are all hung, you’ll need to caulk the seams and edges for a more finished look. You can also caulk around windows, outlets, and sockets. Add putty to the nail holes and ensure the panels are smooth and ready for paint.

11 Once the putty and caulk dry you are ready for paint. It’s a good idea to lightly sand the surface, but because shiplap is already smooth it doesn’t require a lot of sanding. You can use a brush or a roller, but avoid using too much paint otherwise, it can seep into the seams.

shiplap office

Once it’s all said and done, step back and admire your hard work! I have been so pleased with my shiplap addition. It adds instant charm, texture, interest, and style to any space.

It works in kitchens, bathrooms, family living, or office areas. It’s easy, affordable, and customizable.  I hope this tutorial has inspired you to install shiplap into your home.


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