DIY · Remodel

DIY Shiplap Walls

img_20160726_122331.jpg  When we remodeled The Hall Bath I knew I wanted shiplap walls. I however had no hope of tearing off my drywall to find ‘real’ shiplap underneath. So I opted for a DIY version that was easy, sturdy and budget friendly. We are adding more shiplap in the house to bring that same farmhouse feel to each room and will be using the same method. Here is how we did it:

  1. Draw out a plan. This is helpful to maximize the amount of material you buy and decrease waste. We used half inch thick plywood sheets for our wall boards that were a little rough. You can select the finish you want in your boards, the rougher the finish, the cheaper the board. I sanded the bathroom boards before I painted them because they were a little more on the rough side, but I wanted an older look so the little knots were perfect. Whichever you choose, they typically come in  4 ft by 8 ft panels. If you cut the sheet in 8 inch strips lengthwise you will get 6, 8 ft long boards. In our bathroom the walls were all shorter than 8 ft so the boards could be placed without seams. I like that look personally so you have to know for yourself, do you want various board lengths seamed together on the walls (think hardwood flooring look)? Or do you want long continuous lines (if your wall is short enough to even do this)? Varying lengths can provide less waste because you can fill with short pieces. Doing a rough sketch with measurements can help determine how many plywood sheets you need. And don’t trust that your walls are plumb. Measure each wall height and width at both ends and plan accordingly.20160608_172434.jpg
  2. Cut your plywood. After you have determined how many boards you need, get out your table saw and start cutting. For us this took both Matt and myself holding the plywood sheet initially. If you do not have a table saw or someone to help you handle an awkward plywood sheet, you can usually have it cut when you purchase it for free. Keep in mind if you have quite a few boards to cut they may need extra time or may not be able to accommodate you, so call ahead if that’s the option you are looking for.3. Hang the boards. We always hang our wood boards starting at the bottom of the wall. This means that as you go you will need to measure the length of each board cut. Most of these will be the same, but I have yet to meet a perfectly plumb or straight wall so you may have a little variance along the way and need to cut your board length down accordingly. Our kitchen wall kept most of our boards right at about 7.5 ft. but every now and then it was a little more or a little less. You will be buying more material or altering your plan if you pre-cut every length and find part of your wall a little longer at points. To hang the boards Matt used a finish nail gun and shot the nails into the studs (it’s important to know where those are) at an angle. Just a slight angle will give added ‘grip’ to your nail, since finish nails are smooth and small, they can slip out of heavier pieces when they are perfectly straight.4. Make everything level. The above left photo shows a small scrap piece of wood that Matt placed below our first board to hold it at a position he found to be level. It is best to have a small gap that may have some variance at the very bottom where it can be covered by base board. If the very first board is perfectly level then you are on the right track for level wall board all the way up. I wanted our shiplap to have a nice, even spacing between so I placed 4 or 5 pennies across the top of the boards after Matt had nailed one in place. Then the following board was gently pushed snug against the pennies and nailed in place. Matt would check that each board was still level as he hung each one. When you get to the top you may have boards that you have to cut down to fit your ceiling…our was at an angle and luckily Matt is super handy with the angle cuts, It seriously impresses me every time! Don’t forget that your boards edge will be exposed in the corners. We purchased a piece of wood corner trim that we will be nailing in place when it’s time to paint. That really gives your wall a finished look!

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And here is our finished shiplap wall! You can see the scrap piece I was talking about earlier at the bottom of the wall…and those angle cuts…perfection! *One note on painting or finishing your wall*…We will be painting this space with a sprayer, boards and walls as well, so I did not paint the boards ahead of time. There is no insulation behind these walls (their interior and the kitchen is on the other side) so there is nothing that paint shouldn’t spray on between those little gaps. In our bathroom we had insulation and vapor barrier behind the boards and had already installed the tile, so we wouldn’t be spraying. I went ahead and painted the boards after Matt cut them off the plywood sheet. That way he could cut, hang, and finish without me having to paint other boards. This also savedme from trying to get in the little gaps with my brush and potentially have drips from the paint that would pool in those places. Decide which will fit best for your project. 

Hopefully soon I will have some painted shiplap walls to show you as we keep working at our Kitchen Remodel .

ā™„ Rachael

*update: find this and other great blogs at the Dishing It & Digging It Link Party!


Rustic & Refined


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