DIY Shiplap Wall

I knew I wanted to dress up a wall of the new baby’s nursery, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I went back and forth between DIY shiplap and wallpaper. I loved the idea and look of a wallpaper wall, but the new peel-and-stick options got expensive quickly ($300+ for a wall is what I was looking at). So, I went for the DIY Shiplap.

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Full disclosure: this project cost $44. The plywood underlayment boards were $13 a piece and I already had nails and a sander on hand. It is really very simple. There are tools that would make it faster and easier, but they aren’t necessary.

Once we got all the supplies gathered and home, it probably took us about three hours to complete the wall. The most time is spent cutting and sanding, but it can easily be done in an afternoon!

Tools that would be nice to have, but aren’t necessary:

  • Power saw to cut down pieces and make holes for outlets
  • Nail gun
    • All of the tutorials I read called for a nail gun. I was going to buy one, then realized they are pretty expensive. I was going to rent one, and then realized that most nail guns also require an air compressor, so it was going to be at least $100 just to rent the supplies for one day.
    • Finally, I decided to just use a good old fashioned hammer and nails, and it worked totally fine.
  • A sander
    • I’ve had my Black + Decker mouse sander for years now and it’s the best. It’s also cheap.
    • Regular sandpaper would suffice for this project, though.

Tools/supplies you must have:

  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Level
  • Hand saw
  • Tape Measure
  • 1/4” plywood underlayment
  • Sandpaper
  • Two quarters

…that’s it. That’s all it takes.

Here are the steps:

Step One:

Go to Home Depot or Lowe’s (or another place that will cut wood down for you) and get as many sheets of 1/4” plywood underlayment as you need. My wall was roughly 8 feet by 10 feet and I needed three sheets.

Step Two:

Get the boards cut in the store down to the thickness that you like. I like the thicker shiplap look, so I had mine cut to 8 inch strips.

Step Three:

Get the boards home and sand them. Depending on how sharp the blade was that was used to cut your boards at the store, your boards may need some serious sanding or just a little. Mine were pretty good, but still much smoother after being sanded.

Step Four:

Be sure that the wall color is a color that you’re okay seeing through the spaces between the boards. My wall was gray, like the rest of the room, and I was okay with that showing through. If you’re going to paint your boards once they’re up, you may want to paint the wall to keep everything the same. The quarter spacing makes the gap very small, but a bit of the wall color does still pop through.

Step Five:

Check out the very top of your wall. I read that most ceilings aren’t level, but I got pretty lucky and mine almost was. The very first board is the most important, so take your level up to the wall and determine where you need to position the first boards it to make it straight and make the rest of your project really simple.

Step Six:

Mark your studs. Find the studs in the wall and make lines down the wall so you’ll know where to hammer as you’re working. I just used a pencil; they’ll get covered up by the boards.

Step Seven:

Take the first long board and get it level on the wall according to your markings. Hammer the board into the wall.

Step Eight:

Measure to determine what size piece you’ll need to cut. Mine came to 80cm. It’ll be the same all the way down, so you can cut each round or you could cut them all at once.

Step Nine:

Sand the edges of the board you cut.

Step Ten:

Hammer that board to the wall.

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Yay!

You completed the first strip, which is the hardest and most important. Follow those same steps all the way down the wall.

Put the long board on the opposite side of where you started so your board lines are staggered. Use quarters to maintain a consistent space between boards as you’re working down the wall.

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Put up board, hammer it to the wall, cut/position second board, place quarters, continue down wall.

Just so you know…

This is much easier with two people, but it is possible with one. If you take your time on the very top, the project goes very smoothly.

We cut around the outlets when we got to them. We had to cut out of two boards because of the way it fell. I attached the outlet covers on top of the boards when they were finished.

Many people also add trim to the edges of the shiplap wall, so don’t worry if you get a little uneven on your cuts on the edges; you can cover it up if you need to. Ours, surprisingly, worked out very smoothly and I think we’re going to leave it as is!

If you know you want your shiplap wall to be painted, I would suggest painting before putting the boards on the wall. We were very pleasantly surprised at the clean look of the plain boards and left ours that way.

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