DIY House & Decor Techniques

Shiplap Wall…

June 19, 2016

We… the Pickle and I, have an ever growing list of home improvement/nesting projects that we’re working our way through… to really make our house OUR home… We decided to start with the shiplap wall in our living room… it was one of the easiest of the projects on our list and a great place to get started.

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After a couple trips back and forth between Lowe’s and Home Depot we found the better quality sheeting at HD for a better price… the Hardwood Plywood Veneer Core – Maple.  The wood was a little pricy for the shiplap wall as we chose to go with a good quality veneer plywood… we chose the better quality ply knowing that I was either going to stain, or paint wash, the wall to keep more of a raw wood feel as opposed to a solid painted wall.  If you want to paint your shiplap wall this means that you don’t have to find as good a quality finish ply, though you will want to make sure that whatever you choose has at least one good side and is fairly smooth… the better quality the wood is the less prep that you will have to do… for example if you buy a rough surface ply it will take more sanding to make it have a nice final finish.

To determine the quantity of ply that we would need I measured the wall and calculated the square footage which turned out to be about 84 sq ft… then I took that number and divided it by the square footage in a 4’x8′ sheet of ply (32 sq ft) which resulted in 2.6 sheets of ply… so three sheets would do the full shiplap wall and give us extra shiplap strips just in case, and for me to produce finish samples… it’s always good idea to have an extra bit of material on hand for a project 😉

To determine what size planks we would like I taped a couple pieces of paper together and folded them down to 5″, 5.5″, 6″ and we took turns holding them up to the wall while the other stood back and looked… for the scale of our home we chose 5″ for the width of our planks.

Now getting the 8ft strips cut perfectly? We were going to use our table saw but when we saw the sheet cutting table at HD we had them cut the strips down… This sweet piece of equipment made cutting easier and quicker than a traditional table saw… especially with the flexible 3mm material.  Check it out.  The three sheets that we needed were rested on the ledge at the same time, the height from ledge to blade set at 5″ and then with a pass we had three 8′ x 5″ strips!… a few cuts later our three sheets were turned into all of our shiplap wall strips!…

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When we got the shiplap home they received a light sanding  with some 220 grit sandpaper to remove any little fuzzy bits from the edges and a quick sand over the faces… I’m talking maybe 1 minute per strip.

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Then into the house we went… on the deck we had the compound mitre saw for cutting the plank lengths down to size, and the table saw, setup… we’ll get back to the table saw as we finish up the wall…

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Here is our living room before shot… We painted the walls Revere Pewter this past winter and removed all art work from the walls and patched all of the holes along the way… so we had a fresh blank canvas to work with… we pulled everything away from the wall to have a nice big work area. For tools we had:

Stud finder



Compound Mitre Saw

Compressor, air nailer and 1 3/4″ nails

Two step stools



Table Saw

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We started by marking out the stud locations on the wall – drawing both edges of each of the the 2×4 studs across the wall from floor to ceiling… this was to show us where to nail the shiplap wall pieces as we worked our way across and down the wall…

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The level was the width of the studs inside of the wall so once we marked both edges of the stud a few points down the wall we used the level and marked the stud lines down the wall…

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Tip: Start installing planks at the ceiling and work your way across and down… as likely you will have to rip down a plank using your tablesaw to make a custom width strip for your very last plank across the wall…

Now we didn’t worry about the vertical seams where two pieces of plank would but up against each other… our wall was not an even width so as we moved along cutting each piece the seams all ended up in a random pattern… We started with an 8ft plank butted up on the right wall and up to the ceiling. Using the level we ensured that the first plank was level… make sure you get this first plank level folks.  Your ceiling may not be perfectly level but you will not notice any small gaps that you may have to make between plank and ceiling to ensure you are starting out level.

Once you are satisfied with the first plank put two nails in the plank starting at one end working across the plank nailing into every stud… if the end of the plank does not land on a stud thats okay… still put two nails into the ends… the wood is light and will hold into the gyproc. From here we measured across from the end of the first plank over to the wall on the left… then we took one of the 8′ long planks and cut this short piece from that plank…

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…have sandpaper on hand to give each cut edge a light sanding to remove any little bits from cutting…  nail in the newly cut piece that and move down to the next row starting back in the opposite direction from left to right using the left over wood from the plank that was just cut down… as you will see below our seams worked out in a great natural random pattern.

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To get the spacing between the horizontal rows of shiplap planks we used nickels as spacers… working back and fourth we measured and cut planks if one shorter than 8′ was required and then carried on with the remainder of the plank that was just cut as our next plank used on the next row down…

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We worked back and forth and down the wall…

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And then we came to the electrical outlet… we pulled the cover plate off… measured down from nickel width to top of outlet,  and from the perpendicular wall to the edge of outlet, and also the width of the outlet…

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We then transferred these dimensions to the plank being installed over where the outlet was located…

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Before cutting we held the plank up to confirm that we’d measured and transferred everything correctly.

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Using a jigsaw we cut the shape of the outlet out of the plank… TA DA!…

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The outlet fit within the one plank… so that was it for the cutting required to accommodate the outlet…

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…we continued on back and forth and down the wall until we got to the last strip… which was too big for the space that was left…

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The very last plank that was required to finish the wall was under 5″ in width. We measured from top of the molding at the base of the wall, minus the thickness of the nickel… this was the width that our last strip of shiplap. Two planks were ripped down using the table saw and then the custom width piece nailed into place.

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All in all, once we got the wood strips home it took us a total of three hours to get the shiplap up and all of the tools cleaned up and couch put back into place.

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We really liked the finished raw wood shiplap wall… so we left it for a couple of weeks while I worked on various finish samples to determine how the wall would be finished…

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I produced a couple of samples using grey wood stain products… turns out they were too intense and we didn’t like them with the Revere Pewter walls…

Then I created three paint wash samples using two greys and chalk white from the FAT Paint chalk paint line… They do look very similar next to each other like this but as we held each of them up to our exiting grey walls the whitewashed sample really stood out for us as the look that we wanted for our shiplap wall in our home. Now if we were going to paint this wall I would fill all of the little nail head holes with a wood filler, allow it to dry and then sand away the excess… BUT because I was going for a more washy natural an weathered look I decided to leave the nail head holes.

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To create a paint wash I gathered the following…  FAT paint which I put into a separate container, a jar of water, one of my favourite CLING ON brushes, a mixing container (glass bowl) and some clean rags…

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I begin preparing the paint wash by wetting the brush and shaking it out, then dipped the tips of the bristles into the paint…

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…then I pounce the brush in the mixing container…

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For the paint wash I work with the paint and water, but not directly from either of those containers onto the surface I want to paint… I will work the paint and water together in the mixing container at a rough ratio of 1 tip dip of paint to 1 dip of water.

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…after the dip in water and some pouncing in the paint that was already put into the mixing container I dip into the paint then mix then dip water then mix again… I will do this a couple times with the paint and water into mixing container to get a bit of paint wash build up to work from… the rags are kept handy to wipe off/blot away excess paint wash that gets out of control or drips…

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Work along one plank at a time being sure not to drip down onto the planks below…  I started from the bottom planks and worked my way up the wall washing each plank with my paint wash… starting at the bottom allowed me to get my technique nailed down before painting an area that wasn’t going to be hidden by a couch 😉

If you want to be sure how your piece will look always do a few tests planks with your extra material as the final finish will look different when it is dry from when it is wet with the wash at first.

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I worked back and forth across the wall and up… making sure the brush wasn’t so loaded that it would create drips when I pressed it onto the wall… it took a couple planks to get the feel for how much paint wash to soak up with the brush to paint without having the wash drip, and what speed I needed to work back and forth with to get a good even wash…

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Here is the completed and dried paint washed shiplap wall…

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Now once a wash has been applied and has dried the full wall should get a light sanding… even if you are using a traditional stain product likely a light sanding will be required after the stain has dried to smooth out any grain that may have lifted slightly from the moisture of the finish. FAT Paint typically dries fully in 20-30 minutes but as I’d created a watered down wash I left the wall overnight so that it was good and dry before giving it alight sanding.

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After years of body working large public artworks I’ve developed some sanding habits… I like to have a good feel for what I’m working, so I quarter a sheet of sandpaper, and work with a quarter folded in half… the grit that I worked with to smooth the shiplap wall was 220… nice and fine.

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Working in long strokes with the grain back and forth I gave each plank a light sand… use your non sanding hand to feel the wall as you go… feel the roughness, sand, feel the smoothness… it doesn’t take much to make the finish nice and smooth. And don’t fret about dust!… another thing that I love about FAT is that it has a heavy dust that drops right down to the floor… as you can see after sanding the full wall from ceiling to floor this was the dust spread… it didn’t go far…

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I gave the wall and floor a quick vacuum, and followed up the wall vacuuming with a quick wipe down with a damp towel… Then the furniture was put back into place!

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I do have plans for some custom art to hang on our fresh new shiplap wall, so stay tuned for that, but for now she’s a big bare white washed shiplap beauty!…

For a breakdown on time and cost for this project:


Picking out/cutting wood: 1 hour

Sanding shiplap wall planks prior to installation: 30 minutes

Installation of shiplap wall planks: 2 hours

Tool cleanup: 30 minutes

Painting: 2 hours

Drytime: Overnight

Light finish sanding: 20 minutes

Vacuum/wipe down: 10 minutes


3 sheets of good quality veneered plywood cut into 5″ x 8″ strips: $120.00

Paint: $12.50 half pint

Sandpaper: $2


Level & Pencil

Stud Finder

5 Nickels

Compound Mitre Saw

Table Saw

Compressor and Air Nailer


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