The Shiplap Wall: Do’s and Don’ts!

I have to admit that, like many of you I’m sure, I have a small Joanna Gaines obsession. Ever since I started watching Fixer Upper it has been my dream to go to Waco and visit the Silos. One of the biggest elements Joanna loves to use in her designs is shiplap! Unfortunately, not all homes have shiplap that are original to the house, so we’ve taken to finding ways to fake the look to fit our budgets and our homes.

Recently I did just that! In my living room, there’s a very long wall that extends the lengths of the entire room. It’s an internal wall so aside from two air vents, it is completely blank. I decided that this would be the perfect wall to get the shiplap treatment! In retrospect, I would have watched a few more tutorials before taking on the project, but I am an impatient DIYer and like to discover things on my own! In my opinion, it turned out beautifully!

As far as the budget goes for this wall, we did spend a little more than expected. Our local Lowe’s was unwilling to cut the plywood for us, so I also had to invest in a table saw for this project – which I don’t really mind, I wanted one anyway! In total, my shiplap wall came to $500 (again, this price includes the price of a table saw, so it could be a lot cheaper for you if you already have one or figure out a different plan for cutting the plywood). The price also includes paint, paint supplies, plywood, and nails for my nail gun.

Supplies Used:

Table saw


Nail gun

Paint brush and rollers

Keep these supplies in mind if you’re looking to build a shiplap wall yourself and don’t forget the include the price of them in your budget if you don’t have them! In this article, I’m going to give you some major do’s and don’ts when building your own shiplap-like wall so you don’t end up making the same mistakes I did.

First up, the Do’s…


Plan. Plan. Plan. Plan. Plan. Plan. Plan. PLAN!

I can’t stress enough the necessity of a plan before tackling this project! There are a ton of different factors to consider before beginning and if you just rush into the process without planning, any number of issues could arise before you finish.

What You Need to Plan:

  • Measure you wall. Measure your wall again. Do it twice just to make sure your original measurements were correct. Then, measure the boards you will be using and use those measurements to find out just how many boards you will need. This will help you avoid having to make multiple trips to the hardware store.
  • Pick a wall that doesn’t have too much on it. By this I mean doorways, windows, vents, etc. You want to minimize the amount of time you’ll have to spend using the jigsaw to create custom fit pieces as much as possible, plus nothing beats the beauty of a large uninterrupted shiplap wall!
  • Get all of your tools and supplies ready so you know exactly what you’ll need at the hardware store. This includes stuff you may or may not actually need in the end like painters tape or sandpaper. We thought we had everything we needed, but when it came time to cut the boards on our table saw, we saw that the edges were not as clean as we wanted. Of course, we didn’t have sandpaper, so off we went back to Lowe’s!
  • Prep the wall behind the shiplap. Whether this means just cleaning the wall or painting it (and I strongly reccommend painting it), you’ll want to prep the wall behind the shiplap beforehand so nothing shows through the gaps of the boards.



Don’t rush! If you’re anything like me, you are impatient as they come when it comes to DIY. I just want to get to the end as fast as possible. It doesn’t help that my husband is someone who is skeptical about every project until he sees the end result, so that makes me want to finish faster so he can finally see my vision!

Here are a couple of pictures of our wall of places where I wish I hadn’t rushed:


In this photo you can see that there is a gap between the board and the wall. This happened in a couple of areas of my wall because I wasn’t precise with the nail gun placement. A couple of more nails in the area fixed the issue, but that meant I had to get the nail gun and air compressor back out. So that sucked!



Here, you can see that the gaps between the boards are uneven in some areas. I’m ok with this because it gives the wall a more natural and rustic look, but if you want to avoid this, there’s an easy fix! When you’re putting the boards up, use something flat like a couple of quarters between the boards to have an even gap all the way though.



This mistake is proof that no matter how much you plan and no matter how well you measure, if you’re not careful with the jigsaw, you can have noticeable problem areas in your wall. Luckily, the air vent covers most of this area, but I am still considering putting a border around it to cover it completely.



Lastly, I wish I had painted the boards before I put them onto the wall. It is insanely difficult to get into these little gaps to paint the tops and bottoms of the boards. This is something that is going to take me a while and it’s hard to find the motivation to do it because it’s so tedious – so paint your boards!



So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this article on the do’s and don’ts of installing a fake shiplap wall. Despite the issues with mine, I am still so in love with it! It makes my living room look so much larger just from the color alone. Happy building!



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