Easy DIY Shiplap Wall

If your own home doesn’t have much character and you love the classic shiplap look, this easy tutorial just might save your life! I have put a shiplap accent wall in almost every room of my house so far. So, let me lead you every step of the way to create your own DIY shiplap wall.

Easy plywood shiplap focal wall installed on the back wall of a bedroom.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy and privacy policy.

Joanna Gaines set the world on fire in 2013 when her and Chip Gaines’ show Fixer Upper aired and we all fell in love with the old-world charm of beautiful shiplap walls.

In fact, they became the answer to most of my wall problems in my builder-grade home. I have installed shiplap in my living room, master bedroom, dining room, hallway, guest bathroom, and now in my oldest daughter’s room.

Shiplap No Longer Hidden Behind Plaster

Originally shiplap was used on ships, then used inside homes to give stability to walls so plaster could be applied on top.

Traditionally they are installed horizontally, but you don’t have to be traditional! I have seen some beautiful shiplap walls installed with smaller pieces (3-5″) in vertical lines.

You can cover your entire wall or do small walls as a focal point in a room. Give it a beautiful finished look with crown molding or go for a more rustic look. Whatever your design plan is a DIY shiplap wall can fit into any style or wall color!

What Can I Use for DIY Shiplap?

There are several great choices that are inexpensive options for creating an easy DIY shiplap wall. I choose to not only go for affordability but quality as well. But I understand we are all working on different budgets and some of these options are easier to change out if your tastes change down the road.

The first choice you have to make is if you only want the look of shiplap, save money by using faux shiplap boards or invest in a planked wall true shiplap.

Beautiful pre-sanded plywood shiplap wall with 6" thick planks wall-to-wall.

Options for Shiplap Planks

Real shiplap planks are made of solid wood, typically pine, but creating faux shiplap can be created using another kind of plywood sheets as well as other options that aren’t wood at all.

  • Faux Shiplap Wall Plywood Shiplap Walls, Plywood Underlayment, and Luan Plywood.
  • Real Shiplap Wood planks can be purchased in varying thicknesses and colors.
  • Shiplap Wallpaper Stick-on Wallpaper or Real Wallpaper.
  • Painted Shiplap Using black paint or a paint pen to create the appearance of boards by drawing lines on the wall.

What is a Substitute For Shiplap?

There are many beautiful and classic wall treatments that make great alternative options to shiplap if you’re looking for more choices. But I will warn you if you’re indecisive you may find yourself in serious historic love.

I have a small obsession with historic wall treatments. I live in a builder-grade subdivision home, but I’m on a journey to add the charm and grace of an old home to my whole house. So check these 5 out of 30 ways to add old charm to your home.

  1. Board and Batten
  2. Bead Board
  3. Wainscoting
  4. Faux Brick Panels
  5. Wall Paper

What is the Cheapest Way to Make Shiplap?

Though you can make a shiplap wall in different ways with wood or stick-on wallpaper the least expensive version of a DIY shiplap wall is actually made by painting a black line.

  1. Use a chalk line or laser level to create a straight line on the wall.
  2. Then use a paintbrush and black paint, or paint pen to draw a thin paint line every 6-8″ on your wall.
  3. You can use a ruler to help you maintain your straight line as you go if your hand is not very steady.

Watch this on Youtube:


The process of installing your own shiplap wall is a really simple and straightforward process, but it’s a good idea to have the right tools and supplies gathered before you start.

Most of these tools can be purchased from your local hardware store, I typically shop at my local home improvement store Home Depot.

Additional Optional* Finishing Supplies

Step One – Materials and Prep Work

First two rows of the shiplap wall installed, full wall view.
Halfway of the shiplap wall installed full view of the entire wall.

The first step and best way to start all DIY tutorials are by gathering all your supplies. I promise it is the most efficient way to get a project done. Additionally, it helps you avoid frustration and saves you so much time!

Turning Plywood Sheets into Shiplap Strips

I love that Home Depot offers the service of ripping plywood sheets into 12″ strips. This makes it easier to get them home, even though I have an SUV. But it also makes it easier for me to rip those strips in half by myself on a table saw.

Plywood cut into 6" strips for faux shiplap.
After I had cut the 12″ strips into 6″ (approx.) strips ready for installation.

But of course, you can always choose to bring home the whole 4 ft x 8 ft sheets and have the control to make much more accurate cuts.

01 Calculate How Much Wood You Need

Before you go to purchase your wood measure your wall space. Measure the width and the height to get your square footage. My wall was 8 ft x 12 ft which equals 96 sq. ft. to cover.

The math will look like this: 4 ft x 8 ft. = 32 sq. ft. and 96 sq. ft ÷ 32 sq. ft. = 3 sheets

02 Cut Your Plywood Down Further

Whether or not you choose to request 12″ strips at Home Depot, Lowes, or another hardware store locally, ideally you will end up with 6 or 8-inch strips as the final product. But that is also up to your preference. Historically speaking 6″ shiplap boards are the most classic and commonly used.

03 Optional Additional Prep Work

If you choose to use a cheaper material you may end up with rough edges that require sanding. In that case, take your orbital sander and 120-grit sandpaper to the pieces before installation.

04 Mark the Wall Studs

Take a pencil and your stud finder and mark every stud in your wall from the top of the wall to the bottom of the wall.

This is a very important step as it will show you where to nail each board for optimal adhesion (without using liquid nails which would make it permanent and cause destruction should you want to take it off eventually).

Step Two – The No-Waste Installation

There are many ways to install shiplap on a wall, but too many involve unnecessary waste. The easiest way to save a little bit on your total cost is to use every piece of wood wisely.

Installing wall to wall shiplap accidentally installed on the floor first.
I started on the floor, this was a mistake.
The second row installed of the shiplap wall.
Wall-to-wall, carry the row all the way to the end each time. Then start the next row with the leftover board.

Start at the Top and Work Your Way Down

First things first, you can choose to do complicated math and try to account for the uneven walls you probably have, or you can just roll with the flow as I do and cut each piece of wood as you go.

If this is your first time installing a DIY shiplap wall, I recommend taking the easy way.

Where Do I Start the Installation?

Always install your first board starting at the top of the wall versus the bottom.

It doesn’t matter which corner you start in, just pick a corner. Unless you have one corner and the other side of the wall wraps around a corner. In that case, start on the side that will wrap around the corner. You want to get a very crisp line at that corner.

DIY Shiplap wall made of 6" plywood strips about half of the wall completely finished and installed.
About halfway finished.

01 Your First Row

I’m going to give directions assuming you’re starting on your right-side corner. Adjust if you’re installing starting on your left.

  1. Install your first piece starting in the furthest part of the right corner.
  2. And then measure the rest of the wall.
  3. If it’s a full piece install that piece in the same way, butting against the ceiling and against the first board.
  4. If it’s a partial piece, cut your second board using your miter saw, chop saw, or circular saw.
  5. Continue this way until you’re at the last piece.
  6. Install your last piece on the first row.
  7. Then the leftover piece is what starts your next row.

02 Installing Your Second Row + Any Additional Rows

After the initial row, you will utilize the spacers between the upper row and the lower row you’re installing.

  1. Use your nickels to create a uniform space between your first plank on the top row and the current row.
  2. Using your brad nailer shoot an initial nail in the top corner of the board at an angle towards the corner stud.
  3. Go to the end of your board, create your spacing, then shoot your nails into the nearest stud at the end.
  4. Continue down the entire line to the next board, etc.
  5. When you get to the end of the row whatever remains of the board you cut to finish that row will become the next row’s starter piece.

The best way to assure accuracy is to measure twice before making any additional cuts. And if need be write your measurements down on a piece of paper. It’s easy to forget them, I have firsthand knowledge of that!

Step Three – Finishing Work

The very last step is the finishing parts, which I actually haven’t gotten to yet in this particular project.

Full wall of shiplap installed without the trim or detail work.
Completely installed. That small gap at the top is the reason you want to start your shiplap at the ceiling and not at the floor. I forgot this from previous projects and had to learn my lesson again.

Installing Trim

You can go full-on fancy with crown molding which can elevate your space from rustic to chic. However, the easiest way to finish out this beautiful DIY shiplap wall is to install floor trim and caulk the sides so there are no gaps between the adjoining walls.

Paint Prep

  1. Fill the nail holes with spackle or wood putty.
  2. Let it dry fully, for 1-2 hours typically.
  3. Then sand off the excess, and clean off the dust.
  4. Paint with 1-2 coats of your preferred paint color.

Notes: I use Behr Paint+Primer in one and have an entire post dedicated to the best painting techniques and tools to use to get a professional finish.

Painting in the cracks of shiplap can be a bit tricky, but luckily I’ve got you covered with all the easy-to-follow tips and tricks.


    As far as material cost you will always come out ahead using drywall. And if you’re doing the project yourself the answer will be the same. However, if you’re hoping to hire out the work the installation is less labor-intensive for shiplap than drywall and may surprise you.

    You can use plywood, underlayment, or luan cut into 6 or 8″ strips and install it on your wall horizontally for a more classic and traditional wall treatment. Other options for a less permanent and more inexpensive approach would be to use stick-on wallpaper or draw horizontal black lines spaced 6-8″ apart to appear as shiplap boards on the wall.

    The common way to install a DIY shiplap wall is to use 6-8″ plywood strips installed with small spacing between each board. However, the easiest shiplap to install would definitely be the stick-on wallpaper or the appearance of a shiplap by drawing lines in the form of boards with black paint or a pen.

    Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope I have given you some inspiration, ideas for creativity, and maybe a push to start creating your own wonderland one piece or project at a time.

    Don’t forget to come back for more great projects like these DIY Projects and many more!


    Meet the Author

    Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *