How to Paint Shiplap Cracks

Shiplap boards are one of my favorite features to add to my builder-grade home. But they do require a little more than traditional walls to paint in the shiplap grooves. I’ve broken it down into 3 helpful steps on how to paint shiplap cracks.

The second and final coat of iron ore by sherwin williams on the lower half of the wall in my hallway. It is covered in shiplap strips made out of plywood and on top of it is chair rail trim.

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Why Choose Shiplap as a Wall Covering?

One of the major reasons I chose shiplap boards was to hide holes in my drywall. I’m not an expert at patching drywall or texturing the walls. Shiplap was the best way I could think of as an easy fix.

The best part was, that it also added an accent wall to several rooms like my master bedroom, laundry room, and even my hallway.

  • Covers Up Wall Issues
  • Adds A Taste of Rustic Style to Buildergrade Spaces
  • Fun Way to Make a Bold Statement and Huge Impact
  • Quick and Easy Project as an Accent Wall
  • Using Faux Shiplap with Plywood Can be Achieved at an Affordable Price

Another problem faux shiplap helped me fix was adding a sense of history to my home. We purchased this suburban home almost 10 years ago and it is very builder-grade. Everything is plain and boring and lacks definition. As do many open floor plan homes.

However, if you choose to install shiplap keep reading. I’ve got 3 options for how to paint shiplap cracks.

Starting the process of painting in the shiplap cracks with my 2" wooster brush. I chose the dark grey color iron ore by sherwin williams. This is in my hallway, there is a metal stool and a gallon of paint sitting on top of it.

Faux Shiplap An Old World Wood Paneling

When the show Fixer Upper first aired the world almost immediately fell in love with shiplap.

I love the look of a faux shiplap wall. But I didn’t consider when installing how to properly paint it.

If you’re using shiplap that is raw wood you will see it between each board. Also, if the wall color it’s covering is a different color you’ll see that.

Therefore, the small cracks between them that create the “shiplap” appearance create an interesting problem.

Watch this on Youtube:

Step One – Picking Out a Paint Color

Choosing the right paint can feel daunting. This is the process I use when picking the paint I’m going to use for any project.

What Kind of Paint I Chose and Why

After having painted a darker color in my dining room, see my Paint a Dining Room in a Day + 5 Tips blog post. I decided it would be a great idea to do a dark gray wall color on the lower half of the shiplap wall going down my hallway.

The full length of my hallway. The left side of the wall is half covered in faux shiplap from plywood. I chose to do a chair rail trim above that and paint the shiplap iron ore by sherwin williams. This is the process of painting between the cracks with a 2" wooster angled brush.

Color & Brand, Type, Sheen

Colors & Brands: White Dove by Benjamin Moore, for the white trim and opposing walls. Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams for the shiplap wall & chair rail trim above.

Type: Behr Paint + Primer

The Sheen of Paint: Eggshell (gives a flat finish, with the slightest sheen)

I love white walls. And typically I use White Dove by Benjamin Moore for all the walls and trim, which is one of the best white paint colors in my opinion. But this wall gets a lot of dirty foot and hand traffic. So, for the best results, I chose Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams, which is one of the best grey paint colors if you want to go with a dark color.

Best Type of Paint to Use

My personal preference is to use Behr Paint + Primer for these reasons

  • Great coverage
  • No additional coat of primer
  • Smooth finish
  • Affordable Price

Step Two – Proper Paint Prep for Shiplap Wood

I go into greater detail in my post 7 Tips to Paint Like a Pro about how I like to prep for paint. And don’t forget to check out the prerequisite to this post How to Paint Baseboard Trim with Carpet.

6 Steps to Prep for a Paint Finish on Interior Walls

  • 01 Pre-installation Sanding*: Ensure you’ve sanded it for a smooth finish with a palm sander (or Orbital Sander). *Optional if it has already come pre-sanded.
  • 02 Clean the Entire Area Thoroughly. See my cleaning before the painting process here.
  • 03 Fill Any Nail Holes with Wood Filler & Putty Knife. (I choose to use Spackle, see my reasons why here).
  • 04 Caulk the Trim & Where Shiplap Meets the Wall.
  • 05 Apply Painter’s Tape.*Where Applicable.
  • 06 A Coat of Primer. If you go in this direction vs Paint + Primer in one, this is when you’d apply it in the process.

Step Three – The Paint Process for Shiplap Boards

Whether you choose to use a natural wood shiplap made of real wood or a faux shiplap made of plywood, this process will apply.

2 Quick Steps to Paint for Best Results

  • 01 Paint Shiplap Cracks or Grooves. Use a small brush, 2″ Angled brush (or thinner) to paint the cracks between each board thoroughly. If you notice after painting, as I did, that the wall color behind is still showing through go back through with a smaller detail brush.
  • 02 Use a 9″ Paint Roller. Very thoroughly get your roller full of paint. When paint gets stuck between the boards use your 2″ brush to swipe it out. Watch for any drips.

Overall the process is fairly simple. Make sure you’re getting the best coverage by doing two complete coats on the entire surface.

A good indication that you need a full second coat on shiplap is when you can see the wood grain through the paint. This means you need a second coat.
This is how you can tell you need a second coat of paint. When you can see the wood grain of the shiplap through the paint.

How Do You Paint Shiplap Cracks – Commonly Asked Questions

How Do You Paint Between Shiplap?

There are 3 ways to properly paint shiplap cracks and ensure it is properly coated.

  1. Paint it prior to installation with a roller.
  2. Use a paint sprayer.
  3. Use a stiff 2″ Angled Brush and push the paint between the cracks.
Painting cracks in faux shiplap made of plywood in my hallway. I'm using a 2" angled brush by wooster.

Do I Need to Prime Shiplap Before Painting?

If you are using a raw wood option of shiplap or faux shiplap you’ll want a prime layer. My preferred way of painting is always to use a Paint + Primer option.

However, there are options that come pre-sanded and pre-primed. It is more expensive (by quite a bit), but it will save you time.

How Do You Paint Grooves?

There are 3 options to paint the grooves or paint shiplap cracks.

  1. Paint it prior to installation with a small roller.
  2. Use a Paint Sprayer
  3. Use a 2″ Angled Brush.

To Paint between the grooves

  • 01 Load your paintbrush with paint.
  • 02 Push the paint into the grooves.
  • 03 Paint all the grooves, then use a 9″ roller for the rest of the surface.
Using a 9" wooster roller to get the full surface covered in iron ore by sherwin williams in eggshell sheen. The shiplap is almost completely covered at this point. The trim I kept white dove by benjamin moore.

Should I Roll or Brush Shiplap?


Step 1 Use a stiff 2″ angled brush, fully loaded with paint, apply decent pressure, and paint back and forth between the cracks. Paint all the cracks or grooves.

Step 2 Use a 9″ roller, choose a pad according to the texture of your shiplap choice. I use a thicker roller pad for my textured walls and the faux shiplap plywood. Do 2 coats of paint + primer.

Is Shiplap Going Out of Style?

Considering the fact that shiplap has been used in homes for hundreds of years, I don’t see it going out of style. As for the use of it as a designer favorite, I think the farmhouse style trend may be waning in some parts of the world.

What is the Best Paint to Use on Shiplap?

When picking the best options consider brand, type, sheen, quality, and cost. A less expensive paint won’t get you better results.

My personal preference is to use a mid-range brand like Behr paint + primer in one. It offers an affordable price, great coverage, and with color matching capabilities your color choices are infinite.

Dried paint job after the first coat looking good. Faux plywood shiplap installed on half of a wall in my hallway in a farmhouse style makeover.

A Short History on True Shiplap

An ancient boat unearthed in northern Europe more than a century ago is the earliest example of clinker construction that uses overlapping wood planks called lapstrakes – a precursor to shiplap that created a watertight seal. The Nydam was a 24-meter long rowboat with 15 sets of oars that was built around the year 320, way back when Constantine was Roman emperor!

In the centuries that followed, the practice of overlapping wood planks to keep out moisture evolved and produced shiplap. Technically, shiplap consists of boards that overlap at rabbeted edges to create a snug, watertight fit. It became a common exterior siding material for barns and sheds.

The True History of Shiplap, Before Chip and Joanna by

Shiplap Went from Sea to Home, but Was Not a Decorative Element Until Joanna Gaines “The Queen of Shiplap”

The original intended purpose was not a decorative element. Instead, it was to create a smooth surface on an interior wall for wallpaper and other wall covers (like plaster).

There are many other places you can install shiplap, it doesn’t have to be on an accent wall. And if you’re lucky enough to purchase an older house with original shiplap you might consider exposing it.

It can create a focal point for ceiling features, headboards, fireplace surrounds, Laundry Rooms, and even in kitchens as a backsplash.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


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→


  1. Great post! I wouldn’t have even thought about how with ship lap, you have to paint it differently because the raw wood will show between the cracks. This was so helpful, thanks!

      1. Love the color you picked. Excellent tips. I love adding texture to a wall and shiplap is an inexpensive option that really makes a great statement. I’m loving how homey your home is!

  2. Thanks Julie! This is great. I’m just working on painting our 100 year old house shiplap 🙂

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