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.
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.
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.
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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.
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
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.
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.
- Paint it prior to installation with a roller.
- Use a paint sprayer.
- Use a stiff 2" Angled Brush and push the paint between the cracks.
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.
- Paint it prior to installation with a small roller.
- Use a Paint Sprayer
- 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.
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.
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 Ufpedge.com
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.