Adding shiplap walls to your home is easier and cheaper than you may think. Don’t worry if you don’t have real shiplap – that stuff is expensive and labor intensive! This tutorial will teach you how to use cheap plywood to get the shiplap effect for a fraction of the cost.
Welcome back to the One Room Challenge. We are trucking along and getting closer to the big reveal of the Powder Room reno.
Last week we installed, grouted and sealed the beautiful cement tile:
This week is was the wall’s turn for some action.
If you remember back to Week 1, many of my inspiration pictures featured either plank ship lap walls, plank walls or beadboard.
My husband, Brian, was originally skeptical about the shiplap look that I desperately wanted and instead wanted to stick with a simple and classic half-wall beadboard. While I love beadboard, we’ve already installed that in our other bathroom [see the full EASY tutorial here!].
In the end, he finally came around to my way of thinking. As he usually does. I can be pretty persuasive!
What is Shiplap Anyway?
Shiplap is a type of wooden board used commonly as exterior siding in the construction of residences, barns, sheds, etc. Nowadays, more often than not, when we refer to shiplap we are simply talking about wood panelling that is hung horizontally. You may also hear people also refer to is as plank walls or tongue and groove walls.
Shiplap Walls: What To Buy
After doing a ton of research, I realized that there are many different ways to achieve the shiplap look. For us, it came down to three options: tongue & groove panels, mdf boards or plywood. I’ve seen all of these options used in rooms with amazing results. In the end, easy-of-installation and the lower price point won out – we chose the plywood. Also, this was a much cheaper option for us than drywall, since both purchasing the drywall and hiring labor to correctly tape and mud would be significant.
These large sheets of plywood from Lowe’s come in at the low-low price of $13 per sheet. AND they ripped them down for free. All 8 sheets of them. We gave the guy a generous tip because it probably was more than they usually cut for free!
Since our bathroom is so little, I decided to go with an 8 inch wide plank, with the idea that less horizontal lines would be a good thing in a small space.
Once we got home, I sanded every single one of those boards by hand, since my electric sander decided to die. It went pretty quickly though. No jagged boards allowed!
Shiplap Walls: Installation
Let’s talk a little about the process of getting these guys up on the wall. I highly suggest you purchase a nail gun if you’re going to do this. You can go the hammer and nails route but it will take you 10 times as long. Our nail gun uses brad nails that produce tiny little holes that are easily covered. Plus, it’s fun to use :-)
You’re also going to want a saw to cut the boards to the correct length. Again, a regular hand saw will work, but we used a compound sliding miter saw to give cleaner cuts, in a fraction of the time. We also used our jig saw to cut out a few funky areas, like around the toilet pipe and around outlets.
The process is straight-forward. We measured the wall and then cut the pieces of wood to the correct length. I painted the wall and the edges of the boards as I was going so that the gaps were the same color as the boards (white in this case!).
You can use pennies or nickels as spacers. We used nickels – one on each side and one in the middle – then nailed the board in place. We nailed into the studs where possible (that we had first marked with a stud finder). You don’t absolutely have to do but it’s always a good idea to catch a stud if it’s possible.
I can’t stress enough just how important it is to make sure your first board is absolutely level. If you start off crooked, your lines will be all off. And that’s not a look you want for perfect shiplap walls!
As you go to add your second board, make sure to measure your wall again. It’s rare that walls are perfectly straight. Ours certainly were not. And again, check for level and paint the wall and seams as you go.
It took Brian about 8 hours in total to get all the boards up. Then I got to work filling all the little tiny nail holes. I just used regular spackle and a putty knife.
The next day I sanded everything until it was beautiful and smooth. Oh, and I did it all by hand. Because my electric sander was still broken.
I sanded some boards. I sanded down my finger nails. Not a fun day!
It was all worth it once I got the first coat of paint on, though :-)
We primed with 2 coats of primer first before applying the paint with a roller.
I chose to use a flat sheen of paint, Kelly Moore’s “Swiss Coffee” color matched to Behr’s paint. I chose the flat sheen to minimize any imperfections in the plywood and I really love how it’s turning out!
UPDATE: See the finished powder room!
Shiplap Total Cost: $100 plus tip
On a slightly bum note, as you read this my plumber will be assessing whether the vanity I bought will actually work or not. Our plumbing drops below the cabinet of the vanity, so I’m kind of worried about that. Fingers crossed he has a solution because I don’t have a Plan B for the vanity!!! EEK!!
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