The Wall: How to Install Shiplap

Timeless in style and harkening to seaside vacation houses, shiplap wood walls are currently enjoying the style spotlight. This project reinvents the look for a unique addition to your home. Find out how to make it yourself.

Difficulty level : 
Duration : 
1 day

Make a Sketch

  • 1.1Remove mouldings and take your wall measurements.
  • 1.2Divide the wall into your desired sections to draw a sketch. This project uses 1/3 divisions for the height and 2/3 divisions for the width. Note: The sketch below is for illustrative purposes only; your plan should be made according to the size of the wall as well as the layout chosen.
  • 1.3Take measurements of the different sections.
  • 1.4Measure the width of two planks, including the gap between the grooves. Use this measurement to calculate how many planks are needed for the horizontal section.
  • 1.5Round your measurements up to avoid unnecessary cuts and take note of the new height.
  • 1.6Repeat these two steps for the vertical section.
Example of a shiplap wall layout

Write the Measurements on the Wall

  • 2.1Transfer your project measurements onto the wall to use as reference.
  • 2.2Draw your project guide lines using chalk line.
  • 2.3Identify and mark the location of the studs.
Man using a chalk line

Pro Tip

If working alone, use a small nail to hold one end of the chalk line.

Cut the Shiplap Planks

  • 3.1Measure the planks, then use a mitre saw to cut all of the planks.
Man cutting MDF planks with a mitre saw

Install the First Horizontal Section

  • 4.1Set the first plank, tongue pointed upwards, at the bottom of the wall using a level.
  • 4.2Secure the plank to the wall by nailing the tongue. The nails will be hidden by the next plank.
  • 4.3When you reach the last joint, cut the groove off to make a straight joint.
Man holding a bubble level

Install the Second Vertical Section

  • 5.1Confirm that all of your planks are the correct height.
  • 5.2Start your installation of the vertical section flush against the horizontal section.
  • 5.3Since all the nails can’t sink into studs for this section, use glue to ensure that the installation is solid.
Man gluing MDF planks to a wall

Pro Tip

For a straight joint, ensure that the tongue is pointing to the right. If any planks need a lengthwise cut, make it on the side that will be against the wall. Latex caulk will hide the cut for a clean finish.

Install the Final Planks

  • 6.1Measure the height of the third and fourth sections.
  • 6.2Cut the planks to size and install them according to the steps above.
MDF planks being cut by a mitre saw

Hide the Nail Holes

  • 7.1Push the nail heads into the planks with a nail punch.
  • 7.2Apply latex to the holes and around plank edges with a caulking gun.
  • 7.3Give the edges a perfect finish with an applicator tool or a wet finger.
Man applying latex caulking to plug nail holes

Paint the Wall

  • 8.1Use masking tape and tarps to protect other surfaces in the room.
  • 8.2Use new paint to fill the paint gun, as old paint might cause a clog. Test the gun before you begin.
  • 8.3Paint the entire wall and cover all gaps by shooting at different angles.
  • 8.4Use a roller to catch any drips.
  • 8.5When finished, clear the gun to prevent a clog.
Man using a paint gun to paint a wall grey

Pro Tip

If you can’t pick a colour for your new wall, just use the Colour Selector by SICO.

We used a paint gun to finish up this project, but you can also opt for a brush and a roller. Note that covering all of the gaps between the planks will be a bit more time-consuming by hand.

Admire the Finished Project

  • 9.1Your work is finished! Give yourself a pat on the back and step back to take it all in.
Dark grey shiplap wall with furniture
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