How to Add Shiplap to Your Home the Inexpensive Way
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You may have read our guest bathroom renovation post and noticed that we put shiplap on our walls. Shiplap was a must in the bathroom project, but we didn’t want to spend a fortune on the real deal. This left us doing a bit of research and talking to my brother-in-law and his partner, whom had recently done their upstairs space in shiplap. You can check out the gorgeous results of their entire remodel on the West Elm blog here.
After talking to them about their process, it gave us a huge step in the right direction on how to go about this project the most inexpensive way we could think of while still making it look real. As most of you may know, real shiplap can be quite pricey. So to get the same look but avoid a huge chunk of our budget being used on one thing, we used 1/4″ plywood cut into 6″ strips. Brilliant, right!? I was feeling a little unsure about it at first, because I was afraid the plywood would leave rough, unfinished edges when cut but that luckily wasn’t the case at all.
To start off, we measured the walls to see how much plywood we would need. With measurements in hand, we went to our local Lowe’s and figured out the number of plywood sheets needed then asked the lumber department to cut each sheet along the long edge into 6″ wide strips. If you’ve never noticed, most Lowe’s lumber departments have a giant saw enabling them to do this job much easier than the average person can do by themselves at home. If available, you should choose a moisture resistant plywood to prevent any bowing or warping, especially if it’s going in a bathroom or kitchen. Some other things you’ll need to grab from the store if you don’t already have them at home are finishing nails, sanding blocks, paint and polycrylic finish.
I chose to sand all of the boards and paint the short edges before we nailed them to the walls. This prevents the struggle of trying to get paint in the small gaps between each shiplap board, especially in our case since we decided to space them just 1/8″ apart. You can choose to space them however far apart you like, however the smaller the space in between each board, the more authentic it will look. After the prep work of sanding and painting, we measured each wall to cut the boards at the length needed and started nailing them into place. It was found easiest to start from the bottom then use 1/8″ tile spacers between the bottom board and the following one on top. This process continued until we reached the ceiling. We did have to strip the very top boards to fit up to the ceiling as they were a bit too wide, but it ended up looking just fine.
A clean, square trim seemed best to finish off the look we were trying to achieve. I’ll explain how to DIY this simple trim later on in another post. After all the shiplap and trim is secured in place, the overall painting can be started. I suppose you could do the full painting of the boards before placing them on the wall, but I would recommend painting afterward if you don’t want the nail holes to be seen. Some painter’s putty or spackling can be used to fill in the nail holes, then just allow to dry and sand smooth before painting. We used two coats of paint to make sure we had an even finish throughout, then applied a polycrylic finish on top of the fully dry paint. You’ve probably heard of polyurethane, and this is the same type of protective finish but it’s water based so there’s no yellowing as time goes on. In the Minwax Polycrylic line, you can choose from matte, satin, semi-gloss or gloss depending on the sheen you want your shiplap to have. It’s important to apply this finish to protect the boards from moisture even if you’ve chosen a moisture resistant plywood. It gives that extra layer of protection for all your hard work!
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to do the fun part of cutting the boards and nailing them to the wall. My husband left me with the task of sanding and painting (pretty boring). However, I’ve since learned how to run the miter saw and nail gun, so maybe I’ll get to do it next time! After all, I’ve been wanting to put shiplap in the living room for some time now so here’s my chance!