Even before we sold our old house, I was planning every nook and cranny of our new house. With a smaller house, I knew we would have to maximize all of the space and find effective storage solutions for all of our belongings. But I was also excited at the prospect of decorating and doing some DIY projects in our new home.
Our previous home was beautifully constructed and didn’t need much after we moved in. There were a few things we wanted to do, but the size of the home prevented us from taking on DIY projects. Our new house is a blank slate. It’s a typical builder-grade home and has zero character.
During the six months of construction on our new home, I planned out every detail about each room- paint colors, furniture placement, decor and everything in between. Like a few million other people, I’m a “Fixer Upper” fanatic and knew I wanted to add some Joanna-esque style to our new home.
Our living room was one room that stumped me for several months. I knew I wanted some kind of large wooden wall art to be the feature in the room. I found a few that I loved on Etsy like this framed piece and this beautiful sign but nothing was exactly what I was looking for.
During one of our final walk-throughs on the new house, Joanna slapped me in the face and screamed “Shiplap!” at me. I mean, come on, you can’t have a “Fixer Upper” obsession without putting shiplap somewhere in your home, right?
So a few Pinterest searches later, we were ready to take on our DIY Shiplap Wall, which is in fact the cheaper, faux shiplap version of what Chip and Joanna would do. The project seemed simple enough, but sixteen trips to the hardware store and a couple weeks later, we learned some important lessons that I wish someone had told me ahead of time. Check out the tutorial for how we did our DIY Shiplap Wall and how to avoid our mistakes.
DIY Shiplap Wall
- Mitre saw
- Finish nailer
- 4ft x 8ft 5mm hardwood plywood underlayment
- Optional trim boards & quarter round moulding
- Construction adhesive
- Finish nails
- a square, nickel or something to use as a spacer
The hardwood plywood underlayment is sold in 4x8ft sheets and there was a super nice guy at Home Depot who happily cut them for me into 6″ x 4′ strips. My husband was skeptical that they would be willing to make all the cuts for us, but I guess a mom with two screaming children in a flatbed cart can be quite compelling.
The underlayment is pretty thin so two sheets could be stacked and cut at the same time. It took about 20 minutes for four sheets to be cut. I should have been more direct that I needed the cuts to be accurate because I ended up with mostly 6″ planks, but a lot of them were somewhere in the range of five to six inches. When you’re trying to make a horizontal plank wall, that variance is noticeable and frustrating.
Before starting on the project, we found the studs in the wall and drew a line from floor to ceiling along the stud so we would know where to put the nails. Once we had the underlayment cut, we had to decide where to start on the wall and what kind of pattern we were going to do. I wanted the wall to look rustic and random so we started on the upper right hand corner of the ceiling and worked our way across the wall.
The plan was to use the 4′ planks across the wall and make a cut at the end of the row when we ran out of room. Then, we would use the leftover wood from the last piece of the top row as the first piece of the second row. Reality didn’t quite work like that though because our wall fit almost four boards perfectly so we were left with just a little sliver of wood.
We ended up just making some random cuts and using those either as the first or last board of each row. If we had measured and planned out the exact pattern ahead of time, I would have preferred to have the random-sized cuts throughout the wall, but it was a lot easier to either start or end the row with a cut. We used a mitre saw to make the cuts.
Once we had the boards for a row cut, we used construction adhesive to attach the board to the wall and then used a finish nailer to secure it into place. My husband was overly excited to purchase a nail gun for this project. We opted for a battery operated nailer because we have no storage space for a compressor, but a pneumatic nailer would have been a lot easier to use on this project, especially the ceiling, because it is so much lighter.
I wanted to have some space between each row to give it the look of shiplap and saw many tutorials that said to use nickels as spacers. We were ready to put up the second row and it turns out that nobody had a nickel!
We improvised and used a square (try explaining to a four year old why the square is a triangle…she was so confused!), and I think our method turned out to be way better than nickels. The square was nice and sturdy and was able to hang off of each row so we could push the next row against it to be sure it was the right amount of space.
We had to work around a few electrical outlets and light switches and used a jigsaw to make those cuts. Be sure to take out the entire receptacle and not just the plate cover so that once the boards are in place the plate will go back on flush with the receptacle.
We had a few snags in the process due to the imperfect sizing of the boards, but I wanted a rustic look so it didn’t bother me too much. We just tried to keep the rows as level as possible and keep the spacing between rows as even as we could.
Once we finished putting up planks, we decided to add trim around the planks for a more finish look. We used 2″ trim board on both of the sides and the top of the wall. One side of our wall opens to a hallway and I didn’t want the edge of the planks to be visible so we used quarter round moulding on that edge outside of the trim board.
I had visions of starting and finishing our plank wall in one day, but that didn’t happen. When I went to start painting, I realized that the unfinished edges of the boards caused splintered wood to be visible through the gaps between rows.
Our existing wall color was a creamy white, and I was painting the planks Sherman Williams Aesthetic White so I wasn’t too worried about painting in the cracks until I saw all of the brown wood peeking though. Ugh.
We had to use a knife to skim the top of each board to cut off the splinters and then blow out the splinters from between each row. I thought about sanding the boards before we started, but the rough cuts were on the backside of the boards and I didn’t think they would matter as they would be flat against the wall. Learn from our mistake and be sure to sand your boards before starting your project and if you really want it to look great, paint the edges of the board first.
We decided to leave the nail holes instead of filling them in since we wanted a more rustic look. After a coat of primer, the planks took three coats of paint for even coverage. We used Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White paint for a white, but not bright white color. The sheen of our paint looks a little uneven because we weren’t consistently using the same side of the underlayment. Be sure to use the same side throughout the project, especially if you want to stain instead of paint.
Once we finished the wall, I thought, “Hey, let’s do the ceiling too!” My husband jumped on board and besides some ultra sore shoulders, the project went the same as the wall.
This project turned out to be more complicated than we anticipated, but that is mostly due to our status as completely amateur DIY-ers! If we had to do it again, it would be so much easier and go a lot faster. Despite the challenges, I am so glad we decided to add a faux shiplap wall and ceiling to our home, and I’m in love with the final product.
While this project had a lot of little bumps in the road and we learned a lot of lessons along the way, I am so happy with how it turned out! It’s just the statement piece we needed in our living room and brings so much character to this previously boring space. I have to give a big shout out to my dad and husband for making this project happen- I most definitely did not do the heavy lifting here and couldn’t have done it without them.
I hope this post is helpful to you if you’re thinking of embarking on this type of project. Feel free to ask me about anything I missed explaining or share your project with me here in a comment or on our Facebook page.