Create a farmhouse style shiplap accent wall for less.
Ah shiplap. What do you think of when you hear the word shiplap? Most people would probably say Chip and Joanna, but my love for shiplap came from my very first Parade of Homes when I was 5.
My mom and I have always loved looking at model homes, even though we were never looking to move. When the Parade of Homes came around, we took advantage of the opportunity to look at all of the latest and greatest model homes.
We would walk through the homes noting all of the pretty decor and design features. Every few houses would have shiplap somewhere and it always made me so happy.
Every year, we would go look at new homes and the shiplap was always my favorite feature. And every time I saw it, I would tell my mom that when I grew up and had a house, I was going to have shiplap too.
Except I didn’t know it was called shiplap, so I probably just pointed and said “I’m going to have that pretty wall too!”
Fast forward a few decades and we started looking at hundreds of new houses to find the perfect house that would convince my mom to move to North Carolina. (Seriously, hundreds. I am not exaggerating. This was a multi-year project for a very particular buyer).
In these hundreds of houses, I saw a lot of shiplap and it always made my heart so happy. It took me back to that first Parade of Homes that I have so many fond memories of (some obviously not accurate).
I swear I have a vivid memory of wearing a tiara, eating candy, and riding an elephant through the streets of this neighborhood. Obviously, that memory must have been manufactured over the years, but the shiplap love was real.
Anyway, when we purchased our first house, I quickly became aware of how expensive everything is. But, I knew I wanted shiplap, even if it wasn’t really shiplap. We ended up creating a large faux shiplap wall for about $75 using inexpensive underlayment boards.
Alright, let’s DIY!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more)!
- Nail gun
- 1.5-2.5″ finishing nails
- Circular saw
- Jigsaw (If you have outlets that you need to cut around)
- 3 Pennies (yes, the coin! You will use these as spacers)
- Measuring Tape
- Stud Finder
What You’ll Need
- 7/32″ Underlayment Board, Cut into 8″ Strips
- You’ll want to select the thinnest underlayment option available for a few reasons. First, weight. Second, if you have outlets, you don’t want the outlets to be sunken in compared to the “shiplap.”
- Paint (We chose Sherwin Williams Extra White Paint in an Eggshell Finish)
How to create a DIY faux shiplap wall
New to DIY? Download our free 5 Steps to Getting Start with DIY guide!
Fair warning: we installed this wall before we knew we would ever have a blog, so there aren’t very many in-process photos.
Optional Step 0: Remove your baseboards
If you’re feeling fancy and want your baseboards to continue sticking out from the wall as much as they currently do, you can start by removing your baseboards. P.S. we didn’t remove ours 😉
Step 1: Cut your wood
Cut your underlayment board into strips.
Note: We asked Lowe’s to cut the boards into strips that were 8″ wide, but since writing this, our local store has cracked down on cutting boards less than 12″ wide. You might need a table saw or circular saw with a track to get these cut.
Step 2: Mark studs
Find and mark the studs using a stud finder. Using a pencil, draw a line from floor to ceiling so that you can easily see where the studs are as you work your way down the wall.
STEP 3: hang your boards
Start from the top and work your way to the bottom.
Note: It’s best to start from the top because you will likely have furniture along the bottom of the wall to break up the shiplap lines. Since nothing is truly straight (your walls, your underlayment boards), the bottom boards will likely be slightly different widths. (don’t stress yet, we’ll cross that bridge later).
- Place a penny on its side in the corner. By starting with a penny on each end board, it will allow you to achieve a straight line all the way down. You could also add molding at the end to finish the look, but we opted for one less thing to buy.
Note: The penny width will also allow room for the boards to swell during the warmer months. If you don’t leave room for swelling, there is a chance the boards could buckle later.
- Nail your board into the studs, nailing at both the top and bottom of the board. Many of the ends of the boards won’t align with a stud, that’s okay. You can cross-nail the ends of the shiplap boards that don’t align with a stud. To do this, angle your nail gun ~30-degrees to the left and shoot in a nail. Then, angle your nail gun ~30-degrees to the right and shoot in a second nail (a big shoutout to my friend Philip_or_Flop for the cross-nail tip).
When you get to the end of a wall
When you get to the end of the wall and need to cut a board, measure the distance remaining and mark the board with a pencil. Cut right inside the pencil line with a miter or circular saw.
The blade will account for the penny width you should allow for your boards to breathe. Nail the board into the studs. Use what’s left of the board that you just cut as the first board on the next row. This will make your seams random, which will result in a more natural look than if all of your vertical seams aligned.
You don’t need to use a penny as a spacer between two boards on the same row, rather, line the boards up against each other.
When you are adding boards to a new row, place the pennies between the existing row and the board that you are adding. I like to place a penny on either end of the board, push the board up so that the pennies are tight, and then place a penny in the middle.
Note that using pennies as a spacer will make your gaps as consistent as possible, but no boards (or walls) are perfectly straight, so adding the third penny will allow you to see how the board is warped (if at all) and decide where you want a bigger or smaller gap.
When nailing, one person should be pushing the board up against the penny to make sure the gap stays tight. If you want bigger gaps than what we did, you can use nickles instead.
If you have an outlet
If you have an outlet, keep adding boards until you reach the outlet. Once you have a board that would cover the outlet, mark the outlet location on the board and cut it out using the jigsaw.
The last row
For the last row, you might get lucky and your boards fit perfectly. If so, continue as normal. But, most people (99%) won’t be so lucky. If you are one of the unlucky ones, start by measuring the length of the board you are going to use. Measure that length on your wall and then measure the height at both the beginning and end of where the board will be.
You want to measure both sides because the heights might be slightly different. Mark your board with the heights and draw a straight line between them to use as your guide. Use a circular saw to cut the board to the correct width. Repeat with the rest of the row.
Optional Step 4: Add trim
We went back after a year and a half of finishing the wall and added some corner round trim to each side. This made the wall look more complete and covered any gaps that we on either side.
Step 5: Prep and Paint
Putty all of the nail holes before painting. If you are going for a very farmhouse look, you can leave the nail holes. I was going for model home, so I wanted as clean as possible.
Optional: Wood putty and sand the vertical seams. Complete this step if you want it to look like a single board made it across your whole wall. Personally, I love this look, but Andrew doesn’t ?
Caulk the corners of your wall from top to bottom. You can also get a piece of trim board to give the edges a nice finished look.
Paint. After going over the boards, run a utility knife, piece of cardstock, or flathead screwdriver through the seams to get rid of paint drips. This will give you crisp, clean lines.
Side note story: We actually painted before we put the boards up and then repainted once the boards were up. We originally chose Sherwin Williams Alabaster based on multiple recommendations that it is THE Chip and Joanna look. Well, we put the shiplap on the wall and I hated it. It was way too farmhouse and not anything like model home shiplap.
We did a quick Sherwin Williams run and ended up with Extra White (to match our ceiling and trim) and I’m happy to say that the paint made a world of difference. AND we learned that painting afterward is the way to go. It takes significantly less time.
If that didn’t sell you to paint after, if you paint before you will have to touch-up. We ended up getting pencil fingerprints all over the shiplap, so it needed some love anyway.
Where are you going to “shiplap”? We can’t wait to see your photos!
Want more accent wall inspiration? Check out our roundup on the best accent wall ideas.