How to add (faux) shiplap to any wall

Thanks to the Queen of Farmhouse Style herself, Joanna Gaines, shiplap is here to stay.  It’s funny, probably prior to 2013, I feel like shiplap wasn’t a common vernacular in home improvement, and now it’s shiplap shiplap shiplap everywhere I go.  I think a common misconception with shiplap is that it can only work in farmhouse-style homes.  I personally disagree.  In our Philadelphia house, we added faux shiplap to the upstairs hallway.  I think it added a lot of interest and texture to our Scandinavian-style home.

So I call this faux shiplap because we didn’t use actual shiplap boards to accomplish this. Shiplap boards typically run about $6-10/8 ft board.  So it can really add up to cost a few hundred dollars if you want to shiplap a big space.  There are three ways you can do to create a faux shiplap wall, at a fraction of the cost.

  1. Pencil & Ruler – I’ve seen a few DIY bloggers do this.  Basically, they use a somewhat thick pencil, and using a long ruler, draw horizontal lines to mimic the gaps you see in shiplap walls.  It’s obviously not the most realistic look, but you could potentially do this if you can’t pull the trigger quite yet on committing to the look.  It costs practically nothing to do.
  2. Washi Tape – Similarily to pencil & ruler, this is a really low-key way of adding a shiplap look to any room.  You can buy very thin gray washi tape and tape horizontal lines across the room.  Again, this is not a very high-cost option.
  3. Wallpaper – Peel and stick wallpaper has come a long way and some even offer a bit of texture to mimic the look and feel of wood.  So if you don’t feel like using power tools but want a more realistic look, this could be the way to go.
  4. Plywood Strips – This is the way I did for the Philly house and what I did in the new house.  Keep reading for the full tutorial!

In our new master bedroom, we are dealing with a huge room with many walls.  On one side, there’s this slanted wall that the previous owner used as a TV wall.


He wasn’t wrong in making that wall the TV wall.  All the hookups are along that wall, and the angle is perfect for viewing TV from the bed.  But one thing I really didn’t like was the two recessed speakers that he left behind when he moved out.  I just didn’t think it looked very good.  So we took out the two recessed speakers (we’re going to repurpose them in our theater room in the basement!), and I patched the drywall.  It still looked a bit bland, so I thought why not dress this up with shiplap!  The best part?  This project is a perfect beginner project that can be done start to finish in a weekend!

Materials Needed

  • 5mm 4’x8′ Plywood Underlayment
  • 1/8″ tile spacers
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Wood filler
  • Caulk
  • Caulk gun
  • Putty knife
  • Finishing nails
  • Paint

Tools Needed

  • Table saw or circular saw (optional)
  • Miter saw or circular saw
  • Oscillating tool or jigsaw
  • Nail gun and compressor

The easiest way of doing (faux) shiplap is using plywood underlayment.  You can buy this at your local Home Depot or Lowes.  Before going to the store, measure out your wall to figure out how many sheets you’ll need.  These sheets are 4’x8′.  At the store, if you ask nicely, they can cut it down for you to your desired width.  Or if you have a table saw or a circular saw at home, you can also do this step yourself.  I opted to cut it myself and I cut it down to 8″ wide planks. I like the chunkier look, but typically the shiplap falls anywhere between 6″-10″ planks.


Once you have your board all cut down to the proper width, measure out the length of the wall, and cut them to the proper length.  Because the wall we were working on the shiplap is slanted, we ended up cutting a bevel along the width of the board.  This is really rare and doesn’t typically happen in most applications.  If your wall is extra long (over 8ft), you will need to join two boards together.  You can do this by cutting a bevel of 45° so that the two boards will nest into each other nicely.  You could always just butt them against each other at 90°, just make sure you do a good job wood filling and patching it so it looks seamless!

First, I took a pencil and marked out where the studs were and drew a straight line all the way from the baseboard to the ceiling.  Take a few tile spacers and place them on top of your baseboard, place the first plank on top of the tile spacers.  Check for level and adjust accordingly.  Nail into studs.  Remove the tile spacers and place them on top of the plank you just nailed in.  Place a new plank on top, and nail into studs.  Repeat this process until you made your way to the top.  For any ceilings that are vaulted, check the angle of the ceiling and cut the planks accordingly.  For any outlets or cable boxes, measure where they will hit the planks, and use a jigsaw or oscillating tool to cut around them.


After everything is all nailed in, time to wood fill and caulk.  Fill in all the nail holes with wood filler, and caulk along the edges of the shiplap if it butts up against a door frame to create a seamless look.  If you joined two wood planks together, you can also caulk the seam to smooth out.

After everything has been dried and sanded, it’s time to paint!  First, take a brush and go into all the grooves in between planks.  Then you can use a roller and roll out the rest.  I did one coat of primer and two coats of paint to finish up this project.


So tell me ...

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