Master Bath Upgrade: How to Install a DIY Shiplap Wall






This master bathroom was totally transformed in one afternoon for under $50. It was done with a simple DIY shiplap wall.

Shiplap (also know as planks) has become one of the top home décor trends in recent years. It’s surprisingly easy to pull off, and installing shiplap could be the perfect beginner DIY project for you to tackle in your home. It instantly brightens up space and brings in a whole lot of rustic charm to your home.

Shiplap can totally transform a space from drab to fab.

Want to add some farmhouse charm to your home? Shiplap will instantly add that warm, cozy feel of a rustic farmhouse to your space. Let me show you the easiest way to install a DIY shiplap wall in one afternoon.

First, you will need to gather some supplies.

what to use when shiplapping a wall

For this project, we used two sheets of birch sureply. You can find this at your local home improvement store. It is lightweight, easy to cut and comes already primed and ready to paint. And best of all it’s cheap! For this project, we spent under $50 for all of our supplies including the shiplap. Not only does shiplap look great, but it is also very, very economical.

You will need:

  • 2 birch sureply sheets (4-foot by 8-foot sheet)
  • clamps
  • 2×4 board
  • skill saw or jig saw
  • table saw or joiner
  • nail gun
  • 1-inch brad nails
  • leveler
  • stud finder
  • pencil
  • wood filler
  • sander
  • sandpaper
  • caulk
  • cabinet and trim paint
  • foam roller brush
  • paint brush
  • putty knife
  • quarters (You’ll see why in a minute!)

Next, cut your planks.

There are several ways to cut your planks. The easiest way is to have your home improvement store cut them for you or you can to what we did: cut the planks yourself. After cutting our own planks, I would recommend having the professionals cut them for you. It can get a little hard to cut super straight lines on such a long stretch of board.

Let me show you how we did it just in case you want to try this yourself. It is totally doable, just a little bit tricky.

You will need a big, stable area to work on if you cut your planks yourself. We used our farmhouse picnic table as a work table for this project. We used some clamps and a 2×4 to secure our birch sureply sheet to the table.

Notice we have both sheets of birch sureply on the table. We will be cutting two planks at a time. The 2×4 also acts as a guide as you cut, so make sure it is nice and straight before you clamp it on. Your board needs to overhang on the side you will be cutting.

cutting shiplap boards with table saw diy accent wall

There is not a set measurement on how wide to cut your planks. We decided to cut our planks 5 1/2 inches wide.

how to shiplap a wall - cut wood planks

This is how our planks looked all cut out. After you cut your planks, you can run them through a table saw or use a joiner to straighten up the edges if you need to. When you are finished cutting the planks, be sure to sand the cut edges with your sander. You want your planks to be nice and smooth on the edges.

Now it’s time to plank your wall!

There are several different ways you can do this as well. You can stagger your boards or have them all line up. We chose to have our boards all line up. I loved the cleaner lines you get from doing it that way. It’s all just a personal preference. There is really no right or wrong way to do it.

Start at the top of your wall or the bottom. Again, there is not a right way or wrong way to do that either. We decided to start at the top. We thought we’d have a better chance of getting our boards level that way.

nail gun shiplap bathroom makeover

The first board you put up is the most important. You need that board to be as level as possible. This is a two person job! Use a large leveler and have one person hold the board and level in place while the other nails in the board.

DIY shiplap tutorial - level boards

We started our project around the back window. We knew this window had a larger header around it, so we didn’t use a stud finder for this part of our project. We knew we’d be nailing right into the wood. If you are unsure where your studs are, use a stud finder and mark them with a pencil before nailing your board into the wall.

You can put the planks up several different ways. I didn’t want this to be a permanent addition to our home. Who knows if shiplap will be trendy in a few years? So we used small 1-inch brad nails to plank this wall. These nails are small, and later on it will be super easy to rip the planks off the wall. We should have minimal wall damage when they are removed.

how to space shiplap planks - quarters

How to Space Shiplap Planks

Spacing! You’ll want your planks to have the exact same space between each one of them. I wanted my planks pretty close together, so we used quarters as spacers. I’ve also seen other DIYers use nickels. It’s all personal preference.

Pro tip: If your wall is painted a darker or brighter shade than what your shiplap will be when it’s finished, you’ll want to paint your walls before you plank. If your walls are a bold color and you’re going with white shiplap, you will be able to see that color in between the gaps of your planks. You don’t want that.

how to shiplap the wall

Also, take into account windows and existing trim. You’ll have to plank around those things. We cut smaller planks that fit around our window sill and nailed them into place using the nail gun. Around the window trim we had to custom cut a few planks to fit just right. You can use a jig saw to do this.

After we got the harder back wall planked, it was time to move on to the side walls. This was when it got really easy and fast for our bathroom makeover.

how to install a diy shiplap wall stud finder ruler

First, we marked our studs using a stud finder, yardstick and pencil. Then, we started at the top again and worked down.

how to add shiplap in your home

We lined up our planks with the back wall planks so they would meet in the corners. If you notice, our walls were not completely square (most walls aren’t), so we had to cut a tiny plank to fill in the gap at the top. You won’t even notice that when we’re done.

how to install a diy shiplap wall wood filler prep for painting

Then, prep your shiplap for paint.

After you are completely done planking your walls, it’s time for some wood filler. (Make sure it’s paintable wood filler!) Fill in all the nail holes with a small dab of wood filler. This is also a great time to caulk the trim around the window and window trim. I also caulked down the seam where my planks met in the corners. Caulk around the outside edges of your planks as well.

Once the wood filler dries, sand it down. Then paint at least two coats of cabinet and wall trim paint. I painted three coats. As you paint, use a putty knife to remove any paint that drips between your planks. After the has paint dried, I added some cute hooks on one side for towels.

farmhouse home decor - shiplap accent wall bathroom black hooks

how to shiplap a wall

And there you have a shiplap accent wall!

Are you ready to try some shiplap in your home? You will love the cozy, warm, farmhouse feel it adds to your space. Give shiplap a try! I think you’ll love it as much as we do.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

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