DIY Faux Shiplap on the Cheap

I finally have shiplap in my home!!!!!!! I’ll be honest here. Despite my desperate love of shiplap, I didn’t want to put it in this house because I knew we wouldn’t be here forever. I wanted it in my forever home. Like to have forever and look at and just absolutely settle into. But life changes, plans change, and as it turns out, we might be in this house a tad bit longer than we had planned regardless of whether or not we want to grow our family. I love our home, friends. I’m not complaining, but when jobs get cut and new ones don’t pay quite as much, it just has a way of shifting things around. Which is why I’m posting about doing shiplap On. The. Cheap.

Let me give you a few specs on this room and then we’ll jump into the tutorial which is just about the easiest thing ever and absolutely worth sharing. There’s a wall in our living-room-turned-office that the desks sit against. I don’t photograph it often because it was more of a necessity thing when my husband was working from home than it was a beautifully decorated space. Once I began what I’m calling the “blank slate movement” in our house (aka painting everything white), it became clear that a statement wall was needed in that room, and what better spot than behind the desks!?! {These are desks that I built early last year made solely from 2 x 4’s!!! You can find the tutorial here.} The wall was 15′ long and we have 8′ ceilings, so four sheets of underlayment plywood cut to 6″ widths gave me two extra pieces to work with in case I messed something up. Four sheets sounds like a lot… until you realize that at $13 a piece, that’s just aboutĀ $50 for the entire wall. Yes, please!

{Pardon the wires, y’all. This room is hanging out while my shelving and light fixtures come in. Then all the wires will be hidden, etc.}

Okay, so you have your four sheets of plywood. Now what? The good people of Lowes will cut those underlayment pieces down for you, friends! HOWEVER, if you own a table or track saw, I would strongly suggest that you cut them yourself. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw the story of my attempts to purchase the wood, have it cut, fail at having it cut, call my grandmother to use her saw, find out that she had a miter saw, not a table saw, and end up back at Lowes to have the wood cut. It was a debacle, but suffice it to say that table saw is looking pretty good right about now. You have way more control over your cuts if you rip them down yourself, and you want these straight. Mine aren’t. Yes, it looks fabulous, but if you get super close you can see where there are imperfections. There’s my two cents, take it or leave it.

On to the tutorial. Once your strips are cut down (I chose 6″ because they fit almost perfectly with our ceiling height. If you have taller ceilings, you might consider 8″ shiplap **read: fauxlap**), it’s time to mark your studs and start adhering! I used Liquid Nails to put these on the wall and 1 1/4″ brad nails to hold them in place while the adhesive dried. {Make sure to put brads in the studs.} Why did I glue them to the wall? Because I want to hang things on this wall, heavy things like shelving. The last thing I want is for one of these to pop off and everything else come tumbling down with it. Sure, I’ll still hang my shelves in the wall studs, but one can’t be too safe. I use a Ridgid Air-Compressed Brad Nailer {it’s my current favorite for projects like this}, but if you don’t have an air compressor there are battery powered ones and corded ones. If you don’t want to spend the money on either of these options, a good old fashioned hammer and brad nails will do the trick, too.

Tip No. 1: Start at the ceiling.

Don’t start at the bottom, friends. Start at the top. Establish a pattern working your way down. It’s a whole lot easier to add some extra trim to your baseboard than it is to cut a tiny piece of plywood for where the ceiling meets the wall.

Tip No. 2: Establish a pattern BEFORE you make your first cut.

Yes, this seems obvious, but once I had a pattern figured out for the first three rows, I could make all of my cuts which cut way down on application time. The first three rows took longer than all of the rest combined. Not even joking.

My pattern went something like this for a 15′ wall:

  • Row 1 – 8′ board, spacer, 7′ board
  • Row 2 – 42″ board, spacer, 8′ board, spacer, 42″ board
  • Row 3 – 7′ board, spacer, 8′ board

Tip No. 3: Put the first brad in the top center of the board you’re hanging.

I did this project by myself with the exception of the first two boards that I hung, which is tough when you’ve got an eight foot board and your wingspan is probably fourĀ feet on a good day. I quickly learned that I should work right to left on each row, lining the first piece up with the wall, spacing it from the piece above it and nail that board right into the wall smack in the center. This allowed me to use both hands to align the right and left sides and make any adjustments needed without the opposite side falling or sliding. The last thing you want is a crooked wall.

Tip No. 4: Use a level.

Unless you are 100% certain that each and every one of your cuts are absolutely straight, use a level to make sure each piece hangs level. This is where I noticed the imperfections in my wall the most. I would hang one piece level, finish the row, come down to the next and there would be the slightest wave in the next piece. If I didn’t use the level, that piece would have been spaced evenly from the one above it and ended up slanted without me realizing it. So use that level, friends!

Tip No. 5: Paint the wall white before you add plywood.

It doesn’t have to be pretty, but you won’t want to go back in and paint in the cracks once it’s all up. Trust me. I did this backward and totally regretted it. We had a very light cream color on the wall, and even it showed through, especially against the white of the shiplap.

Those are my best tips to doing this right the first time without having to rip anything off the wall, but if any of you have tried this and I left something out, please add it in the comments below!

I started at the ceiling and worked my way right, moved down a row starting on the left and working right, moved to the third row starting on the left and working right, etc. Once you get those boards all cut to size, this is a really simple project! The only difficult parts are outlets and intake vents, but just measure and cut around those as best you can and add extenders to your outlets. If you really don’t want to do that, you can also just cut around the outlet cover. This is what I did simply because I was eager to get the project finished. Either way looks just fine, but using the extenders makes it look a bit more polished.

After all your boards are up, paint a primer coat. I filled in the cracks first then put on a coat of primer since my boards were somewhat dark. Unless you live in a house with perfectly perpendicular walls {ours was built in the 60s, so the walls are all over the place}, you’ll probably have to joint compound or DAP where the rows meet the walls. This is quick and easy, though, and they make this awesome little tool to smooth everything out for you. {If you don’t want to purchase one, which you can find here, a slightly damp sponge works really well, too.}

Once your primer coat dries, just add your main color coat. I used a satin finish so I can wipe down the walls easily but the imperfections aren’t highlighted. Rather than find that perfect white, I’ve been using ultra pure white in Behr Marquee, and it’s done beautifully. It doesn’t have any purple or tan undertones, which is perfect in natural light like this. I also used this in my entry and my dining room.

The addition of $50 worth of wood somehow made all the different in our little workspace! I’ve ordered some shelf brackets from a fellow Etsy seller, and have some natural wood shelves to go up on either side of the letterboard {I have a tutorial here}. I’m also looking through plug in sconces {find some of my favorite farmhouse lighting here} to find the perfect addition to go over each shelf. Something about sconces on the wall that look like a built-in finish up a space. I can’t put my finger on why, but it works! Once I get those put up and Chuck’s desk cleaned up a bit, I’ll post a follow up blog with the reveal.

In the meantime, I hope this is helpful for you if you’re looking into adding shiplap to your home, especially if you need to do it on a slim budget. Have a great weekend, friends!



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