I am not ashamed to admit it – I am a total Joanna Gaines fan-girl… so naturally, I love the look of shiplap and had to learn how to plank a wall for our nursery! Together, Mike and I tacked our DIY shiplap wall and it turned out awesome! This guide is all about HOW to plank a wall for a faux-shiplap look and will walk you through the steps to take based on the process we used.
For instance, our roughly 12×8 wall cost us about $150.00 total with shiplap materials and paint.
You could choose MDF, underlayment, plywood, tongue and groove shiplap, etc. We chose not to glue our planks to our wall to limit the mess and materials, and we wanted the option to remove the shiplap in the future without destroying the drywall underneath.
Doing a half board on the bottom let us make adjustments based on the floor variation and would be partially covered by the nursery furniture – AKA less noticeable. Below are the materials, tools, and exact process we took to achieve our plank wall or DIY shiplap. Measure the height and width of your wall to determine how many boards you will need.
We decided to leave our baseboards on and use the natural ledge to hold our boards.
Additionally, we decided to do 6-inch-wide boards, so we needed a total of 4 plywood sheets to complete our plank wall. We chose a ¼ inch sanded pine plywood at $22.00 per sheet from Home Depot.
You can go the total DIY route, use the expertise and tools from a store like Home Depot, or a combination of these options! You can easily set your measurements to the appropriate size and make your cuts at home. Since we don’t have a table saw, we had the Home Depot associate help us rip down the boards to 6-inch-wide pieces.
The guy told us they normally don’t do cuts below 12 inches because it can be harder to get a straight line. But, we asked if he would try to cut one to see how it turned out, and it measured evenly across the whole board at 6 inches! First, Mike put down the board we were going to cut down onto the workbench, hanging off slightly.
Then, he found the straight edge on one of the plywood boards we had and used this as a guide for our circular saw. Next, he measured 1.5 inches on the bottom board to account for the trim piece we needed.
Next, he tightened the clamps on either end, and we placed a few weights on the guide board (aka krud kutter – my favorite cleaner for furniture prep). I helped hold the cut end of the board as he moved so it wouldn’t snap as he went. Once you have all of your planks cut down to size, you will want to sand down the edges and the front side you intend to paint. If your edges or boards are rougher than ours, or if you are doing a larger wall or space, you might opt for an orbital sander to speed up this process.
Try to blow or wipe off as much sanding dust as possible before bringing the planks into your room. You can use a shop blower or tack cloths for this which will help reduce the dust/debris you bring in.
Next, you will want to take a straight board or long level and make a vertical line from ceiling to floor where your studs are located. These marks and the lines you make will be where you nail your planks, so they are securely attached.
We made sure they were flush to the ceiling and rested on the baseboards, and that they were tight to the adjacent wall. To do this, Mike and I both stood on stools, holding the 8-foot plank and a level.
We positioned the plank so it was tight to the left trim piece and the ceiling. Don’t be afraid to nail in where it is just drywall to make sure your planks are flush at the ends.
With the smallest variance in our trim board width, and how tight we could get our planks to the edge, we needed to cut ours down a little to make it fit. Once cut down correctly, attach the plank next to your first making sure it is flush to the ceiling and wall, and checking it is level.
Many people use nickels or quarters, but we wanted ours to be easier to hold, and bigger to create depth. We used scrap pieces from our plywood, so our spacers were ¼ inches thick.
Position your desired spacers between the two planks, ensuring the spacing is tight and even. With your spacers in place, check to make sure the plank is level. That my friends is the main gist and the process you will continue to follow on your whole wall.
This lets your outlet remain flush to the wall once you install your plank over it.
While Mike did the new half cuts, I started on our next step of applying painter's putty to the nail holes in tandem with us hanging the rest of the plank wall. To paint the edges of your planks, you’ll want to use a small paintbrush.
I made sure to look from the top and the bottom of the planks to make sure I got full coverage. If you don’t, you may need to do multiple coats to cover the paint color that comes through your spacing. We used Sherwin Williams Jasper which is a dark green, and chose an eggshell sheen. Paint can expand the wood, making it rough in certain spots after it dries. We decided to sand our whole wall down with 400-grit sandpaper to smooth out a few rough spots. If you want to learn more step-by-step processes to up your furniture game, then add these favorites to your list:
Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for the latest updates! Tape measure Instructions Determine how much material you need: Measure your wall's width and height to determine how many 4x8 sheets of plywood material you need. Select your plank material: Consider your different options including plywood, MDF, underlayment, etc.
You may consider the texture, whether sanded or not, how sturdy the material is, how easy it will be to paint, and the cost.
If you don't have a table saw, you can go to Home Depot and have an associate help you rip the boards down to the size you want. You may also need to use a circular saw and miter saw to do a few extra cuts on your own that the associate cannot help with.
Reference blog post for full details on how to complete this step. You will also want to use a 220-grit sanding block over the flat surface of your planks to smooth and prepare them for paint. Using a straight board or long level, continue to mark the stud from ceiling to floor.
This will outline where you need to nail your planks to make sure they are securely attached to the wall. Take a level and make sure it is sitting correctly on the wall and not tilted. Once you confirm it is level, use your brad nailer to attach it where the stud lines are.
With each additional plank, you will want to check it is level and the spacer is tight for consistency. Use a jig saw to cut out the space where your outlet will go and then, install an electrical box extender before attaching your plank. Next, take a roller and paint with the planks, applying the first coat. Use a sanding block with 400-grit sandpaper, then follow up with a tack cloth to remove the dust. Take your time to measure and cut your planks appropriately.