How To Install Shiplap In 7 Simple Steps [DIY Guide]


    step 1- find the ceiling joists

    To install the shiplap on drywall, locate and mark each stud with a stud finder and then mark it with a pencil.

    Use a chalk reel to create a line across the ceili

    Use a chalk reel to create a line across the ceiling where the studs are. Have one person on each side of the room, hold the chalk line taut, and when it’s in permission, snap the chalk so it makes a line on the ceiling.

    step 2- install the shiplap

    Next, cut the shiplap to fit on the ceiling with a miter saw.

    Put the shiplap boards perpendicular to the lines

    Put the shiplap boards perpendicular to the lines on the ceiling so you can screw and nail into the stud for a strong hold.

    step 3- going around obstacles

    step 3- going around obstacles

    When you get to the ceiling box (or other obstacles), draw with a pencil the shape of the item on the shiplap. Then we used a jigsaw it out.

    step 4- the last board

    step 4- the last board

    For the last board, you’ll need to cut the shiplap to size. This means that you’ll need to use a jig saw or table saw to rip the board from a full width to a skinnier width so it’ll fit in the leftover space on the ceiling. 

    step 5- finish work

    Once all of the boards are up, fill the screw holes with spackle. When it is dry, sand the holes well.

    Finish up by painting the ceiling.

    Finish up by painting the ceiling.



    Once you have crown molding up on the edges, you have a complete and very beautiful room!

4. Level

We started from the ceiling and worked our way down for this project because we wanted a full board at the top rather than a ripped down top board. To start off, you’ll want to make sure to hang your first board perfectly level.

After nailing up the first board and making sure it’s perfectly level, you can take the next board and stack it tight to the one above it. This will keep things level all the way to the bottom. Depending on where you start, just continue your design by adding one plank at a time and one row at a time and working your way down.


Measure and mark each wall

Hendrickson Photography/Shutterstock Hendrickson Photography/Shutterstock

Once you’ve decided to install shiplap, the most important part of the preparation is finding the studs in the wall. This can be a simple process if the wall has recently been built, but for most installations, this won’t be the norm. Instead, you’ll need to use an electronic stud finder to locate each of the wooden beams that make up the structure of the drywall. Lowe’s reports that generally, studs are spaced either 16 or 24 inches apart from one another, so once you’ve located the first stud, simply move your stud finder across the wall to locate the next one, which will help you determine the standard distance used in the construction of your home.

You will need to locate the center of every stud along the wall and mark their positions. Draw a vertical line from the floor to the ceiling in the center of each individual beam. This part of the project might seem time-consuming, but it’s the most important step to ensure a successful installation (via H2ouse).

6. Paint Boards

When painting, we love to use our HANDy Pro Pail because you will want a mini roller and a brush and the pro pail fits both. It has a magnetic strip on one side for the brush to hang on and it’s large enough for a roller to sit inside.

Since the shiplap will probably be a statement piece that people’s eyes will be drawn to, you’ll want to make sure it has a nice finish. No drips or air bubbles. We prefer to use a mini roller because we like to roll one board at a time. We don’t like to roll over two boards at once because you want to ensure the boards look like separate boards. Taking a brush to paint the crack or separation between the boards might be needed as well.

We prefer to paint our boards after we hang them. We’ve painted beforehand a few times but we always end up having to go back and touch up spots from moving and hanging once they’re up, so now we just leave it until we hang.

Is Making a Shiplap Wall Hard?

There are many ways to achieve a shiplap wall or accent. You can buy shiplap already made, or you can make your own! You will have to pick out what materials you want to use and have them cut correctly. 

Many choose sanded plywood, as it seems easiest to work with and have them cut. Stores like Lowes or Home Depot rip cut wood, but they may have restrictions on how much they cut, or add a price for the cuts you would need for shiplap. There is also the chance that Lowes or Home Depot will not cut the boards correctly. Their woodcut is jagged, where the desired look for shiplap is a clean cut. This may leave you with cutting the boards yourself to ensure the correct measurements and cuts, and to save the extra costs. 

Once you have your shiplap boards one way or another, it is time to get the boards onto the wall. This process takes some patience. You have to make sure your measurements are correct and keep the distance between each board precise. The shiplap look at the end is pretty forgiving and tends to end up clean enough to hide the mishaps, but the process takes time and some knowledge of wood and power tools. 

What Wood Is Used For Shiplap?

The type of wood used for shiplap can depend on the look you want, the width you want, and your budget. Some have used pine for the price and width, but it can be more difficult to work with. Others use ply wood or Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). MDF has a smooth look and is lighter. They are composed of resin and wood, making them easier to work with.

Is Shiplap Raw or Refinished?

It is really up to you what kind of wood you want to use and how you want the end result to look. Shiplap can be made from raw wood like pine, and sanded just enough for a clean look on the home. The shiplap wood can also be renfished and stained or painted. You can also buy precut shiplap of any stain or color to make the process easier for you. 

Can Shiplap Be Installed Directly To The Studs or to Drywall First?

To add to how versatile shiplap is, it can be installed either to the studs or to sheet rock! Shiplap was originally used as siding installed directly onto the studs because if its durability. You might want to add some insulation between the studs, but it will work just fine nonetheless.

The instillation on studs also takes away the freedom of the gap distance. The shiplap has to be as close together as possible because there is no drywall behind it. Shiplap can also be installed on drywall, if you are looking for more freedom and insulation. 

In the Kitchen

Raw materials like wood are big in today’s kitchens. Shiplap boards make the room look more spacious and provide a welcoming environment for cooking and entertaining. Consider using shiplap for:

  • Kitchen walls
  • Cabinet siding
  • Open shelving 
  • Kitchen islands, including seating areas and sides 
  • Backsplashes, as long as the wood is properly sealed to protect against moisture

Does Shiplap Require Any Maintenance?  

Once you install your shiplap, it doesn’t require much maintenance. The biggest tip is to clean the shiplap after installation with a damp rag and it is complete! Shiplap is very durable and only requires basic maintenance for wood. 

What Is The Best Way To Clean Shiplap?

The ridges on the shiplap give an amazingly clean look to any home, but the downside is that it is prone to collect dust. Because the dust can settle within the shiplap, you have to be diligent in cleaning it. A regular dust rag might not get it all, but you can grab a vacuum brush and make sure it is thoroughly cleaned!  

What’s The Best Color To Paint Shiplap?

Watching Fixer Upper, or really any home improvement show, you may get the impression that white is the best color for shiplap. Some may believe that to be true, but it is not the only option! People like to use gray or black paint for a more modern look with shiplap. There is no wrong answer for what to paint shiplap, it just depends on your own style! Mine is Alabaster by Sherwin Williams.

Be sure to pin for later!

Thats it for now! Thanks so much for reading along.

Much Love,

Kori ~ From the Farmhouse Life

Tips for Installing Shiplap on a Ceiling

  • If using furring strips, check each board at the home center for straightness.
  • Use primed shiplap, if you are planning to paint the ceiling rather than stain it, to lessen the amount of painting after the boards are up.
  • Cut each board individually. Walls tend to have variable widths.
  • Additional installation of crown molding or other trim will be needed to cover up the expansion gap.

Before You Begin

Shiplap can either be installed directly onto the ceiling drywall or with an intervening layer of furring strips. This decision is typically determined by the condition of the ceiling and by personal preference.

Shiplap Directly on Ceiling

Shiplap can be installed directly on the ceiling drywall if the ceiling is level and flat. Imperfections with the existing ceiling will be transferred to the shiplap or may prevent the shiplap boards from accurately lining up from side to side.

With this method, the shiplap must be oriented perpendicular to the ceiling joists. If you want the shiplap installed parallel to the ceiling joists for appearance or other reasons, use the furring strip method.

Shiplap With Furring Strips

One-by-two furring strip boards can be installed between the ceiling drywall and the shiplap if the ceiling is imperfect and needs minor corrections or if the shiplap needs to be installed parallel to the joists.

Thin wood furring strips help the shiplap override small gaps, dips, or bumps in the ceiling, smoothing out the ceiling to a degree. Furring strips also allow you to install the shiplap parallel to joists by providing you with solid attachment points down the entire length of the ceiling.


A shiplap ceiling will cover up minor surface problems, but the underlying issues first need to be addressed. Leaks from above will only continue onto the shiplap if not fixed. Severely distorted joists cannot be covered with shiplap, even if you use furring strips.

Creating Character

When used indoors, shiplap shifts from functional to purely aesthetic. The wood panels add visual character and texture to otherwise blank walls in a home, and have the ability to adapt to any decorative scheme, depending on how the homeowner chooses to incorporate the material.

For example, crisp white shiplap paired with natural wood flooring and neutral accents creates a fresh Cape Cod look. Similarly, a shiplap wall accented with a ruffled slipcovered sofa, soft pillows in muted floral shades, and painted wicker end tables can evoke a romantic feeling.


Alternatively, homeowners can achieve Scandinavian style by pairing natural wood panels with equally simple furnishings. No matter your home’s style, installing shiplap paneling on one or more walls will enhance your decor.

For more adventurous designers, shiplap can go beyond standard wall coverings. Consider installing it as wainscoting, or use it to cover the backs of built-in cubbies or bookcases. Shiplap can also frame a designated picture-hanging area above a fireplace.



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