Ever since Chip and Jojo brought shiplap back into modern homes, people everywhere have been adding this timeless detail to their walls, ceilings and fireplaces. DIY home renovations can seem intimidating and are often costly and time consuming, but I’m here with good news… Adding shiplap on a budget isn’t impossible! It’s actually quite easy with faux DIY shiplap.
Let me preface this by saying that this is not real shiplap. Real shiplap, similar to tongue and groove, has a rabbet cut on the top and bottom edges of the boards. The boards naturally have spaces in between when hung, and they fit so perfectly together that they keep water from getting behind them. Because they offer consistent spacing which creates a tight seal, real shiplap was historically used most often as siding or in place of drywall.
You can create your own real shiplap with a simple tutorial, like THIS one, or I can walk you through a way to create inexpensive, faux shiplap for a fraction of the cost.
The first time I attempted this, I started small, on the side of a cabinet. I wanted to make sure that I liked the look and that it held up before starting the project on larger surfaces in our house. After this cabinet was finished and we received so many compliments on it, we moved on to do the pony wall in the kitchen, wrapping around to the other side of the bottom cabinets, the side of the cabinets our double ovens are built into, and our fireplace.
We have builder grade white cabinets with a shiny laminate on them, so I wasn’t ever worried about needing to remove this shiplap. PLEASE KNOW: if you add wood onto a surface with liquid nails, it is permanent. Trying to get it off in the future WILL destroy whatever surface it is attached to – drywall, cabinets or otherwise.
Here is a before of the first cabinet:
- 4 x 8 sheets of 1/4″ birch plywood, ripped in 6″ pieces
- liquid nails
- 18 gauge brad nails
- paint and painting supplies
- box cutter
- pry bar
- nail gun
- miter saw
- table saw or circular saw*
- jig saw
- tape measure
*If you do not have a circular saw or a table saw, Lowe’s or Home Depot will cut the wood for you. Since their saw is for general use, they do not have a precision blade. For this reason, they do not guarantee accuracy and may charge extra for more than 2 or 3 cuts. THIS is a great article about how to approach an employee there about cutting your lumber to ensure the best possible results.
Here we go!
First step, remove the trim.
Using a box cutter, cut through the existing caulk around all trim pieces. Then, using a ply bar, pull off all quarter round, molding and trim. If you are using the same pieces, be careful taking them off. I also recommend labeling them so you know where they go back.
Now for the faux shiplap 🙂
Start by cutting 1/4” plywood into 6” strips. Measure the width of your wall or cabinet and cut to size with a miter saw.
Paint the top and bottom edges of the strips. Trust me, take the time to do this now. You will thank me later when you don’t have to try and paint in between those tiny spaces!
If your cabinets are not white, you are going to want to paint behind where the spaces will be as well. You can paint the whole wall, but it’s not really necessary.
Once the paint is dry, apply liquid nails to to the back of the top board and put in place. Use level to ensure the board is straight and attach with 18 gauge brad nails. My husband says this isn’t truly necessary when you use liquid nails, but I have found it does keep the boards from sliding down.
Using nickels as spacers, add another board below and continue process until you get to the bottom and can’t fit another 6” board.
Measure the bottom space, being sure to account for the spacer nickels. Rip the bottom board on the table saw and install. If you are working around any outlets or trim, mark the area before putting liquid nails on and use a jigsaw to cut out.
Now that all your shiplap is up, it’s time to paint! Sometimes I prime and paint the boards before putting them up, sometimes I don’t. When doing large areas like walls and the side of cabinets, I do not pre-paint. But when we did the fireplace and I knew I would be working with a lot of little pieces, I painted ahead of time so I didn’t’t have to mess with taping off the rock. As far as priming, it does keep any colors or oils in the wood from coming through and you will be able to get away with one less coat of paint if you’re painting it white. I do usually recommend priming when painting anything white, but you’re pretty safe from bleed through with birch plywood. I’ve never had any issues.
Once all your shiplap is up and dry, you can start adding your trim back. I pre-paint mine, but you can paint it once it’s up as well… that’s totally just preference. I kept the same quarter round trim at the base next to the floor
The trim I use for the corners is an L-shaped trim. Since we’re using plywood, you aren’t going to want anyone exposed edges. This is what I use:
Once all your trim is painted, use liquid nails to attach to the corners. I use painters tape to secure mine while it dries.
Here are all the finished images of the shiplap!
And here are the other spaces!
Excuse my beat up stools LOL – we live here 🙂 Also, forgot to move our little friend when taking that last pic… see if you can find him!
Thanks for hanging out and happy DIY-ing!