Tips for Installing Shiplap Walls

   We knew that for the renovation we're doing in the barn needed a bold visual impact and we love the minimalist and clean look of white shiplap. Back during the time of our wedding, we wrapped the original beams of the barn with reclaimed wood, stained with a danish oil. Obviously, we love the feel of a modern farmhouse feel and this would be the perfect element to brighten up the space and make it feel cozy.

shiplap wall secrets for installing  | la petite farmhouse

    We weighed a lot of different options before we landed on our final application for the walls. We knew we wanted to use a tongue & groove style board to get the clean shiplap look we were looking for. At first we thought we'd do a whitewash on the shiplap to let the grain show through. We also considered using some reclaimed wood that we have been storing for a while.

shiplap wall painting

   After testing several different types of whitewash solutions (mixes of paint & water) and types of boards (new pine tongue & groove lumber and relcaimed oak barn boards), we found that the easiest pairing for consistency and ease of putting up on the wall would be the tongue & groove pine painted white.

   We thought this project would be fairly straightforward but quickly learned that there were a few quirks we'd wish we'd considered. So, if this is a project you're wanting to do for your home, we wanted to share a few of the tips we learned along the way to make things easier!

literally watching paint dry on our shiplap boards

literally watching paint dry on our shiplap boards

shiplap walls in progress

shiplap walls in progress

Kyle working on shiplap walls in a tricky corner of the barn

Kyle working on shiplap walls in a tricky corner of the barn

10 Tips for Working with Shiplap

1. Consider using shorter length boards that are piecemealed. We quickly learned that the longer boards you use, the more warping there can be in the lumber. We originally wanted to use the full length of the board in the wall spans, but the longer the board, the more the warping affects the way it sits on the wall. 

2. Leave an 1/8 inch to a 1/4 gap along the outside perimeters. Wood naturally expands in contract with seasons and changes in humidity and needs room to contract. You can cover this gap with a piece of trim.

3. Most tongue & groove boards have the option for a nickel gap or a more curved edge-v spacing. We opted for the built in nickel-gap because it feels a bit more modern. If you were cutting your own wood for shiplap or using traditional plywood you would have to build in your own spacing. 

4.  Use the tongue & groove boards to hide your finish nails. Placing your finish nails at a slight angle on the tongue of the board allows your to hide the fastener head with the next board which gives it a very seamless look without needing wood filler or patching to hide your nail holes. We use a Bostitch Finish Air Nailer for this.

5. No two boards are perfectly identical. Check every few layers of boards with a level to ensure the shiplap is being applied as level as possible.

6.  We preferred to start attaching the boards at the ceiling (to be exact, we tried both ways before landing on this) because in our space your eyes focus on the ceiling and wall seam, so we wanted those boards to be as perfectly straight as possible. Often floors are not level, but ceilings are, so this made the most sense for us.

7. Check out your local lumberyard. Ask them for tongue & groove or shiplap pine - cedar can also work but may have a more reddish tone. We found that the prices here were more reasonable than big box stores - but they are available at many places like Home Depot or Lowes. They also have a pre-primed version of the pine, but we decided to save some money and do that part ourselves!

8. When choosing nails for your air nailer, consider what you're attaching the shiplap to. We were attaching through OSB into wall studs, and chose a 1 3/4 - 2 inch finish nail. 

9. We chose a satin white paint with built in primer for our boards for the shiplap walls that we were using in other areas of the barn. In some areas we will be using a Dark Walnut Danish Wood Oil to condition the wood and really bring out the grain on an accent wall. 

10. Here was the exact process we used for painting the shiplap boards:

  • Start by painting the tongue of the board with a small angled brush
  • You can also spot-treat with paint over the darker areas and knots of the board to ensure they don't show through.
  • Next, use a small paint roller to paint the groove of the board and do an initial coverage coat
  • Finish the boards with a large roller to do a light, smoothing coat

    For our walls, we have just a hint of grain showing through the paint and the knots covered. We know that overtime the paint can fade and we will either embrace the rustic-ness of the boards or touch up with white paint if we want a cleaner look.
The beautiful finished shiplap walls have brightened up the space so much!

The beautiful finished shiplap walls have brightened up the space so much!

   While there is still a lot to complete in the barn, we couldn't be happier with these white shiplap walls. I think they are going to be even more amazing once we add in actual lighting (those yellow lights are just for construction). There will likely be industrial inspired pendants (a la our last post)  hanging from the ceiling and cool sconce lights that are attached to the reclaimed wood beams. Talk about dreamy!

  Have you installed any shiplap in your home? If so, be sure to leave your tips and tricks in the comments below. Or if you have a question, Kyle will be happy to answer it!