Do It Yourself – Farmhouse Shiplap


Ever since Joanna Gaines started sharing her love of shiplap, I have totally been crushin on it.  I knew I needed some in my home.  I put it off for years and finally last week had the time and the guts to tackle it.

I researched a lot of ways for it to be done and wanted to see if I could install it all by myself.   Mr. Farmboy is always willing to help, but I just wanted to see how possible it was for one person to get it all done.  And now I can say – IT IS POSSIBLE!  It’s not easy and takes a lot of time when you are on your own, but it is possible.  Would I recommend it?  If you are all you have – heck ya.  If you have help though?  Use it – it’s a lot of work alone.  Alright now, here we go…

What is shiplap?  You can read all about it on Wikipedia here, but below is the basic idea:

Shiplap is a type of wooden board used commonly as exterior siding in the construction of residences, barns, sheds, and outbuildings. It is either rough-sawn 1″ or milled 3/4″ pine or similarly inexpensive wood between 3″ and 10″ wide with a 3/8″ – 1/2″ rabbet on opposite sides of each edge. The rabbet allows the boards to overlap in this area. The profile of each board partially overlaps that of the board next to it creating a channel that gives shadow line effects, provides excellent weather protection and allows for dimensional movement.

Shiplap is not your beginner level DIY.  More in the intermediate area if you will. It’s not hard, just takes more tools, time and skill set.  Hopefully I will give you all the resources you need even if you are a beginner – if I don’t then send me a message!

Note:  My tutorials are extremely detailed.  That is how my mind works.  If you do not want that much information, here is a mini 60 second tutorial I made showing the quick version of installing shiplap. If you want medium level detail (insert wink here!) just refer to the BOLD STEPS.  Refer to the rest of the post for better details.


This is a before and after picture of our area:




Materials you will need:

  • Wood Filler (I used Elmer’s Wood Filler but also like DAP Plastic Wood)
  • 2 inch brad nails (I used Dewalt 2 inch Brad Nails)
  • Measuring Tape (love my Stanley)
  • Chalk Reel (optional – may use a measuring stick instead)
  • Paint supplies (brush, stir stick, paint roller, paint tray, and gloves)
  • Paint (I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra Stain-Blocking – Paint & Primer in One)
  • Sand Paper (220 grit or close to it)
  • Stud Finder (I use Zircon)
  • 1/4 inch plywood cut into 6 inch strips (measure the amount needed for wall)

You can order all of these materials here from The Home Depot – just cut and paste the product you need in this search bar.

Mini Lesson on purchasing shiplap: You can purchase pre-made shiplap at The Home Depot with tongue and grooves already in them.  This is easier but more costly.  You can also buy plywood and cut it into the 6 inch strips you need.  The Home Depot will cut wood for you, but each store will have different stipulations on this.  I wrote an entire post on using The Home Depot Cutting Center here – video tutorial and all.  So if you haven’t used this service yet check out the post for sure.

The Home Depot sells plywood in many sizes, but I chose the 4 x 8 foot slats.  Birch Plywood is a closed grain which has smaller pores.  The Sande Plywood is open grain which has larger pores.  This will affect the appearance.  If you are choosing to stain it I would use Birch.  If you are painting it you can use Sande.  Find more on this topic here.

Tools you will need (what I use in parentheses):

  • Drill  (Ridgid 18 Volt Cordless Drill – only for taking old screws out if you have them in the wall)
  • Hand Saw (Ridgid 18 Volt Cordless Circular Saw)
  • Nail Gun (Ridgid 18-Gauge Brad Nailer)
  • Jigsaw (Ryobi 4.8-Amp Orbital Jig Saw)
  • Air Compressor (Campbell Hausfeld PortableElectric Air Compressor)
  • Ladder (optional)
  • Leveler 

You can order all of these tools here from The Home Depot – just cut and paste the product you need in this search bar.

We buy all of our tools and equipment from The Home Depot.  They are close to our home and make our selections very easy.  So when we recommend products in our tutorials it is because that is what we use.  We are compensated for any purchase you make at The Home Depot through our affiliate links, but this is no way changes our recommendations.  We just figure why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have too?  We hope our recommendations make your DIY’s just that much easier.  

That was a lot of information!  It’s great to be educated before you start so you know what to expect.  Now for the good stuff.

  • Step 1:  Paint

You can install first and paint later.  After all I read I decided painting first was the best option for me (bad back = painting is hard!).  You will need two coats so I painting the first coat before installation.  If you want to install first, head to Step 2.

To paint you will need some space.  I chose outside – your weather must be under 92 degrees to paint outside.  Stir your paint can (with wood stick from the paint center) and pour into tray. Use a small paint roller.  I used an old box as my stand so I didn’t care if it got dirty.  Paint one strip, leave on box, move to next strip and paint.  Once your finished with second strip, first strip is dry enough to move to grass.  Repeat until all strips are painted.

I also chose to paint the TOP of each strip after as well, it is easier now that later after install.  I will explain in Step 4 why.

  • Step 2: Find Studs

Make sure your area is all cleared.  Use your stud finder to move across the bottom of the wall and mark for studs.  Then move up two feet and do it again across the wall.  Keep doing this until you reach the top of the wall.  (My post on mini blinds here goes into the stud finder more deeply if it’s your first time.)

Then connect the marks from the top to the bottom with a chalk reel (you will have vertical lines on your wall about every 16 inches, which is about how far apart studs are).  Attach the reel to the bottom of the wall (tape or have someone help you) and pull the reel to the top of the wall, making sure the line “connects” to the marks you made – think connect the dots here. Your line needs to be vertically tight, then pull it back and let go.  It will snap against the wall and make a chalk line for you.  This will show you were the studs are for the installation.  You can also connect the lines with a level.  (It is hard to see the purple lines in these photos, but they are there!)

  • Step 3: Installation

NOTE:  I do not use glue.  This is an option if you want to use it, but know that if you ever take off your shiplap it will also rip off your drywall and you will have to replace that as well. If you have no studs to use, glue is necessary to keep pieces in place.  Some other DIY’ers mount 1×2’s onto the studs, then mount the shiplap onto that.  This is an extra step in my opinion.  

If your space is longer than your strips, you will need to puzzle piece them together.  You can fill in your connection lines later.  Measure the length you need and start at the top of the wall.  I chose the top to start because it was more important for me to have a full shiplap piece at the top than at the bottom (if I had to saw it in half for space).

I cut each length of the wall one at a time.  Installed and then cut again.  Mark your length on the shiplap strip and cut it using your circular saw.  Prepare your nail gun and ladder to reach the top.

Fill your nail gun.  Depending on the nailer you have you will need to follow those instructions.  If you can’t find them, YouTube it.  For my Ridgid 18-Gauge Brad Nailer, you press the orange button at the bottom of the handle area and it will release the shaft. Add in the nails with top ends pointing toward the handle.  Press up the bottom of the shaft to close.

Brad Nails




Plug in your air compressor and get it charged.  Attach your nail gut to the output.  You pull back the circular end, attach it to the gun and then let go.  It will connect.

Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor




When using a nail gun, you must press the gun tip flat against the wall.  Once the orange tip is engaged all the way, the nails will release when the trigger is pulled.  This is a safety feature.  It will not shoot nails into the wall unless the tip is completely pushed in against the wall.

Do not trust that the top of your wall is level.  You will need to make sure your shiplap strip is as close to the top of the wall as possible but still level.  So before mounting it into the studs, use your level to double check.

Shoot two nails into each stud, about 4 inches apart.  Move along the wall and continue to mount where the chalk line shows you.



  • Step 4: Wall Painting

If you want to paint the whole wall white before you start you can.  But it is not necessary.  After each board was mounted, I just painted underneath the shiplap to cover the unfinished base and to paint the wall.




Remember when I said to paint the top of your shiplap?  Here is why.  Now you will install the next piece and not have to paint it.  You could paint the slits after the pieces are installed all together but I was worried too much paint would build up in them and fill in the slits.  Do what is easiest for you!

Step 5: Slit Marking

You can use any size of material to make your slits, depending on what you want.  I liked the size of a nickel so that is what I used.  Tongue compressors work well too.  Grab your next board and hold it up to the wall.  Then add your nickels and press the board to hold them in.  Mount into studs and then take out the nickels.  This will give you great spacing between boards.





  • REPEAT STEPS 3, 4, and 5 until wall is complete.

Note:  You may have wall plug-in’s or other areas you need to cut around.  This is where your Jigsaw comes in.  You will measure the hole or space you need and then make an outline on your shiplap.  Use your jigsaw to make these cuts.  If you have not used one before search YouTube for a tutorial.  I will make one someday!

Ryobi Jigsaw



  • Step 6: Wood Filler

You will fill in your holes from the nails and any other slits that you do not want to be seen.  This is super easy!  Squish it onto your finger, rub it into the hole.  BOOM.

Once this area is ALL dry (make sure of this even though it drys quickly), you will sand off the excess.   Your wall will be covered in spots.  Do not worry, the paint will cover these.

220 Grit Sandpaper


  • Step 7: Final Paint

Now you will add your final coat of paint.  Be extra careful to not get paint into the slits. If you do, grab a piece of paper and run the edge into the slit to take out the paint.   I used a brush instead of my roller to avoid excess paint.



Let it dry and you are all done!!!


Now you get to decorate – this is the fun part!


I can’t wait to hear how yours turns out – message us and let us know!!  Happy Building!



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