How to Install Shiplap with This Super Cool Werner Ladder
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Shiplap walls are a clean and simple way to elevate your space. In recent years they have been used abundantly in farmhouse-style spaces but I want to challenge that! I want to make this shiplap wall in my main bathroom both transitional and refined.
When it comes to applying shiplap, you would typically end up on a ladder holding shiplap up to the wall with one hand and a nail gun with another. In order to make this less scary, you need a good ladder or scaffolding… but what if you could have both in one? I’ll tell you all about the awesome ladder I used to help me install shiplap in the main bathroom of my home.
LET’S GET INTO IT
This project has been under construction for a LONG time. The sink and toilet didn’t work so the bathroom just wasn’t usable. The striped pink floral wallpaper with ceramic butterflies were definitely relics of the past that I was all too eager to donate. My vision for this space kept me going through this whole project and I can’t believe that it all culminates in this final wall of shiplap.
Here is what we are working with. This space has so much potential and I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty to create a space, perfect for me and my boyfriend, Taylor.
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- Werner 5-in-1 Multi-Position Pro Ladder
- Primed Shiplap
- Nail gun and 2 1/2″ nails (to go through the shiplap and drywall, into the stud)
- Wood filler
- Paint + Primer
- Miter Saw/Circular Saw
- Paint Sticks
- Hole saw – multiple sizes for lights and pipes, I used 1 1/4″, 2 3/4″ and 4″
- Paintable Caulk
LETS GET STARTED
First, you need to prep your wall for shiplap. Sometimes that just means moving stuff out of the way for easier access to the wall. In this case, we had to remove light fixtures, mirrors, and cabinets! This room was covered in wallpaper so we steamed it off everywhere we needed, except the shiplap wall. The shiplap will literally go on top of the wallpaper!
Disclaimer: We had to do some plumbing and electrical work in this space. When doing this work in your home, I recommend seeking advice from a professional in your area and following your local state/city/county code guidelines.
For this project, we had to rip-up a ton of drywall for plumbing and electrical. Typically drywall installation/repair can be very overwhelming. Shiplap walls are great because all the drywall and studs are going to be hidden behind them! It honestly is a really clean way to not have to deal with a drywall mess.
THE SHIPLAP WALL
I ended up purchasing 8′ shiplap panels at 5 1/4″ wide. I measured my wall and ended up determining that I would need 18.3 panels but I got 20 just in case. DIY can often be intimidating due to fear of messing up or of it looking bad. I purchase extra material ALL THE TIME because I regularly mess up! Messing up is going to happen and mistakes are going to be made. Once I accepted that and accounted for it in my materials, DIY has felt so much more doable! Plus, less pressure to get it perfect is always a great thing.
1. INSTALL BASEBOARD + MEASURE (TWICE)
I put in my baseboard and made my measurements for how long the first few boards needed to be. You can do shiplap on a wall that already has baseboards, but I would recommend that it have a similar thickness to the shiplap otherwise it’ll look off-balance.
The easiest way to cut these boards, in my experience, is to use a circular saw in the space you are working in. These boards along and it is such a hassle to haul them back and forth. Cutting the boards in the space saves so much time and effort!
2. INSTALL SHIPLAP WALL
These 8′ boards were perfect because my wall is only 7’8″! That means that I can avoid having a vertical seam in my shiplap. If your space is longer than 8′, you have two options.
The first option is to find longer shiplap pieces so that you can have full boards. The second option is to have vertical seams but I would recommend that they stagger. Rather than having all the seams in the middle or on the sides, I would hide the seams behind mirrors or the vanity. If you have to see them, then just make sure they don’t line up and use wood filler to get the seam as invisible as possible. This will keep the shiplap looking fresh and clean.
The first few boards in a bathroom like this are always the easiest because they can be done without worrying about cuts for pipes.
Shiplap was originally designed to create a water-tight seal to protect the interior wall structure from water damage. This means that, typically when installing shiplap walls, the notched side would be pointed upwards to prevent water from traveling into the wall.
For a shiplap wall project, it’s important to keep your gaps consistent or everything is going to look a little wonky. It was recommended to me to use some paint sticks to maintain even spacing. I had heard that nickels could be a good spacer but I feel like that is less practical. I had 3 paint sticks that I had on the ends and in the middle to make sure it was even all the way across before using the nail gun to secure it.
4. CUT AROUND OBSTACLES
Typically, the way you measure out a hole is to line up the top of the board and mark either side of the obstacle, then line up the side of the board and mark the top and bottom of the obstacle or measure from below. Once you have those marks, you draw a straight line in the direction of the other lines to create intersections. This will tell you the part of the board that needs to be cut.
There are a couple of ways to do this but the cleanest way, in my opinion, is to use a hole saw. These can be quite tricky but my biggest tip would be to clamp down the piece you are cutting and use both hands on the drill. These are really cool because they cut a perfect circle and can make a much cleaner cut than the alternative.
If you have a jigsaw and don’t want a hole saw attachment for your drill, You can use a drill to make a hole big enough to fit your jigsaw blade and use that to cut the necessary shape. But trust me when I say that the hole saw attachment is the way to go!
5. REACHING THE TOP
When I started, I used a full board at the bottom, above the baseboard. I wasn’t lucky enough to have everything so perfectly spaced that I would have a full board on top as well.
I did, however, invest in a table saw not long ago so this cut wasn’t an issue. If you don’t have a table saw, you could use a circular saw or a jigsaw. Both of these require you to follow a straight line white freehanded (unless you have a guide). But that’s ok because you’ll use caulking at the top which will reduce the slight waviness of freehand cuts.
Reaching the upper boards of the shiplap wall can be difficult because, honestly, this is a two-hand job. You will need one hand holding the nailgun and the other holding the board in place. You may also need an extra set of hands-on top of trying to balance on a ladder. Seriously this ladder solves all my problems.
To be clear, I will never show you a product that I haven’t used myself. This is my honest review and personal experience that I want to share with you.
Having the right ladder for your project is so important, especially if you are short like me and could use a lift! I own 2 step ladders because the first one was too small and the second one could reach further. But I think I just found the magical ladder to replace all ladders! This Werner 5-in-One Multi-Position Pro Ladder is actually perfect for ALL of my home projects!
It can morph into a variety of shapes.
1. SCAFFOLDING! This is what sold me on it! You can piece the base into 2 sections that can support a small platform. This is it people, the creme de la creme! I will use this scaffolding function all the time. For my next painting project, I would have to scoot my step ladder back and forth as I moved along a wall. That is too many scoots for one wall. With this scaffolding setting, I won’t have to move it at all! I would just move back and forth on the platform I make with a 2″x10″ board I have in my basement. No need to set up multiple times.
2. EXTENSION LADDER: Total it can extend 22ft when fully extended which is great if you have really tall ceilings or need an extension ladder for the exterior of your home.
3. STAIRWAY LADDER: It has a formation that allows asymmetrical base placement if you are on stairs! How cool is that? I have a stair leading to a very narrow hallway with a light above the stair that desperately needs to be replaced. I was worried that we would have to pay someone to come out and construct scaffolding, just to replace a light. This setting is extremely handy!
4. 90 WALL LADDER: Allows you to get right up and personal with whatever you’re working on.
5. DOUBLE-SIDED TWIN STEP LADDER: This is great for a 2-person job, or one person moving back and forth! Most ladders are meant to only be climbed from one side but I was able to set this ladder up in the center of my wall and just hop from one side to the next without having to move the ladder around at all!
Gah I cant stop being excited about it!
6. CLEAN UP
Now that the shiplap wall is up, it’s time to make the boards look clean and smooth. This is where I put wood filler into the holes left by the nail gun. Once dry, you can lightly sand till smooth. Wood filler is typically reserved for places that you want to look flush and smooth while caulk is used where 2 materials meet. In this case, you would use caulk where the ends of the shiplap meet the drywall of the adjacent walls.
See above, I am using wood filler where the nail holes were so that I can sand it down and you wont even see it. In the middle, you can see that I am using caulk at the corners/seams where the wall and the shiplap meet. Caulk will will in the gaps and look smooth, without sanding.
Caulking is usually pretty easy for a straight line but it can get way more complicated for shiplap due to the notches. Remember the paint sticks? I would caulk like normal and smooth the caulk as best you can, then use the paint sticks to maintain the shape of the notch by removing extra caulk. If the paint stick doesn’t work, you can get in there with a knife or a flathead screwdriver to scrape out any unwanted caulk.
For a consistent final coat of paint, I would prime over the wood filler first. I’ve made this mistake and it can be quite annoying to apply primer every time you patch a hole but I promise its worth it.
This shiplap wall looks so good and this project has come so far! This project is still in progress so the final images of the whole space will be up soon!
The shiplap looks so fresh and updated in this space, I cant wait to show you! The pink floral/striped wallpaper HAD to go and this shiplap was a worthy upgrade.
I do all these projects in real-time on my Instagram, so this room is still on-going. The final reveal will be soon! Check out my Instagram for real-time progress and my newsletter below for monthly project updates.
Can you install shiplap in a bathroom?
Absolutely! It is safe to use wood or MDF shiplap in a bathroom so long as it is painted. Typically if the shiplap is in a shower room, it is recommended that you use a satin finish or glossier. I used an eggshell finish because this wall is not in the same room as the shower.
Is shiplap cheaper than drywall?
Not typically. Shiplap will almost always be more expensive than drywall but, in my opinion, drywall is harder to get right. Drywall is definitely an art and can look messy when not done right.
How much does it cost to shiplap a wall?
For my shiplap wall, I spent about $200 for 20 primed boards. The cost of wood was pretty high when I made this purchase. For the same sized wall a year earlier, it could have been $150. Of course this cost was just for the shiplap because I already had all the tools and paint. If you need to buy the tools as well, this project can get much more expensive.
What is the cheapest way to do shiplap?
There are many ways to get a shiplap look without breaking the bank. I used pre-primed shiplap boards from The Home Depot for this project. For my last project, I bought plywood and cut them to size with a table saw. I then used a series of dado blades to make the notch cuts. Honestly it was exhausting and the savings wasn’t even that much in the end. If you want the shiplap look without actually doing shiplap, I’ve seen people use regular boards with no notches (just a small space between them), wallpaper that looks like shiplap, and even sharpie!
Do you start shiplap wall at the top or bottom?
It could really go either way. I started at the bottom because I liked the look of a full board at the bottom. If you want the full board on top, then starting at the top is a good option too. If you have something blocking the majority of the lower part of the wall, starting at the top might be a good idea. I put shiplap on a vanity wall and will end up covering some of the shiplap. I kinda wish I had started at the top since the top wont be covered and the bottom will.