cotton and blooms
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been lusting after white shiplap walls for years. YEARS PEOPLE. I love the clean lines, subtle texture, and the architectural interest they can add to seemingly bland spaces. It’s a farmhouse staple for a good reason.
Originally, the walls in older farmhouses were built from these overlapping boards. Now, shiplap farmhouse vibes are accomplished by finish nailing tongue and groove boards to the wall studs behind the drywall. We have the real stuff in our master bathroom. It’s gorgeous. It’s also vurrrry expensive.
This time around, I was searching for a more economical method to achieve those beautiful lines. I started reading about “Plank” walls. Plank walls are essentially the same as shiplap in aesthetic, because they have a space between the planks which is the line that you see. True shiplap is a tongue and groove board that uses a spacer to determine how much of the groove is exposed between the boards. Semantics, folks!
Because shiplap boards are upwards of $10 a board, I decided that the plank wall was the way we were going to go. Off to Home Depot I went to find a plank that suited our needs. I wanted six-inch planks, so after looking at the 1x6 boards, I decided that the cheapest route was to have six inch planks cut from plywood. These large, 4x8 sheets of plywood underlayment are about $10 at Home Depot. If you ask nicely, they will cut them for you with their AH MAY ZING saw. ZIP ZIP and you’re ready to go. This step really helped me out. You will still need to cut the planks to the width of your space, but that’s a lot easier then cutting all of the planks.
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tri-ply 5mm plywood underlayment
finish nailer (I’m obsessed with my Ryobi Airstrike) and nails
spacers (nickel or PAINT STICKS)
wood filler (I like Dry-Dex because it changes colors when it dries)
sanding block or orbital sander
space and measure
The places will all be 6 inches by 8 feet except for the last cut which will be a little tinier. Take these planks out and save them for the bottom of the wall where the baseboard will cover the bottom. Clearly, my ceiling is not level, but really most aren’t. The first row must be level, so get your bubble level out and draw a line at the top, six inches from the ceiling, so that you can line up the first row. If the first boards aren’t level, it will just get worse and worse as you go down and the bottom will be all wonky. No beuno.
Next, you need to find your studs. Take a stud finder to the wall and make a mark when you find one. You can use your bubble level again to make a straight line from the ceiling to the floor along each stud. These are the places where your nails will go.
Decide how much space you want between your boards. I did this project by myself, so i wanted something that would be easy to grab and slide while holding a board and my finish nailer. Paint stirring sticks! They were perfect! I highly recommend them. They may be a millimeter thicker than the standard “nickel gap” but they were way easier to grip and grab. I grabbed 20 from Home Depot. That might have been overkill. You probably need two or three.
Plywood underlayment is the wood that goes under floor in houses. It’s cheap for a reason! I wanted to paint mine white, so I didn’t care about the quality of the wood so long as it wasn’t warped. That said, you will need to sand the edges. The plywood is 4-ply, so there are four layers of wood mixed up in there and it will be all splintery and rough from the saw. A sanding block or a power sander with 120 grit takes care of it, making it smooth so after paint, no one will know!
Paint the sides of your boards beforehand. Do not be like me and think it will be fine and paint them once the boards are up. It’s not fine. It sucks.
Our wall was already white, but if yours is not the color that you plan to paint the boards, you will want to do that before hand. You do not want to struggle to get a brush in between 1/8″ gaps. I did not paint the sides of the boards beforehand and this was a pain in the rear.
nail em’ to the wall
Yay! You’re ready to start shiplappin’! Take one of the six-inch planks and line it up with the level-line. Use your finish nailer to place nails where the plank meets the stud. Depending on the length of your wall, you can repeat the full length planks until you hit the wall. You will have to cut the last plank in the row to fit the width. Take the rest of that plank and use it to begin the next row, so that your boards are staggered, using the paint sticks as spacers along each row.
When you reach the bottom of the wall, you can use the thinner planks for the last row. You can leave a space between the floor and the last row, as long as it’s smaller than your baseboard. We used chunky 7-inch baseboard treatment, so I had about four inches empty at the bottom.
fill, sand, repeat
I have seen pictures of plank walls where the nail holes were not filled and it looks pretty cool! I like the rustic style choice. For ours however, I didn’t want anything to distract from the lines. SO we bring out the wood filler. I use Dry Dex and I love it because it goes on pink and dries to either a natural wood color or white, depending on which kind you get. Once it’s dry, you’re ready to sand it down to a smooth finish. I also filled the lines in between boards in a row because I’m a cRazY person but, you do you. Occasionally you may find a spot that needs this treatment twice so just fill, sand, and repeat! I had help with step so it wasn’t too terrible. 😉
Finally, at long last, you are ready to paint. I used my favorite color, Alabaster by Sherwin Williams. If there is a color that makes you as happy as Alabaster makes me, use that color. If not, use Alabaster. It’s calming and creamy, but not yellow. It’s not stark or harsh. I’m a color nerd and I looked up its pigmentation. This is a good idea to do with any paint color actually because you’ll want to know the undertones that might pop up in your paint in different lights and times of day. Its strongest hue is actually green. That makes total sense to me because my house is monochromatic black and white except for natural tones that pop through. It’s a match made in heaven. 😇
Shiplap makes me happy
What do you think? Is shiplap somethin you’ve pined after? 😂 Is there a color you nerd out over in your home? I love the way it turned out. Someone is going to have to stop me from planking everythang in the house. I’ve already started on the entryway ceiling and I’m dreaming up some built-in shelves with shiplap backing…