How to Install Faux Shiplap

This article was originally posted on my first website, in Fall 2017. 

I made the mistake of painting our guest bedroom a terrible beige paint color initially- as soon as it came off my brush, I knew I had made a mistake. I had been dreaming of making over this room by about day two of it being “finished” initially. In the last year I’ve fallen in love with everything white and bright. I’ve always loved gray and white together, and envisioned gray walls with a bright white shiplap for our guest bedroom.

We looked into true shiplap options but it was quite expensive (upwards of $5-10/sqft). I had seen “faux shiplap” using thin plywood on Pinterest. Coincidentally, my uncle had installed the same plywood shiplap all over in his cabin and convinced us that it was an easy and cheap alternative to real shiplap. We decided to give it a shot! If we can do it…. so can you!

Want to install your own faux-shiplap wall? You’ll need:

  1. 1/4″ plywood (you’ll have to calculate the amount according to your wall!)
  2. Measuring tape, pencil, level
  3. Tablesaw
  4. Framing nail gun (you could use a hammer- but would take much longer) and nails
  5. Wood filler (I used Elmer’s)
  6. Paint, paint roller and brush, paint pans
  7. Pennies (two are all you need but if you’re anything like me you’ll need more because you’ll misplace them)
  8. Studfinder (optional, but helpful)
  9. Two pieces of cove moulding or quarter round
  10. Handsaw (If you have outlets/vents/light switches in the wall you’ll be covering)


1.  Measure the wall- length by height; we added about 5% for extra pieces in case we made mistakes. We bought 1/4″ plywood sheets from Menards and ripped them down to 6″ pieces using the tablesaw.

2. Find the studs in the wall. The typical distance for studs is 16″; you can be certain that there’s a stud in every corner and then if you measure out 16″ from there you are pretty much good to go. Mark each stud and then draw a vertical line so you’ll know where the stud is.

3. Lay your first piece. Note where the line you drew for the studs is; put two nails in that spot on the board. Measure the distance to the wall and cut and lay your next piece.

4. Use the remaining piece of your board you had to cut from the first row and lay it directly above the shorter board on the bottom. Use the pennies to space out the pieces- I used one penny and moved it along the stud line, nailing as I went.

5. Measure the remaining wall space between that board and the wall, cut and lay your piece…. use a “brick” pattern and continue all the way to the top of the wall. Use your handsaw to measure the pieces and cut out any vents, outlets, or light switches as necessary.

6. Run your sanding sponge over all of the ends of the boards and the gaps in between the boards. This is also a good time to see if you find any boards that might need an extra nail or two to lay completely flat.

7. Measure, cut, and nail the corner pieces; I prefer the cove style myself but you could use either the cove or the quarter round.

8. Fill the nail holes with your wood filler- I use a pea-sized amount on my finger and fill as many holes as possible, doing one row at a time. Wipe off the excess using a damp cloth. Let dry for an hour or so.

9. Start painting! I used a brush to fill the gaps between boards and then a roller for the rest of the boards. I used a flat paint but you could also use an eggshell or even semi-gloss, depending on the look you’re going for.

10. Let paint dry. Stand back, admire your work, and pat yourself on the back! Now it’s time to decorate!

Altogether it took about 4 hours (with breaks) to do this wall- a relatively easy project with a big impact! Are you thinking about doing a shiplap wall in your home? Let me know how it goes the comments below!

Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. When I'm not designing or renovating homes, you can find me working as a pediatric ICU RN, snuggling my dog or cat, skiing in CO, soaking up the sun on our boat, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio!

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  • “skin color”? Whose skin color? 🙁 Even crayola changed the crayon color ‘flesh’ to ‘peach’ all the way back in 1962 for politically correct reasons.

    • The name of the paint was “China Doll” so that’s the “skin color” I was referring to… I meant absolutely no harm and have amended the statement as to not offend anyone further. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.