Are you thinking about installing shiplap in your home? Are you wondering which is the best kind of shiplap or how to install it? How to finish your shiplap edges? Crown Molding? Do you put trim over shiplap? Here are some Dos and Don’ts when installing shiplap.
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I have installed faux shiplap on walls in our house before I really knew what I was doing or the best materials to use. The first shiplap wall I installed was with 1/4 underlayment plywood instead of a traditional eased shiplap or nickel gap shiplap.
Real Shiplap is much more uniform because it comes from the factory. The drawback, especially right now in September 2022, shiplap boards and other lumber is really expensive.
The plywood underlayment comes in 4×8 sheets. My husband and I used our table saw to it down into 6 in strips. It is a great inexpensive way to achieve the same shiplap look.
It wouldn’t be a learning curve if I didn’t make a few mistakes along the way. Here are some mistakes I made and how to fix them.
Common Mistakes When Installing Faux Shiplap
These mistakes can probably be avoided by using real shiplap boards instead of ripped down plywood underlayment.
- How to fill large gaps
- Make sure shiplap boards are cut even
- Extending outlets to be flush with shiplap
- Sand boards really well after cutting them
- Don’t use construction adhesive
- Painting Between Shiplap Boards Before Attaching to the Wall
- Use a Good Spacer in Between the Faux Shiplap Boards
- Trim over Shiplap?
- Make sure boards along ceiling are level
- Underestimating Project Length
Don’t Use Caulk to Fill Large Gaps
When installing shiplap, it should be installed first before any trim, crown molding or baseboards. I was fitting my shiplap around an already existing fireplace, so it was a pretty intricate cut. Use a jigsaw for the cuts are more detailed.
I didn’t want to rip out my baseboards, and if you don’t want to either there’s a way to avoid it. Add the shiplap boards on top of the baseboards.
Any large gaps that happen around the edges need to be filled with a filler piece, wood filler, and caulk before painting. This is the order of operations I followed in order to fix my mistake.
If you already have baseboards or trim, use the right tools to carefully notch around it to get the best results even if it takes a little bit longer. The results are worth it.
Make Sure Your Shiplap Boards are Cut Evenly
The difference in using plywood instead of real shiplap boards is the plywood comes in 4×8 sheets that have to be ripped down on a table saw or cut with a hand saw link.
My husband and I used our table saw to get the most uniform cuts we could, but we are humans not machines and we can make mistakes. With a table saw, you can set the width to cut the board and lock it in place.
Then run the large plywood sheet through (you need two people to do this) the saw and the cuts will be pretty even. If you are cutting the boards yourself, this is the method I recommend. I was nervous using the table saw, so we made some mistakes.
Tips: try to keep the plywood straight, use safety gear, and go slow when pushing the wood against the saw. Have a friend help you pull the wood from the opposite side slowly to make the cleanest, straightest cuts possible.
Don’t Forget About the Outlets!
Let’s not forget the outlets! Shiplap installation adds thickness to your walls and we need to bring the outlets up to be flush with the shiplap for aesthetic and safety reasons.
Buy these little outlet extenders. There are a few different options, these box extenders and these rubber stacking extenders. I forgot to do this part, but nothing like a blog post about your mistakes to fix them!
I rubber stacking extenders are each an 1/8 thickness behind the outlets. Because the plywood was so thin, I only needed one.
Whenever dealing with electrical, make sure to shut off power to the outlet you are working on before installing extenders.
Sand the Boards Really Well Before Painting
Well, this is a rookie mistake if there ever was one. When cutting down plywood of any kind, you are going to get some splintering and in the case of the 1/4 underlayment, A LOT of splintering happened.
Something I learned after we cut our boards, a pro tip is to place painters tape where you were going to cut. When the blade cuts the wood, it will cut through the tape like butter and give a much cleaner edge with little splintering.
If there is splintering, take the time to sand it down smooth because any bumps or ridges in the boards will show through paint.
Leave the Adhesive at the Hardware Store
A lot of people use a construction adhesive when installing shiplap on a wall. I personally have never done this because I change my mind on things. A lot.
The reason I’m not recommending it here now is because attaching shiplap to the wall with a nail gun and brad nails achieves the same result without damaging your walls.
Using something like liquid nails will attach the shiplap to your walls really well and make it really hard if you ever want to remove it or need to because of a mistake that needs fixing. Ironic huh!
Painting Between Shiplap Boards Before Attaching to the Wall
This seems like a no brainer, but painting between your shiplap boards as you nail them to the wall can save you a lot of headache.
I remembered to do this half of the time I was installing my shiplap to the wall, but it saves time and your paintbrushes.
- Start with your first board and nail it to the wall.
- Before installing your next board, take your paintbrush and paint the edge that will meet up with the next board.
- Repeat the process all the way up the wall.
This saves time later when painting the entire wall and reduces the risk of drips from cramming a loaded paint brush into small cracks.
Use a Good Spacer in Between the Faux Shiplap Boards
If you’ve researched shiplap for your house, you’ve heard of nickel gap shiplap. It gets its name from the nickel gap sized space between the boards that naturally forms from the tongue and groove boards.
Plywood doesn’t have that built in spacer, so most tutorials will recommend using coin like a nickel or a penny. I tried using the nickel because the penny left too small of a gap and I like the look of a wider gap better.
We ended up using a tool I use with my Cricut to smooth out vinyl, a squeegee tool as I like to call it. It worked a lot better than trying to hold small coins between two boards. I recommend finding something a little bulkier and sturdier to use as a spacer to help get those consistent gaps.
Do You Put Trim Over Shiplap?
Another common mistake is wondering about how to trim shiplap when installing it in your home. Do you put trim over shiplap? Does shiplap go with crown molding? Baseboards on top of shiplap? Shiplap window and door trim?
Well we already covered baseboards. Do you put trim over shiplap? Yes. Install faux shiplap before installing trim. If trim is already installed where the shiplap is being installed, remove the trim or use a skill saw to cut closely around it then wood fill and caulk the rest.
This recommendation to put trim over shiplap goes for all types of trim. Remove old trim and then install the faux shiplap to wall. Over top of the shiplap, add your trim: door trim, window trim, edge and corner trim, baseboards, crown molding.
Quick Run Down on Where trim should go:
- baseboards on the bottom of the shiplap wall resting on the floor over top the shiplap
- crown molding over top of shiplap and flush with the ceiling
- Window trim around a window and over top of the shiplap
- door trim around the door and over top of the shiplap
- edge trim along the sides of shiplap wall on top of the shiplap
- corner trim along outside corners over top of the shiplap
Want to learn more about how to finish all your shiplap edges here.
Make Sure the Boards along the Ceiling Boards Are Level
I know I am recommending to remove crown molding and other trim to install the shiplap first, but I didn’t do that because of time and money. But I started against the top of the wall just under the crown molding.
If you look really close to the top of my shiplap feature wall, there is a tiny gap. That’s because I made it level at the highest point possible and not flush with the ceiling. This way the rest of my boards will be level all the way down the wall.
I should probably do something about that gap though…
Underestimating the Time This Project Will Take to Complete
I always do this. ALWAYS! Oh, it will only take an afternoon to cut all the boards and another to attach the faux shiplap to the wall.
Maybe a day after that for finishing work like filling nail holes and adding trim. Painting is the easiest part because of all that prep work I did! Right?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but No. Not really. This project specifically was a lot of time running back and forth to the saw with long shiplap boards making adjustments until it was just right. Sometimes several times before ONE piece fit correctly.
That’s before all the coats of paint I had to do on the thirsty plywood.
BUT it was worth it! I love the results!
If you want to tackle this type of shiplap wall, you can totally do it and I hope I have only encouraged you, not made you think this is too hard.
Shiplap may be considered on its way “out” of style, but I am still obsessed. I have added shiplap to many walls in my home and there will probably be more.
I hope y’all can benefit from my experiences and have learned some of the dos and don’ts about installing faux shiplap in your home.
Save this for later when you decide to take this project on yourself!
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