Adding shiplap to your walls gives your home an instant modern-farmhouse vibe and luckily there’s a super affordable way to DIY shiplap in your own home that will fit into any home improvement budget!
Shiplap is everywhere these days and, as I’ve mentioned before, I love it. I’m really drawn to the different bold-colored shiplap walls that I’ve been seeing here and there, but the classic white shiplap still has my heart. There’s just something about it that makes a room instantly seem cleaner, fresher, brighter, and the decor in that room crisper and more pulled-together. Have you read my book “The Cleaning Ninja” yet? If you have, you definitely know that a clean-looking room is high on my list of things that make me happy. This month for our Thrifty Style Team post, we decided to let our husbands take over in honour of Father’s Day, so when Chris suggested that he could add some DIY shiplap to our kitchen walls, I was obviously pretty thrilled.
Make sure to read all the way to the bottom of this post and then pour yourself a cup of coffee and visit all of the other husbands’ (or fathers’, sons’, grandsons’, etc.) projects! I always get so much inspiration from these Thrifty Style Team group posts every month and I’ve actually started dedicating a whole work day just to visiting all of the other posts and taking notes of ideas I want to try. 🙂
Easy & Affordable DIY Shiplap: Materials Needed
The real magic behind this project is the material used to create the actual shiplap. With this method, the shiplap is installed over your existing drywall saving you time and cost. Can you believe that it only cost us about $20 per wall for the shiplap and Chris had it up in few short hours (spread out over a few days, but who’s complaining?) That’s less than a can of paint in many cases! I just love a project that takes really simple materials and turns them into something unexpected. You know, projects that are greater than the sum of their parts. 🙂
For this DIY shiplap project you need:
To create the shiplap:
- 48×96 sheet of 1/4″ hardboard or MDF per 8 ft. of wall
- Circular Saw
Tools needed to install the shiplap:
Be prepared with the right tools to DIY: The Creek Line House – Power Tools Every DIYer Should Own
How to Create Your Own Affordable, DIY Shiplap
Chris started out by cutting the full MDF sheet – which was purchased at the local hardware store for less than $20 – into 6″ strips using a circular saw and a straight edge guide to create the actual shiplap pieces. It took him 3 sheets to do approximately 20 liner ft. of wall from the floor to 4.5 ft. up the wall. He prepared all his material beforehand and moved it inside to acclimatize for a couple days so it was ready for installation day.
How to Install Your DIY Shiplap
For the first step inside the room, he removed the baseboards from the walls where he wanted to apply the shiplap. This step is super, super important, especially if you live in an old farmhouse like ours where everything is wonky and un-level. To get his starting point, he found the highest point in the floor and marked the start of our shiplap based on the height of the baseboard we planned to install at the end. He applied plenty of construction adhesive to the first piece of shiplap and set it in place on the wall using his mark and a level as his guide for where to place it – NOT measuring off the floor all the way across. He then tacked it into place with a few brad nails to hold it tight and level while the adhesive dried.
If you have an old house like ours and you measure off the floor all the way across, you may not notice on the first piece of shiplap if it isn’t quite level, but by the time you work your way up the wall and you’re closer to eye level, it will definitely become visible. Don’t worry, we have a way to deal with how the un-level floors tie into the shiplap at the end and it’s not noticeable at all.
Installing the Rest of the DIY Shiplap
Once you have your first piece in place, you’ll want to add another! 🙂
Before lining up the next piece, however, it’s really a good idea to paint the top edge and part of the wall above each piece as you go because it can be difficult to get into the gaps with a paintbrush after everything is installed. Chris just applied one quick coat of paint and moved onto the next piece, applying adhesive and tacking it into place.
To make sure all of the gaps were even, he used 1/8″ tile spacers in a few spots between each strip of shiplap and continued to check every piece with a level as he worked his was up. You can also use something like a few nickels if you don’t have any tile spacers.
Finishing Up the Shiplap Walls
One of the clever things that Chris did was to only apply shiplap to the lower half of each wall. Not only does it look striking next to our new exposed brick doorway, it also made this project even more affordable! 🙂
To complete the look Chris stuck to the classic craftsman style we have elsewhere in the house by using flat 3/4″ MDF trim at the top and bottom. Because of the un-even floors, he custom cut our baseboards from a regular sheet of 3/4″ MDF using the same method as he used to cut the shiplap pieces. The baseboards, at approximately 7 – 1/4″, are the similar to primed 1×8 MDF baseboards purchased at the home store and the top trim is 1×5 primed MDF which tie nicely into the trim around the doors. He also added quarter-round when we updated the floors.
We did have quite a few little nail holes to fill before we could complete the painting, but we’re pretty used to that by now with all of the trim work we do around here. :). A good tip to remember: line up your brad nails when installing so you can work in a consistent pattern filling the nail holes.
And here’s how our kitchen walls look now, freshly shiplapped!
I can’t believe how fresh and new these half-walls of shiplap have made the whole room feel! This isn’t a project that we had planned on completing this year, but I’m so glad that Chris decided to jump into this quick update on a whim one day! By using thin 1/4″ MDF and sticking it right over the existing drywall rather than buying the 5/8″ or 3/4″ lumber the home stores sell as shiplap we avoided tearing the walls down to the studs and significantly prolonging our timeline. I also love that this project made such a big difference without us having to set aside a big budget for it. That doesn’t happen very often! Ha!
For further guidance on any of the steps in this project, feel free to reach out and I can ask Chris for more information. And follow me on Instagram and keep up to date on my stories to see projects like this in action!
Be sure to visit all of the other Thrifty Style Team members as well for more great inspiration!
- BIRD HOUSE MAKEOVER by Redhead Can Decorate
- HOW TO MAKE A COLD FRAME by Hearth & Vine
- DIY BARN DOORS by DIY Beautify
- OUR NEW HEADBOARD by 2 Bees in a Pod
- DIY HANGING LAMP FROM THRIFTY FINDS by Chatfield Court
- AFFORDABLE DIY SHIPLAP WALLS by The Creek Line House
- HOW TO BUILD A WALL MOUNTED PLATE RACK by I Should Be Mopping the Floor
- THE MAN BEHIND THE NAIL GUN by Duke Manor Farm
- THRIFTY DIY LADDER CHANDELIER by What Meegan Makes
- THRIFTY REBAR BARBED BIRD HOUSE by Bliss Ranch
- REFURBISHED WOODEN STOOL by Cottage at the Crossroads
- WOOD AMERICAN FLAG by The DIY Village
- INDUSTRIAL FARMHOUSE TOILET PAPER HOLDER by Salvaged Sister & Mister
This post contains affiliate links.
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.