With just a few simple hints, tips and tricks, installing shiplap is a breeze. Not only does it look great, but it can be a huge savings to the bottom line of nearly any home DIY project!

We have used shiplap in nearly all of the structures at our farm. It is in our home, garage, barn – and even our chicken coop!

It is inexpensive, durable, and best of all, ultra-easy to install, especially when compared to drywall. See : Shiplap vs Drywall – Why Shiplap Wins!

Installing Shiplap – The Secrets To Success

What Is Shiplap?

installing shiplap
We used shiplap exclusively in the house

True shiplap boards are wooden boards that have a rabbited edge on either side. When installed on walls or ceilings, the boards overlap one another to form an even, interlocking bond that can be watertight when done correctly.

Although shiplap has become extremely popular as of late, it has been around for decades. It was used in the many southern states as a durable and inexpensive covering for both the exterior and interior of homes.

One of shiplaps best qualities is that because it is wood, it expands and contracts. This keeps it from cracking, unlike drywall or plaster, which can form hairline fractures when forced to expand or shrink.

Many people today also use tongue and groove boards for the same effect that shiplap gives.

Once in place – it is nearly impossible to tell the difference. Both work wonderfully, and can be installed the same way.

Here are some quick tips to make installing shiplap in your home a snap!

Installing Shiplap – The Basics

The Tools

installing shiplap
True shiplap has a rabbited edge on both top and bottom

Maybe the best thing of with installing shiplap is that it doesn’t require a lot of tools to get the job done.

A tape measure, long level, a nail gun, and either a good jig-saw, circular saw or chop saw is all you need.

You can install shiplap by hand nailing – but it is easy to dimple the boards.

It is well worth spending a little to rent a nail gun and compressor if you do not own one.

In place of nails, you can also opt to screw in your boards. It takes a bit more time, but is a great way to secure boards with a strong bond.

For installing standard 3/4″ shiplap on wood studs, use 2 and 3/8″ framing nails with a clipped head.

If you will be screwing in place,  use 2 and 1/2″ coated star-bit screws. The star-bits are the way to go – they never strip and install easily with an impact driver.

If you are installing over drywall, add 1/2″ length to your fasteners.

Never glue the boards! Because it is wood, you want it to expand and contract with the air temperature and humidity.  Tool Links : Porter Cable Framing Nail Gun

Start From The Bottom

When installing for walls, always begin at the bottom. This allows gravity to be a helpful aid as you work your way up walls.

Begin in a corner with the first board going all the way against the edge.

Place your boards so that the rabbit on the top can be seen and is facing out, and the bottom rabbit is facing down and looks like a full board.

Use a few paint stirring sticks under the board to lift it directly off the floor about an 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch. This gives a bit of space for movement of the board, and gives you a chance to level the board off the floor.

Most floors are not plumb or level – so be sure to use the level on top of your first board before securing. Trim will cover any gap when complete.

Nail or screw boards on each end and into every other stud 1″ up from the bottom of the board. You can nail at every stud if you choose, but with shiplap, every other stud keeps the wood very secure. Work your way all the way across the bottom of the wall.

The Second Row…

For the second row, stagger your lengths so that the seams do not match up. This will give a “random” look to the seams and makes the project look great when complete.

installing shiplap
Work from the bottom up to let gravity be your friend.

You can place your next board flush, but most prefer a bit of a gap to give the shiplap. Some use coins to give a gap, but paint stirrers work better.

A few paint stirrers placed in between the rabbit and the next board give more surface than a coin to keep the gap. It works great to gap true shiplap, or tongue and groove boards.

Once you have the gap set, place the level on top of the board, and nail away. Repeat this process all the way up the wall. Be sure to use the level each time – with the small gap, it is easy to correct if the boards are off a bit.

Once you have one wall complete, move to the next adjoining wall.

Line up the bottom board so that the top is perfectly aligned with the completed wall. Butt the end board against the completed wall board so the corners are flush and nail in.

As you work up the wall, make sure the top of each new board lines up with the completed wall’s corresponding board. Then level the board across, and nail in place. It is actually quite simple, and once you get the hang of it, the project goes fast!

Finishing Looks…

installing shiplap
Manilla rope is easy to use to trim ceilings and corners

For windows and doors, run the shiplap right up to the studs. This will make installing trim easy and flush.

Some prefer the rustic look of the nail dimples left in, others prefer to fill the holes for a finished look. We have always love the rustic look best. Not only is it a cool look, it is much faster to not have to fill holes!

As for trimming out corners or the top between walls and ceiling – consider rope!

We used 1/2″ and 3/4″ thick braided rope to trim between the ceiling and walls. It is a really neat look, and is fast and inexpensive to install.

We installed with long staples. There were no angles to cut or measure, and it installed in seconds. Product Link : Braided Manilla Rope

Here’s to installing shiplap in your home with ease! Happy Building! – Jim and Mary.

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Installing Shiplap With Ease – The Secrets To DIY Shiplap Success!