Tuesday Tutorial: Shiplap for a Small Surface Area

What's up, people? I'm returning to work this week after a full spring break, and I'm not sure if my brain will get the job done over the next few days. And let's not forget that daylight savings time happened just over a week ago, and that always toys with the emotions (of anger through sleep deprivation!), so all in all it's definitely march madness time.

One day, I will devote myself to the cause of actually spring breaking (that's a verb, right?), but so far I've managed to use the week for project time. I only allowed Monday as a leisure day, and I ventured with family to the Magnolia Silos in Waco, TX. Fitting, I guess, since this tutorial covers shiplap. If you've never been, I recommend it! You could stay half a day if you wanted, and it accommodates the whole family with a lawn, food trucks, and more.


But I digress. Let's get to the shiplap! Tuesday through Friday I gathered some crew members and we renovated the bathrooms at our church. Let me give you the backstory. We began renting this church building about a year and half ago, and what we inherited was all sorts of funky. Awful paint colors, both in places that should be painted and should not; an unkempt kitchen space; possible rodent infestations; bulky, terrible furniture; and, of course, out of sorts bathrooms. But we were grateful to find a space to call our own, and our church family has done an incredible job of serving and working to make it feel welcoming. We mostly cleaned up the bathrooms, but they were still pretty dingy.

As I approached this project, we had a budget in mind to work with. Next week, I will share all about remaking the space on a budget, and show you the crucial pieces that made our money work harder. You can see all the before and after photos on my instagram. Until then, let's zoom in on the shiplap wall that I used to resurface a wooden stall panel.



- underlayment from Home Depot (2 panels for $11.99 each); other types of thin plywood can be used, but remember to keep it thin! You don't want the shiplap dragging a lot of weight on your surface. Click here to see the specific type I used.

- small nails and hammer, or nails with nail gun: specifically, we kept our nails short in length to prevent them from going through the other side of the panel, which was a stall for the bathroom. If you are applying shiplap to a wall or surface that will not be visible on the other side, nail length isn't as important.

- saw (option 1: miter saw) (option 2: hand saw) - Miter saw is way easier, but if you don't have one, can't afford one, or can't borrow one, then apply the good ol' work ethic and starting sawing, my friend. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too.

- paint or stain of choice: if you are going to stain the wood instead of paint, I would consider the type of wood your purchase. The underlayment had a nice wood grain that would look great stained, whereas a thin sheet of plywood may not make the same statement. Keep this in mind when purchasing products.

- tape measurer

- wood sander (Since this is for a small surface area, you could purchase inexpensive sand paper and do it yourself without a lot of elbow grease.)

- 2 nickels

This is the panel we chose to shiplap. Also, take a look at those floors. Gross.

This is the panel we chose to shiplap. Also, take a look at those floors. Gross.

Step 1: Measure out the area of the surface you desire to cover in shiplap. We covered a panel of a wooden bathroom stall, which was 70.5" x 46.5".

Step 2: Acquire and purchase the materials needed. When purchasing your wood for the shiplap, 2 things should occur. First, make sure that the panel you are purchasing will cover the area you wish to cover. (I purchased a 4x8' panel of underlayment, which is slightly bigger than what I needed.) Second, ask Home Depot to cut the panel in 6 inch strips all the way down the length (height) of the board. I would suggest leaving the width (horizontal measurement) as is for now, even if it's too long for your space. See explanation in step 4. 

Here's the underlayment cut into 6" strips.

Here's the underlayment cut into 6" strips.

Step 3: Sand down the wood, as most likely there are splintery edged pieces from the cutting process.

Step 4: Begin to measure in your shiplap. Take one of the 6" pieces that you had cut and measure it against your space. Hold it up horizontally so that it is 6" vertically. If it is too long, measure off what you need to cut and use a hand saw or miter saw to cut off the excess. I recommend cutting off the edges yourself rather than leaving the task to Home Depot because it allows you to make adjustments on imperfect surfaces. Not all walls or panels are crafted perfectly, and some of my pieces fit snug while others left room at the end. If you cut off the excess yourself, you get to make the call on how the strip fits, rather than having them all cut prematurely. 


Step 5: Nail in your shiplap. With the first piece ready, use a nail gun or a good ol' fashioned arm gun (aka your muscles) to drive in the 6" board. Repeat step 4 to get the next piece ready. As you nail in each piece, place a nickel at each end in between the boards to space the shiplap appropriately. You should be able to see the surface behind it, but it shouldn't be so big that you can slide more than the nickel in there.


Step 6: Paint or stain the shiplap! After all your pieces are nailed in, paint your wood. I used white paint, so it took 2 coats to make a good finish. Most likely, you will want to use two coats to create the best finish. If you're staining the wood, keep in mind that you don't want to drench the wood so much that you lose sight of the grain. The goal of wood stain is to see the wood beautified. If you want the wood wholly covered, go for paint.


Step 7: Enjoy! I added hooks and other decor. The shiplap panel was a simple project that added just the right amount of statement and warm wishes without us spending an excess of money. I'm very happy with how it turned out.


Questions? Comments? Let me know what your brain's cooking up below!