The cladding technique using shiplap has recently become a favorite of homeowners. Although the technique is not new, it has gained popularity for the beautiful finishes on the walls. However, the vast majority of homes have drywalls, making the transition to shiplap difficult. Some are more astute and think they can put one coating on top of the other, but does shiplap over drywall work? Today we are going to find out.

The shiplap is a technique of overlaying wooden slats on top of each other by a flange on the sides. Installation is simple, being an assembly process similar to putting together a puzzle.

The result, however, is a watertight wall against the elements of nature. Its resistance is so good that it is even a technique used to line boats.

Installing shiplap over drywall

Pine-Island-NC-by-Nicole-Peters-Interiors Should you put shiplap over drywall?
Image source: Nicole Peters Interiors

As we mentioned previously, most homes have drywall, so installing shiplap seems like an impossible task. Removing the drywall is seen as an unnecessary task that generates an additional expense, so there are owners who consider that shiplap over drywall can be placed to take advantage of it as a support surface.

In case you had doubts if this was a viable alternative, you will be happy to know that it is possible, although the existing wall, either drywall or plaster, should be prepared for this installation.

The first thing to consider is if the wall is damaged. Bumps and small imperfections will not compromise the installation, so the shiplap can be used to cover them. It is best to repair serious damage before continuing.

Can you install shiplap directly to studs? Yes, in fact, they will be the support for the shiplap. However, you cannot start the installation if you have not previously found each of the studs on the wall and marked them.

How to install shiplap over drywall

Pine-Island-NC-by-Nicole-Peters-Interiors-1 Should you put shiplap over drywall?Image source: Nicole Peters Interiors

If you have fallen in love with shiplap and want to install it in your home, you have two options to do so. The first is to hire a professional in charge of the installation, but this may be unnecessary considering that it is not difficult to do it yourself. The second option is to install it yourself, and you only need to follow a few steps.

By following this simple guide, you will be able to build a new wall that is commendable for home renovation programs.

Let the shiplap adapts to the weather

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Wood is a delicate material when it comes to the weather. Sudden variations in humidity can compromise its integrity, making it very brittle for construction. So that this does not happen to you, you must let the wood adapt to the environment where it is going to be installed.

Leave the shiplap sheets several days in the room you plan to remodel so that it adapts to the environmental conditions.

Another thing you can do before putting shiplap over drywall is to paint the wall with a dark color so that, in case the wood cracks, it will hide.

The studs will be the support

stud Should you put shiplap over drywall?

The biggest problem with installing a new coating over an existing one is that you need to find the supporting structure to reuse it. In this case, the drywall is subject to studs, and these will be the base on which you will nail the shiplap.

The horizontal shiplap designs do not present so many drawbacks in this regard since the boards will be installed perpendicular to the studs, so they will always have one under them.

However, vertical installations are more complex since studs are located parallel to the shiplap and may never meet. In these cases, you will need to create additional support using ¼ inch cleats, which you will need to screw onto the existing support.

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If this process is very complex, or if adding an additional board will greatly increase the wall’s thickness, you can choose to glue the shiplap over drywall using adhesive.

Regardless of your case, you should always determine where your wall studs are located before proceeding with the installation. For this, you can use a stud finder.

Installing shiplap walls

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Now that you have identified all the studs, you can proceed to the installation of the shiplap. To join the planks, you will need special glue for this job. Most construction glues will work perfectly.

Remember that the adhesive can take several hours to dry, and if the planks are not held firm, they will come off. So you don’t have to spend hours holding a single board, you must use small supporting nails.

Put the tack nails in line so you can use them as a guide during shiplap installation. It will be enough for you to put a nail every three feet.

gluing Should you put shiplap over drywall?

You will start the installation from the baseboard. Here you will glue a long wooden strip, maximum 8 feet long. Make sure one side is attached to the wall’s corner so you can use it as a reference. Complement the entire baseboard with more wood slats as needed.

Now, nail the 8-foot long plank and proceed to place another similar plank on it but on the opposite side of the wall and at least a penny apart. The penny measure will be enough to create the necessary tabs to install the shiplap.

Repeat this process with each new row, always alternating the position of the table to be able to overlap them.

fixing Should you put shiplap over drywall?

As the wood will hardly be perfectly straight, it is best to use a level to check if it shows no serious deviations. If you find any blemishes, you can fill them with a leftover piece of wood.

To avoid deviations from being noticeable, start by installing each new row from the same corner, and always use the penny to create the gap between tables.

In case the wall has any electrical item like a switch or outlet, please measure it before you place the shiplap. Mark it with a pencil on the table and cut the piece with a saw. Remember that you must do the process in both tables.

Add a little color

paint Should you put shiplap over drywall?

Some woods have a beautiful natural design, but this is not the case most of the time, so you will have to paint the shiplap. Not only is it for aesthetics, but the paint will also give it an extra layer of protection.

The first thing is to apply a primer coat on which you can paint. Then, using a roller, paint the larger areas.

brush-paint Should you put shiplap over drywall?

With a small, stiff-tip brush, you can outline the joints between the boards. You must remove excess paint on the joints before it dries or it will create unsightly bumps. Insert a paper sheet or cardboard into these notches to absorb the paint.

Since this is wood, you will most likely need two coats of paint to achieve the desired color.

Are there any benefits of installing shiplap over drywall?

Little-Harbor-Cohasset-by-Janet-Shea-Interiors Should you put shiplap over drywall?Image source: Janet Shea Interiors

Installing shiplap over drywall has the benefit of having a previous support on which to work. This will allow you to have a guide to make a straight wall, in addition to being perfect for placing nails with which to hold the wood.

Also, by having two layers of cladding you can have greater control of your home’s temperature, as well as a more resistant wall against rain and snow.

However, it is always recommended to install the shiplap from the beginning. Drywall makes the process difficult because you have to determine where the studs are, and the result can be a thick wall that will take away space from your rooms.

Ending thought on how to install shiplap walls over drywall 

There are a couple of additional tricks you can apply depending on your drywall. For example, most drywall has a slightly rustic texture that doesn’t bother to install shiplap on it, however, there are rustic walls where it is best to smooth them first using sandpaper.

Do not completely join the boards or this could damage them. In the wet, the boards tend to expand a bit, and if they don’t have free space, they will start to crack and buckle. You should leave at least ¼ inch on the sides of the wall for the wood to expand. You can cover them with moldings if they are very noticeable.

Remember that the most important thing about a drywall installation is determining the studs’ location. As long as you have this under control, you should have no problems with the project.

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