Ever find yourself gazing at a wall and thinking, “You’ve got potential”? Well, you’re not alone. There’s this trend that’s been stealing hearts and spaces: adding shiplap over drywall. It’s like giving your home a hug with wood. And this hug—stick around—it transforms.

Here’s where we dabble into the “how” and “why” of that transformation. Because let’s face it, those smooth walls could use a little texture, a touch of character. That’s what shiplap’s all about, isn’t it? Merging modern with a smidge of country charm, it’s an instant shot of personality for any room.

By the time you scroll to the end, you’ll have all the dirt on turning bland walls into statements. We’re talking the nuts and bolts—from wall paneling basics to that all-important DIY project finish. Ready to roll up your sleeves and tag-team with your inner designer? This article’s your playbook, bursting with tips, tricks, and no-BS advice on elevating those walls to legend status. Get set to ride the shiplap wave, folks. It’s a beaut.

How to install 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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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?

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.

FAQs about adding shiplap over drywall

Can I install shiplap directly over drywall?

Absolutely, you can slap that shiplap right over your drywall. Just make sure you’re finding the studs for solid support. That drywall’s not gonna give your shiplap the grip it needs on its own. So just think of the drywall as a handy template for where to shoot those finishing nails.

What tools will I need for adding shiplap over drywall?

Grab your trusty tape measure, a level, and a good saw. A nail gun saves tons of time, but a hammer works if you’re old school. Don’t forget those shiplap planks, a stud finder, and safety gear. Last but not least, your DIY project patience and a killer playlist to set the mood.

Do I need to prep the drywall before installing shiplap?

For sure, a bit of prep goes a long way. Give the drywall a once-over, smoothing out any Hulk-smash dents or pesky nail pops. Clean walls stick better, so wipe away all that invisible gunk. Dry and steady wins the race.

What’s the best way to cut shiplap to fit my walls?

Measure twice, cut once—this golden rule of DIY isn’t just hot air. Use a saw that means business—a miter saw’s great for crisp cuts. Got curves or outlets? Jigsaw’s your new best friend. It’s a wall makeover, not a jigsaw puzzle, so aim for snug, not tight.

How do I ensure my shiplap lines are straight and level?

This is where that level earns its keep. Every few planks, get that bubble centered. Keep an eagle eye on those lines like they’re the horizon. If that level’s your sidekick, you won’t end up with a shiplap wave—unless that’s your thing, in a fun-house sort of way.

Is it necessary to paint or treat the shiplap after installation?

Your shiplap, your rules. Raw wood’s got that rustic aesthetic some folks die for. But if you’re not about the log-cabin life, slap on some paint. Protecting your shiplap means it’ll stick around like a good friend. So yes, treat it right, and it’ll treat you right.

How do I nail shiplap over drywall without hitting plumbing and wiring?

It’s a bit like Operation, but without the buzzing. Your stud finder is Sherlock, and you’re Watson. Map out your wall’s secrets—wiring, pipes, all that jazz. Shoot nails where you know it’s safe. When in doubt, detective it out.

Can adding shiplap over drywall improve my home’s resale value?

Design trends come and go, but shiplap’s riding high on that modern farmhouse look. It screams “Instagram me!” like no tomorrow—or at least “Consider bumping up the price point!” Coupled with a sharp interior design plan, shiplap can make potential buyers swoon and open those wallets a bit wider.

What’s the difference between true shiplap and faux shiplap panels?

True shiplap’s like the Cadillac of wood panels, with all the grooves in the right places. Faux shiplap tries hard, and sometimes you can’t even tell it’s playing dress-up. Bottom line: The real deal’s usually wood, while the imposter might be fiberboard or even clever wall painting tricks.

Should I hire a professional for shiplap installation, or can I handle it myself?

Depends on how cozy you are with your tools and the challenge level of your walls. A straightforward wall is prime for a weekend warrior. But if your wall has more nooks and crannies than an English muffin, maybe call in the pros. They’ve got the know-how to tackle the tricky bits.


Wrapping up this journey of adding shiplap over drywall, think of it as a love letter to your space. We’ve zigzagged through the twists and turns of selection, sidestepped the pitfalls of prep, and moonwalked over the finish line with style.

  • Your walls are now a canvas, with each plank a stroke of rustic charm or modern splash.
  • No longer a backdrop, they command attention whispering tales of transformation from cookie-cutter to custom-sweet-custom.
  • You now stand equipped, a homegrown guru in the art of wall-scaping.

Imagine the pride swelling as you step back, admiring not just a wall, but a masterpiece of DIY ingenuity. This isn’t just another tick on the weekend warrior’s to-do list; it’s a statement. The echo of hammers and the dust of saws settle, leaving behind the timeless dance of shiplap and studs—a harmony of home and heart.

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