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DIY Modern Shiplap Wall Treatment

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I’m kicking off this powder room renovation with the first DIY project – a modern shiplap wall treatment.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

I’ve been dying to update our powder room ever since we first had guests over to our house. The powder room is the main guest bathroom, and it was looking pretty sad after we first moved in.

Here’s a reminder of what we started with:

Powder room design plans, renovating a powder room, shiplap and modern classic style

Last week I shared my design plans for the powder room. You can check out that post here and get an idea of my vision for the space.

The first project we decided to tackle was the shiplap.

Now, I know that the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear shiplap is farmhouse style. And if you know me, you know that I’m definitely NOT a farmhouse style girl.

So, how exactly am I going to make shiplap work in my home?

Well, I think shiplap can look polished and put together as a modern wall treatment if you do it the right way. It’s a great way to add texture and interest to the walls. And, wall treatments are a great way to make a home look more custom.

Let’s get into all the DIY details.

DIY Modern Shiplap Wall Treatment

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Materials

Supplies

Planning Phase

Before we started any actual DIY work, we had to make a plan. That way we would know exactly how much material to buy for the project. This plan involved a little bit of math, but don’t worry, it was pretty easy.

To create the modern shiplap look that we wanted in the powder room, we decided that we would put the shiplap on the lower 4’ of the walls. We also decided to use 5” boards for our shiplap. That size seemed to look the best – not too big and not too small.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

First, we measured the lengths of all of the walls and added them together to get a total wall length in feet. Since the shiplap was only going to be on the bottom 4’ of the walls, we multiplied the total wall length by the height that we wanted for our shiplap (4’). This gave us the total shiplap area. Here’s a little formula for reference:

Total Shiplap Area (square feet) = Total Wall Length (feet) X Height of Shiplap (feet)

Real shiplap boards are actually kind of expensive to buy in the stores. So, instead of buying actual shiplap, we decided to use plywood instead.

Quick Tip: For this type of project, you will want to buy plywood that is furniture grade. You don’t want to use any old plywood because you will need the outside surface to be smooth. That way you can paint it easily.

To figure out how much plywood to buy, we first calculated the area of a piece of plywood. Here’s the equation we used for a standard sheet of plywood:

Area of 1 Sheet of Plywood (square feet) = 8’ X 4’ = 32 square feet

Next, we took our Total Shiplap Area (that we calculated before) and divided by the Area of 1 Sheet of Plywood (32 square feet). We rounded that number up to the nearest whole number to get the number of plywood sheets that we would need for the project. Another equation for you to reference:

Number of Sheets of Plywood Needed = Total Shiplap Area (square feet) / Area of 1 Sheet of Plywood (32 square feet)

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Whew! Are you still with me? Once we did that math, we had our final number of sheets of plywood for the project. We went to the hardware store and bought all the materials.

Once we got home, it was time to turn the plywood into our shiplap boards. We used a table saw to rip (or cut) the plywood into 5” strips. DIY shiplap boards!

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!Building Phase

Ok, now it’s time for the actual building of the shiplap walls.

We started with the first wall (the back wall) and measured the length of the wall. Then, we cut the shiplap boards to that length using a miter saw.

Starting at the bottom of the wall, we placed the first board directly above the baseboard trim. On the back of the board, we used some wood glue to help attach it to the wall.

Then, using a level, we double checked to make sure the board was straight. This is extremely important because the first board is the basis for the rest of the boards going up the wall. You don’t want it to be crooked.

Once it was level, we used a brad nailer and 1.5” brad nails to attach the board to the wall.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Next, we placed a tile spacer on top of both ends of the first board to create a gap. Then we took the second board with wood glue on the back and placed it directly above the tile spacers. We attached it to the wall using the brad nailer.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Then, we just continued up the wall repeating this process, making sure to include tile spacers in between each board. Once we reached 4’ up the wall, we stopped and moved to the next wall in the room.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

We worked one wall at a time, measuring and attaching shiplap until the entire lower 4’ of the powder room was covered in shiplap.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Quick Tip: There was a section of the room had an outside corner. So, on one wall, we cut the shiplap boards ½” shorter than the wall length. That way, it would overlap the shiplap board on the second wall creating a corner.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

One wall that was a little more difficult to do was the wall with all of the plumbing. For boards that intersected with the plumbing, we used a coping saw to cut curved sections out of the shiplap. We weren’t extremely precise with this because we knew that any mistakes could be filled in with wood putty later.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!
Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Another difficult area that we ran into was an outlet on the wall near the sink. This outlet happened to be right in the middle of the 4’ mark on the wall. That meant there would be shiplap on half of the outlet and painted wall on the other half.

To make this look less visually jarring, Ben came up with an idea. For the shiplap board that was going to overlap that outlet, Ben used the miter saw to carefully cut 3 chamfers. Chamfers are basically just sloping edged cuts.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

First, he measured and marked where the outlet would be. Then, he flipped the board over and used the miter saw to make 45-degree cuts in the back of the board (the part that would be touching the wall once it was installed).

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!
Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

You can see in the picture below that he marked the piece that would be removed to make room for the outlet with an “X.”

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Once the 3 cuts were made, he flipped the board back over to reveal the angled cuts.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

You can see that the cutout in the back of the board is the same size as the outlet. Then, the edges of the board gradually slope out. The miter saw made some extra cut marks that we didn’t want, but we just filled them in with wood putty once the board was on the wall.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Finally, to finish off the top edge of the shiplap, we installed 1×2 boards as trim. We cut each trim board to size and used the brad nailer to attach the trim to the top shiplap board. This created a small ledge on top of the shiplap and visually helped everything look finished.

(Here’s a little preview of the primed shiplap)

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Finishing Phase

After everything was installed, we used wood putty to fill in all of the nail holes. We also filled in any mistake cuts that were made around the plumbing and the extra cuts around the outlet.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Then, we used caulk to fill in the vertical seams between boards and the gap between the top trim pieces and the wall. This made everything look seamless and built in.

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Once everything was dry, we sanded the entire shiplap wall treatment twice. First with 80 grit sandpaper and then with 120 grit sandpaper.

Finally, it was time to prime and paint!

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

First, we coated the entire wall treatment with primer. After that was dry, we painted the shiplap with 2-3 coats of white semi-gloss paint.

To get an even coverage, we used a brush to get the paint into the gaps between the shiplap boards. Then, we used a roller on the outside surfaces of the shiplap to create a smooth painted finish.

Once the shiplap was dry, we painted the upper part of the walls gray to contrast the pretty white wall treatment. The paint color we used is Hazy Stratus by Valspar.

Then, once everything was dry, we stepped back and admired the finished shiplap!

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!
Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Psst: There’s a sneak preview of the window and the rug in the finished room!

Tutorial for creating modern shiplap. I love the clean crisp look of the white shiplap in this powder room!

Creating a modern shiplap wall treatment in the powder room was a little tedious, but it was so worth it! I love the texture that it creates in the room and the contrast of the white and gray looks amazing!

The powder room is a really small space, so adding the white wall treatment really helped to brighten everything up. The crisp, clean lines and the contrast help make this shiplap look modern instead of farmhouse.

I can’t wait to share with you the next part of the project – the craftsman window trim! And, later next week I’ll be sharing the full Powder Room Reveal! Stay Tuned!

Powder Room Design Plan

DIY Modern Shiplap Wall Treatment (You’re Here)

DIY Modern Craftsman Window Trim

Fresh & Modern Powder Room Reveal

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29 Comments

  1. This looks so great! I love your dimensioning and plans 🙂 Our powder room needs attention, so I’m super excited to see how you do yours!

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Thanks Brittany! It was really difficult to get some good pictures while we were building in that tiny space. So I ended up with my own illustrations ;). So glad to have you here on the blog! Thanks for stopping by.

      >> Christene

  2. It looks SO great! Your electrical outlet solution is genius, too. I’d have never thought of shiplap to be a modern design element but it works so well!

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Thanks Meredith! I’m really happy with how it ended up looking. And my husband Ben gets all the credit for that outlet trick ????

      >> Christene

  3. Wow, love how it turned out! Thanks for such a helpful and detailed outline of exactly what you need to do to install shiplap! I’ll be using your guide when we do it ourselves in our dining room 🙂 cheers!

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Thanks so much Briana! So glad to have you here on the blog!

      >> Christene

  4. Kyle Fegley says:

    FYI in your instructions you say to cut one board 1/2″ longer then the wall. If you did that the board would not fit end to end if it’s a 1/2 longer then the wall. I think you ment to say cut the board 1/2″ shorter. and the other board the same length as the wall, This will allow you to butt joint the corner up against the other. Nice job by the way!

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Whoops! Thanks for catching that. I have fixed it in the post.

      >> Christene

  5. Great project and super helpful. Did I miss what you used to cap off the top on the shiplap?

    1. Christene Holder says:

      The top piece is a piece of 1×2 MDF that I turned on it’s side to use as a “trim.”

      >> Christene

  6. Chris smith says:

    Is there a reason you didn’t paint the boards before nailing them? Wouldn’t that have been easier?

    1. Christene Holder says:

      I didn’t think of doing it that way but that would totally work too!

      >> Christene

  7. Eric Ragozin says:

    Hi, this looks great – looking to mimic you. What did you do about the 12″ toilet? Was it not flush against the wall?

  8. Thank a lot for the instruction guide. This makes renovating so much easier 🙂
    But there is still one question.
    Were the shiplaps nailed directly onto the wall? What kind of wall was it that did not need a sub-construction?

    Thank you,
    Alex

      1. What size of tile spacers did you use?! Can’t wait to copy you in a bathroom! It’s do fresh!

  9. What size tile spacers did you use?

  10. Did you remove the toilet for installation or were you able to work around it and fit the board behind?

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