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Love Watching Fixer Upper? Love Shiplap Walls? How to DIY the Look for Less!

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Love HGTV and everything Joanna Gaines related?

After admiring the beautiful shiplap planked walls featured in the TV show Fixer Upper, my husband and I were inspired to embellish a couple walls in our home to see if we could get a similar farmhouse look.  I LOVE the character and texture wood planked walls can add to a space and I’ve been wanting to design my own!

You can buy the traditional shiplap tongue and groove boards, but those can be pretty pricey and would have equaled a couple hundred dollars per wall in our home.

Another less expensive method to get a similar look is to cut down large pieces of plywood into smaller planks and then nail them to the wall. Using this tip we accomplished the look of faux shiplap ourselves for around $50 or less in wood material per wall.

Installation is actually a lot less difficult than you’d think too.

If you enjoy home improvement projects like we do, then this would be an excellent weekend DIY to consider! Above is a photo of our family room wall after we painted the plywood planks white, and below is a photo of our bathroom after we added the wood faux shiplap strips – before painting. I haven’t gotten to that paint step yet, and we may even leave it natural or stain it. 

Here are some helpful faux shiplap tips we learned along the way.

1.) Purchase large 4ft. x 8ft. sheets of plywood and cut them down into planks according to the sizes you want.

We purchased 1/8 inch thick large sheets of birch plywood that were priced around $10 each, and had them cut down into planks about 6 inches wide at Home Depot. (The lengths, we cut down ourselves at home using a table saw.)  The store charged a nominal fee after a certain number of cuts – about $10 total for them to cut our project.

2.) Glue and then nail wood to the wall using a nail gun.

Use a construction adhesive, such as Liquid Nails with a caulking gun to first glue wood to the wall, then nail it in place so the glue can set. If you don’t have a nail gun with compressor consider renting or borrowing one because the project goes so much faster with it.

Note: It helps to mark out where the studs are in the wall prior to starting so that you can try to hit the studs when nailing, but it’s not necessary to hit a stud every time. We would nail about every 8-10 inches on every board.

Some prefer to fill each nail hole with wood filler before painting, but we didn’t mind the tiny holes, and skipped it. We realize that’s personal preference.

3.) Use a coin as a spacer in between boards for even spacing.

You can buy tile spacers, but we found using a couple nickels per board works well instead!

4.)  If your wall has an electrical outlet, use a jigsaw to cut out space for it.

Measure where your outlet would be on the wood board and use a pencil to mark it. Make your cuts using a jigsaw. Note: You’ll have some forgiveness because of the plastic cover plate, so don’t stress trying to make it perfect.

5.) Make it a family project!

My job was to sand any rough edges on the wood. My son applied the liquid nails to each plank, and handed the wood to my husband who would then nail it to the wall. Teamwork!

Lina ( loves cooking new recipes, thrift store shopping, and DIY home decor projects.
Join The Discussion

Comments 45

  1. Carrie

    Beautiful! Thanks for breaking it down into steps….makes it seem much more doable. So amazing the difference it makes. Looks very high-end!

    • Lina D

      Thanks so much Carrie!

  2. Amanda

    Thanks for sharing!!! We are remodeling a vintage 1070 camping trailer and this would be great to replace the water damaged ceiling!!!!

    • Lina D

      Oh yes perfect! That’s a neat project 👍

  3. Mackyjane

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been wanting to do this behind the toilet, in our toilet room, but the tongue and groove boards are wider than our baseboard. That’s starts getting into more work than I want to do, so this is a great option. Thanks!

    • Lina D

      Sure!! Good luck – it will look great!

  4. Brooke

    Looks great! We did the exact same thing at our old house before we moved. It was such an inexpensive way to make the room pop.

    • Lina D

      Thanks!! I agree 😀

  5. Tolu


    • Lina D

      THANK YOU! 😀

  6. LeAnne

    Thanks for sharing. We are thinking of something similar but for replacing our textured ceilings. Shiplap may not work for that exactly but a thin wood paneling may! Needless to say I love how you broke this down into steps and we may do this to our bathroom walls as well.

    • Joy

      Hmmm..that might work with my textured walls in my clothes closets circa 1981.

    • Lina D

      I would love to do this on the ceiling!! thanks LeAnne!

  7. Stacey

    I wonder if you could do this over tile? I have a very old house and have the old blue tile. I’m afraid to tear the tile off and find out the damage behind the tile.

    • Kelsey

      Our house was built in 1959 and we had the gorgeous pink tile EVERYWHERE in our guest bathroom. We used a Rustoleum tile paint to make the pink tile white. Three years later and it still looks great (even in the shower!)!

      • Stacey

        I thought about that too! I do have the tile in the shower also. I figured the moisture would eventually make me have to paint it again. Thanks for your response.

      • Lina D

        That’s awesome to hear!

    • Shannon

      You can definitely do this over tile. I just put in wood beadboard over tile and it’s been fine. I did buy a more expensive type of construction adhesive ($7, lowes) that was specifically for tile though. Don’t nail it either. You’ll also have a thicker edge to cover up. I used cove molding and it turned out great!

      • Stacey

        Thanks for your tips Shannon!

  8. Kylie

    Love this!Super the way the family worked together on the project! FYI I beleive there is a spray paint made for old tiles.I used it years ago on an old blue and pink tile bathroom.

    • Lina D

      Thanks Kylie!

  9. JA

    Love it! Are you guys for hire? 😀👍

    • Lina D

      Haha Thanks!!

  10. Erin

    We did this in our basement for our bar/kitchen area. We ended up white washing ours for both a white feel and grain look. Your natural version in your bathroom is beautiful!

    • Lina D

      thanks Erin! That’s a great option too!
      Thanks for sharing!

  11. Q

    This came out so nice. Beautiful! I hope we can accomplish this look in our downstairs bathroom.

    • Lina D

      Thanks so much!

  12. Qgirlfriend

    That looks amazing! Great idea! Thanks for sharing. I’m wondering if we can do this in the bathroom we’re about to start remodeling. 🙂

    • Lina D

      Thanks!! 😀

  13. Cassandane

    Awesome!! I have been thinking about installing this in our powder room instead of wallpaper. The last owner removed the wallpaper *very* badly, so we need a chic coverup. Could also be perfect as wainscoting in basement playroom. Hmmm decisions, decisions! 🙂

    • Lina D

      Very nice ideas! Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Lana

    Hate to be the downer here but we are looking for a smaller house and I will not even look at or consider a house where something like this has been done. I don’t know what it is covering up and in a few years it will be out of style.

    • David

      You aren’t being a downer just for having your own opinion. That said, I don’t think anyone doing a project like this has any intention of selling their home soon, if ever. I’m sure I have made changes to my house that someone buying it after I’m dead might not like, but I’m not going to base what I do to my house on what I speculate someone someday may or may not like. I’m going to do what the people who will be living here for the next 40+ years (my family and I) like 🙂

    • Jennifer

      Most houses have things that were covered up, especially older ones. Popcorn ceilings are hiding all sorts of ceiling issues and sometimes there’s a perfectly good ceiling under the popcorn. I hope you don’t miss out on a really great house just because someone wanted to try out a new look. I actually recently did a light whitewash treatment on my old stone fireplace. I took a risk because I wanted a more updated look and I love it. However, it could have been a disaster that could have been difficult to change back. Some buyers might look at it as ruined because it isn’t the original color but it’s individual preference.

    • S

      I agree that it will be out of style soon but at a cheap price & diy, it makes sense to try it out if you like it. You can always take it down if you tire of the look.

    • Tara

      Really? Why do people feel the need to write stuff like this? If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it. Get a hobby besides trolling.

  15. The new Mrs Rowe

    That’s very sweet of you to share this😊

  16. Jackie

    Love your bathroom cabinets! Did you also updated those or did you buy them like that? We did some wainscoting in our laundry room and it was very expensive. I think I will try this in our master bathroom. Thee is a small wall (cubby) by the toilet and I would love to try this there

    • Lina D

      Hi Jackie! thanks-We bought new doors for our vanity and had them painted. Then we just painted the base of the cabinet ourselves.
      I think that will look great! Good luck 😀

      • Jackie

        OMG they look super cute and very stylish. I might show this to my hubby and see if we can be brave enough to try that also. We purchased our house new so we have been the only owners but that was 10 years ago. The cabinets look like new because we have taken good care of them but they need to be updated. I just need to find the courage to actually paint them. Again LOVE yours! Do you know the color of the paint?

        • Lina D

          Thanks so much! Color is Sweeping Rock by Sherwin Williams 😀

      • Chrissy

        Where did you purchase the new doors from?

        • Lina D

          Hi- a local cabinet company

  17. Mary Jo

    Such a great job!
    The clock caught my eye. Can you tell me where you bought it?

    • Lina D

      Thanks so much!! –clock from Homegoods

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