Shiplap Secrets

Tips for Painting & Staining Shiplap


The secret’s out, and shiplap is IN. Everyone seems to be incorporating the rough-sawn pine (or other soft wood) paneling into their re-dos these days. Why? Well, it’s budget-friendly, relatively easy to apply, and gives the wall an authentic-looking throwback to centuries ago. HGTV’s Fixer Upper stars, Joanna & Chip Gaines, have even adorned the word with a hashtag: #shiplap. If you are a fan of the show, you may recall that when the pair finds shiplap under dry-wall, it’s much like finding hardwood floors under carpet. Not that its anywhere near the cost of adding hardwood; however, original shiplap is a designer’s rustic paradise.shiplap11

Here are some tips on garnishing your walls with shiplap, and polishing it with paint or stain.

  1. Once you have bought your shiplap from a lumber company or home improvement store, you will need to sand down any large knots or imperfections. Remember, imperfections are welcome on shiplap; however, you may want to even out any unsightly rough patches.
  2. Next, prime the boards (that is, if they are not already pre-primed) with a quality primer like Zinsser B-I-N Advanced. This is low odor synthetic shellac-based primer cleans up with soap and water, and will ensure the knots don’t seep through.
  3. Before applying them to the walls, it’s a good idea to mark your studs behind the drywall so you can map out where to nail the boards.
  4. Work from the bottom up. The great thing about shiplap is that the boards slot right on top of each other, so it is pretty quick to install. The superior board will notch to the inferior one via a space called a “rabbet”.
  5. Match up the corners when two walls meet as closely as possible. Also, measuring will be your best friend when you are working around electrical outlets, and sawing boards accordingly.
  6. When in place, finish with two coats of a premium matte finish paint, such as Benjamin Moore Regal Select Matte, to help capture the rustic, old-world look.  If the boards are going to be exposed to weather, be sure to use an exterior paint.  548




How To Stain (Before putting boards up)

  1. Test stain on a scrap board.  Stains will look different on different types of wood, so we recommend testing several stains on a scrap piece to find the perfect stain for your room.
  2. Apply stain to boards by brush or rags.  Let it soak for about 30 seconds, then wipe off any excess.  Some darker stains may require two coats.
  3. To avoid spontaneous combustion, soak used stain rags immediately after use in a water-filled, closed metal container.
  4. Apply 2 to 3 coats of a clear polyurethane to protect the wood once the stain has completely dried.  An oil based poly such as Absolute’s Last-N-Last is the most commonly used, while a waterborne polyurethane will prevent the wood from slightly yellowing over time.  Use a spar varnish if you plan to install the shiplap outside. shiplap10














You can use shiplap anywhere that feels right.  If you decide to tackle this project, stop by and we’ll walk you through the products needed!