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How to DIY shiplap for a rustic, coastal charm to your home

Whether you're staining or painting shiplap, it will

Whether you're staining or painting shiplap, it will add instant character to a room. Photo Credit: Fotolia.com

It’s warm, it’s charming and it’s showing up everywhere from bedrooms to kitchens.

Commonly seen on HGTV’s design show “Fixer Upper,” shiplap has enjoyed a resurgence for the instant character and charm it can bring to a home.

If wallpaper makes you yawn and you’re ready for something new on your walls, shiplap might be your answer.

The difference

Shiplap and tongue-and-groove are two types of wood paneling that are often confused with each other. Technically, shiplap is a type of wood paneling that is fit one board on top of another with a small gap. Tongue-and-groove paneling is cut so that each piece is interlocking. But whichever you choose, both give that same warm character so often seen in beach and country-style homes.

Besides their technical differences, tongue-and-groove and shiplap paneling also have a significant price difference. Tongue-and-groove paneling can cost as much as $8 or more per individual strip, whereas 8-inch panels are considerably less expensive. If you’re handy and have a table saw, a smooth half-inch birch plywood or sanded pine can be ripped into strips 8 inches wide and give you a significant price savings.

The installation

If you hire a carpenter, installing shiplap, regardless of the type used, will make your project run high on labor costs alone. Even a small room will add up quickly. But if you can make simple cuts, installing shiplap can make for a terrific weekend project. Before starting your project, be sure to take out all molding around doors, windows, baseboards and any crown molding.

Next, make sure to mark the studs on your wall for nailing. If you opt to use tongue-and-groove paneling, you can begin applying it directly to the walls. But if you choose to use boards or plywood strips, you may want to paint your walls with the same shade of paint you’ll be painting your shiplapped walls. This is so that the color of the walls underneath won’t show through the small gaps between panels.

To keep your boards a consistent width apart when applying to the walls, use a jig such as a yardstick to keep the boards evenly spaced. Using an air-nailer with finishing nails will make the job go quickly and look nice.

The big finish

To create a finished look, try to miter the board edges where they meet on wall corners, otherwise you’ll need to use a cap molding to cover where the edges meet. After installation, putty and sand nail holes. If painting, cover with a coat of paint primer first, then paint. Does shiplap have to be painted white? Absolutely not. Consider a soft dove gray, a pale beige or an ivory shade for something unexpected. For a touch of nature, stain your new shiplapped walls with your favorite color stain. Your new shiplap will bring instant charm and character to your rooms.

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