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How to Paint Shiplap – 4 Different Ways

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Adding shiplap to your walls is a great way to add character and style to your home. Today I am going to show you how to paint shiplap using four different methods. You can choose which one works best for you!

I added shiplap to my modern farmhouse laundry room and it made a huge difference in the look and feel of the space. The room went from boring and mundane to absolutely gorgeous!

Painting shiplap can be a bit of a pain though. It’s definitely harder than painting a wall and there are a few different techniques you can use.

A staircase with shiplap walls painted white and a photo gallery.
Source: Jason Donnelly Interiors

Different Types of Shiplap

There are several different types of shiplap you can use. I used a faux shiplap by using very thin plywood. It’s a great and inexpensive way to create the look of shiplap.

Square edge shiplap has an overlap where you won’t see any wall behind the boards. This type of shiplap creates a nickel gap.

Tongue and groove boards have a lipped edge and a grooved edge. The lipped edge fits snugly inside the groove.

V groove boards are similar to square edge but they have a slanted edge that allows the boards to overlap.

A laundry room with white shiplap walls, a shelf over the dryer with a sign, plant, and laundry detergent.

*This post contains affiliate links. For more details see my full disclosure.

How to Paint Shiplap

Painting shiplap will give your home a style that a plain wall cannot. Here are some things you need to know before you start painting.

What You Will Need

Here are the materials you will need to paint your shiplap:

  • sandpaper
  • primer
  • paint
  • brush
  • roller frame and roller cover
  • paint tray
  • spackle
  • caulk
  • drop cloth

Pick a Color for Your Shiplap

You can choose any color your heart desires for your shiplap. Traditionally shiplap is painted a white color but I have seen some dark gray and black painted shiplap as well and it looks amazing!

Here are some great colors for you to choose if you want to go white:

This list doesn’t come close to all the great white colors out there but these are my favorites for shiplap. Check out my post on the best white colors for more information and colors to choose from.

As I said, you don’t have to do white. My friend over at Charleston Crafted painted her shiplap fireplace a dark blue and I think it’s gorgeous!

A fireplace with navy blue painted shiplap and a wood mantel.
Source: Charleston Crafted

I also think a black shiplap wall would look amazing! Check out my post on the best black paint colors for great options.

When you are choosing a color make sure you get a high-quality paint that is a paint and primer in one. If you don’t you will need to come back and prime the wood if it is raw. If it is pre-primed then just a good quality paint is all you need.

To appropriately decide on the paint color you should test it on a wall and make sure you like it. I highly recommend Samplize. They will send you a peel and stick sample to put on the wall then when you have decided which color you like you can throw the sample away. No mess and no fuss. It’s fabulous!

Pick a Sheen for Your Shiplap

There is no hard rule for the best paint sheen for your shiplap. It’s all about what look you want.

A matte finish will hide imperfections but you won’t be able to wipe it down if it gets dirty at all. A semi-gloss is wipeable but the shiplap will have a shine to it.

The middle ground would be to choose a finish that is either eggshell or satin. Eggshell is more matte than satin but only just. Either one of these are great choices.

Prep Your Boards

The amount of prep you need to do depends on the type of wood you choose and whether it’s pre-primed or not.

For my laundry room, I chose to go with faux shiplap. I had the plywood cut at the hardware store and when I got it home I had to sand all the edges because they were very rough from being cut.

If you go with one of the other types of shiplap you shouldn’t have to do this.

With faux shiplap, it’s a good idea to paint the wall behind where you will be putting the wood since it will show in the cracks. You can do this before installing your shiplap or during the installation process.

A chevron shiplap accent wall painted white with a dark blue ceiling, a bench and nautical accents.

How to Paint Shiplap Method 1

This is the type of method I did with my laundry room and it’s probably the hardest. This method is where you paint the shiplap after installation.

The reason it’s hard is trying to get the paintbrush into all the cracks isn’t easy and it’s a bit time consuming. But it’s totally doable.

How to Paint Shiplap Method 2

Method two is painting your shiplap before you install it on the wall. The best way to do that is to put it up on sawhorses and prime and paint. Be sure you get all the edges of the wood as well.

This is also a bit time consuming because you likely will not be able to do all of it at once. You will have to do some then rotate the pieces of wood to get them all painted.

The other downside to this method is once you hang it on the wall you will have nail holes that need filled and touched up with paint. You can choose not to fill the nail holes, it just depends on the type of look you want.

How to Paint Shiplap Method 3

In this method you will paint while you are installing making sure to get the edges so there is no raw wood showing. Once you are done with installation you can come back and use the roller over the whole thing for a smooth finish.

Shiplap after installation with the edges and wall painted.
Source: Angela Marie Made

Here you can see Angela Marie Made painted the edges and the wall beneath as she is installing the faux shiplap.

How to Paint Shiplap Method 4

This method is probably the fastest and that is done by using a paint sprayer. Paint sprayers also have the smoothest finish but not everyone has one.

**Additional Tips Before You Paint

Once your shiplap is installed you may or may not want to spackle (or wood putty, either is fine) the nail holes and sand smooth. This will give you a smoother finish. If you like the look of the nails showing you don’t have to do this step.

Once your shiplap is installed you will want to caulk around the edges between where the wood meets the ceiling and in the corners of the walls. Make sure it’s a paintable caulk. This will ensure a smooth transition.


Do I need to paint the wall behind the shiplap?

You don’t have to but as I mentioned, it might be easier if you are using faux shiplap to get it over with ahead of time.

Do I paint before or after installing shiplap?

You can do either one. Depending on the amount of space you have to work paint it might be easier to do it once it’s installed.

Do you paint with a brush or roller?

For the cracks, you want to go in with a brush, and then for the front face go over with a roller. The roller will also give it a more smooth finish than a paintbrush.

What kind of paint should I use?

Use high-quality paint in the sheen of your choice. I also recommend using a paint that is a paint and primer in one, that way you don’t have to do more steps.

How do I get a smooth finish?

The best way to get a smooth finish is by using a paint sprayer. If you don’t have access to a sprayer then using a good quality 3/8 inch nap roller that is anti-shed will give you a wonderful smooth finish.

A vertical shiplap in a bathroom that has been painted white with text overlay.
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As a licensed Real Estate Agent and an avid home decorator, I strive to give my clients the very best I can when it comes to staging, selling, and decorating their homes. I have lots of experience with paint color choices and love to DIY my home so I can have everything just the way I want it. I share my ideas and projects with the world in the hopes that I can help others have their homes just the way they want as well.

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