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How to create shiplap cladding

WordsMegan Lambert

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It’s the decor trend that’s been taking over our homes and is responsible for some of our favourite home transformations yet​​. It’s cost-effective, a great DIY project, and gives any room a cosy farmhouse feel. But, the question on everyone’s lips, what exactly is shiplap cladding?

What is shiplap cladding? 

Not to be confused with wood panelling or tongue and groove, shiplap cladding uses individual wooden boards layered next to one another, with a slight overlap—although it doesn’t interlock in the same way as tongue and groove does. Originally used to weatherproof barns and farmhouses, today it has been adopted as an interior style, bringing a cosy aesthetic into the home. 

Horizontal shiplap is more traditional and can make a room appear wider, whilst vertical shiplap is a little more modern and can create an illusion of height. The latter is often used on only half the wall, especially in hallways and bathrooms. Whichever you decide to go for, here are the tools you’ll need to get going.

Tools you’ll need 

  • Plywood shiplap boards (usually with a width of between 5”-8”) 
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular, chop or table saw
  • Stud finder & pencil
  • Nail gun
  • Dust mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Hammer
  • Finish nails
  • Putty knife & filler
  • Sandpaper or sanding block
  • Paint roller
  • Paintbrush
  • Lick paint

How to create shiplap cladding 

Here it goes. You’ve got your tools and you’re ready to rumble.

Step 1: measure your wall and cladding

Work out how much cladding you will need by measuring the width of your wall and dividing it by the width of cladding you’ll be using. For example, if your room is 8 ft in width and you’re using 6” boards, you’ll need 18 boards.

Step 2: cut your cladding boards

Ensure that all your boards are cut to the correct length. If you’re working with a standard shaped room, you can do this before you begin. However, especially if working with irregular shaped rooms e.g. a loft, we’d recommend doing it as you go.

Step 3: mark your walls using a stud finder

Mark your wall studs using a stud finder. Wall studs are the wooden frames used within a wall to strengthen it. A stud finder is a handy bit of kit that will help you locate these and find the sturdiest bit of wall to nail your cladding.

Step 4: nail your boards into your wall

Wall studs located, it’s time to get nailing. If you’re doing horizontal cladding, start with your baseboard or the edge board if you’re going vertical. The easiest way to do this is with a nail gun, but if you don’t have one, you can keep it old school and use a hammer and nail instead.

Step 5: ensure your boards are straight

Once you’re on a roll, use a spirit level every few boards to make sure everything is looking straight.

Step 6: make sure it fits

For the last piece of shiplap, measure the space between your final panel and the ceiling if you’re doing horizontal panelling or the wall if you’re going vertical. Calculations correct, it should slot right in! If not, don’t panic. You can cut your board to fit the gap using your saw.

Step 7: sand

Now the hard work is complete, time to sand your wood using a sanding block so you’ve got a smooth finish for painting.

Step 8: fill holes with a putty knife and filler

Just as when you’re prepping a room for painting you need to prep your wood for painting, by filling any nail holes with a Putty knife and filler to ensure a smooth finish.

Step 9: prime your wood

Once you’re done filling, it’s time to pick up your paint brush and prime.

  • If you’re painting laminate wood, we’d recommend using Zinsser BIN oil-based primer to amp up the durability of your Lick paint.
  • If you're painting raw wood, we’d recommend priming it with a mist coat (70% water and 30% paint).
  • If you're painting wood with knots in it, such as oak or pine, then we’d also recommend a mist coat as these surfaces can be extra porous.
  • If your wood has previously been painted, however, it won’t need a primer.

Step 10: paint

Priming completed and dried, you’ve got to the fun part, painting! Despite working with wood, we recommend using our matt or eggshell paint for this job. The choice is yours, but generally speaking, matt works well in bedrooms and living rooms, whilst eggshell is great in high humidity areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens. 

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