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How To Make A Plywood Shiplap Wall

Are you looking for a fun way to add a little farmhouse charm to a room? You can make your own shiplap wall with plywood! Learn how we saved money by making our plywood shiplap instead of buying the premade shiplap.

It all started when we rearranged the furniture in our living room and opened things up a bit.

As a result, the decor I had planned for the big wall in our living room just wasn’t going to work anymore.

I stared and stared and stared at the big empty wall in our living room.

I was trying to think of something that had scale and fit in with our furniture but also farmhouse character.

Then it hit me…. we needed an accent wall.

Not just any accent wall. A shiplap accent wall.

I knew that bringing in shiplap on one wall works well to bring a ton of farmhouse charm and it makes the room feel even larger.

We added a faux shiplap wall in our farmhouse master bathroom and you guys LOVE it. It’s one of my most popular posts to date.

We thought about using the same technique of stacked plywood planks with nickel-sized spacing that we used in the bathroom for the shiplap accent wall in our living room.

To be honest, we totally could have used that technique. But, although I absolutely LOVE our shiplap wall in our bathroom, I wanted something that was a little more authentic shiplap-looking for our living room.

I knew I was going to be sitting on the couch staring at the shiplap wall all of the time.

When we started looking at the costs of buying premade shiplap, we realized it was going to be an expensive project.

We even considered buying the MDF shiplap, which is much more reasonably priced.

In the end, Logan came up with a simple way to make plywood shiplap using just the tools we had in our garage.

Before Pictures

Just a little look’s how we started (before we rearranged the furniture). Pardon the disaster!!

a shot of a living room with a dog sitting in the middle, surrounded by various rustic decor, two cushy recliners, and a similarly comfortable looking couch

This plywood shiplap post contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend anyway! Read my full disclosure here.

a split photo with two different images in it separated by a white line, the top is a shot of a man using a handheld circular saw to cut wood, bottom is a shot of a stack of freshly cut wood panels

Step 1: Rip plywood into 6-inch wide planks.

First, start by ripping your plywood sheets down to 6-inch wide planks.

You can use a table saw to do this or a Skilsaw with a rip fence as we did.

Be sure to cut enough so you have plenty to cover your wall surface.

Step 2: Router planks.

Next, you will router the tops and bottoms of the plywood planks so they fit together. We used a router with a router table to do this.

Since the router is not really made to handle jobs of this size, we had to do these in shifts so it wouldn’t overheat the poor little router. It definitely worked, but you just want to be smart here.

If you have a wood shaper, you would want to use that instead.

Route out 1/2 inch on both the top and the bottom of the plywood planks. This makes the plywood pieces have a 5.5-inch reveal.

photo of a man using a miter saw to cut wood panels

Step 3: Cut planks down.

Depending on the look you are going for, cut your plywood planks down to the lengths that you want.

Alternatively, you could keep the 8-foot runs. Or you could cut the planks down to 1/3 and 2/3s of the runs for a more patterned look to your plywood shiplap wall.

Using a chop saw, cut the planks down to your desired lengths.

We cut ours at random for a more rustic look to our shiplap accent wall.

photo of a paint roller applying white paint to a 2 by 4 board

Step 4: Paint shiplap planks.

We opted to paint the shiplap planks before installing them on the accent wall.

This saved us some time because we were able to quickly roll the paint on the boards in the garage and not have to worry about covering up the floors or taping anything off.

We did have to do some touch up later when we were done installing, but this still was a big time saver.

We used a 4-inch 1/4 nap smooth roller to paint the shiplap planks.

While the painted planks are drying, you can start prepping your wall.

tall image split horizontally into two images, top image shows using a box cutter to start removing a baseboard, top image demonstrates a crowbar and hammer removing a baseboard

Step 5: Remove baseboards.

Run a utility knife along the top of the baseboard where your caulk line is. This will help prevent paint from peeling off the baseboard when you remove it.

Next, use a pry bar and hammer to get it behind the baseboard and pry it off of the wall. Try to not damage the baseboard and keep it in one piece if possible.

If you are removing more than one piece of baseboard, be sure you label them so you know how to put them back on!

Further Reading – Check out our full guide about removing baseboards!

close up of a crowbar scraping down where a baseboard used to be

Step 6: Scrape the wall under the baseboards.

There may be some extra plaster or drywall mud under your baseboards. Just scrape it off and make sure the wall is mostly even.

Then, grab your ShopVac and clean up the area before moving on. It always helps to work in a mostly clean area, don’t you think?

photo demonstrating the removal of a wall outlet cover

Step 7: Remove outlets and/or light switches.

Turn off power to the outlets or light switches and remove the covers. Put them in a Ziplock bag with all the little screws so you don’t lose any.

Be sure to cover any exposed wires with wire connectors.

If you can, keep the power off to those light switches and outlets for the remainder of your installation.

Step 8: Find the location of the studs on your wall.

Find and mark the location of the studs on your wall. You can either use a stud finder or this method of finding studs in your wall.

Step 9: Attach bottom boards with level.

Grab a partner for the first few bottom boards of the installation.

You definitely want to be sure the first boards are nice and level.

Have one person hold the board in place and the other person look at the level and nail in the first boards using an air compressor & finish nailer.

Position the nails so they line up with the studs that you marked in the last step.

the beginning of a shiplap wall, with only the bottom two rows attached so far

Step 10: Continue stacking and attaching plywood shiplap planks.

Continue working your way up the wall and stacking and nailing in the shiplap plywood planks. 

We definitely kept the pattern on our shiplap accent wall very random, which made it look and feel more rustic AND allowed us to use smaller scrap wood pieces and really make it cost-effective.

As you come across outlets and light switches, you’ll need to cut around them.

Measure it and cut it with a jig saw. Cut to fit these electrical box extenders that you’ll put in after you’re done.

a man on a small step ladder putting up the top row of shiplap on a wall

Step 11: Finish the top row of the shiplap wall with plywood.

Once you get to the very top of the wall when you need to install your row of the shiplap plywood planks, measure the gap from the ceiling to the reveal on the last row you put up.

If your ceiling is level, your gap will be the same all the way across the wall.

However, if your ceiling is NOT level, your gap may change. You may need to rip the planks individually to accommodate a change in the ceiling height.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to use pieces that are only routered on the bottom side for the top row.

a man reinstalling the baseboard of a wall after all the shiplap has been attached

Step 12. Attach baseboard.

After the shiplap plywood accent wall is all done, you can reattach your baseboard to the bottom of the wall.

Step 13. Add outlet extenders.

Next, you’ll need to add electrical box extenders to your outlets and light switches to bring them out to the new wall level.

Step 14. Caulk the gap on the top and sides.

For a nice, finished look you can caulk the gap on the top of the shiplap wall and the sides. Alternatively, you could also install trim pieces on the top and/or sides.

If you’re confused about what type of caulk to use and how to apply it – check out our full article on caulking tips and tricks!

Step 15. Touch up.

Lastly, touch up any areas of the shiplap wall with plywood with your paint. There may be areas that got scuffed or bumped during the installation.

We chose not to fill in our nail holes. I ended up liking the rustic look of the wall with the holes in place.

However, if you wanted a more finished and crisp look to your wall, you could fill the nail holes in with wood putty, sand, and then paint over putty.

straight on view of a finished shiplap wall
angled shot showing a room with a finished shiplap wall

I’m so in love with our farmhouse shiplap wall with plywood that we added to our living room. I am so sad that I was only able to enjoy it for a short while before we moved to our new house!

I think I’ve learned my lesson and we’re going to try not to put off fun renovation projects like this until we’re ready to move out of this new home.

a tall image divided into 4 sections vertically, top showing the process of removing items from a wall in preparation, second from the top showing a shiplap wall halfway installed, second from the bottom showing a mostly finished shiplap wall getting the top row installed, bottom showing the finished shiplap wall

We were able to save money by creating our own shiplap plywood using just the tools we had in our garage.

The shiplap wall looks authentic and adds so much farmhouse charm to our living, don’t you think? 

photo of a fully furnished room with a finished shiplap wall

Where would you put a shiplap plywood wall in your house??

Let me know in the comments below!!

a tall image with two smaller photos, one of a pile of cut wooden boards, one with a finished plywood shiplap wall ...with a text overlay between the images that says... how to make your own shiplap wall with plywood
tall image split into two, top image is a rustic style living room with two recliners, a single couch, and a dog sitting in the middle of the room, the bottom image is of a furnished room with a plywood shiplap wall

16 thoughts on “How To Make A Plywood Shiplap Wall

    1. Hi friend, nope this is our old house. We actually did this project before we even knew we were moving. Then we did a bunch of more finishing projects before we moved out, so I’m going to be sharing those over the next month or so. The new house is still a bit of a disaster as we move in! 🙂

    1. Hi Mandy, we had everything on hand except for the plywood sheets. We used 4 for this wall and they are about $30 each… so $120. The paint also costs $30 per gallon. The total cost of your will vary based on the tools and other materials you may already have (ie: nails, paint brush, etc.) and the size of your wall. Good luck 🙂

  1. Hi! Just found your blog through pinterest & absolutely love! Question, what did you route these boards but not the ones used in the bathroom? I think both turned out just great!! TIA!

    1. Thanks Faith! We attached a Palm router to the router table to route these boards. I think maybe what you meant is why we routed these boards and not the others…I think the main reason was to make it a little more authentic looking with a higher quality plywood. The cheap and easy way worked great for bathroom and was certainly easier but I knew I would be sitting in the living room and staring at the wall… a lot! Another reason was to try something new and expand our DIY skills, which is something we always love doing!! My hubby loved figuring out how to make this shiplap accent wall. He loves a good challenge! 🙂

  2. Couldnt you start at the top of the shiplap wall and work down? That way the gap could be cover by the baseboard rather than tring to fit smaller piece up at the top and looking uniform?

  3. Hello, Great project! I just wanted to share a project I did at a rental property; a similar decorative wall treatment; “No-Lap.”

    The No-Lap wall was done using 1/2″ plywood. We cut the 4’x8′ sheets into 4’x4′ panels, and then ripped them into 6″ strips (Actual width was approximately 5.75″ after sanding), and no lap routing was done. The strips were attached directly over drywall, as you did in your project; the main difference is that since no routing was being done, and the mounting surface was smooth, lighter weight (And less expensive) 1/2″ plywood was used. Paint was applied prior to mounting, and care was taken to ensure strips were fit snugly against each other with a 16 gauge finish nailer. The finished look was exactly the same as actual ship-lap I have installed. The total cost of the 8’x11′ wall was under $90; though with the recent increase in wood prices, this project would likely cost a little more today, but still very affordable, and the look is great!

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