How to install Shiplap Tongue and Groove


How to install shiplap tongue and groove. Shiplap accent wall made with tongue and groove panels. Plus one mistake to avoid.

how to install shiplap tongue and groove

We have a really long living room. The entryway, living room and the backdoor are all one long rectangle. So we’ve arranged the furniture to help break up the different areas, but something was still missing.

I started fooling around with the idea of a shiplap accent wall to help define the living room. And before I knew it I had a drawing and a really good argument to present to my husband.

Babe, we’ll just go look at it at the store. We won’t buy anything…

shiplap accent wall

This is our own personal experience. Remember to always practice safety and seek professional guidance.

We bought all the things.

But secretly my husband likes to do these projects! Don’t let him try and fool you. Behind that scowl he was really smiling.



  • 5-¼ in. x 8ft nickel gap shiplap board
  • Paint- BEHR Morning Dove white
  • Brad nails 1 ½ in.
  • Putty/putty knife
  • Trim


  • Miter saw
  • Circular saw or Table saw (to rip the last board if needed)
  • Jig saw
  • Brad nailer
  • Chalk reel
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Speed square
  • Tape measure
  • Paint brush/ tarps


Since we have rectangular living room that is also our entry way, we weren’t planning on doing the entire room. Or wall for that matter! The entire project would consist of two bookcases, that we build later, framing our 9′ x 10′ wide shiplap accent wall.

Drawing of shiplap and living room area
living room with green wall before shiplap
shiplap tongue and groove accent wall

The shiplap we used is tongue and groove style. So even though it says 5 ¼ inches, it’s really 4.5 inches wide with ¼ inch gap.

At the local home improvement store we could buy either 8 feet long or 12 feet long. We would have loved 12 feet but in the end… we own a minivan. And so our decision was made for us because, fun fact, our minivan is awesome at hauling things. Well, as long as it’s 8 feet and under.

It’s not a bad idea to measure the boards at the store. Once we got home we found that a couple were shy of the 8 foot mark.

In the end we bought 27- 5 ¼ in. to complete our 9’x10′ wall.

Remember to take into consideration your baseboards and molding when measuring.


We used a stud finder and chalk reel to mark exactly where our studs were located.

find your studs


Really, you could go either way. We decided to start from the top down for two reasons. The first one being we knew we were going to need to trim the bottom board to fit. If we put that on the bottom it would be less noticeable if it wasn’t perfect. The second one being, we were going to need to cut around the outlets at the bottom as well.

Using a brad nailer we drove a nail in the top and bottom of every intersecting stud and board.

*note- we did not use liquid nails on the back of our boards. Since we are military, we didn’t want something so permanent. This way we are not ruining the dry wall behind the shiplap and if needed, it can be semi easily removed.

Once the wall was complete, we went back and puttied over the nails.


So here was our big mistake. Since it was tongue and groove, we weren’t concerned with the green wall showing through because it wouldn’t! (score one point for pre primed boards) However, you do not realize how different primer white is to Dove White until you start painting!

Our molding is an off white color. So we decided to pick the closest shade to our trim. Which happened to be the popular Dove White by BEHR. Once we starting painting it was clear we should have painted in the gaps as we were installing them to the wall.

We plan on doing our fireplace as well, and when we do, we will be painting that small gap strip as we go. I highly suggest you do the same. PAINT AS YOU GO and then once you putty all the holes, do a final coat. Trying to get a paintbrush in that ¼ inch gap is very difficult.


We lightly sanded over the putty and wiped down the wall with a damp cloth. Paint the gap as you install the board and then start back at the top and paint one or two boards at a time, horizontally.

Can I use a roller?

Using a roller is a lot faster, however, the roller can leave behind a texture that you might not like.

We used a mixture of both. One person doing the heavy work with the roller and the other person coming behind and smoothing it out with a paint brush. Be sure to work together or your paint will dry and smoothing it out becomes more difficult.

Again, be sure to paint the length of the board and not up and down the wall.


Since we are keeping the trim on, our paint color was chosen for us. If you have trim like we do, I would suggest trying to match it as best as you can. However, the trim in our home is a high gloss finish and that was not the look we were going for with the shiplap.

We chose to do a satin finish which will allow us to clean the wall more easily.

  • Dove White- BEHR This is what we chose to paint our shiplap wall. It’s a tad lighter than our trim but perfect for a warm color that’s not too bright white.
  • Alabaster- Sherwin Williams
  • Simply White- Benjamin Moore
  • China White- Benjamin Moore
  • Extra White- Sherwin Williams
shiplap tongue and groove

Since this shiplap accent wall is in the middle of our living room, we added trim for a more finished look.

adding trip to shiplap


It depends on how big your room is and the way you decide to do shiplap. We decided to buy the pre primed tongue and groove shiplap from our local home improvement store. For the 9’x10′ wall we bought 27 boards which cost us just under $190. But projects are never that simple. Do you need brad nails? Putty? Paint? Be sure to add those things as well.

You can also make your own shiplap from 1/4 inch plywood sheets and either have your local home improvement store cut them for you (for a charge) or cut them yourself with a table saw. It can save you some money but since we don’t have a table saw, we felt a little odd asking them to make that many cuts for us.

Check in with your local lumbar yard! Since shiplap has become so popular, they may have some. It never hurts to ask.

I absolutely love the finished product! I wish I could capture this look better in the photo.

You must excuse my hibiscus tree in the corner. He really wants to be outside, but it’s winter. So his half dead half alive branches don’t photograph well. And our furniture is a little loved by our large dogs. Who’s house is perfect anyway?

Now look past all that and check out that really awesome shiplap accent wall! Even though our entry and living room is one long room, the way we’ve placed the sofa AND our shiplap tongue and groove accent wall help define this space much better.

Eventually we’ll frame this wall with floor to ceiling DIY bookcases. We’ll mount the tv to the wall and create a long table with baskets to go under the TV just like in my drawing above. We’ll install shiplap tongue and groove above the fireplace to define this space even more. But for now, this is our start. One project at a time turning this house into a home.

For those of you who need a little help imagining our future shiplap fireplace. Perfect right!

I hope this helped inspire you and gave you a few helpful tips on how to install shiplap tongue and groove of your own.


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