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  • Laurel Y

DIY SHIPLAP WALL for the mercantile

If you've been following along on the gram, you've seen that I have been crazy busy working on the Mercantile this past week - specifically, the huge shiplap feature wall. Quite a few of you have asked for a little rundown on how I did it so I decided to toss out a quick blog post for those who are interested.

I love the look of a shiplap wall and I felt like it absolutely fit the vision I wanted to go for out in our new farm store. It just adds the perfect amount of character. The catch is, I ain't paying for a real shiplap wall ($$$$$), so this DIY was my compromise. I honestly feel like anyone can do it, too - provided you have the proper tools (and the ambition lol) because it does require some precision.

Okay before we dive into this thang, please keep in mind a few things:

  1. I am not a professional and do not claim to be in anyway.

  2. There are definitely several different ways to do things but this is just how I did it. You don’t have to do it my way. I'm sure I did a ton of stuff wrong but whatever, it worked for me. Do things however the heck you feel is right.

  3. You can actually paint wood AND you can paint it whatever colour you want because it’s your wood that you paid for and it's your farm store and your life but lots of people will probably be mad at you for it (lololol).

Like a little Pinterest recipe, I'll outline the tools you'll need first (or rather, what I used, but you get the gist):

  • drywall compound + putty knife, drywall joint tape for any gashes/holes in the wall

  • sandpaper / sanding block

  • hammer + crowbar

  • primer + paint colour of choice (plus all painting paraphernalia like rollers, extension poles, drop sheets, brushes, paint tray etc).

  • measuring tape

  • laser level

  • 1/4" sanded plywood (4x8' sheets, I got mine at Lowe's)

  • Tablesaw

  • Pneumatic nail gun, air compressor + brad nails

  • ladder

  • whatever item you're using to measure spacing between your boards (I two halves of a paint stick, because that's what was handy, but you can use scrap plywood, a quarter, etc... whatever width you want for your gaps - just be consistent).

  • jigsaw + mitre saw

  • wood filler

  • an extra 4 hands on your body (or if growing additional limbs seems like a big ask, get somebody to help you instead)

I borrowed a ton of these things from my dad as he is the modern day Tim Taylor and why go to Lowe's when you can just steal shit from your dad?

Alright here are the main steps I took:

  • Prepare the wall. For me this meant removing trim, random nails and just giving the wall a good clean.

  • Prime, if necessary. For me, the walls were dark grey in some places, and 30 year-old beige in others. Primer was absolutely needed. Then paint a base coat of the same colour you plan on painting the shiplap (if you’re spacing the boards there will be visible gaps and keeping it the same colour will just look cleaner and help it actually look like shiplap). I went with a flat black (which was/is apparently a huge controversy and when I originally announced this on my stories the internet went bananas).

  • Calculate your square footage and order your supplies accordingly. I used close to 9 sheets of 1/4” sanded plywood. The walls I was working on were approximately 296 square feet in size, not accounting for the space the window/door/AC unit took up - so I figured the ~288 square feet of plywood I had would do the trick. (Spoiler alert: it did and I have leftovers).

  • Prep your shiplap. I used a table saw to cut each sheet into 8 6” strips (72 total cuts). The dimensions really just depend on what look you’re going for and you also need to decide if you want to do horizontal or vertical. I decided on 6" strips because I liked that thicker look and I also wanted to use my plywood as efficiently as possible (I'm dutch, kay?).

  • The plywood I got was sanded, which was a huge time/lifesaver but I still needed to sand the edges after making cuts so that the paint would go on clean.

  • Get a nail gun + a butt-ton of brad nails. I used a Dewalt pneumatic gun that we connected to our air compressor and it was a freaking beast. So fun. So scary. I did not nail-gun myself like most Hollywood comedies suggest would happen when you work with nail guns. It's actually a lot harder to shoot yourself than you think and I was terrified of it at first but after a while I got super comfortable with it. This one had basically two safeties, and once I warmed up I was pew-pewing boards and then chucking it in my holster like a god damn gunslinger from the old west.

  • USE A LEVEL. You will want to hurl yourself from the highest cliff you can find if you get through the entire wall only to realize its crooked. I used a laser level and it was super handy. You can use a normal level and it will work, it will just be more of a pain in the ass. But it is definitely doable. Laser levels are expensive and I would have used a normal one if I couldn't have stolen this one from Tim the Toolman Taylor.

  • Are you going horizontal or vertical? If horizontal, start at the TOP. Yes it's way harder to start at the top, but imagine starting from the bottom, getting to the top board only to realize your level measurement was ever-so-slightly off and you had a highly visible wonky board at the top. Starting from the top just gives you a little more allowance for that. This way, if your bottom board is a little off, you can cover up part of it with your trim (if you opt for that) and it's on the floor, which will likely be covered up by furniture or something and you'll be way less likely to notice the imperfection. Not in my case though, my lines were clean AF so I didn't have this problem (not-so-subtle brag WHAT'S UP).

  • Now get that first board up! Butt it right up to the ceiling (or whatever, do you). The first one is the hardest. Once you get into a rhythm it’s easier. 10/10 recommend having a helping hand. The strips I used were 8’ long and I had my husbands help for the first few boards, but at the time, he was too sick to help any further and I had to do it on my own after that. Not ideal, but hey, us women can't simply wait around for our male counterparts, can we? I did that shit all on my own and it was hard as hell but I'm even more proud of the outcome knowing that. Patriarchy smashing aside... take the help, seriously lol. It would be way more efficient.

  • Once you're ready for the second row, you'll need to decide how you want to space the boards. There are no rules here, but consistency is key. I just used paint stick pieces, but you can use whatever you want - scrap wood, coins, whatever. Put your board up and stick that spacer in between. Keep it consistent throughout the length of the board (I used two pieces whilst lining it up so it stayed straight).

  • To work around some tricky spots (thermostat, light switches, outlet, etc) you’ll need a jigsaw to make special cuts. These cuts don't have to be cute. For me, anywhere I used a jigsaw was a space in which an outlet cover or trim would end up covering the edges, so I didn't stress about perfect lines (and mine were far from perfect lol).

  • Do you want to stagger your boards or keep them lined up? Either way, chances are your wall won't exactly match the lengths required of your strips and you'll need to make some cuts to fit them to the space. When you reach the end of the wall or get to a doorframe/window, you’ll need a perfectly straight cut. For this I used the mitre saw again, stolen from my dad but jokes on him because I'm keeping it, mostly because its heavy AF and I'm not moving it again.

  • Okay now just repeat these last few steps like a billion times until you're done. Easy right? Jk I know, it's a lot. But damn is it ever worth it.

  • Now, you ain't done yet. You're probably gonna have hundreds of nail holes (depending on the size of your project). These bitches need to get filled in, otherwise you'll see every single one when it's painted. Not cute. Take wood filler and slap that stuff on there. Yes, it is as tedious as it sounds but it's kinda fun for the first 3 minutes (that's what she said). Let it dry, and gently sand if needed.

  • Now the fun part! Jk this part sounded fun but it was super tedious and my left hand is essentially crippled as I type this. Slap your paint up there! I started by edging around outlets/doors/etc and all the places the wall met the ceiling (to facilitate easier paint-rolling). The paint roller won't get in your little gaps though... which is the super depressing part. I didn't have a good smaller paintbrush and didn't feel like going into Lowe's for the millionth time this week, so I opted for a smaller crayola paintbrush from my 3-year-old's craft kit and honestly, it worked pretty well. However, it took me over 3 hours for this part. Depending on the size of your gap, and the brush you're working with, the angles can be tricky. I had to go up and down the ladder and walk all around the space to look at it from different angles, because just when I thought I had successfully painted the cracks, I'd stand somewhere else and see visible plywood. UGH. Perfectionism is one of my many toxic traits. SO worth it though because now the entire wall is seamlessly matte black and the boards just melt into the wall. It's awesome. However, after two coats of the flat black with a roller, and it just didn't look *right*. It was super streaky. I realized I was probably using the wrong type of paint roller (legit thought they were all the same lol). I switched to a 9.5' polyester knit roller with a 3/4" nap, because ya girl decided to actually google it instead of guessing, and that worked SO much better.

Sooooo that's it! That's all! Lol now that it's all in writing, yes this looks super intimidating. There are quite a few steps and some skill is required. But if you have the desire to try it then that's all that matters. I didn't have most of these skills before I started, but I'm a low-key pro now (I guess I'm having no problems with self-confidence today). Taking on new projects outside of your comfort zone is the only way you're going to gain skills and learn new things, so don't be intimidated! You'll figure it out as you go and it will LOOK INCREDIBLE. And if you screw up, SPOILER ALERT: you can just fix it. I had sections of wall that I did one night, woke up the next morning and decided I hated. All I had to do was take a crowbar and hammer to gently tap the board from the wall, and I just redid it. Easy peasy.

Also, like I mentioned before, some people get really offended/defensive of wood they've never even met when you say you're going to paint it. When I posted about everyone being in uproar of my choice to paint it black, the Tulepp's messaged me saying something along the lines of "it's OKAY to paint wood" and honestly - IT IS. I don't understand why people get so upset. If it was a vintage real oak dresser from like the 1800's - yeah okay I get wanting to preserve that wood BUT I ALSO GET PAINTING IT WHATEVER YOU WANT BECAUSE IT'S YOUR DRESSER AND ITS OLD AS SHIT SO PAINT IT, SIS. The wood I used was legit cheap plywood - like from a distance/through a instagram lens yes, it looked cute and yes, it undoubtedly had character. But like, it was plywood. Character? Sure. But it wasn't the main character (ya feel me?). And I wanted to paint it. So I did. Haters gonna hate.

BUT I DIGRESS. Overall, I'm super happy with the project. Of course, it's not 100% yet. It will also eventually get trim, new outlet cover plates etc. And once the flooring is on and the rest of the walls are painted crisp white? Oh man, *swoons*.

I hope this little written tutorial was helpful for those interested in reading about it! Reach out if you have any questions, I'd love to answer if I can! And please, tag me/let me know if you're gonna try it out. You can do it!!!

xx Laurel

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