How To Make Shiplap From Plywood

Have you wondered what would be the perfect addition to your boring old wall? The best way to add character and accentuate your walls is by installing a plywood shiplap. Now, you might be wondering how to achieve this, well, don’t worry! We have the perfect steps for you to follow to transform your once boring wall into something good completely.


Type of Plywood to Use

The best option here is to use CDX plywood which can also be called 3/8 inch exterior plywood. This type can also be called common pine sanded plywood.  The CDX plywood is safe to use indoors since the layers are bonded together with wood glue so sanding the surface won’t result in the glue going everywhere. This type of plywood can withstand the exposure to some types of elements over a short period of time before it is sealed or painted over.  It is overall less likely to warp overtime and less likely to split in half when nailed or cut. Since it has a 3/8-inch thickness, it gives the nails more wood to hold onto. It also gives the wall a more authentic look since the gaps between the planks are more noticeable. Even though this plywood requires additional prep work since it has fibers on the surface that face upwards, you can easily get rid of those by sanding the surface; the end result is totally worth it.

Rip Plywood into 6 inch wide planks

This step is rather self-explanatory since all you need to do is cut your plywood sheets down into equal 6-inch planks. To achieve this, you can either use a Skilsaw or even with a rip fence as people would prefer to do it. You need to be careful to cut enough so you have plenty to cover all the walls that you want to place it over. 

Router planks

The next step is to stack all of your planks on top of one another and router the edges so that they are approximately the same size. This can be done using a router on top of a router table, but be sure not to overheat it. You could also use a classic woodcutter. The aim here is to router out ½ an inch from the top and the bottom of the plywood sheets so that they remain 5.5 inches once done.

Cut the planks

This part can be done using a chop saw to cut the planks down to the size you prefer. This part is completely up to you, 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.

Paint the shiplap planks

You can opt to paint the shiplap planks before installing them because it saves a lot of time since you don’t need to cover the sidewalls and the floor in case the paint gets everywhere. By painting them beforehand, you can easily let them dry in your garage and then install them without the hassle. You can use a 4 inch 1/4 nap smooth roller to paint the shiplap planks.

Remove baseboard

First, run your utility knife across the baseboard where the caulk line is, which allows the paint to remain in place rather than being scrapped off. Second, grab a hammer and pry bar and set it behind the baseboard and pry it off the wall. This part needs to be done gently in case you damage the baseboard since it needs to be applied back.

Scrape wall under the baseboard

This is a vital step to make sure the wall underneath is even all over. Since there is always extra plaster under these baseboards, make sure to scrape it off thoroughly. Followed by this, take the ShopVac and clean the area before moving on.

Remove outlets or light switches

Be sure to turn off the power before proceeding with this. You need to take off the outlets and take off the covers carefully. Remember to keep the power off for the remainder of your installation.

Attach bottom boards

This part has to be done using two people, so grab someone while you’re attempting this. The first boards are supposed to be at a level, so make sure to have one person that holds the board in place while the other nails it down using an air compressor and a finish nailer.  The finish nails should be 1 ¼” – 1 ½” in length and be 15 or 16 gauge.

Stagger your shiplap planks

If you considered cutting your planks into different sizes, you could achieve a staggered look that greatly compliments the wall. This can be done by placing a row of planks on the floor, making sure to add different sized planks, and creating an asymmetrical design. This row can then be stuck to the wall, and the process can be repeated until you reach the top. As you come across outlets and light switches, you will need to cut around them. This can be done by measuring the outlet and cutting the plank accordingly using a jigsaw. Cut to fit these electrical box extenders that you’ll put in after you’re done.

Finish the top row of the wall with shiplap planks

Once you reach the top, there might be a gap between your ceiling and the last row of the planks that you put up. This can be because your wall might be uneven, but that’s not something to worry about too much. This issue can be solved by ripping apart a few planks to accommodate the gap to your ceiling. This gap can also be the same throughout if you have even walls.

Attach the baseboard

Once all your planks are successfully attached, and the gap is equal, you can go ahead and attach your baseboard back into place. This will give the wall an even look and will make it seem like the wall was originally like that.

Add outlet extenders

You will need to add electrical box extenders to your outlets and light switches to bring them into the new wall.

Caulk the gaps on the sides and the top

If you want to add a nice finished look, you can choose to caulk the gap on the top of the shiplap wall and the sides. In addition to this, you can also add trim pieces to the side to give a more polished look.

Touch Up

Some areas on the planks could get a little scuffed up, so be sure to go in with paint and touch upon the surface to give a neat look. If there are any additional holes or gaps, you can also choose to go in with wood putty or sand to paint over it to cover it up completely.

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