Shiplap gives you the casual, farmhouse look that so many of us are after and can be done easily and for very little money. This tutorial shows you how to get the shiplap-look for less.

Tutorial and Tips: Shiplap Walls in the Master Bathroom

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If you ever wondered if you can use plywood to shiplap walls in the bathroom, the answer is absolutely! Keep reading and I’ll share some tips on what kind of wood you need to buy and how to get the best results so the shiplap is protected and will last with all the humidity.
Ever wondered if you can have shiplap walls in the bathroom? The answer is yes! This post gives you the tips on what to buy and how to get the best results.

Shiplap gives you the casual, farmhouse feel that so many of us are after. It can be done relatively easily and for very little money. Although there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of posts on how to faux shiplap walls, each one gives some insight and tips on how to do it a little differently and maybe a little easier than others. I hope in this post, I’m able to do just that!

Update (01/25/19): In case you’re wondering, it’s been almost 2 years since this post was written and we haven’t had any problems with the plywood shiplap in our bathroom.

We used 3/8″ exterior-grade plywood, also known as CDX plywood, for our master bathroom walls. I explain why we chose that type of plywood in this post. For future projects, we’ll be using CDX plywood anytime we plan to plank our walls again.

Putting shiplap on the walls may seem intimidating at first, but really it’s just a matter of getting the boards cut, nailing them onto the walls, sanding, and then painting.

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These are the steps we took to get the shiplap-look for less in our bathroom:

1. Determine the plank width and cut down the plywood panels

Figure out how many sheets of plywood you need and add 15% for waste. Rip your plywood sheets into anywhere between 6″ to 8″ strips with a circular saw or table saw. We chose to cut ours 6″ wide. In order to have the least amount of waste, we cut our strips 5-13/16″ wide. This takes into consideration the kerf (or width) of the saw blade which is approximately 3/16″.  You can also have the guys at the home improvement store cut the plywood for you for about $0.25 per cut. Their blade’s kerf may be wider.

Tip: From experience when I did my board and batten hallway project, if you send the wife to get the boards cut instead of the husband and go when it’s not as busy, you might just get the cuts done for free. Also, it helps to tell them you’re not in a rush and you’re willing to come back in a couple of hours. And smile…and say please. 😉


2. Remove the baseboards and crown molding.

3. Mark the studs

Mark your studs so you know where to nail the boards in. We used a straight edge to mark vertically at each stud. By the way, I found my favorite stud finder ever! It never needs batteries and it sticks to the wall once you find your stud. Since it’s magnetic, I just keep it attached to the side of my metal toolbox.

4. Start from the ceiling

Your eye naturally goes towards the top of the room, so start your planks from the ceiling. Since we’ll be adding crown molding, we started our first run of boards 1-1/2″ down from the ceiling so we’d be covering up the least amount of board. Make sure the first run of boards is perfectly level and nail the boards into the studs. We chose to not use construction adhesive.

Ever wondered if you can have shiplap walls in the bathroom? The answer is yes! This post gives you the tips on what to buy and how to get the best results.

5. Space the boards evenly & level

Use a nickel as a spacer between the row of boards. Recheck that the rows are level about every other row.

6. Cut the holes for the outlets and light boxes

Use a jigsaw to cut the holes for the wall lights and outlets. For smaller holes, like the for the plumbing for the wall-mount faucets, use a hole saw.

Tip: Removing the trim below the window will save you time and aggravation since you won’t have as many cuts around the trim. We removed our lower window trim because the depth of the planks would’ve hidden the profile of the trim.

7. Stagger the boards so the ends meet the stud

For walls wider than 8 feet, you’ll need to stagger the boards. If possible, cut your boards so they end at a stud. Keep in mind that studs are an inch and half wide. The end joint on the shiplap pieces need to meet on a stud halfway.

8. Fill the nail holes and caulk 

Next, fill the corners of the walls and around windows and doors with caulk. Then, fill your nail holes and any wood knots with wood filler. Some folks choose to not fill the nail holes. Really, it’s just a personal choice. If you notice in this picture of Chip and Joanna’s kitchen, the nail holes aren’t filled in their authentic shiplap.

Magnolia Homes via HGTV

9. Sand

Lightly sand the walls and where you filled the nail holes and knots.

10. Prime

Spot prime over the knots with B-I-N Zinsser shellac primer to seal the knots and prevent the from sap bleeding through the paint. Then, use an all-purpose interior/exterior primer for the rest of the walls. Roll the primer on and use a brush to get between the cracks. A paint sprayer really helps to speed up the process…trust me. I switched to spraying after the first day of painting.

11. Now you’re ready for paint!

Here’s the part that transforms it all…the final coats of paint! We went with Sherwin Williams Natural Choice SW 7011 in Satin. It’s on the same color strip as Alabaster but it’s creamier and not as bright white. I’ve recently switched to their Harmony Low VOC line and I’m very happy with the coverage and you’re able to wipe down any stains with no problems.

Tip: Whenever you use any kind of paint in a bathroom that gets humidity, give the paint a full 24 hours to dry before using the shower. That gives the paint time to cure and prevents streaking.

And, oh yeah…lighting does an amazing job transforming a space too!

Jason’s building the double vanity and chandelier. My parents are coming into town to bring the shower enclosure and help us install it. It’s a wedding gift/ birthday gift and I’ll be forever grateful! Then, we’ll be working on the concrete countertops. They’re gonna be gorgeous, folks!!

Have you put shiplap up before? If you guys have any tips and tricks, I’d love to hear them!

Catch up on all the posts and projects that went into our master bathroom remodel here:

Master Bathroom Sources and Budget Breakdown

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  1. Hi, I’m redoing our bathroom and am planking 3 of the walls. This is my first time and wondering about the inside corners. What method did you use? I appreciate the feedback!

    1. Hi Novella,

      For a small bathroom, the steps should be the same and, again, proper ventilation will be important. I’ve never put shiplap on a door but as long as you’re nailing to a solid surface, you should be fine. Good luck with your project!


  2. Is there any concern with moisture getting in between and behind the spaces between the boards?

  3. We painted the wall black before hanging the “shiplap”. We also painted the shiplap before hanging which meant we could easily paint the sides. It made the project much easier!

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