Easy DIY Vertical Shiplap Wainscoting

The perfect beginner DIY project for how to install vertical wood planked walls and add character in any space on a small budget.

Have you been following along on the powder room makeover on our Instagram Stories?! Oh my gosh! This vertical shiplap project and paint alone made the most massive difference in this little bathroom we’re creating for a very sweet friend of ours.


before powder room with gold walls

We’re no strangers to installing shiplap since we started this blog 6+ years ago, but it has been a hot minute since we tackled this project.

And ever since our last one when our style was more rustic farmhouse in our previous house, shiplap has come a long way and is no longer just for farmhouse lovers.

Flip that shiplap vertical and all of a sudden, it has a more modern vibe and lends itself to lots of different decorating styles… which is exactly what we were going for with the California Casual powder room.

How to Install Vertical Shiplap Wainscoting

You can really do this project as a full wall or wainscoting (half wall), depending on the look you want.

(Some affiliate links are provided below. Full disclosure here.)


The Steps:

1. Measure the entire perimeter of your room and calculate how many boards you will need for your project. (This powder room had a 22′ perimeter, so we needed 27 – 8′ boards cut in half at 4′ each leaving us with a couple of extra boards to account for waste material.)

2. Using a miter saw, we cut our 8′ boards at 4′ just because it was the simplest measurement that would save us money and reduce waste.

marking a wall with a level for shiplap placement

3. We marked the 4′ height on the wall with a pencil and used a level around the room to mark a line where the tops of the shiplap boards should line up. (Make sure to place the boards a couple of inches above any outlets or light switches to avoid any awkward cuts later.)

4. Check the placement of your first board before attaching to make sure it is level (be aware not to trust corners since they’re not always completely square 90 degree angles).

nailing shiplap boards to a wall

5. Apply a line of construction adhesive to the back of your first board and place on the wall lined  up with your pencil line. Drive in a few finish nails with your cordless nailer to hold it in place. (If you were doing a horizontal shiplap wall, you could skip the adhesive and just nail into the studs. With vertical shiplap, it’s not possible to nail into studs, so the adhesive is necessary to keep boards in place.)

6. Keep attaching shiplap boards around the room, staying in line with the pencil line.

cutting boards with a table saw

7. At corners, use a table saw or circular saw to trim boards to fit as needed.

8. At outlets and light switches, use a tape measure and pencil to mark where to cut out the board. (We used the smaller outlet covers as a template to make the process easier.)

tracing an outlet cover on shiplap boards

cutting boards with a jigsaw for an outlet

9. Drill a hole at the 4 corners of the traced outlet cover on the board to make a starting point for your jigsaw blade.

trick for cutting out wood planks - drill holes at corners

10. Cut out the outlet hole with the jigsaw.

trick for cutting out wood planks - drill holes at corners and cut with jigsaw

11. Attach the board on the wall as usual with adhesive and finish nails.

12. To make outlets and light switches flush with the shiplap, add outlet spacers to the outlet’s screws to push them out. (Turn off the electricity and use all safety precautions when handling outlets/switches)

outlet spacers to push out outlet flush with shiplap

outlet spacers to push out outlet flush with shiplap

13. We used jumbo outlet/switch covers after attaching the spacers to cover any holes in the boards from using the smaller covers as cut templates.

outlet spacers to push out outlet flush with shiplap

14. Attach the 1×2-1/2″ Craftsman board on top of the shiplap boards.

15. Attach the 1×4-1/2″ Craftsman board on the bottom of the shiplap boards as the baseboard, nailing into the shiplap.

16. Fill nail holes with wood filler and let dry.

17. Fill gaps with caulk and let dry.

sanding wood filler on wall planks

18. Once dry, sand the wood filler until smooth (never sand caulk or it will crack).

vertical shiplap wainscoting

vertical shiplap wainscoting

19. Paint and you’re done!

We used Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray paint in satin on the shiplap wainscoting and Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace in eggshell on the walls.

vertical shiplap wainscoting with Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray and Chantilly Lace

It’s amazing how much bigger this space feels now that the gold is gone!

The final reveal for this cute powder room is coming very soon so keep an eye out. It’s absolutely perfect!

Have you ever installed shiplap before? Are you a shiplap fan? I have to admit, I got super tired of it for a little while there, but it’s making its comeback.

You can see our previous wall molding and shiplap tutorials here:

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  1. I followed your blog for this ship lap project in our bathroom!! Thank you so much! This really helped me!! I love the result. Thanks again!!

  2. Lauren, I discovered your blog recently and I love it! I’m starting to tackle some projects and reading your blog does give me great ideas and confidence too. My husband passed away last year and I guess I’ve developed pandemic fever! I wish I had a Robert!! Anyway, I am your neighbor (in Charlotte) and wondered if you could tell me a few thrift stores in the Charlotte/Fort Mill/ Rock Hill area that you’ve had good luck with. Thanks for being so positive and inspiring!

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