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How To Paint Shiplap 2024 [Best Methods To Paint Shiplap]

By: Susie
Updated On: August 3, 2023

I’ve always been fascinated with home renovation projects, bringing new life to once-plain spaces. One such project that everyone adores is Shiplap; its rustic appeal and a nod to elegance make it one of the favorites among home improvement enthusiasts.

But when it comes to giving your shiplap a burst of color and texture, surprisingly, many are left in the dark. Understanding this, I thought it was time to resolve these uncertainties and share how to paint shiplap.

Adding colors that reflect your personality onto your shiplap can dramatically enhance the charm and warmth of your space.

But, without the proper guide, painting on such a surface can be challenging, often resulting in uneven finishes or chipped paint after some time.

However, painted shiplap can be a stunning addition for years around your fireplace, as an accent wall, or even the kitchen backsplash! Are you ready to dive into this creative yet straightforward project?

Why is Shiplap Paint Essential?

Why is Shiplap Paint Essential?

Like any other home beautification project, painting shiplap is crucial for aesthetic purposes and serves as a protective measure.

  • Durability: Paint offers additional protection to your shiplap, extending its lifespan by providing a formidable barrier against wear and tear. It shields the wood from possible moisture damage, preventing warping and rot over time.
  • Refinement: A well-painted shiplap wall promotes a sense of elegance and refinement, boosting the overall decor of your home.
  • Cleanliness: Painted surfaces are easier to clean, simplifying maintenance. Dust, dirt, or stains can be easily wiped away on a painted surface.
  • Versatility: One of the most exciting advantages is the paint’s versatility. You can change up the look of your walls whenever you want simply by painting them in different colors!

On top of these benefits, there’s something therapeutic about transforming your space with just a can of paint and a brush. It allows us to imprint our styles and tastes onto our living environment while preserving the surfaces we adorn.

In essence, painting your shiplap is more than mere decoration – it’s about protection and personality too!

Choose Your Paint Color

Choose Your Paint Color

Choosing the right paint color for your shiplap is a crucial step. Like clothing, colors on walls can dramatically impact a room’s mood, feel, and aesthetics. Therefore, picking the right shade can go a long way in enhancing your space.

Whites and neutrals are popular choices regarding shiplap due to their classic appeal and versatility. Different hues can alter the ambiance of a room; for instance, cooler tones can make space seem larger and airy, while warmer shades create an intimate sensation.

Before settling on a paint color, consider factors like natural light availability in your space, the purpose of the room (relaxation or activity), and the overall decor style you adhere to.

Remember that it’s always best to get a few samples and test them in different lighting conditions before making your final choice.

Best Shiplap Paint Colors

Here are some of the industry-favorite paint options that work wonderfully with shiplap:

  • Gauntlet Gray SW 7019 – Sherwin-Williams
    When you’re looking for more depth than traditional white or beige colors but still desire something subtle enough not to overpower the space – meet Gauntlet Gray. It’s an intense grey with warmth, making it one perfect accent piece in any contemporary home.
  • Benjamin Moore Simply White – OC-117
    A favorite across design boards, Simply White OC-117 from Benjamin Moore offers an aura of crispness paired with an unparalleled clean finish – undoubtedly one of the best picks for shiplap.
  • Pure White – SW 7005 – Sherwin-Williams
    Another white from Sherwin-Williams worth mentioning is Pure White SW 7005. This shade carries just enough warmth not to appear stark or clinical while providing a brilliant backdrop for any design scheme.
  • Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace – OC-65
    Chantilly Lace OC-65 makes its name among homeowners seeking brightness with ample gracefulness. Translating these attributes onto your walls will yield beautiful luminance throughout your rooms.
  • Alabaster – SW 7008 – Sherwin Williams
    Our last recommendation is Alabaster SW 7008, scoring high points for those seeking warm undertones providing depth and dimension while maintaining neutral appeal.

Choose any of these excellent hues according to your preference and set the tone for illuminating spaces.

Gathering Your Tools and Materials

Gathering Your Tools and Materials

When preparing to paint a shiplap, assembling the necessary tools and materials beforehand goes a long way to ensure a smooth and hassle-free execution of the task.

With the right equipment, you can easily create professional-quality results at home. This includes achieving consistent paint texture, minimizing unnecessary messes, and saving time.

By properly managing your painting arsenal right from the start, you’re setting yourself up for a fulfilling painting experience that culminates in a beautifully painted shiplap ready to impress anyone who enters your space.


Like any other home improvement project, painting shiplap requires specific tools – each designed for an essential role in the overall process.

From paintbrushes delivering precision strokes to sandpaper ensuring a smooth surface – every device contributes to a job well done.


A paintbrush is undoubtedly one of the first tools to come to mind when discussing painting. In particular, you’ll want a high-quality synthetic-bristle brush suitable for latex (water-based) paints.

These brushes are fantastic at holding more paint and promoting a smoother application over rough surfaces like wood. Usually, a 2-3 inch angled sash brush works best for baseboards and trims.

Paint Roller

Using a paint roller for more significant areas of your shiplap walls or ceilings will save you considerable time compared to using a brush alone.

When selecting your roller, ideally choose rollers with a medium-sized nap (¾” size) that efficiently work on slightly textured surfaces by quickly getting into nooks and crannies.

Paint Tray

A paint tray serves as your handy station from where you’ll load up your brushes or rollers with paint—typically made of plastic or metal—these trays help keep any spills contained and work station organized while allowing for easy loading and unloading of color onto your equipment.

Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheets

When slapping that fresh coat of paint onto your shiplap, drop cloths or plastic sheets become lifesavers by protecting floors or furniture from accidental drips or splatters.

Just lay these on exposed surfaces before starting – ensuring they extend slightly beyond your working area for optimum protection.

Painter’s Tape

Painter’s tape is another underestimated ally in keeping things neat! Tape off anything around your work area that you don’t want to be painted, such as window frames, moldings, or light switches, to guarantee clean lines in even the trickiest spots without any smudges ruining their perfection once you remove them.


Sandpaper. Sandpaper creates smoother surfaces on wood by removing minor imperfections such as scratches or dents while prepping it effectively for primer or paint application ensuring better adhesion, ultimately leading towards an enhanced final finish of your painted shiplap.

Gathering these vital tools enhances proficiency while maintaining cleanliness during the process, making it an enjoyable experience rather than one filled with hassles.


Before delving into the intricacies of painting shiplap, gathering and understanding all the necessary materials for this process is essential.

These items ensure a smooth project execution while minimizing potential hiccups during application. Let’s unpack each material you’ll need in detail:

Shiplap Boards

The first thing on your list should be shiplap boards. These are wooden pieces designed with overlapping edges that help them align properly, ensuring a tight and aesthetically appealing feature wall.

Pine is a popular choice for wood type due to its affordability and availability. Hardwood like ash or oak can also be used, mainly if durability is paramount for you.

Ensure that your boards are adequately dried before installation and painting. This step is crucial because it minimizes the chances of warping down the line due to moisture content.


Primer creates a barrier between the wood and paint, providing a smooth and tacky base on which your color can lodge firmly.

By filling in the pores of your shiplap boards, primer prevents excessive soaking up of color by the wood surface—helping you achieve an even finish with fewer paint coats.

Additionally, primer helps block stains and tannin bleed from knots in your wood—leaving you with uniform color distribution on your walls after painting.

Always opt for high-quality primers like Kilz Adhesion Bonding Primer or Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer, as they ensure top-notch performance on trickier surfaces like shiplap.

Paint (your preferred color)

The most exciting part of this endeavor involves choosing your preferred paint color—the hue that will bring personality to your walls.

Your choice here will depend mainly on personal preference and existing decor style—whether warm tones to radiate coziness or cool tones for an airy look; there’s no right or wrong choice.

When deciding on the type of paint—oil-based paints offer excellent durability but require more complicated clean-up involving paint thinners; water-based paints (latex/acrylic) are user-friendly in application and clean-ups but may not wear as well over time.

Regardless of type, always seek premium brands with high pigmentation content to ensure vibrant colors that last longer without fading.

Paint Thinner (if using oil-based paint)

If you’re leaning towards an oil-based paint, remember—you’ll need a suitable thinner too! Paint thinner helps reduce thickness, making it easier to stir, and apply evenly across surfaces while preventing visible brush strokes upon drying.

Moreover, you’ll also need thinner for cleaning brushes, rollers après-paint—a critical step for preserving these tools’ lifespan!

Using quality thinners like Klean Strip Paint Thinner promises excellent results during both the application and cleaning stages!

Remember: Understanding why these materials matter brings you closer to achieving those dreamy shiplap walls in no time! Arm yourself with these essentials before plunging into redecorating adventures.

Painter’s Putty and Wood Filler: More Than Simple Gap Fillers

One of the first steps in preparing your shiplap for painting involves inspecting and filling any gaps or nail holes on the surface. Here’s why:

  • Uniformity: Filling in these gaps and holes produces a more uniform surface that ensures consistent paint coverage with smooth results.
  • Durability: By filling tiny voids, we preempt potential weak points where wear and tear might begin sooner.
  • Aesthetics: Let’s be honest; nobody wants to look at random holes or gaps on a beautifully painted wall.

Nails or Brad Nails

The type of nails used can significantly impact your shiplap installation process and how it looks after painting.

  • Nails: Traditional nails are perfect for thicker boards where secure attachment is critical. The nail head provides a tight grip on the wood, ensuring stability.
  • Brad Nails: For thinner boards or more delicate areas such as wall corners and edges, brad nails are preferred due to their smaller size, reducing splitting risk.

Whichever you choose depends on your project needs while keeping aesthetics in mind!

Wood Glue (Optional for Additional Adhesion)

While nails do an excellent job holding the shiplap in place, there might be situations where you’ll need additional adhesion strength – this is where wood glue comes into play:

  • It offers added safety against potential loosening during fluctuating temperature conditions.
  • Wood glue may also prove handy when ensuring tighter seams between shiplap boards for a smoother appearance before painting.

It’s essential to take time during this preparation phase because what you do here directly influences how well your desired paint color adheres to your shiplap surface and ultimately defines its aesthetic longevity.

Caulk: The Key to a Seamless Shiplap Look

Not all tools involved in painting shiplap deal directly with the paint itself—a case in point: Caulk.

One critical component of painting shiplap is the “seamless” look we so often admire. Achieving this look would be nearly impossible without that magic ingredient, caulk.

Essentially, caulk is a sealing agent used to close gaps between surfaces in buildings, ensuring water tightness and reducing drafts. Regarding shiplap walls, caulk seals any remaining gaps between shiplap boards and your drywall, creating a smooth finish prime for perfect painting.

Outlined below are compelling reasons why you should incorporate using caulk into your shiplap painting project:

  • Smooth Finish: Filling gaps with caulk creates a smooth, seamless surface that improves your paint’s appearance once dried. It allows for uniformity across the wall regardless of wood inconsistencies or gaps.
  • Better Adhesion: Sealing these gaps means better surface adhesion when it comes to painting because it bridges any minor gaps or seams that might appear during installation.
  • Moisture Resistant: Caulk acts as a water repellent- helping protect your wood from damage weather might cause over time.

I recommend GE Sealants Paintable Silicone Supreme Window & Door Sealant, a great product due to its superior flexibility and excellent adhesion properties.

Painters’ Rags Or Cleaning Cloths

Never underestimate the power of an old-fashioned rag when painting shiplap!

These humble tools serve multiple purposes in our journey towards achieving flawlessly painted shiplap:

  1. Wiping off excess paint: No matter how careful we might be during a paint job, splatters occur – wiping them off promptly can make the cleanup job easier.
  2. Cleaning Up Tools: Brushes and rollers should be cleaned off after use; a well-maintained tool ensures an exceptional finish!

Painter Gloves

Sometimes it’s the tiniest details that have the most significant impact – yes, even tiny disposable gloves!

They protect against potential issues like:

  • Skin Sensitivity: Many paints contain substances that can irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions.
  • Cleanliness: They certainly make cleanup faster since all you need to do is remove them post-painting!

Nitrile Exam Gloves are my favorite choice because they provide high-quality coverage while being latex-free.

Armed with these tools – from gap-sealing caulks to protective gloves – you’ll undoubtedly be on your path towards achieving beautifully painted (and long-lasting!) shiplap.

Maintaining Shiplap After Painting

Maintaining Shiplap After Painting

The journey doesn’t end there once you’ve completed painting your shiplap! Proper maintenance is vital to preserving your newly painted shiplap’s look and feel, ensuring it brightens your spaces for years to come.

Regular Cleaning, the Non-Negotiable First Step

Regular cleaning is an uncomplicated way of maintaining the vividness and sheen of your painted shiplap walls.

  • Dusting: Clearing off dust from the surfaces regularly helps keep them pristine. A simple soft bristle brush or microfiber cloth can do wonders in removing accumulated dirt and dust.
  • Cleaning: For deeper cleaning, warm water with mild dish soap can be used. Gently wipe down the walls with this solution, followed by a thorough rinse using a damp cloth, which will keep those walls gleaming.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers to preserve the paint’s finish.

Minor Repairs & Touch Ups

No matter how careful you are, occasional dings and scratches might tarnish your beautiful shiplap wall. Don’t fret; these can be easily repaired with minimal supplies:

  • Keep leftover paint from your project for minor touch-ups.
  • For smaller scratches, use a small artist’s brush for precise application.
  • Deeper gashes may require sanding before applying new paint.

Maintain Room Humidity

Lastly, if you reside in an area prone to high humidity that could lead to wood shrinkage/expansion or moisture damage:

  • Use dehumidifiers or humidifiers as needed based on seasons.

Maintaining painted shiplap isn’t arduous; habitual care and timely minor retouches should secure its durability and attractiveness.

Popular Shiplap Finishes

Popular Shiplap Finishes

While solid paint colors are popular choices with shiplap, some intriguing finishes add character to your walls.

These finishes can evoke a sense of time-worn elegance or rustic chic, each vibe bringing strengths to varying decor schemes. Let’s explore three of them:

Distressed Finish

A distressed finish is perfect for those who appreciate vintage vibes and old-world charm.

  • Apply a base coat in a solid color.
  • Once dry, lightly sand the surface in places where natural wear would occur over time.
  • Apply a top coat in different shades and allow it to partially dry.
  • Continue the sanding process until you see spots of the base layer showing through.
  • Seal with clear polyurethane to protect your finish from wear and tear.

The Whitewashed Look

Whitewashing shiplap gives off a relaxed beachy vibe. It characteristically allows hints of the wood grain to remain visible:

  • Apply white paint diluted with water (50-50 ratio) using a rag or sponge.
  • List items apply in sections so that each section dries before moving on to the next layer.
  • If you desire more opacity, add another layer of the whitewash mixture once thoroughly dried.

Weathered Finish

This finish blends modern aestheticism with classic pastoral allure.

  • Apply gray paint as a base layer mixed with a glazing medium for transparency.
  • Allow it to dry and lightly sand along the wood grain direction for an aged look, leaving desired bits of grain visible.

Remember, whichever finish you choose should suit your preferred aesthetics and complement the overall room decor.

FAQs About How To Paint Shiplap

What kind of primer should I apply before painting the shiplap?

It’s best to use a high-quality, stain-blocking primer that ensures even paint absorbency and inhibits any knots or wood characteristics from showing through.

Should I fill the shiplap gaps before painting?

Yes, filling gaps with caulk or wood filler creates a smoother, more uniform surface and prevents paint from dripping into the crevices.

Can I use any paint for the shiplap?

The best choice is high-quality latex or enamel paint, which is durable and easy to clean.

Are multiple coats of paint necessary for shiplap?

This depends on your desired opacity. Two coats typically offer good coverage, but you may need more for darker colors or bold patterns.

How long should I wait between layers of paint?

Waiting until the first layer is dehydrated ensures proper adhesion of the second layer. Depending on humidity and temperature conditions, this typically takes 2-4 hours.


Painting shiplap doesn’t need to be a daunting task. You can quickly transform your home space with the right tools, techniques, and step-by-step processes.

Whether you choose traditional white, or a bold color, or a unique finish like distressed or whitewashed shiplap – the choices are limitless!

Remember, while aesthetics are vital when deciding on colors and finishes, understanding the practical aspects of priming, maintaining consistency of application, and considering long-term durability are also crucial to achieving an enduring beautiful result.

So go ahead, grab that paintbrush, and dive straight into creating your custom ambiance that is sturdy and stylish.

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