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How to Shiplap Your Walls with Laminate Flooring

Shiplap board walling has become incredibly popular for renovators looking to get a rustic feel in their home décor. If you’re looking for “barnyard chic,” shiplap wall treatments provide a warm and inviting feel to any room. Made popular by HGTV’s current darlings, Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper, shiplap is great for farmhouse family living, even in the city.

Just like the wood paneling that was so popular in the last mid-century, focal walls or even entire rooms with wood walls seem instantly more like a home. They can be installed horizontally on one or even all walls. Vertical boards create height in low-ceilinged rooms or can be used a wainscoting both casual and formal.

Shiplap also adds a great nautical touch for a beach house feel. Horizontal shiplap is reminiscent of old boats, and the tongue and groove construction sheds water and keeps it from permeating interiors. Along with old sheds, barns, and other rural applications, it’s also popular in coastal regions.

Shiplap for Less with Laminate Flooring

Shiplap for Less with Laminate Flooring
Laminate Flooring

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on solid wood to get that look. For interior applications, laminate flooring does the trick. For handy DIY renovators who want that coastal, casual look without the cash, inexpensive laminate flooring looks just as good.

Laminate is durable and comes in a wider variety of finishes than wood. Wood flooring can cost up to $10 per square foot, with laminate nearly half the price averaging $5.50 per square foot.

Laminate comes in four finishes to look like natural materials;

  • ​Distressed wood
  • ​Hand scraped wood
  • ​Embossed
  • ​Stone

Yes, you can even get laminate that looks like real stone.

Laminate is also a lot easier to install than real wood boards. Because it’s lighter and thinner, creating a shiplap wall can be done by just one person in some cases.

​Preparing to Create your Shiplap Wall

For a real farmhouse feel, choose a wider laminate plank to replace your shiplap, about 5.5 to 7.5 inches wide. For more coastal interiors, choose a whitewash finish.

Make sure the wall you’re covering is clean and dry. You can install it over drywall. Because you’ll be using an adhesive to help hold the boards, don’t install it over paneling or wallpaper. If the wall is dirty, you should prime it.

Laminate should only be used indoors in climate controlled spaces. Makes sure the space you’re installing it usually remains below 65% humidity. Unlike real wood, laminate loses its charm when saturated with moisture.

Figure out how much laminate you need. Find the square footage by multiplying the height of the walls by the width, and add 10 percent for cutting errors. (You can subtract the size of doors or windows.)

Prepare your laminate flooring for installation by “acclimating” the boards. Place the boxes of flooring in the room, lying flat on the floor at least 48 hours before installation. This will make sure that any heat and humidity that’s normally in the room won’t affect your planks after installation.

Necessary tools for your shiplap wall

  • Tapping block
  • Mallet
  • Utility knife
  • Chalk line
  • Electronic stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Caulk gun
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Level
  • Pry bar
  • Nail gun
  • Screwdriver/drill
  • Safety glasses
  • Mask
  • Gloves

Needed materials for installing laminate shiplap

  • Laminate flooring
  • 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inch brads
  • 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inch drywall screws
  • Silicone caulk
  • Replacement baseboard and quarter round trim
  • Painters tape

Install the first row of laminate shiplap

  1. Remove the base and trim from the wall.
  2. Use the stud finder to find and mark the studs.
  3. ​Using the chalk line, mark the vertical lines of the studs from ceiling to floor
  4. Use the painter’s tape to mark where the studs extend into the ceiling
  5. ​Remove faceplates from outlets and switches and turn off the power. Avoid all wiring.
  6. ​Open your boxes of planks and check for damage.
  7. ​If the planks come with padding on one side, you can leave them if you like.
  8. Arrange one row of planks along the wall you’ll be installing it on. Add boards as needed, clicking them firmly together until they span the wall. Measure for the length of the wall, leaving ¼ inch gap on any adjoining walls.
  9. Cut the row of planks to wall length.
  10. ​Place this first row of planks on the floor, face down in front of the wall with the groove close to wall, and tongue toward the wall.
  11. Flip the boards up. This makes the first row of planks at the bottom of the wall.
  12. Apply silicone caulk to the back of the connected planks in an S-shaped pattern.
  13. ​Tilt the row of planks against wall, check level, and then press onto wall so it sticks.
  14. Fasten the first row of planks by nailing with brads through the extended groove at the top at each stud in the wall.
  15. ​Make sure the nail head is flush with the surface of the groove.
  16. ​Fasten the bottom edge of the first row to the studs with the drywall screws.

Instructions and tips

Continue with the next row up, working right to left. To provide a joint stagger from one row to the next, saw off the tongue end of the first board on the right side. You’ll want to stagger the vertical joints between planks.

Apply silicon caulk and affix the first board of the second row to the wall, and fit it into the tongue and groove of the row below to secure. Make sure to leave the ¼ inch gap on the adjusting wall.

Tap the laminate board with tapping block and/or mallet into place so it snaps into place into the tongue of the bottom row. Secure the first board of the second row with the nail gun through the extended tongue at the top.

Continue with the second board of the second row, working to the left. Apply caulk and install as above, with brad nails through the extended tongue at the studs.Work upwards, right to left, bottom to top, staggering your laminate boards.

Finishing the wall

Once you’ve reached the top, you may need to cut your last board lengthwise to fit to the ceiling. Remember to leave a ¼ inch gap at the top. Install your baseboard, covering the drywall screws and creating a sharp, finished edge. Add quarter round for inside corners on sides and at the ceiling for a finished look.

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