How to Paint Shiplap: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Paint Shiplap: A Step-by-Step Guide

What is Shiplap?

Shiplap is a type of wooden board that is used as a building material in the construction of residential and commercial properties. It is made up of long, horizontal boards that overlap with each other and create a continuous, weather-resistant surface. Shiplap boards are commonly used in areas with high levels of moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens, as well as on the exterior of buildings.

Shiplap has become a popular design element in recent years, with many homeowners incorporating the material into their homes for a rustic, vintage look. This trend can be seen in everything from accent walls to entire rooms, and its popularity isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Preparing to Paint Shiplap

Before painting shiplap, it is important to properly prepare the surface. Start by cleaning the boards with warm soapy water and a scrub brush to remove any dirt, grease, or other debris. Rinse the surface thoroughly and let dry completely. Then, sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots or splinters.

If there are any gaps or cracks in the seams between the shiplap boards, use a caulk gun to fill them in with a paintable caulk. This will create a seamless surface that is easier to paint and will prevent any moisture or air leaks. Once the caulk has dried, sand it down to create a smooth finish that is flush with the surrounding shiplap boards.

Finally, apply a coat of primer to the shiplap boards. This will help the paint adhere better to the surface and will prevent any stains or bleeding through the paint. Allow the primer to dry completely before proceeding with the painting process.

Painting Shiplap

When painting shiplap, it is important to use a high-quality paint that is designed for wood surfaces. Choose a paint color that complements the overall design scheme of the room or area where the shiplap is located.

Using a paintbrush or roller, apply a thin, even coat of paint to the shiplap boards. Be sure to apply the paint in the direction of the wood grain to ensure full coverage and a smooth finish. Let the first coat of paint dry completely before applying a second coat. Depending on the color and type of paint used, you may need to apply a third coat to achieve the desired finish.

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After the final coat of paint has dried completely, inspect the shiplap boards for any missed spots or uneven areas. Touch up any areas as needed until you are satisfied with the finish.

Cleaning and Maintenance

To maintain the appearance and integrity of your painted shiplap, it is important to clean it regularly with a mild detergent and warm water. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals that can damage the paint or the wood surface.

If your shiplap boards become damaged or show signs of wear and tear over time, you can touch them up with additional paint or repaint the entire surface as needed. With proper care and maintenance, your painted shiplap can last for years and add a beautiful, rustic touch to your home.


The key to achieving a flawless paint job on shiplap is to start with properly preparing the surface. This involves taking the time to clean and sand the surface, which will ensure that the paint adheres properly and the finish looks smooth and even. The following are the steps to prepare your shiplap for painting:

  1. Clean the surface: The first step is to clean the surface thoroughly to remove dust, dirt, and any other debris. You can use a clean cloth or a vacuum cleaner to wipe or suck off any loose particles. Make sure that the surface is completely dry before moving on to the next step.
  2. Sand the surface: Once the surface is clean and dry, you need to sand it to create a smooth and even base for the paint. Use an orbital sander or sandpaper to sand the surface lightly. You don’t need to sand it down to the bare wood – just enough to scuff up the surface and remove any gloss or sheen. All you need to do to sand is run the sander over the surface gently in circular motions, working your way over the whole area. Make sure you wear a mask and goggles to avoid inhaling any dust particles.
  3. Cover up: If you’re going to be painting the walls around the shiplap, it’s a good idea to cover them up with painter’s tape and plastic sheeting. This will protect the surrounding walls from any drips or splatters during the painting process.
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By taking the time to properly prepare your shiplap, you’ll set yourself up for success when it comes to painting. A clean, smooth, and even surface will make it easier to apply the paint and will ensure that the final result looks gorgeous.

Choosing the Right Paint

One of the most crucial steps in painting shiplap is choosing the right type of paint. This will determine how well the paint adheres to the surface and how long it will last without flaking, chipping, or staining. When selecting paint for your shiplap, it’s essential to opt for a high-quality, moisture-resistant paint that can withstand the harsh conditions of the coastal climate.

Water-based paints like latex or acrylic are ideal for shiplap surfaces. Not only do they have a low VOC count, making them less harmful to the environment, but they also dry quickly, making the painting process more manageable. They are also easy to clean, making them particularly useful in areas that are frequently subjected to moisture and humidity.

When choosing your paint color, consider a light color palette to give your space a coastal, beachy vibe. Light blue, green, and gray are all fantastic options that complement the natural look and texture of shiplap. Alternatively, white paint on shiplap creates a crisp, clean look that brightens up any room.

Painting Technique

Before you begin painting shiplap, make sure the surface is clean, dry, and free of any flaking paint or debris. Also, cover any nearby surfaces with a drop cloth or painter’s tape to protect them from paint splatter.

When it comes to painting shiplap, there are a couple of techniques you can use. The first is to paint each individual board before it’s installed on the wall. This can be a bit more time-consuming, but it allows you to fully coat each board and get into all the crevices. Alternatively, you can install the shiplap first and then paint it, which can be faster but may require some touch-up areas that are harder to reach.

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Using a paintbrush or roller, begin coating the shiplap surface with a thin even layer of paint, taking care not to apply too much at once as this can result in dripping or unevenness. Make sure to apply the paint in the same direction as the wood grain to avoid any streaks or brush marks. You may need to apply two coats to achieve the desired coverage.

If you’re worried about getting paint on the gap between the boards, you can use a small brush or foam roller to apply paint to those areas more precisely. Be sure to maintain a wet edge as you paint, meaning you should avoid stopping in the middle of painting a board or panel, as this can create visible lines or edges in the final result.

Once you’ve painted the entire surface, step back and examine it for any missed spots or unevenness. Touch up as needed, and allow the paint to fully dry before applying a second coat or any finishing touches. With the right tools and techniques, painting shiplap can be a simple and rewarding DIY project.

Drying and Curing Time

When painting shiplap, drying and curing time are crucial to achieving a beautiful finish. After applying the first coat of paint, it’s essential to let it dry for at least 4-6 hours before putting on the second coat. This time interval between coats helps to ensure that the previous layer of paint is dry and will not mix with the next layer.

Additionally, it’s best to wait at least 24-48 hours after the final coat of paint before moving or handling the shiplap surface. Curing time determines the longevity of the finish and how well it holds up to regular use and wear. Rushing the drying or curing process may result in unevenness or peeling of the paint in the future.

Although waiting for the paint to dry and cure may seem tedious, it’s essential to ensure a smooth, even finish. The last thing you want is to see bubbles or smudges in your painting work. Therefore, it’s best to be patient and let the paint fully dry and cure to ensure a lasting and appealing outcome.

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