I love adding painted shiplap walls to a room and today I’m sharing an in-depth tutorial on how to paint shiplap walls!

how to paint shiplap walls

Almost two years ago, I shared how to install shiplap walls when I added two shiplap accent walls to our previous living room at our old house. Well, I missed having a shiplap wall so much in our new house that I knew I needed to add one in our new home!

Modern Rustic Living Room Makeover

Over the weekend, Brandon and I added a large, accent wall to one of our living room walls and I just love it! Its instantly transformed the room and added that extra cozy, welcoming factor.

I briefly went over the shiplap painting process in my shiplap installation post. But, I feel like there are a lot of details I can share more about on how to paint shiplap that would be helpful now that this is the 4th time I’ve installed a form of shiplap! I do recommend reading over the how to install shiplap post first if you are planning to add painted shiplap walls, so this tutorial will make the most sense!

Note, this post contains some affiliate links. For more info see my disclosures here.

How to Paint Shiplap Walls


  • Paintable Caulk
  • Spackle (I use this lightweight spackle)
  • Sandpaper
  • Electric Sander (optional)
  • Paint (see step #1)
  • High Quality Paintbrush
  • Paint Roller and Roller Frame
  • Paint Roller Extension Pole
  • Paint Roller Tray
  • Dropcloth (optional)
  • Painter’s Scraper Tool (optional)

1. Pick your shiplap paint color and sheen

When it comes to picking paint colors, I feel like I could write a huge post just about this topic! Pick what ever color paint you love for your shiplap wall, just make sure to get a sample first! You can do white paint or even a super dark paint color, both look equally as great on a shiplap wall!

For my shiplap paint color, I used Simply White by Benjamin Moore in Eggshell and I love how it turned out! It’s a brighter, fresh white, but not a cold white.

In my last living room, I used White Dove by Benjamin Moore and that was a deeper white which also looked great on the shiplap (pic below)! These are my top two favorite white shiplap paint colors and I think they look great in many different spaces!

DIY Shiplap Accent Walls
White Dove by Benjamin Moore in Eggshell

As far as what sheen of paint to use on shiplap, I prefer a matte or eggshell sheen as they are not as shiny as satin and semi-gloss. I opted for eggshell so the wall is still easily wipeable if needed.

2. Prep your shiplap boards before installation

When it comes to painting any kind of wood or staining wood, the key to a beautiful finish is in the preparation of the surface which is sanding the wood! Many types of real shiplap boards come pre-sanded and pre-primed, so that will save you the time in this step as you won’t have to sand or prime!

If you are using the faux shiplap installation method with 1/4″ sheets of plywood that I shared and used for this shiplap wall, then the plywood I used was pre-sanded and pre-primed on the surface. However, along the sides of the plywood strips, where the saw cut it, it was rough! These rough sides need to be sanded.

You can use 120 or 150 grit sandpaper or sander block and hand sand the edges or use an electric sander to sand the wood and make the edges more smooth. I love using my corner sander to make this step go quickly!

sanding edge of shiplap board with electric sander

If you are using a type of plywood or shiplap board that is not pre-sanded on the surface, I recommend using an electric sander with 80 grit sandpaper, followed by 120 grit, then 220 grit. You can see more details on how to sand wood in this how to stain wood tutorial.

Also, if your wood is not pre-primed and it is raw wood, you should prime it before painting (discussed in step #6 & #7).

3. Paint shiplap board gaps during installation

Once you begin painting, if you want to protect your floors, use a drop cloth or old sheet.

As you begin installing your shiplap boards to your wall, use a paint brush and paint the gap lines as you go. Do this whether you are using real shiplap boards (with the tongue and groove edges) or the faux shiplap boards with plywood.

It’s very difficult and more time consuming to try and paint between the 1/8″ shiplap board gaps after they are installed on the wall, trust me I’ve tried! And it looks funny if there is a different color paint between the boards too!

Painting shiplap board gaps during installation with a paint brush

Also, I like to paint one of the side edges too of the shiplap boards as I go so the board transitions aren’t as obvious.Painting side edges of shiplap boards during installation

Another tip is that once you start to get to the top of the wall, you can start painting the bottom of your shiplap board edge before installing on the wall. I definitely forgot to do this on a few boards, but it really looks nice and less shadowy since these boards are at eye level.

Paint bottom edge of shiplap board before installation at top of wall

4. Paint around outlets

If you have any outlets on your wall, once installation of the shiplap boards is complete, remove the outlet covers. Then, paint around the outlet with your brush.

Shiplap boards painted around wall outlet opening

5. Fill and sand nail holes

Fill all the nail holes in with a lightweight spackle.

Shiplap nail holes filled with spackle

Next, sand each nail hole so that the surface is smooth and no excess spackle remains.

Sanding shiplap nail holes with spackle

6. Finish shiplap wall edges

Once your shiplap wall is installed and nail holes filled/sanded, it’s going to look something like this…

partially painted shiplap wall after shiplap installation

Before you get to the best part (rolling), there are two more important steps! The edges of the shiplap wall need to be caulked (with paintable caulk) wherever there is molding and then they need to be “cut in” with the paint brush.

For my wall, we caulked the gaps along the inside wall corners (where we installed quarter round molding), the floor molding, and the top crown molding.

Caulking inside wall edge corner

Caulking inside wall edge corner

Then, cut in your wall edges (top, bottom, sides) with your paint brush since your roller will not be able to get into these tight spots. After this first cut dries, repeat with a second coat of paint.

*Note, if you are using raw wood that is not pre-primed, make sure to do your same edge cuts with primer first, then the paint cuts.

Also, if you are going to be painting your surrounding walls and all trim after this (like we are), then you don’t need to be super neat with your cuts or use painter’s tape.

**Note 2, if you removed your baseboard molding (or any other molding), then you don’t need to cut in the bottom area as your molding will cover up the bottom edges.

Cut in shiplap wall edges with paint brush

6. Roll your shiplap wall

Finally, the exciting part of painting shiplap! Go ahead and roll your shiplap wall with a paint roller, tray, and extension pole.

Allow the first coat to dry, then roll a second coat.

*Note, if you are using raw wood that is not pre-primed, make sure to roll with primer first, allow it to dry, and then roll on the two coats of paint.

Rolling a shiplap wall with white paint and paint roller

Also, after rolling each coat of paint, if there are any gaps with paint filling them, clear out the excess paint with a painter’s scraper tool.

clearing excess paint out of shiplap wall gap with painter's scraper tool

And that’s it! I hope this detailed tutorial on how to paint shiplap walls has been helpful and you feel like you can tackle any painted shiplap project now!

We love the final result! I’m just so happy to have a shiplap wall again!

how to paint shiplap walls

And if you want to see other shiplap projects, you can check out a shiplap ceiling DIY and an IKEA Billy bookcase hack with shiplap and a dark paint color!

Follow along on Instagram or Facebook for my latest projects and for future updates on our living room makeover! Though it may look like my new living room is looking just like my old living room, there are going to be some big differences!