Make Your Budget-Friendly Shiplap Dreams a Reality

Chip and Joanna, watch out!

When Veronica and Drew purchased their home, they knew that they wanted to remodel, eventually—including the downstairs bathroom. Veronica said, “It was a classic ‘90s build, beforehand. It didn’t have a lot of style, but it functioned as needed.”

Well, it turns out that a six-year-old with a screwdriver and an artistic vision can quickly bump home renovations up to the top of your priority list. Veronica said, “Our very sweet son carved a smiley face into the sink with a screwdriver. The issue was that the sink was combined with the entire counter, which was attached to three of the four walls in that room. In order to fix it, we had to rip out the whole counter, and then the walls were uneven and messy.”

A parenting moment, no doubt, but this was also their chance to give the bathroom a facelift. They’d been planning to install shiplap somewhere in the house, and it was the perfect solution for their damaged walls.

To keep costs down and to complete the project as soon as possible, Veronica and Drew decided to go the DIY route. Here’s how they did it:

How to Install Shiplap on the Cheap
& In a Hurry

Materials Needed: Cost:
5 sheets of 3/8-inch, 4×8-foot, sanded plywood underlayment (Have the store cut the wood into 6-inch x 8-foot pieces.) $123.65 ($24.73 per sheet)
2 boxes of brad nails (1,000-count) $9.90 ($4.95 per box)
1 gallon of primer paint $18.97
1 gallon of white paint $31.88
1 tube of white caulk $2.38
1 caulk gun $9.97
10 pennies $0.10
Sandpaper Veronica and Drew had sandpaper, already.
Total Cost: $196.85
Recommended Tools:

Veronica and Drew had these tools, already.

* The paint sprayer, nail gun and miter saw aren’t absolutely essential, but they will help you get the job done much faster.

Paint sprayer*
Nail gun*
Miter saw*

Step 1 – Clear the Space

Remove as much as possible from the space, and cover any windows. Veronica said, “In retrospect, we should have removed the door and the toilet.”

Step 2 – Prime Your Walls

If your walls aren’t already white, then paint them with white primer. Veronica said, “We didn’t have to do this because the paint sprayer reached between the plywood, perfectly, but the areas where we had to paint with a brush don’t look as great.”

Step 3 – Locate Studs

Locate the studs in your walls, and mark them with a pencil. Be sure to nail directly into your studs when installing your shiplap.

Step 4 – Install the Shiplap

Measure your pieces so that the ends fall on a stud, and use a level to make sure that your first plank is even. Veronica said, “We began at the smallest wall in the room, and started at the bottom so that we could balance the pennies between each plank, checking every few lines with a level to make sure we weren’t getting off track.”

She explained that the hardest part of the project is making sure that the corners are tight. To make things easier, Veronica said, “We did opposite ends of the room at the same time so that we weren’t left with a surprise corner that didn’t fit at the end.”

This is the step where those pennies come into play, too, as spacers between each plank. Veronica said, “We used two at all times, but we had backups laying around because one would drop, and we couldn’t look for it until we’d finished nailing that piece into place.”

Step 5 – Apply Caulk

Once all of your planks are nailed into place, caulk each nail and let dry.

Step 6 – Sand It Down

Now it’s time to sand your shiplap, smoothing the edges of the planks and the caulk.

Step 7 – Prime Time

Finally, prime and paint your freshly sanded shiplap! Veronica said, “We ended up doing one coat of primer and two coats of paint.”

When everything’s dry, replace all of your fixtures and admire your handiwork.

What to Expect

It took Veronica and Drew ten days to complete the renovation, working three hours every day after work. If you’re considering some DIY shiplap, yourself, here are a few tips from Veronica:

  • The process of measuring and cutting your planks will take longer than you expect. You’ll have odd pieces that need custom cutouts for vents, switches, etc.
  • As you begin, test out different coins. Veronica said, “We intended to use nickels, but they were too wide for the look that we were going for. And yes, it did make a big difference!”
  • Don’t plan to work at night when you’re in a tiny room with no light fixtures, because you won’t be able to see a thing! Veronica said, “Removing the door would have helped a lot with this.”

And the Result?

Veronica said, “We love it! We will definitely do more shiplap and DIY, if we can agree on which wall will get the next treatment! At some point, the rest of the house needs to match this bathroom.”

And, if you’re wondering about the sink with the smiley face, Veronica said, “We were able to score a deal on the vanity of our dreams by shopping around and being flexible on the exact design.”

To finish the room, she said, “We kept the old flooring and found some lights on Amazon that fit perfectly! Then we hung some photos from our Paris trip, and the room is a perfect representation of us.”

The Budgeting Lesson

If you’re a parent, then maybe you’ve already got a ‘Parenting Moment’ or ‘Little Disasters’ category in your budget. But there’s another angle to consider. Veronica said, “Our son had to pay for a portion of the sink from his budget because making poor choices results in money loss in adulthood and childhood, alike.”