How to DIY a Shiplap Entryway Plate Wall

plate wall shiplap entryway
How to DIY Shiplap Entryway Plate Wall: create a custom farmhouse look on a budget. This diy goes up quickly and looks so good! You can do this.

Entryway Before: Yikes!

before of entryway

When we bought our house, the entryway had a red and white striped wallpaper and small pendant lamp.

My husband used this room (originally intended as the formal living room when the home was built in 1963) as his office. He worked from home and no other room would really work as an office for him.

He is an absentminded professor-type when it comes to how he uses his space, so it usually looked like this. Yikes.

Fast Forward Seven Years...

Our little church plant finally grew to the point that my husband (the pastor) could move out to an office space downtown.

This was exciting for him (he loves to be around people) and for me (I got this big piece of our home back for general family usage).

We decided to transform this space into our dining room, and I decided it was time to address that red and white wallpapered feature wall in the entryway.

entryway minus wallpaper

Goodbye, Wallpaper!

I peeled the wallpaper off and wet the paper backing to remove the rest.

Then I switched out the small brass pendant lamp for a wooden chandelier from World Market.

I only paid $20 for it, because I bought the floor demo that actually came with a cord. I got rid of the cord and hardwired it instead. My sister who has a degree in Electrical Engineering, says I was lucky to not electrocute myself or burn the house down with my shenanigans, so there will be no How To post in that regard.

But don’t you love that chandy?

And the house still stands.

sharpie shiplap wall
My attempt at Sharpie Shiplap

Trial Run: Sharpie Shiplap

It’s hard to convey how long I looked at this little chunk of wall and tried to figure out what to put there.

I loved the wainscoting on the bottom, so whatever I did needed to work with that.

I thought hard about buying a stencil and doing a wall treatment that looked a lot like wallpaper but could never settle on a color or a design that really spoke to me.

Then I decided to try Sharpie Shiplap. Basically, you draw lines on your wall with a permanent marker to mimic the look of real horizontal wood planks (aka shiplap).

It’s cute and cheap. What’s not to like?

I decided to do mine with washable marker so I could clean it off if I didn’t like how it turned out.

Well, I liked it, but I’m also legit terrible at drawing a straight line.  Friends who saw the wall thought it looked nice, but all I could see were the places I messed up. No bueno.

My inspiration from If my lines were this straight, I probably would have stuck with my Sharpie Shiplap!

The Sharpie Shiplap wall experiment was still helpful, because I learned two things:

  1. I liked the wall white.
  2. I liked the look of the shiplap above the formal wainscot. I’m all about juxtaposition.

Time to Actually Plank the Wall

I didn’t want to pay for tongue and groove planking, and I wanted the thinnest possible planks because I did not want it to jut out past the chair rail molding.

I poked around on the Internet and found this budget-friendly shiplap tutorial from Young House Love.

Now we’re in business!

I bought two of these 4×8 sheets of plywood. I was too chicken to ask the Home Depot guy to rip them into planks, so I took them home whole.

Shiplap Wall Must-Haves

Here’s what I used to cut and install my shiplap wall (some of these links are affiliate links; they don’t cost you anything extra, and I receive a small compensation when you use them, so thank you!):

  • 2 (4×8) sheets of underlayment plywood
  • Kilz Primer
  • Paintable Wood Filler
  • Paintable Caulk
  • Circular Saw
  • Circular Saw Rip-Cut Guide (I did not have one of these, but I can promise you I am buying one for the next project where I use my circular saw to make long rip cuts on a sheet of plywood.)
  • Handheld Sander
  • Latex Paint (I used paint color Alabaster from Sherwin Williams)
  • Finish Nailer (I don’t have one, so I used some 1 1/2 inch finish nails we had leftover from other projects. And a hammer, which we also have in abundance.)
  • Stud Finder
  • Level

Step by Step Shiplap Wall:

  1. Cut your sheets into six-inch planks. You will need to cut them a little under six inches (like 5 7/8 inches) in order to get them equal width or that last one you cut will be a good bit narrower than your other five planks.
  2. Sand the edges. Your saw will leave some rough edges on your new planks, so it’s worth the effort to sand down the sides. I used a 180 grit sandpaper.
  3. On your wall, mark the studs. Once you’ve found the stud placement on your wall, you can use a long level to draw a vertical line on the wall to insure you’re always nailing into a stud.
  4. Nail your planks onto the wall. My wall was longer than 8 feet, so I cut the planks each time I started a new run. The first time you cut a plank, start your new run with the leftover part of the plank you just installed. This will help to stagger the joints on the wall.
  5. Use spacers (pennies or tile spacers) to create a little horizontal gap when you install your next run. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as it’s thin and you use the same thing all the way up the wall.
  6. You will probably have to rip the last run at the top of the wall a little thinner than the rest. If you look at my pictures, my last “planks” were only about 1 1/4 inch wide. It’s not a fun cut to make, but you can do it.
  7. Fill your nail holes and caulk around the top, bottom and sides of your new shiplap wall. Sand any nail filler excess away before painting.
  8. Prime, then paint. I only needed one coat of paint, hooray!

Planks are up! What's next?

It’s ironic that I didn’t keep the Sharpie Shiplap lines up because they were not straight.

Neither are these board cuts.

Here’s how I feel about less-than-perfection:

I could have freaked out, pulled them all down and started again.

Instead, I chose to embrace their lack of symmetry and move on. I only have so much mental energy to devote to such matters, and I knew I was about to cover a lot of it up with plates and a big mirror.

So is it perfect? No.

But is it done? Yes.

What I Learned:

  • They make a guide for circular saws for ripping long boards. People, I didn’t even know such a product existed. I literally drew a line on my plywood and followed it (kinda) with my saw blade. No wonder my lines were wavy.
  • Before you paint, use wood filler for nail holes and caulk for everything else. I caulked the gaps on the bottom and top of my shiplap wall, and any place where the boards didn’t quite make it all the way to the end of the wall. This seems obvious maybe, but if it’s not, you’re welcome.

Next Step: Hang Some Cute Stuff on Your Wall!

I’ll link to my plate wall tutorial here once the post is up!



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