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What You Need to Know About Creating Shiplap Feature Walls

Learn how to create shiplap feature walls that look authentic using MDF boards for a modern farmhouse style.

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Woodgrain. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.

I’ve wanted to update our builder’s grade laundry room for years and this is finally the year we’re getting it done!

We come into our home through the garage, and the laundry room is the first room we see when we come home.

And not only do we come in through the garage, most of our guests do too!

You know the saying about back door friends…well for us it’s garage door friends.

Just come on in!

The first thing I did when planning my laundry room makeover was to create an inspiration board to take this room from drab to fab!

view looking into laundry room from open door washer and dryer on left side of room with wire shelfing above and on wall straight ahead wire storage shelves with towels and bins on left side of room

Both Anne and I are updating our laundry rooms and it’s been super fun texting each other pictures and asking for feedback through the process.

Click any of the links below to see the DIYs that were included in my laundry room makeover:

We both replaced our laundry room doors with custom doors that we each selected from Woodgrain.

Anne’s is a pretty custom-painted French door that looks amazing in her new space.

And I installed a custom wood door that I stained in a fantastic custom color created by yours truly.

You have to check them out!

They are gorgeous!!!

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Woodgrain Millwork & Moulding

two women standing by the back of minivan with hatch open and woodgrain boards trim and doors piled inside

We were pretty excited when we drove to the Woodgrain distributor to pick up our order.

They offer all different kinds of high-quality products…you can see all the types of millwork they offer here.

Woodgrain has dealers all over the world! You can find the dealer closest to where you live here.

So not only did we install brand new custom doors in our laundry room makeovers, but we also added some super fun details with millwork and mouldings.

Did you see Anne’s custom wood window valance she created with Woodgrain moulding? Beautiful isn’t it?!

I’ve been wanting to add shiplap walls to my home for years!

And now I had the perfect space in my new modern farmhouse laundry room to add shiplap! YAY!

I couldn’t wait to start this part of the project and I can’t wait for you to see how AWESOME it looks!

Installing the shiplap wasn’t difficult at all, but I did take lots of photos of every step so you could follow along with our project.

So let’s get started…(remember lots of pics coming your way!)

Supplies & Tools Needed to Create Shiplap Feature Walls

How to Prepare Your Walls

hand cutting caulk line with box cutter along baseboard moulding

The first step in preparing the walls was to remove the baseboard trim from the room.

Using a utility knife I scored the caulk along the top of the baseboard to prevent damage to my drywall.

pry bar pulling baseboard moulding away from wall

After scoring the caulk I was able to easily pull the baseboard trim from the wall with a crowbar.

I decided to remove the baseboards because the boards we were using for the shiplap were wider than the original trim.

Plus I wanted the shiplap to go to the floor.

paint supplies with open can of paint on washing machine in laundry room with drywall repair spots on walls behind

We then repaired the holes that were left in the wall after removing the wire shelving with spackling.

And just so you know when I say “we” I mean my husband Chris and I because I wouldn’t have been able to get this project done without his help!

I painted the walls, Chantilly Lace, by Benjamin Moore because it’s the perfect white for this space with no undertones.

It took two coats on the ceiling but can you believe it took three coats to cover that light mint green color!?

Next time I’ll use a primer and save some money on paint.

Do You Really Need to Paint Behind the Shiplap

empty laundry room after painting before installing shiplap

If you’re using Woodgrain S-4-S boards like I did for your shiplap you DO NOT need to paint the walls before installing shiplap.

I promise the old paint won’t show…like at all!

When researching shiplap installation and options most people used plywood or thin board ripped down to shiplap size boards.

Many claimed this was the most economical option but they also recommended painting the walls first so you wouldn’t see the original paint color between the “shiplap” boards.

Because the MDF boards I used from Woodgrain were 17mm, which is about 5/8″ thick, there was no way I was going to see the original paint color once the boards were hung.

close up of MDF boards with nails holding it to wall

Here’s a close up photo of the boards.

So please learn from my mistake and save yourself the time and money and don’t bother painting behind these amazing Woodgrain boards.

And another bonus, because the boards are so thick, in my opinion I think it looks so much more authentic…more like real shiplap!

It’s a win-win!

Oh and did you notice those pretty new floors?

Installing the new flooring was probably the easiest project we’ve done in this laundry room makeover!

Measure Twice, Cut Once

hand holding pencil marking shiplap board with tape measure on table next to miter saw

You may want to rush ahead and cut all your boards at once.

I mean you would think that would be the easiest and fastest way to do it right?

But what if your walls aren’t level?

We took the time to measure the wall before cutting each piece and using a level as we worked our way up installing the boards.

woman cutting shiplap board with miter saw

I know you may think this will slow you down but it didn’t really take us too long with both of us working together.

We double checked the length of the wall for each new board we needed to cut, measured it and then used our miter saw to trim it to the exact size for a perfect fit.

How To Attach Boards to Create Shiplap

man using nail gun to attach mdf board to drywall in laundry room

After locating the studs in the wall Chris used a nail gun to attach the primed MDF board making sure to hit the studs as he moved down the length of the board.

Set your nail gun low enough so that the nails sink into the board to allow for caulking the holes later.

We started with the back wall when you look into the laundry room.

Oh, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that we’re installing shiplap on three of the walls in the room.

Starting on this wall would give us the look we wanted in the corners of the room which I’ll show you soon.

nickel on top edge of shiplap board

Ok, back to the installation…

We used nickels as spacers between our boards.

Some other DIYers use pennies or dimes or even actual spacers.

I didn’t want to waste money on spacers, so coins for the win.

Because I wanted the space to be a bit wider between each board I opted for nickels as spacers.

several nickels spaced down the top edge of board in laundry room

We spaced several nickels down the length of the board before attaching the next board to the wall.

woman using nail gun to install shiplap board holding wood with one hand and nailer with other hand

We continued to attach each board moving our nickels up as we went.

And before long we were finished with our first wall!

far wall in room with completed shiplap feature wall

Our shiplap walls are called “feature walls” for a reason…we only took them about 3/4 of the way up the wall.

Can’t wait to show you the end result!

As you can see, we had to cut two of the boards short for the dryer vent.

We didn’t worry about trimming the boards closer to the hole because our dryer will be against the wall so no one will ever see it.

Installing Additional Shiplap Feature Walls

When we started on the second wall we measured to be sure each board was level and lined up next to the first completed wall.

It was really helpful to have two of us working together because this wall is almost 9′ long.

It helped to have one of us hold each end of the tape measure to get the correct measurements.

We installed the back wall first because I wanted the boards from the long wall to butt up to the back wall boards.

corner of laundry room where two walls of shiplap meet

I didn’t want to add trim to the corners of the room where the shiplap walls meet.

But if you want a more decorative look, you can add trim to the corners.

How to Cut Around Outlets and Vents

shiplap cut short on wall in corners around dryer vent in wall

Remember how we just cut our boards short for the dryer vent because it would be hidden in the corner by the dryer once we put it back in the room?

We did the same thing for the other wall and cut the boards short so that we had enough room to attach the dryer vent.

wall with water line connections and dryer outlet

But do you see those other outlets and water lines on the last wall we planned to shiplap?

Yup, we needed to cut the boards going around those since I’ll actually be able to see them.

mans hand holding jigsaw cutting mdf board in garage

Measure twice and cut once…well maybe…looks like we may have cut this one too small and needed to recut it.

But seriously just measure the size of your outlet or water line box then use a jigsaw to cut the MDF board.

shiplap walls with cutouts around water lines and outlets

Caulking and Painting Shiplap Feature Walls

hand holding caulk gun against wall filling nail holes

Caulking all the nails is easier since we set the nail gun to drive the nails deeper into the boards.

Just add a dab of caulk to each hole, then smooth it over with your finger and wipe the excess off with a damp rag.

womans hand holding paint roller against wall painting

Once all the nails are covered with caulk it’s time to paint the shiplap boards.

I used the same Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore but this time I only needed one coat since the MDF boards came primed.


How to Add Trim To Shiplap Feature Walls

handing holding paint brush painting trim on drop cloth

I wanted the top of the shiplap feature walls to have a finished look since we only went 3/4 of the way up the wall.

I considered a few different options.

We decided to use 1×2 primed MDF from Woodgrain as a trim piece so that it had a finished but simple look.

I painted the trim pieces before attaching them to the wall.

mans hands using nail gun to attach trim to top of shiplap wall

We measured each 1×2 to size, cutting them at 45-degree angles in the corners.

Then we secured the trim pieces to the top of the shiplap using our nail gun.

long shiplap wall on right side of photo with custom wood stained door with glass window at end of wall

I love that the Woodgrain boards come in 16′ length so we’re able to have one board go down the entire length of the longest wall.

The seamless look of the shiplap boards helps to elongate the small room.

And I’m so happy we decided not to take the shiplap all the way to the ceiling.

It makes the room feel more open.

I think if the walls were covered with shiplap to the ceiling it would feel more closed in.

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completed laundry room makeover with shiplap feature walls wood shelving and washer and dryer

I’m super happy with the progress of my laundry room makeover so far.

I still have a few more small projects to finish up, so check back soon!

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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