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Shiplap for Renters

Thanks mostly to Chip and Joanna Gaines. shiplap has become a popular way to add architectural detail to your walls. If I could, I would wrap pretty much every room in our house with it. But we rent, so that just isn't an option.

When I designed my son's bedroom, I wanted to figure out a way to get the shiplap look that didn't do as much damage to the walls, was budget-friendly and would be relatively easy to remove if we had to. So I came up with what I call: shiplap for renters. The best part is: it's really simple to do.


  • 1×2 inch flat stock trim (we used pre-primed boards from Metrie)

  • stud finder

  • finishing nails

  • nail setter

  • hammer

  • two levels

  • wood filler

  • caulk


  • Measure the wall's height to calculate the number of boards you'll need. We spaced ours 12 inches apart. With eight-foot ceilings we used seven boards (the bottom board is slightly less than 12 inches from the floor).

  • Cut each board to the length of the wall.

  • To help plan out where each board will be, use a pencil to mark where you will place each board along one edge of the wall.Start with the top board. Using a level, draw a pencil line across the wall where the top of that board will rest. Use the stud finder to find studs and mark those spots with an X above the line.Nail the board into each stud using finishing nails, checking with the level as you go. This is a two person job. Trust us on that one!

  • Repeat with each board. 

  • Optional: we cut two pieces of trim to the length of the space between each board (12 inches). They can help hold each new board in place as you work.Use the nail setter to countersink each nail. Fill with wood filler.Use the caulk to seal any gaps between wall and boards.

  • Sand the wood filler and any excess caulk once dry.

Paint the wall. We used Benjamin Moore Simply White. The Metrie boards were pre-primed.

Tip: Focus on getting the boards level, rather that lined up with the floor or ceiling. Our ceiling is uneven, so if we had measured only from there without using a level, it would have looked awful.

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