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Bathroom Renovation: How to Install Real Shiplap

shiplap being installed around vanity in bathroom

Are you tired of seeing wall after wall being covered with shiplap?  

Brace yourself because here comes one more! :)

Truth is, since I first started planning this bathroom makeover, like two years ago, I knew that I wanted to have a featured shiplap wall in here. You can see a good amount of bathrooms I gathered inspiration from when I shared this post right here.

It took me a while and perhaps I'm one of the few that still likes this treatment. For me, it works in small applications. I've only installed it in my office, above the bench, using thin plywood.

Here in the bathroom I already installed it on the ceiling, I love how it brings the eye all the way up. Those pine shiplap planks were installed to stay there, they were glued and double-nailed to fight gravity and the test of time.

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a small bathroom get the shiplap treatment on the ceiling
How to plank a ceiling - Shiplap Ceiling

For the wall... I installed the shiplap thinking... Maybe, I'll get tired of it later on, so I know how to remove it.

And that's why I first installed the vanity, I didn't want the shiplap behind it.
In case you are one of the few, still interested in shiplap, here is how it went for me:

The materials and tools you'll need:


For the walls, I used MDF material.  Even though it's not what I recommend for bathrooms for being a soft material that damages easily when water touches it, I used it because of the size being more what I needed for my space and because it's not going to be in direct contact with water.

I like that the planks come already primed and the finish is very smooth. It's a better finish, compare to the pine shiplap boards I used for the ceiling. I didn't sand these MDF boards and that's a big bonus.
The thickness of the planks I bought was half an inch, but I can't find them any longer. Instead, they have the .375 inch that you see in the link below.
Home Depot MDF shiplap boards

Pac Trim 0.375 in. x 6.000 in. x 8 ft. Primed MDF Shiplap


The first task is to find and mark the location of the studs on the wall.
how to install shiplap - finding the studs with a stud finder and tracing the lines with a level
Zircon Stud Finder  |  Husky 48" In. Box Level with Plumb Site

I used a stud finder to find and mark the center of each stud. Then, using a level  I drew the lines all along each stud, you can also use a chalk line to mark these lines where the nails need to be driven.

Measure, Cut, and Install the planks

Start at the bottom, and make sure that the first plank is level.

For my application, the first area that I had to work with was the area behind the toilet. Having a few water pipes running behind that sheetrock made me extra careful on installing the shiplap boards there. Besides that, I also had to work around the molding profiles on the vanity.

So, in order to concentrate on the cuts and the fitting of each plank, I made what I call a dry-fit, cutting and installing the planks with tape on the wall.

The profiles of the vanity trim were transferred to the back of the planks to be cut with a jig saw. For the outlet, drill a hole so the jigsaw blade can get in. The water pipe circle was easily done with a 1" hole saw.
RYOBI Cordless Jig Saw  |  Makita Impact Driver  |  DIABLO General Purpose Bi-metal Hole Saw Set

Once all the setup looked good, I started the real installation.  I had to open again one of those holes on the wall to make sure I didn't hit any pipe.
RYOBI  Angled Nailer  |  2-1/2 in. 15 Gauge Angled Brad Nails

Contrary to the ceiling installation where I drove the nails on the face of the planks, here on the wall I decided to do it on the little lip at the top of each plank. I didn't want to patch nail holes.
However, for the lower part of the plank to stay secure and in place, I added a fine line of liquid nails alongside that lower lip, in order to attach it to the lower board.  If I had an excess liquid nail on the crevice, I cleared it off with Q-tips.

The installation continued over the vanity, trimming the boards with a jig saw or circular saw.
My Ryobi cordless angled nailer equipped with 2-1/2 nails was again the tool for this job. Making sure those nails were hitting each stud right in the middle.

This room has a slanted ceiling, and the area or the walls that go up beyond the 8', have a different stud layout than the one below the 8' mark.

Also, make sure those nails go below level, otherwise, your next plank is not going to sit flat.


There must be a few ways to find the angles for this kind of application, I used a ruler, a level, and scrap pieces of material and I still don't know how I did it!
However, once you measure, cut, and know that the first angled cut fits like a dream, don't install it just yet!

Go first and lay it on the floor, bring the other planks that go above it and trace that same diagonal line onto those next boards until you can cover whatever wall is left.


Shiplap was also installed onto this small - crooked wall.

And I paid close attention to that corner, where the only way to make those small planks fit perfectly was by scribing them.

Scribing was an easy way to draw those crooked lines on the wall onto the planks, so each time I had a perfect fit in that corner.

As you see in the picture below, I used a pencil to transfer the profile line onto each piece.

I used my Ryobi miter saw to make the cuts and here again, I used brad nails on the top lip and liquid nails on the lower one. In some spots, I even used wood shims because that wall was so uneven!

Before adding the wooden transition piece on that corner, I gave those MDF ends, two coats of primer, and paint.

And this is how that corner looks now:

 And this way, with the newly installed toilet.


Finally, the small wall where the entrance door is located was also covered (or almost, as you see below) with shiplap. Though, the door got its trim first.

I started by installing that first plank that brought the first line above the vanity. Then, I continued all the way down, following the profile of the vanity. Once again, I didn't install any of those small pieces until they were all cut and fitted.

In my last post, I explained how I closed the gap between the vanity and the wall.


All the corner gaps were filled with silicon caulk... Around the vanity and wall and ceiling corners. That's one job that Mr. RLC always helps me with. 👍

For the planks, I used BM White Dove in a semi-gloss finish. I should've painted the planks prior to installation as I did with the ceiling, but things got in the way and I didn't do it. So, I had to start by giving each and every gap two coats of paint with a small paint brush, waiting for each coat to dry before applying the next.

Then, the planks were painted with a roller. Oh, and I loved using aluminum foil as a pan liner. Two pieces of foil are put together with painter's tape. It stayed in place, didn't get damaged, and once finished no need to wash it! It was a better experience than using a plastic bag.

So, here are some final shots:

Oh, and can you believe this wall above the door is still missing the planks?! When I placed the order, I got confused thinking these were the same length as the ones I used on the ceiling (12 feet), but nope. these were only 8 feet.  So, the material was not enough to fill this entire wall and when I went to order some more they were out of stock. 😞

I search high and low for them and found them on e-bay, ordered them and the following day got an email telling me they would arrive at least in 6 to 8 weeks.

Last week I logged on to Home Depot again to see if they were available, but I found the thinner version that I linked above. Well, I ordered those and canceled the e-bay order. I don't think the difference in thickness in the planks it's gonna be that big of a problem up there.

As of right now, that shipment is in transit.

Anyway, I love it!  And I'll be happy to live with this amount of shiplap for a very loooong time!! ;)

So, just for fun, are you done with shiplap? Have you installed it in your home?

white MDF shiplap planks being installed in bathroom

This is how the bathroom looks now:
modern vintage bathroom makeover

The following are the links to the projects done in this bathroom:
Here's how I easily change the look of the shower.

    Enjoy what you read today?



    1. This looks amazing. You always do such a fabulous job.

    2. I feel you on the angle thing...I am FOREVER struggling with figuring proper angles for odd cuts...a trick...take a piece of paper and cut it to the size of your install (wood, tile, whatever) Lay it in the "gap" and fold or trace the angle, then transfer that onto the board or tile. It may not be perfect but it will give you something to work with. Bathroom is looking GREAT! I am still waiting on my hired hands but I did the backsplash this week...and of course I had to reorder materials because I didn't have enough. Does anyone EVER order enough of anything to finish a DIY project? Not!

    3. Raising my hand and jumping up and down because I still love shiplap!! You always do such a beautiful job. You undoubtedly must be a perfectionist...just look at those perfect lines meeting each other. Love!

      We put some in at our last house and I thought it added so much character to the rooms. We didn't do any in this house, though we do have some beadboard. When our son moves out next week (boo) I want to do shiplap or beadboard on at least one wall in his room. Now that we are all accustomed to seeing it, I think the flat wall looks boring!

    4. Shiplap is not my personal style but i wouldn't say no to this bathroom. I so admire your skills and willingness to tackle things. You are inspiring!

    5. I like shiplap, especially the real thing! I installed faux shiplap (thin plywood) on my store walls. You did an excellent job, with all the cut outs, angles, etc. That is very time consuming! As for angles, you can use a “sliding T bevel” (amazon has them), which helps you take the angle of anything and set your saw to match it.

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