How to Paint Shiplap Cracks Without Going Insane

How to Paint Shiplap Cracks

I’m going to bet you are reading this blog post for one of two reasons. One, you’re thinking about doing a shiplap accent wall and doing your research. Two, you’ve already installed shiplap, started painting shiplap, and now you’re wondering how to paint shiplap cracks without going completely insane.

Regardless of which type of diy’er you are (I tend to be more of the kind of gal who dives in headfirst and figures things out as I go), you’ll find this blog post helpful to answer your shiplap painting questions.

Thanks to Joanna Gaines, we’re all utterly obsessed with shiplap. But the one thing she forgot to tell us is what a pain it is to paint because of the small gap between each board. As we know from watching every episode of Fixer Upper at least once, shiplap is always the answer, and all this work will be worth it. 

If you’re want to know the easiest way to paint the edges of the boards, trying to figure out if you need to paint the wall first or want to know the best white paint and painting supplies for shiplap, then you’re in the right place! I have these answers and more, so let’s dive in.

Disclaimer: Please remember that I am a DIY enthusiast, not a professional. This article is for general information use and is not a substitute for professional advice. Before taking any actions, consult a professional! Additionally, this may contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using my link. All opinions and recommendations are my own. I truly appreciate you taking my suggestions and using my links. Thank you for being so supportive!

Isn’t Shiplap Going Out of Style?

The answer is no to your fear that shiplap is going out of style. The shiplap look has been around for hundreds of years. Also, here’s some advice about trends. Stop asking yourself if this is in style and ask yourself if you like it. Follow your gut on what you think looks good in your home because doing so guarantees you’ll always feel more at home.

Also, you may be questioning if the added work it takes to hang, prep, and paint shiplap is worth it. And the answer is yes! Shiplap is always a good idea because it’s a great way to create a focal point or accent wall in any room, even a big or small space. 

How to Paint Shiplap Cracks: Supplies

I find it helpful first to gather all of my supplies before I even plan to begin. When getting ready to start any home project, I’ll take a day, usually after work, separate from my project day and shop for everything I need to complete the project. I do this because it always takes longer than you think to shop for supplies, and half the day is wasted at the hardware store by the time you’re done. 

As I mentioned earlier, painting shiplap is a bit of a pain in the butt because of the shiplap cracks (or space) between each board that forms when shiplap is hung correctly. The correct prep and painting supplies will make painting shiplap a little easier. 

Here are the supplies I recommend to paint shiplap:

  • Paint brush – go for a small brush such as a 2″ short handle angled brush
  • Paint roller – select the width that matches the width of your shiplap boards
  • Paint sprayer – this is totally optional, but if you’ve been eyeing one, now is a good time to invest! 
  • Primer – it may cost a little more but go for the stain-blocking primer such as Zinsser 123.
  • Paint – you’ll need paint in the wall color you desire

One other thing to know before you head to the store to shop for supplies is if you want a rustic or more modern look. The rustic look includes leaving any nail holes exposed, and the more modern-looking shiplap fills all the holes leaving you with a smooth finish. 

If you’re going to fill the nail holes, then you’ll need these additional supplies:

  • wood filler
  • putty knife
  • sandpaper
  • paintable caulk (also an option but not my first choice)

Do I Have to Prime Shiplap?

No doubt, priming shiplap will take extra time and is an additional cost. But for best results, yes, you need to prime shiplap because the wood has tannins which, over time, will bleed through your paint if you don’t—leaving you with yellow and orange-ish spots all over your shiplap. You will also have better coverage when you first prime.

Pro tip- paint and primer-in-one does not count as priming!

The type of primer I am talking about is a stain-blocking sealer, and I highly recommend Zinsser 123. My last home had tongue-and-groove paneling in the most hideous orange color on every surface imaginable. Thankfully, I found Zinsser early in my renovations because it covered the orange and did so without having to first sand everything!

The Best Paint for Shiplap

How to Paint Shiplap Cracks //

When you’ve invested in good primer, selecting the best type of paint for shiplap is easy. Plus, priming also means fewer coats of paint and a faster application.

Pro tip: 2 coats of primer & 2 coats of paint

I have trialed several paint brands for various home improvements and found I like Behr Ultra the most. The consistency is smooth like butter, and it provides great coverage. I have found the Behr Ultra to be highly durable and easy to work with, which is why it’s my go-to paint choice for all my diy projects.

Many people also love Sherwin Williams, but I found this paint thick and didn’t love it as much as the Behr regarding ease of application. I also don’t love that you have to go to a different store to buy Sherwin Williams when I can buy Behr at Home Depot. 

You can’t go wrong with either of these types of paint, so don’t get too hung up on choosing “the right paint.” If you’re going to stress over one thing when it comes to painting, let it be your shiplap paint color. 

Oh, and one more thing about paint, the finish or sheen of paint. I prefer the least shiny option that is still durable, which is why I use an eggshell paint finish. Whatever you do, never go with a flat finish because it’s nearly impossible to keep clean, and if you try to clean it, you’ll just make the spot worse.

How to Paint Shiplap Cracks

Now about those cracks of the shiplap. There are two approaches: painting the shiplap grooves before hanging or after hanging the shiplap on the wall.

The first option is to paint before attaching the boards to the wall; you’ll paint the top and bottom sides of the boards. I do not recommend painting the full board at this point because it may be nicked during installation. Also, if you’re planning on filling the nail holes, you need to wait to paint until after it’s hung, and the holes are filled and sanded.

The second option is to paint after attaching the boards to the wall; you’ll still start by painting the top and bottom of the boards (inside the crack) with your small paintbrush. Using a decent amount of paint, paint all those vertical and horizontal shiplap spaces between each board. Then move on to painting the entire surface of each board with your paint roller. It is a personal preference if you want to work in sections or do all the cracks before painting the flat portion of each board.

Natural Wood Shiplap vs Faux Shiplap

If you’ve checked out the pricing on shiplap lately, you may have a bit of sticker shock. I don’t want this to stop you from doing a diy shiplap wall! Here are two other more budget-friendly options: faux shiplap (aka sharpie shiplap) or plywood shiplap. 

The most affordable price of all these options is sharpie shiplap, where you use a sharpie marker to draw clean lines on your wall, creating the effect of the cracks of shiplap. 

When considering cost, the next best option for shiplap is taking plywood and cutting it into strips to create faux shiplap panels. The problem with this option is the amount of time this takes to not only cut the boards but to then also sand every side to get a smooth surface. The advantage is this is still a real wood option compared to sharpie shiplap.

Best White Paint Colors for Shiplap

I’m all about efficiency and not getting stuck in analysis paralysis, so I’m giving you my top four white paint color choices. I suggest grabbing a small sample of each and testing them in your space.

  1. Alabaster (Sherwin Williams 7008)
  2. Simply White (Benjamin Moore OC 117)
  3. White Dove (Benjamin Moore OC 17)
  4. Chantilly Lace (Benjamin Moore OC 65)

Also, you don’t have to paint shiplap white! I also love, love, love a moody accent wall. If you’re considering a darker color, check out Tricorn Black by Sherwin Willams.

So, there you have it! You asked how to paint shiplap cracks and I answered this plus so much more because I just love shiplap. What questions do you still have? Email me, and I’d be happy to help! I’d also love to see how you used shiplap in your home; tag me in a photo on Instagram @tantrumsandtools, and I’ll share your results in my stories!



PS. Want more ideas and inspiration?

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