Time Saving Secrets for Painting Shiplap Cracks After Install

close up image of a white shiplap wall with text that reads "How to Paint Shiplap Cracks"

How to Paint Shiplap Cracks When It’s Hanging on the Wall

Thanks to Joanna Gaines, we’re all utterly obsessed with shiplap.

Although Joanna is the shiplap queen, there is one thing she forgot to tell us! And that is how to paint shiplap cracks without going completely insane.

If you’re want to know the easiest way to paint the grooves between shiplap boards, and anything else related to painting shiplap, then you’re in the right place!

I recently re-did our mudroom and painted the shiplap after it was installed, so I have lots of things to share that will hopefully make your painting shiplap experience easier.

Let’s dive in.

a narrow mudroom and laundry room combo with a stacked washer and dryer on the back left. The entire room is white painted shiplap walls with a black tile floors. There is a wooden bench on the front left with baskets for storage above the bench. There are hooks under the baskets. On the right there are four oversized black frames and at the back there is a white barn door.

Quickly find your painting shiplap answers:


Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.


How to Paint Shiplap Cracks Step-By-Step

Now about those shiplap cracks. Grooves? Same difference.

The easier approach to paint shiplap is before it is installed, but for whatever reason, that just did not happen. And this sounds like it is the case for you too. I get it!

Now you’re wondering, how the heck am I going to get those cracks white without going completely insane?

The truth of the matter is, you’re going to have to get into those tiny grooves. Each and every one of them.

It sucks.

But! Having the right brush and technique makes it less terrible!

Step 1: Determine your work area

First, you’ll want to work in smaller sections going up and down (or down and up) the wall versus painting a larger section from left to right.

Step 2: Working inside the shiplap crack

Then, taking your paint brush (I’ll get to the specifics on that, just keep reading) with a fair amount of paint and pressure, stick the tip of the brush into the crack and start brushing back and forth. Reapply paint as needed so that you get as much coverage as possible.

It’s a tight work area. And you gotta try to stay in the lines. And not make a huge mess while you’re at it.

Are we having fun yet?!!

Step 3: Painting shiplap

Once you’ve covered all the cracks in your small area, you’ll next want to move on to painting the entire surface of each board with your paint roller

Step 4: Flattening drips

Lastly, check your work for any areas where there may be a paint collecting inside of the shiplap crack. You’ll want to remove these while the paint is still wet.

To do so, take a small flat object (I used a piece of cardboard) and swipe this between the cracks to flatten out the drip.

Step 5: Re-checking

Do one last re-check of the area to make sure you didn’t mess up you the paint on your board.

Sometimes when you flatten the drip it spills over onto the board, creating another drip.

If there is, grab your roller and smooth it out.

You’ll repeat this process until you’re happy with the coverage both in the cracks and on the surface!

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Must Have Supplies for Painting Shiplap Cracks

A picture of painted white shiplap walls with a white barn door on the left and four oversized frames on the right. In the frames are black prints of laundry room symbols. There is a black window on the back wall to the left and the floor is black tile.

When getting ready to start any home project, I find it helpful to take some time, separate from my project day, and shop for supplies.

I do this because it always takes longer than planned, and before you know it, half of the workday is wasted at the hardware store.

Here is the list of supplies I used to paint my shiplap white:

  • Paint brush – 2″ short handle angled brush (the angle is the secret sauce to making this easier!)
  • Roller – Select the width that matches the width of your shiplap boards.
  • Primer – Zinsser 123 stain-blocking primer (the white and blue one).
  • Paint – I used Behr Scuff Defense in the color Simply White, and an Eggshell finish (the purple can).

Do You Fill the Nail Holes on Shiplap?

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.

A rustic look includes leaving any nail holes exposed, which is what I did. I would take the word “rustic” with a grain of salt. The nail holes are tiny, and my style is not uber-sleek, so this worked for me.

But if you’re going for a more modern-looking shiplap, then you’ll have to fill every nail hole before you paint.

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

  • wood filler or paintable caulk
  • putty knife
  • sandpaper
  • patience

Favorite White Paint Color for Shiplap

mudroom laundry room combo with white shiplap walls, a wooden bench, baskets over the bench, hooks under the baskets. There are white shaker cabinets above the baskets and separating the bench from the stacked washer and dryer. There is a black tiled floor.

In my mudroom/laundry room combo as you see above, I wanted a brighter white, so I went with Simply White. So, of course, I think this is the best white for shiplap!

>> Be inspired by this gorgeous DIY small mudroom makeover in this post!

But, I fully understand how different paint looks in every room. And it’s quite possible that Simply White looks terrible in your home.

I also fully understanding how incredibly difficult it is to choose one paint color.

So, to prevent you from getting stuck in analysis paralysis, 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)

PS- although shiplap looks so great in white, you could do something else! I love, love, love a moody accent wall. If you’re considering a darker color, check out Tricorn Black by Sherwin Willams.

Do I Have to Prime Shiplap?

Absolutely, yes! Priming shiplap will take extra time and it’s an additional cost. But you can not skip this! The positive of this is, priming speeds up paint application, and you’ll need fewer coats.

But for best results, you have to prime shiplap because, over time, if you don’t the tannins from the wood will bleed through.

What this means is you’ll be left with yellow and orange-ish spots all over your shiplap. And over time these will continue to get worse!

The type of primer I use 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. Thankfully, I found Zinsser early in my renovations because it covered the orange and did so without having to first sand everything! I won’t use anything else.

Best Type of Paint for Shiplap

When you’ve invested in good primer, selecting the best type of paint for shiplap is much easier.

I have trialed several paint brands for various home improvements and found I like Behr Ultra the most. I use the scuff defense in eggshell (the purple can).

The consistency is smooth like butter, and it provides great coverage. I have found this paint brand highly durable and easy to work with, which is why it’s my go-to paint choice for all my DIY projects.

Is Sherwin Williams a Good Paint for Shiplap?

Many people also love Sherwin Williams, but when it comes to the ease of application, I find this paint thick and more finicky to work with.

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. Which, I find myself at regularly.

Don’t get too hung up on choosing “the right paint.” You can’t go wrong with either of these.

What Paint Finish is Best for Shiplap?

a white shiplap wall with a black door toward the back. The text reads "painting shiplap"

Oh, and one more thing about paint, the finish or sheen of paint.

I prefer the least shiny option, but don’t want to compromise on durability. That is why I use Behr’s scuff defense because it is more durable without the shine. I use their Eggshell paint finish.

Whatever you do, never go with a flat finish because it’s impossible to keep clean. And when you try to clean it, you’ll just make the spot worse.

Natural Wood Shiplap vs Faux Shiplap

If you’ve checked out the pricing on shiplap, you’re probably experiencing sticker shock.

I don’t want this to stop you from doing a diy shiplap wall! Here are two other more budget-friendly options:

  1. faux shiplap (aka sharpie shiplap)
  2. plywood shiplap
  3. Shiplap panels

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.

Lastly, there are shiplap panels available which are a thin sheet of wood, that has the same grooves as shiplap. In my opinion, I’m not a huge fan because of how thin the groove is. But! If time, tools, and cost are a concern, then this is a really great compromise for you!

Is Shiplap Going Out of Style?

Nope! And, if it were, who cares! I love it. And if you love it, then what’s stopping you from doing something to your home, that you love?!

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.


So, there you have it! You asked how to paint shiplap cracks and I gave you the steps and tools needed to get this done without going completely insane!

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!


Hey Friend!

project planner pack

Every successful DIY project starts with a plan. That’s why I created the Project Planner Pack.

It’s everything you need to complete your project on time and on budget.

Unleash your creativity with a click, download your Planner Pack and start your DIY journey today!


furniture flipping // diy projects // home renovations // modern farmhouse decorating ideas