Learn all about the difference between DIY shiplap vs planked wood walls.
Let’s chat about how to install a farmhouse style wood plank wall, the difference between using shiplap vs planked wood walls and shiplap vs tongue and groove siding today. I’ve added not one, but three wood planked and shiplap accent walls in the North House recently.
I used a different method and materials on each of them. Adding interior wood plank walls is not hard to do. It’s even easier if someone shares a few tips to help installing your wood accent wall project…so let’s get started!
I’ve used both plain old wood planks and shiplap in different rooms for my interior wood plank wall projects. Initially, I was confused about the difference between shiplap vs wood plank walls because everyone calls a planked wall shiplap nowadays.
But there is a huge difference, a Shiplap wall is not a wood plank wall!
The Difference Between Shiplap vs Planked Wood Walls, Car-siding and Tongue and Groove Wood Walls
I’m updating this part to add third type of interior wood plank wall to this post, car-siding. A few helpful readers have shared information on car siding walls in the comments below and used the term car siding and tongue and groove.
Car siding, also known as tongue and groove is actually different than shiplap and it looks different when installed on a wall too.
What does a Tongue and groove or car siding wood accent wall look like?
I have another DIY wood accent wall project here in the North House, that was done in pine tongue and groove or car siding. I’ll share a picture below so you can see what it looks like installed. I’ll link to this post when I finally write the tutorial.
Car siding and tongue and groove has a u shaped channel on one side and a protruding piece (think of sticking out your tongue (thanks Allison!) on the other edge. The two fit together. It was called box-car siding because they used to make box cars with it.
The 2″ thick version of this is also used for horse stalls. If you look close you’ll see a “v” shape cut in where each of the boards meet. One big benefit of using tongue and groove for a wood accent wall is you’ll never see spaces in your wood due to shrinking.
What does a shiplap wood accent wall look like?
The picture below is a shiplap wood wall. A shiplap wood wall has each wood plank lay over the edge of other. In simple terms it has a cut out groove for the next board to rest under or over. In technical terms it has an overlapping joint, called a rabbet or an “L” shape cut out.
You won’t notice when shiplap wood planks shrink after they are installed because of the overlapping wood parts.
What does a wood plank accent wall look like?
A wood plank wall is simply that, a wood accent wall using wood planks. Unlike the other wood plank types, there is no way to connect them or seal seams with a wood plank wall. You’ll basically nail them up tho the wall.
You’ve probably seen some pretty creative wood plank walls using pallet wood or other reclaimed wood. I used 1″ x 6″ common pine boards for my accent wall in the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom.
I’ve also used plain 3″ wood boards and cut them into 12″ wood pieces, stained them different colors and made a wood tiled wall. That is probably the best use of common pine boards for wood wall.
How Easy Is It To Find Shiplap or Tongue and Groove Wood?
Shiplap, tongue and groove and plain wood planks are most commonly found in pine and cedar.
Finding shiplap or tongue and groove wood for an accent wall or ceiling project is easier than you think, You may have to do some creative looking depending on where you live. Do a search on your local Home Depot or Lowes website and you’ll find lots of choices and many that ship for free right to your home.
One problem with not choosing your own boards is you’re likely to get warped, cracked and poor quality boards mixed in your shipment. Returning and exchanging a few bad boards can be a hassle and time consuming.
Don’t overlook the regional building supply places if you have them, I found our local building supply store, LaValleys in Vermont had fabulous prices and was located just down the street in from the North House Lodge.
Basically, finding shiplap in VT was easy, in FL not so much. After doing some serious browsing at my local Home Depot in FL, I found a small selection of shiplap by the tongue and grove boards. It wasn’t the same quality as what I found in VT which had a rough side and a finished side which I liked.
Supplies Needed To Install a DIY Wood Accent Wall out of Shiplap, Tongue and Groove or Wood Planks
The supplies needed to install a DIY wood accent wall from any of the three wood styles is the same.
- Wood plank accent wall material. Shiplap, tongue and groove or wood planks
- Ryobi Airstrike nail gun
- Ryobi 10″ Compound Miter Saw
- Ryobi Cordless Jigsaw
- 4 foot long level
- Brad nails I used 2″ brad nails because both the shiplap and the wood boards were 1″ thick
- Caulking gun
- Construction adhesive that fits in caulking gun. I used approx. 2 per 10 foot wall.
- Paint or stain
Useful Tips For Installing A Shiplap Wood Accent Wall
As I mentioned earlier, after installing 3 different accent walls of wood in the North House, I have a lot to share. Unless I mention otherwise these tips are for installing both a shiplap or a wood plank wall.
A second set of hands is helpful at times, especially if you’re planning on using long boards. I talked my dad into driving up and helping with the kitchen wall (thanks Dad!), as always I love the time we spend together besides the fact that I learn something new with each father-daughter project we tackle together.
I built the bathroom wall myself and hired local help to install the shiplap wall in the Lodge bedroom simply because I was running out of time on the oversized to do list before I had to head back to Fl.
Tips to install a wood plank wall
Common pine boards will shrink over time. Paint the wall underneath if you don’t want what’s under your wood accent wall to show through. Also, use spacers like nickels or pennies in between each board to get a uniform look if you do want spaces between each wood plank.
The bottom line is, now that I’ve installed a few wood accent walls, I wouldn’t use plain wood planks again unless I were installing a specialty wood accent wall. The others choices, tongue and groove and shiplap look better in my opinion.
Step One: Measure your walls and determine a pattern
Figure out your total wall surface in square feet by multiplying your length by the width of your wall. Decide how you want the boards placed and at what length. In my small bath I used planks as wide as the wall because it was a small space, I had no board seams.
In the Lodge room (pictured below) we staggered the board seams and used long planks (I think 6′). Plan the seam location up front to be sure you’re ordering enough wood. Keeping the board length in mind, add up the number of boards you’ll need and add 10% for waste and mistakes.
Step Two: Locate and mark where the studs are on the wall
Use a stud finder and mark the location of the studs on the wall. Draw a line from the ceiling to the floor.
We were playing around with the board pattern in the picture below and held the boards up with a nail and awe.
Step three: Start at the center
We started this wall at the ceiling. After installing several walls I think it’s easier to start at the bottom unless you are using small boards that are light. Center your first board in the middle. Apply adhesive to the back and attach the shiplap or plank to the wall with a nail gun.
Place 2 – 3 brad nails in a row along the studs with a nail gun. We started at both bottom and the top of the wall on different projects. I liked starting the top the best for looks. I think your eyes travel to the top of a wall, and it’s looks better when the top pieces are the same size as the rest of the boards on the wall.
I’d rather rip (trim on a table saw) the boards on the bottom row by the floor where it’s less visible.
Step four: Work around windows, baseboards and electrical outlets
Plan in advance for the items you’ll work around. We decided to overlap the baseboards in the Lodge Room and butt up against them in the kitchen and bath.
We worked around the outlet on the plank wood wall in the kitchen.
Step five: Trim and finish the wall edges
The North House was built somewhere around 1900, the walls and ceilings are uneven which makes it nearly impossible to get a good tight fit to the top of the wall and ceiling. The solution to that was to trim the wall at the corners and ceiling which hid the uneven gaps.
If you’re not planning on adding a trim around the edges be sure to get a snug fit at the ceiling. Yes, I’ve changed out the carpet since I took this picture!
There is a window in the middle of the kitchen wall we were adding planking to. Our solution was to add new trim right over the top of the old trim. It fit perfectly. Since I was painting the planked walls downstairs I caulked the window and edges of the trim before painting.
Pros and cons of using shiplap vs planked wood walls?
To me, the benefit of using shiplap was the uniform appearance. Each board fit with the next like a puzzle piece. All of the spaces are even between the boards. The shiplap was by far easier to use and install too. The grooves keep the boards flush against the uneven walls.
Depending on where you shop, unlike wood planks, consistently finding a quality grade is easier in shiplap too. I loved the shiplap I used in the Lodge Room, it came with a rough side and a smooth sanded side in high quality pine.
We installed it with the rough cut side out. The texture of the rough side was exactly what I envisioned to fit the rustic decor in the Lodge Room.
I’m still not sure if I’ll stain it because I liked the natural color of the wood. I think it compliments the decor don’t you?
How much difference does adding a wood planked wall make?
Alot. Don’t you think so?
Keep in mind I haven’t added window treatments or much decor yet!
I know many of you have seen this half bath before picture, but for those of you who are new…
When would I choose wood planks over shiplap for walls?
I probably won’t use common boards again for a wood planked wall. Shiplap is too easy to use with nice straight lines. I would choose wood planks for a wall if I were using the 1/4″ decorative premade wood planks or pallet wood. They would be perfect for a wall that couldn’t hold much weight or you wanted the cool look of the different color & textures that these come in.
I know this post is crazy long…so sorry! I simply felt that if I’d had all this information before I started the projects would have been easier. That’ my job, to share the good info with you guys… So now that you have it, be sure to pin it to keep it handy for when you too tackle a wood accent or DIY shiplap wall:)
Shiplap vs planked wood walls, which one would you choose and where would you put one in your home?
You may enjoy and find these other projects & posts helpful too!
I added DIY Interior Wood Shutters to my studio in Fl.
- Wood plank accent wall material. Shiplap, tongue and groove or wood planks
- Brad nails I used 2" brad nails because both the shiplap and the wood boards were 1" thick
- Construction that fits in caulking gun. I used approx. 2 per 10 foot wall.
- Paint or stain
- Figure out your total wall surface in square feet by multiplying your length by the width of your wall. Decide how you want the boards placed and at what length. Plan the seam location up front to be sure you're ordering enough wood. Keeping the board length in mind, add up the number of boards you'll need and add 10% for waste and mistakes.
- Use a stud finder and mark the location of the studs on the wall. Draw a line from the ceiling to the floor.
- Center your first board in the middle. Apply adhesive to the back and attach the shiplap or plank to the wall with a nail gun. Place 2 - 3 brad nails in a row along the studs with a nail gun.
- Plan in advance for the items you'll work around like windows, baseboards, and electrical outlets.
- Add trim to the wall at the corners and ceiling which to hide any uneven gaps.
- Paint or stain as desired.