How to Create a Dark Vertical Shiplap Accent Wall

A few weeks ago, we wrote an article about our home office makeover. The main feature of the makeover was the dark vertical shiplap wall behind the desk. Since posting that article, we’ve heard from a lot of people wanting to know the details about how I did it. So, in this article, I’m going to show you how.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • brad nailer
  • 1 1/2″ brad nails
  • shiplap boards (I found mind at Home Depot.)
  • paint (I used Benjamin Moore Hale Navy.)
  • smooth foam paint roller
  • stud finder
  • tape measure
  • air compressor

Determine How much Shiplap is Needed

The first thing I did was determine how much material I needed. I did this by doing a rough estimate of the wall area: width x height. Since part of my wall is angled due to the slope in the ceiling, I measure the highest part. That way, I knew I would have enough.

When we built our house, shiplap was hard to find. But now, you can find it at pretty much any local home improvement store. I found mine at Home Depot. It’s 4 inches wide and already primed.

Paint the Shiplap

It’s best to paint shiplap before putting it up, at least the groove part of the board. I learned this the hard way when building. Since we weren’t using a sprayer to paint our walls, it was impossible to get the paint in the grooves with a roller and brush. So I ended up buying a cheap sprayer to paint the grooves. Lesson learned.

I had some help from Brooke on this project. First, she used a brush to paint the groove part of the boards.

Then she used a foam roller to paint the rest. If you’ve never used one, they are great for smooth finishes on trim, doors, and of course shiplap. Rolling after you use the brush gets rid of any brush marks in the finish.

Find and Mark Your Studs

Running the shiplap vertically does present some challenges. Since the studs also run vertically, you’re only able to nail a few of the boards to actual studs. But you can nail to the very top and bottom of the wall, and thankfully our framer put horizontal braces between the studs half way up the wall. This meant I could nail to the top, bottom, and middle. And the pieces that happened to overlap the studs could be nailed anywhere on the board.

So I used the stud finder to find and mark the studs as well as the horizontal braces. I marked the studs on the baseboard since any mark on the wall would be covered.

Determine Horizontal Coverage

Another challenge of running the shiplap vertically, is having to cut a piece length wise to fill in the last space. You probably want to avoid doing this unless you have a table saw. Thankfully, I was very lucky here. The width of my wall worked out so I could use full pieces all the way across. But 9 times out of 10 this will not be the case. If you’re not so lucky, no need to worry. You can cover any gaps between the shiplap and the wall with a piece of 1×2″ trim around the edges and paint it the same color of the shiplap.

Measure, Cut and Nail

Now that all of the calculating was done, it was time to start cutting and nailing. Since I was going to to be able to use full width pieces all the way across, I started on the far left. Otherwise, you may want to start in the middle and work your way out on each side. That way you will have the same width piece on the left and right when you are finished.

I took one piece at a time, measuring from the top of the baseboard to the ceiling. Since part of my ceiling is angled, I had to cut most of my pieces at the top on an angle. To get the angle, I took the pitch of my roof, which I knew was 10/12 and converted it to an angle. If you don’t have this type of sloping ceiling, you don’t have to worry about cutting your boards on an angle, and your job will be much easier.

To nail the boards up, I used a brad nailer. Brad nails are smaller than finish nails, but for this type of project, you don’t need tons of holding power from your nails. Where I could, I nailed into the tongue of each board. Since the tongue is covered by the next piece, this meant less hole filling at the end. Oh, and please overlook the saw dust in my hair.

I repeated this for each board until the wall was covered.

Finishing Touches

Once I nailed up the last piece, I filled all the nail holes with spackling and did all of the paint touchups. And that’s it! You can see more images of the shiplap wall in home office makeover article.

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  • Reply Tatiane

    Love this! I want exactly what you showed but horizontal for our master bedroom wall accent. Do you think it cost a lot to have our builder to do this or DIY later? We are trying to save some money. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    October 19, 2018 at 4:09 am
    • Reply Henry

      Hello Tatiane! It would be more cost efficient to do it yourself and it is seriously pretty easy!

      December 7, 2018 at 12:54 pm
  • Reply Melissa

    What a great pop of colour! I was wondering what flooring you used? Love it! Such a beautiful home.

    December 6, 2018 at 11:00 pm
    • Reply Henry

      Hello Melissa! We are so glad you like it and are following along. Our flooring is engineered hardwood Padua by ADM Flooring. We do love it!

      December 7, 2018 at 12:53 pm
  • Reply lucie brooks

    This looks amazing!! I’d like to do the same for our master bedroom with a sloped ceiling. I don’t know the pitch of my roof and own a simple circular saw (not as nice as yours)! Do you have tips on how to measure and cut boards at an angle? thank you!

    November 4, 2019 at 5:05 am
  • Reply Sara

    Hello Henry! What a beautiful wall! We are hoping to run shiplao vertical on a wall in our living room. Don’t think we have a middle horizontal brace as you had. Do you think you would still be safe nailing the top and bottom? Thanks in advance!

    April 17, 2020 at 3:49 am
  • Reply COURTNEY

    Hey guys! What width of shiplap board did you use?

    August 21, 2020 at 5:38 pm
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