Painting New Shiplap In 4 Easy Steps

Painting Shiplap doesn’t need to be intimidating. I’ve used three different painting methods for shiplap in my home! With the right technique, each finish turned out great. Today I’m sharing how to take your new shiplap from sitting in your garage to fully installed and painted. Let’s go!

White Ceiling Shiplap view with skylight and plants on ledge in our green bathroom

Tools & Materials Needed

  • Soft Paint Brush
  • Foam or Flocked Roller
  • Tackcloth
  • 120 and 220 Grit sandpaper
  • Paint Sprayer (Optional)
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Paint Drop Cloths
  • Shopvac
  • Wood Filler
  • BIN Primer
  • Paint

Step 1: Prep For Paint

If you want your Shiplap to look good, prep is key.

A. Fill indentions with wood filler.

Fill in all the dings or scratches with wood filler using a putty knife. Slightly overfill, but not too much. It will be sanded down once it’s dry. For a rugged look, leave the dings and imperfections for added character.

B. Sand and dust the boards.

Sand off any excess wood filler once dry to make the nail holes invisible after you add paint. If you’re using pre-primed boards, I’d recommend a 220 fine grit sandpaper so it doesn’t scratch the surface too much. Remove any dust or debris on the boards that could affect your final finish. You can use a sticky tack cloth or vacuum the boards with a ShopVac with an attachment.

C. Prime with a quality primer.

Use a foam roller or paint brush to apply 1-2 coats of BIN Primer. Once the primer is dry, sand the brush marks smooth lightly with 220 grit sandpaper.

DIY Tip: Primer

You always need to prime before painting. Primer is an extremely important step that will ensure your expensive paint absorbs properly. Without it, the paint will look splotchy and eventually peel.

Step 2: Paint the edges

Use a soft paint brush to coat both edges and the lip of each shiplap board. It’s nearly impossible to get a wet paint brush in the small gap between boards after they’re installed. Especially when it’s high up on a wall. Painting the edges before you install them will save you a major headache later.

If you’re painting your shiplap white, you can probably skip this step. For any other color, I highly recommend doing this.

DIY Tip: Paint Coat #1

This might seem backwards, but I give all the shiplap boards one light coat of paint before I install them. Then they only need one additional light coat of paint after they’re installed. If this sounds like more work to you though, just paint it all after installation.

Step 3: Install Shiplap

Once your boards are prepped and primed, it’s time to install them. Here are the basic steps:

Locate the studs in the wall and mark them with a pencil.
Use a Nail Gun with 2″ finish nails to secure each board into the studs on the wall or ceiling.
Add any trim now too, if using.
Use caulk around any edges, corners, or trim as needed to create a seamless, built-in look.

Next, fill all the tiny holes left from the nails with wood filler. Sand the excess filler off once it’s dry.

Step 4: Final Paint Coat

Next, you’re ready for the final coat of paint! Your boards might look rough at this point but they’re about to look incredible. There are there different ways you can paint your shiplap at this point. I’ve laid out instructions for each method below.

Choose which one works best for you.

Which method is best for painting shiplap?

Both options will give you a great finish. I painted our green bathroom shiplap with a roller and brush, and was able to get a smooth finish. I painted in small sections with a brush, and then used a saturated roller to lightly go over all the brush marks. You can also use the roller directly. Just be careful to not use too much paint in the roller because it will create drips.

The trick to not getting brush marks is to not back-brush! Only go over a section once or twice. The more you back-brush, the higher chance of getting brush marks in the end. Use light paint coats for the best finish.

Shiplap Painted with a Brush & Roller // Paint Color: Backwood Green by Benjamin Moore | Similar Towel | Tub | Floor Tile

Variables like temperature of the room, humidity, and air flow can all change how the paint finish turns out. Using a brush and roller is faster but I find I still get inconsistent results. When I want a guaranteed finish, I turn to a paint sprayer.

I’ve found that using a paint sprayer takes the same amount of time. Once the area is prepped, the actual spraying step is surprisingly quick.

In anticipation of our Shiplap Ceiling project in our Green Bathroom, Nathan bought me a paint sprayer. Before trying it out on our precious shiplap though, I practiced on a garage entry door that needed a new coat of paint. A paint sprayer is a tool that takes time and practice to get better at. I expected to not be great at it at first. I was able to figure out how quickly to move the sprayer to not overspray or underspray, and to get a feel for how messy it would be.

Prepped For Paint

I followed the Sprayer instructions and ended up with a fantastic finish. Much better than using a roller or a brush.

Finished Shiplap Ceiling After Spraying

Which type of paint is best for Shiplap?

I typically use this Behr Urethane Alkyd Paint from Home Depot on my trim, doors, shiplap, and vanity cabinets. I’ve used it in every remodel update! It flows to hide brush marks and cures to a hard finish after 30 days. Lots of people have recommended Benjamin Moore Advance. I’ll try this next and report back! I recommend spending extra to get a premium quality paint. It makes a huge difference in the amount of paint that you need to use, and in the final finish.


Green and white bathroom.

What questions do you have about painting Shiplap?? Comment below and I’ll answer them.

Read Next >>

The Definitive Guide To Ceiling Shiplap Design

Our Green Bathroom Reveal: Sources + Design Details

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