DIY Shiplap – Create a Beautiful and Easy Farmhouse Ceiling

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How to cover a textured ceiling with (faux) shiplap. Not only is it easy to do, but this method is much more cost effective than the real thing!

When we purchased our home, it came with the ugly stamped ceilings. This is similar to popcorn ceiling texture, simply done in a different way. Popcorn and stamped textured ceilings are done to make the contractor’s job easier. If you put a texture on the ceiling, then you don’t have to do a perfect job of finishing the sheetrock on the ceiling. It’s a shortcut.

The people who built our house, even took the extra step of dragging the tool through the medium to create a “medallion” in the ceiling around the light. Ugh.

But the ceilings in our kitchen were especially bad, since the previous owners had had an oven fire. The ceilings were soot-stained, and to hide that, the owners had painted over it. That only made it worse.

Now if you just had regular textured ceilings you can moisten and scrape it all off. But not if you have painted over it. In that case, the only way to get it off, is to sand it off. What a mess!

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I decided to cover it up instead. It needed to be something lightweight, since I would be sheathing the original ceiling. I also didn’t want it to break the bank.

Real shiplap is very expensive. On average, you are looking at $10-11 per plank. It is tongue & groove and a much thicker wood.  My faux shiplap ceiling was made from very thin plywood and cut into planks. The planks were spaced to create the illusion of shiplap. This is a fraction of the cost of actual shiplap!

This project was so easy to do, that I am going to do the same thing to create a feature wall in my bedroom.

In the case of doing this on a wall, you would need to use a level to make sure the boards are going in straight. Generally, you will just need it for the first row. You can use a chalk line or a pencil to mark the line on the wall. Place the first plank row along that line and use it as a guide for all the rest of the planks.

If you wanted, you could create multiple lines to help you make sure you are staying level as you work your way up the wall.

The Supplies To Do This Project:

  • Sheets of 4×8’ sanded 1/4″ thick plywood – The number of sheets needed will vary by the size the space you are doing. (This is the plywood I used.)
  • Table saw
  • Jig saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Air compressor with brad gun attachment
  • 1 3/8″ – 18 gauge brads
  • Something to create spaces – we used nickels (Have some spares! We kept misplacing them.)
  • Small hammer
  • 1×2” trim
  • Miter saw
  • Wood putty
  • Paint & painting supplies

The first step was measuring the room I was going to be doing, in this case it was my kitchen. My kitchen is about 231 square feet. A sheet of plywood is 32 square feet. To cover my ceiling, I would need 8 sheets. However, I added one sheet as a buffer. In case we made any mistakes when cutting or needed more than I thought. We ended up having several extra planks, and I was able to use them for other projects.

We used the table saw to cut the boards into 6 inch wide planks. Actual historic shiplap can vary by width, and could be wider or narrower. I chose 6 inches, but you can make the planks any width you like.

Some hardware stores will cut wood for you, but none of the places around me will do orders with that many cuts. Check with your local stores to see if they will cut the wood. If not, you’ll need a table saw to get the nice, straight lines.

How to Install the Faux Shiplap Ceiling

You can watch the video of how we installed this ceiling here:

I began by removing the trim around the cabinets and all of the ceiling lights & vent covers.

We began in one corner of the room. Because we were doing this in a kitchen and had cabinets to work around, we needed to cut the first board to fit the space. We used a measuring tape to measure the space, then cut the wood plank to fit.

We placed the first plank all the way against the wall and used the brad gun to nail it into place.

To install the next board, we used nickels as spacers to create a gap between the boards. We placed a nickel at each end, put the next board firmly against them, and nailed it into place. I found that a nickel was the perfect size to create the appearance of shiplap, making the planks visible, yet wasn’t enough space to see the textured ceiling through the cracks.

Once we reached a space where the planks would run straight from one end of the room to the other, without being interrupted by cabinets, we started at one end of the room. We used full length planks, end to end, until we reached the other end of the room. The last plank was measured and cut to fit, since the room was not a multiple of 8 feet.

The next row, we began at the opposite end of the room and worked our way back. We did this so that the seams of the plank ends would be staggered. Each row, we started on alternating ends and continues this pattern across the ceiling.

Each time we got to the end of the room where we would need a shorter plank, we measured and cut at that time. We did not pre-cut them all to length, because you never know if the walls are perfectly square.

When we reached the other side of the room, we had to cut the last planks not only to length, but also to width, to fit in the final space.

As we attached the boards to the ceiling, occasionally a brad wouldn’t go all the way in. We simply tapped them in with a hammer.

Working Around Obstacles

When we came to light sockets and duct openings, we used a saw to cut spaces in the planks to fit around the opening in the ceiling.

The flange or skirt of the light/vent cover would cover the edges of the wood and conceal the cut surfaces.

It only took a couple hours to do the entire ceiling, and went much quicker than expected.

Finishing the Shiplap Ceiling

To finish off the edges of the room, we used a simple trim all the way around the walls and cabinets. Originally my cabinets had trim, but the walls did not.

Because I was going for very simple and primitive, I chose basic pine 1×2” boards. I loved the imperfections and knots in the wood. You could use any trim that you like.

I used a miter saw to cut all of the boards to fit in and around the corners of the room and cabinets, cut to 45 degree angles. The trim was put in place and nailed with the same brads that we put the ceiling up with.

I used wood putty to fill in the cracks where the trim board ends met, and let it dry.

The trim and ceiling planks were all painted with Valspar Signature, Satin paint in “Dove White.“ I chose to paint it all after it was in place, since we do not have a garage or other protected work space. If you do, you could paint all of the planks and trim before installing it. It is up to you.

Once it was all done, we installed the lighting and vent covers.

As I said earlier, this project was very simple to do, and we absolutely LOVE the final product.

To see a tour of the entire kitchen remodel, and everything that was done, visit here: Farmhouse Kitchen Tour | All the Details of the Reno Project

Other Farmhouse Decor Inspired Projects:

How to Create a Shiplap Ceiling - Farmhouse Kitchen on a Budget

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