We’ve officially started our Phase 1 makeover of the game room, and step one was installing some vertical shiplap on a couple of the walls – here’s a full tutorial on how we got it done!
When we decided to take on a “phase one” makeover of our game room, Corey and I spent a lot of time debating what exactly it would consist of. Our long-term plans for this space include an entire wall of built-ins, a cozy library feel, and tons (TONS!) of storage for toys, games, and more.
But, since we’ve only lived here for 6 months we didn’t feel completely ready to dive into such a massive undertaking. We want to really take our time with the big decisions for this house and stick to projects where we know exactly what we want. And we aren’t quite ready to nail down our exact plans for the built-ins yet (though we have lots of ideas!).
The only thing we knew for sure we wanted in this room was to paint the (eventual) built-ins Black Evergreen by Behr (because we fell in love with the color months ago and can’t let go of it), and we want the built-ins to turn the corner and turn into a long desk for our boys for homework, coloring, or whatever.
Originally we had planned on just waiting until we were ready to do the whole room before we did anything in here, but we’ve quickly realized that this is a favorite spot for the boys to play, and it wasn’t very functional for us as it was – there was no organization, Corey and I hated being up there because it was always a wreck, and we just knew it could be a lot more useful for us.
Enter the Phase One makeover!
We decided that instead of tackling the built-ins now, we’d go ahead and do some vertical shiplap in the space where the built-ins will eventually be – it can stay and become a backdrop for the shelving eventually, and it gives us a good idea of how the color will look in the room (spoiler: it’s AMAZING).
This is a pretty simple project, and I’ve tackled shiplap on the blog a few times before, but this was my first time doing vertical shiplap so I figured it deserved its own tutorial.
I had to dig deep for some before photos of this space – apparently I really avoided photographing this space because I had a hard time finding any! But, here’s what I’ve got:
You get the general idea – basically a total blank slate, white box of a room!
Let’s add some shiplap, shall we?
How to install vertical shiplap
Tools & Materials:
- 5″ pre-primed shiplap
- Brad nailer (Read more about how to use a nail gun here!)
- 18-gauge nails
- Caulk + caulk gun
- Wood filler
- Orbital sander and 220-grit sandpaper
- Paint (We used Black Evergreen by Behr)
- Paint brush + roller
The first thing I’ll note is that this project is gonna be a lot easier for you if you pre-paint your shiplap! I had planned on doing that but we had a week full of rain in the forecast and I didn’t want to commit to having all my shiplap outside and get it ruined by rain. I went ahead and installed it and, of course, we got zero rain.
If I was doing this again, I’d 100% pre-paint using my Wagner spray gun, but you could just paint with a brush and roller. Just trust me when I say you’ll save hours of your life (and prevent a hand cramp or two) if you get it painted before you get it up on the wall.
Another prep work step that you can choose to do is measure the entire wall to figure out if you should start on a full board or a partial board. I didn’t do this, so I can’t speak to exactly how well it would work, but we ended up with a tiny sliver of a board over on the end of our wall. I think that if I had measured the entire wall and divided that by the width of my boards, would have seen that there was a tiny fraction of a board at the end. If I had noticed that, I would have ripped my first board in half before installing it so that the end fraction was a little bigger.
I can’t guarantee this will prevent any awkward slivers in your corners (because I haven’t tried it myself) but I’m fairly confident it would help!
Once you’ve got everything prepped, your first step is to measure the height of your wall for the first board. You may be tempted to take one measurement and cut all of your boards to that length (after all, the ceiling is the same height all the way around, right?), but don’t do that! Your ceiling (and likely your flooring) isn’t perfectly straight or level and there will be variations.
I don’t recommend cutting more than about 3 boards from a measurement – after that, take a fresh measurement before cutting any more. I found that mine had about a 1/4″ variance throughout the wall – and my house is literally brand new….so I promise just about every house is going to have some waviness to the ceiling!
Once you have your board cut, you can install the first board. When you’re installing horizontal shiplap it’s easy to ensure pretty much every board hits a stud, but vertical shiplap is tricky since most of the boards won’t! One way to combat this is to use Liquid Nails to glue the boards to the wall before nailing them in, but I chose not to use it for this. I skipped it partially because we may end up removing some of these boards when we do the built-ins down the road (and liquid nails will destroy your drywall if you pull it off), but mostly because I wanted to see if it was possible! And, it is!
Instead of using Liquid Nails, when I was nailing the boards in place I angled one nail downwards and placed another nail underneath it angled up – these nails should criss-cross behind the drywall and help hold the board in place. I also took the time to angle some of the other nails at varying degrees so they are less likely to pull out of the wall. Between that and every third or fourth board naturally going into studs, I feel really good about this staying in place for the long haul (but, of course, I’ll keep you updated!).
You can see a photo of what I’m talking about below, or you can click here and watch my Instagram highlight with a closer look at how I installed all of this!
When I’m nailing shiplap into place, I put the majority of my nails in the lip of the board so that they’re hidden when the next board slides on top. But if you only put nails there, the back part of the board will pop right up! So I always put a few nails along the other side of the board and just fill them in later.
When it comes to corners, you can just add trim (that’s what I’ve done in the past), but this time around I decided to see if I could skip it – and I’m so glad I did! For the pieces that meet in the corner, I simply butted them up next to each other and caulked the cap so it’s basically seamless. In the corner where the shiplap ends, we just cut a small sliver to meet the wall, and caulked between the board and the wall. I think it’s a really clean and more modern look, which is exactly what I was shooting for because a lot of the other elements in this room will be more traditional!
After you’ve installed your shiplap, it’s time for the finishing work. This part is the most tedious (and honestly boring) part of the process, but it’s also the most important part for a really seamless and professional-looking finished product!
I used wood filler to fill all of the nail holes in the shiplap. Be sure to overfill the hole a bit so that when you sand it down it’s perfectly smooth! If you don’t overfill it, there will be a little divot where the nail is and you may as well have not filled it at all.
I also caulked all along the top and bottom of the boards, and in the corners. Caulking vertical shiplap is a little annoying because of the gaps – I just kept a flathead screwdriver nearby and caulked each board one at a time. If any caulk got into the gaps, I gently pulled it out with the screwdriver. It was slow-going but not as bad as you might expect!
After you’ve caulked and filled the holes and everything is dry, it’s time to sand! This is key in making your nail holes totally disappear. You can do this by hand with a sanding sponge, but if you have an orbital sander, that will make it a lot faster. I attached my sander to our shop vac to help reduce the dust, and it left virtually zero mess!
Sand aaaaaaaaall of your wood putty spots until they’re smooth, then wipe down the shiplap with a damp rag and let it dry fully before painting it.
Once everything is dry it’s finally time to paint! Because I skipped the step of pre-painting, I had to use a paintbrush to paint inside each individual gap in the shiplap. It was not fun and it took me hours and hours to paint it all – but, of course, it was worth all of the effort in the end!
I found the best method for me was to do one section at a time (so it didn’t get too tedious and I felt like I was actually making progress), and I would paint inside all of the gaps, then go back with a roller and paint the face of the boards. You’ll need two full coats to help cover any brush strokes (the second coat can just be done with a roller!), and then…
Well, I think the finished product speaks for itself, don’t you?!
I’m so incredibly in love with how it turned out and I (half) jokingly told Corey that I want to paint everything in our house this color. It’s SO! GOOD!
We’ve been working on a built-in desk to go in the corner (it’s almost done!), so stay tuned for that tutorial soon as well…and, of course, in a couple of weeks I’ll have the whole room reveal for you. It’s coming together even better than I imagined, and I’m so excited to see how much more our family uses this space once it’s finished!