embracing the imperfections.

I have wanted a ship lap wall ever since the first time I binge watched Fixer Upper.  I can’t remember who told me about that show (I’m pretty sure it was Meggan, am I right Meggan?), but I watched the first episode and was hooked.  That was back when I still had cable TV and they happened to be having a Fixer Upper marathon one winter day while I was painting a piece of furniture in my piano room.  I think I watched the entire first season in one day.  I fell in love with ship lap walls that day, and I bet thousands of other viewers did as well.  Twenty years from now the next generation of DIY’ers will be cursing us as they have to remove the ship laps walls that have become dated.

But in the meantime, my ship lap dream has finally come true.  We’ve added a ship lap wall as part of our master bedroom makeover.

I read lots of ship lap wall tutorials before beginning my project and although I took bits and pieces of wisdom from each one, I didn’t follow any one method exactly so I thought I’d share a post about how we did it.

I’ve decided to add a new feature to my blog posts and I’m going to call it the p.p.p., the putzy-est part of the project.  It seems like nearly every project has one of these, right?  Well, in the case of this wall for me it was buying the wood.  Please note the important words for me.  I don’t know why, but I find that figuring out and acquiring the appropriate supplies is always the most intimidating part of the project.  I’m sure most of you have no issues with this at all, it’s just me.

It began with calculating how much wood I would need.  I measured my wall and then calculated the total square footage as a starting point.  Then I decided to make my boards 8″ wide because that would fit pretty evenly floor to ceiling on both the vertical lower portion of the wall and the upper angled part of the wall with a 6″ board at the very top.  Next I did the math to calculate how many 8′ long x 8″ wide boards I would need.  Then knowing that I would get 6 boards out of every 4′ x 8′ sheet of wood that I had, I figured out that I would need 4 sheets.  To double check I calculated the total square footage of 4 sheets, 128 square feet, and compared it to the total square footage of my wall, 112 square feet.  Seemed like a good bet, so I went with it.  It was a little nerve wracking because after I had the pile of wood everyone kept looking at it and saying “are you sure you got enough?”  No, I wasn’t sure, but I was optimistic.

Next I made a few phone calls to find out which DIY store would cut the sheets into 8″ strips for me.  Menards was out, they don’t provide that service.  Home Depot said they’d do it for 50 cents per cut.  Perfect.

So Mr. Q and I drove over to our local Home Depot and this is where things really got putzy.  First we had to find someone to help us find the right wood (we ended up using 1/4″ thick sheets of 4 x 8 underlayment).  The first employee had no idea where that was, so she had to call someone from lumber.  That guy pointed out the right wood, but then sent us to the Pro desk to arrange to have it cut.  The guy at the Pro desk was on the phone, so after waiting for about 5 minutes for him to finish that call, he then told us that we needed to go back to the lumber guy to arrange the cutting.  When I pointed out that the lumber guy sent us to him, he then suggested maybe someone at the customer service desk could help us out … all the way at the other end of the store.

But then we got lucky.  Sarah at the customer service desk was super helpful and friendly.  She arranged for our wood to be cut, told us they’d call when it was ready and processed our payment for the sheets without charging us for the cuts.  Nice!  The p.p.p. was done!

My next step was painting the room.  I painted the other three walls and the ceiling in a Benjamin Moore color called Edgecomb Gray.

I wanted just a hint of color so that our beautiful white trim would still pop.

I expected this color to be more gray, after all ‘gray’ is in the name.  It really is a greige, in bright light it looks like a very pale warm gray and at dawn it definitely looks more beige.  The color changes throughout the day as the light outside changes.

The ship lap was was going to be painted in a shade of white from Dutch Boy called Cotton Blossom.  I used this color in my living room and piano room and I knew I liked it.  So I painted the wall that was going to be ship lapped with the Cotton Blossom.  I highly recommend doing this, especially in my case because I can see little bits of wall behind the ship lap.  It’s good that I didn’t leave that wall blue.

Next I had to sand both edges of each of the 24 – 8′ boards.  I tried hard not to think about the math … sanding 48 edges … but sometimes I can’t help myself.  The blade that Home Depot used to cut them must not have been terribly sharp because those edges were pretty jagged.  This was certainly not the most fun part of the project, but I cranked it out in an hour or two.

With the boards sanded and the wall painted, it was time to attach the boards to the wall.   For this we called on our amazing handyman neighbor, Ken.  He brought over his chop  saw and his pneumatic brad nailer.  We absolutely could not have done this job without Ken and his tools.  So many DIY’ers talk about how easy these sorts of projects are, but the reality is that unless you already have the tools, it’s not really do-able.  If we’d had to buy the tools for this project, it would have cost quite a bit more.  Thank goodness we have Ken!  We set up the chop saw right in the bedroom which ended up being the best decision ever.  Running up and down the stairs every time we needed to make a cut (which ended up being a lot) would have really been a pain.

And since we’re having those floors sanded and refinished this weekend anyway, what’s a little more sawdust?

Now, keep in mind that I have plaster walls in my 1904 house.  We’ve never had much luck trying to find studs, so we decided not to bother about that.  We used 1″ brads and just used plenty of them to keep the boards in place.  I didn’t want to use glue of any kind because I know that one day, when it has become outdated, someone (possibly even me) is going to want to remove the ship lap.  If the boards were glued in place that would be so much more difficult.

  I know Ken struggled to come to terms with my decision.  He’s afraid one day a board will fall off in the night and take out Mr. Q and I while we sleep peacefully underneath.  But I seriously doubt it.  If anything the end of a board might pop up, in which case we’ll just add a couple more brads to hold it down.

Ken also wasn’t happy with the cutting job that Home Depot did.  As you can see, some of the cuts were really not straight at all.  Plus the boards ranged in width from 7′ 7/8″ to 8′ 1/8″.  This left gaps between the boards that varied from one end to the other.  At this point, I had to introduce Ken to the concept of embracing the imperfections.

After all, those original ship lap walls were certainly not perfect.  Ship lap was just a base to build upon with plaster, it wasn’t precise or even meant to be seen.  I direct you to this photo from magnoliahomes.net.  Take note of the total lack of perfection, fairly raw edges, uneven boards, and also note that the nail holes are not filled.

To me, this is ship lap at its finest and this is the look I was going for.

So ’embrace the imperfections’ became my mantra of the day as Ken and I attached the faux ‘ship lap’ boards to the wall.  This part of the project went way faster than either of us expected.  We started after lunch and were done before dinner.  I think it took about 4 hours in total.  We did get a little help from nnK and Mr. Q towards the end of the day as we got to the top of the wall.  We needed two people to hold the planks in place and a 3rd to operate the nailer.  We just randomly staggered the lengths of the boards.  I didn’t want to see any sort of pattern.

The next day I primed the boards with a stain blocking primer.  I wasn’t sure what those water stains on the boards were all about, but figured a stain blocking primer would be a good idea.  Then I added a coat of Cotton Blossom.  And if you’re wondering, no, I didn’t fill the nail holes.  They are just barely visible up close.

And voila, my ship lap wall is finished.

Speaking of imperfections, you may have noticed that my bottom ship lap board ends about 2″ above the baseboard.  Yep, my math wasn’t quite right after all.  Ken really wanted to fix that, but I decided to just let it go.  This wall will have stuff in front of it all the way across and no one is ever going to even notice this flaw.

Mr. Q must really like how the ship lap turned out because he suggested we consider adding ship lap to the same angled wall in his new study (the former guest room).  Now that he’s suggested it, I realize he’s totally right.  It would be perfect in there.  While we’re at it, it would also be fabulous in the guest room.  And now that I know how easy it is, we just might do it!

But first, I have nnK’s college kids coming to refinish the floors this weekend.  Once that task is done, the really fun stuff begins.  Bringing the furniture back in, some old pieces and some new pieces (not brand new, but new to me), and changing out some fixtures.

 Be sure to stay tuned to find out how it all turns out!



36 thoughts on “embracing the imperfections.

    1. Thanks Victoria! I’m looking forward to getting this project done. Currently we have all of the stuff from our entire 2nd floor piled into every available spot on the 1st floor and the chaos is a bit overwhelming. The floor sanding upstairs commences later this morning.


  1. One thing that Quandie left out is that I was totally joking when I said we should continue it in the next room! So it wasn’t my style prescience (of which I am blissfully free), it was my wry sense of humor (which seems to get me into trouble in any way that it can fairly get at me)!


    1. *of which I am blissfully free* bahaha! Good thing Linda has you covered. You’ll know better than to joke about such matters in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it! You leave me in awe of the projects you take on and complete to perfection! (Or imperfection in this case!)


    1. I feel like the gap isn’t very noticeable at all, so I’m glad to get confirmation of that. And once there is furniture in front of it … well, no one is ever going to see it.


  3. You nailed it with this project! 🤣I love how it turned out but better yet, your sense to go with the imperfections and not stress over them. It turned out beautifully. Another job well done!


    1. I am learning as I get older that things really don’t have to be perfect. Perfection tends to cost more money and take more time, and no one really cares. OK. Maybe there are some people who care, but I’m no longer one of them!


  4. It looks amazing. I love the colors you choose too. You are right though someday someone will look at that wall and say that stuff has to come down. My son and daughter in law just renovated the house my husband grew up in and tore off four rooms on paneling that was put in 1972. Oh, and Mr. Q, home improvement is not a joking matter. I see another shiplap wall in your future. 🙂


  5. Well I am one of the 1,000 or so people who also love ship lap. I live at the beach so I am itching to add some to a large wall in my living room. My husband is a perfectionist so it should be interesting to say the least! My best friend, who also lives on the island a couple of doors down from me, is in the process of remodeling her home. She is adding a whole 3rd floor. While drinking wine one evening, we decided that she needed ship lap in her house too! She has a new very large foyer which goes from the first floor all the way up to the 3rd floor. Her husband is just shaking his head. I will let you know how things go. Can anyone say, “More wine please?”


    1. I find that a glass of wine is perfect for inspiring some remodeling! It might help your husband go with the flow of the whole ‘imperfect’ thing too 😉


    1. Thanks Monica! I say go for it in your living room. I do really love how it turned out and the ship lap itself was an easy project. The painting was a little more labor intensive, but again, not terrible. It was moving everything out of our 2nd floor to have the floors refinished that was a killer! One can accumulate a lot of stuff in 28 years!


  6. Love this wall and I am a big fan of imperfection. Did your calculation on how much wood to buy work? I know you had the small gap at the bottom but just wondered if you ended up with extra wood or nailed the amount exactly. I like the wall color, I just painted my laundry room a similar color. Glad you had the extra help. Holding the wood overhead is exhausting. And having your house all messed up in the renovation process is stressful too. Thanks for sharing and Mr Q, go with the process.


    1. I had two lengths of 8″ wide board left over. So, my calculation was just about perfect. Had I wanted to fill in those 2″, Ken could have cut down one of those remaining boards to fill in the gap. I am going to make sure Mr. Q sees the final sentence of your comment 😉


  7. Thanks for your description of the Edgecomb Gray paint once applied to your wall. I have been considering it for my walls, but thought it might be too gray. The color on your walls is perfect for me so I’m getting a sample and giving it a go. Love how the white goes with it perfectly. Don’t even need to address my love for your perfectly imperfect shiplap. Love it!


    1. The color definitely leans towards the beige side of greige, so I think you’ll be happy with it. I have a 3 season porch with a red shingled roof just below my bedroom windows. The reflected light from that roof, plus the currently orange-y color of my floors is probably adding a bit more warmth to the color. I’m looking forward to seeing how much it changes once the floors are done.


  8. Your recollection is correct as I am a card-carrying member of the Magnolia Fan Club 😉 The shiplap is AMAZING!!!!! It really fits in your house, like it could have originally been there. I cannot even believe how awesome Ken is! I can totally see him struggle with the imperfections since he seems to be quite the perfectionist in furniture restoration. I love that it was a BYOT day ahaha! What a fun project this summer! I know it will be incredible when all is said and done. As always, can’t wait to see what’s next.


    1. So basically, I can blame you for this entire project Meggan! Since it all began with my dire need for a ship lap wall 😉 And you’re so right, it really does ‘fit’ my house. I love the way it looks on the angled walls. I’d seriously like to do both of the other two now. I’m going to give Ken (and myself) a little time to recover, and then maybe tackle another ship lap wall this winter.


  9. Thanks so much for your post. Now I want a wall done in my dinning room. Love the way yours turned out, imperfections and all !!


  10. Hi Linda..I love your ship lap..your wall will be a “great focal wall”….I am putting a “wood wall” in my sitting room..and I need a good primer..can you tell me what kind of primer you used..?? Can’t wait to see your room…”all finished”…Thanks for sharing…Linda


    1. Well … I had an old can of stain blocking primer down in the basement and that’s what I used. There was just enough left in the can to do that one wall. The label was pretty much painted over, so I’m not even sure what brand it was. Just your basic stain blocking white primer.


  11. Hi there busy gal. I think that will look marvellous when you get the furniture in,anxiously awaiting to see this. I have never heard of shiplap,other than on a few blogs. Where did this originate?
    Do you know? Do you ever sit still. I love your decorating.(you can tell Mom that lol,just a little note from Betty in Ontario,Canada


    1. How did I miss replying to this comment Betty? Better late than never I hope. Here is how Wikipedia defines shiplap: Shiplap is a type of wooden board used commonly as exterior siding in the construction of residences, barns, sheds, and outbuildings. It is either rough-sawn 1″ or milled 3/4″ pine or similarly inexpensive wood between 3″ and 10″ wide with a 3/8″ – 1/2″ rabbet on opposite sides of each edge. The rabbet allows the boards to overlap in this area. The profile of each board partially overlaps that of the board next to it creating a channel that gives shadow line effect, provides excellent weather protection and allows for dimensional movement. Shiplap has been around a long time, but was originally meant as a base material to be covered over with plaster or wallpaper. I’m not sure if the concept of exposing shiplap and painting it originated with Joanna Gaines/Fixer Upper, but she certainly is the one who made it popular.


  12. OMG, I love this project. We did this in our laundry room, and I so love it. We plan to do this in our basement. You nailed your space. Thank you for sharing.


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