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  • Poppy Grady

I Wanted Shiplap Now, So I Did It Myself

Updated: Jul 7


When I found my little beach house three and a half years ago, I thought I hit the jackpot. And really, I had. I felt like I was on an episode of Beachfront Bargain Hunt when I found a quaint, little cottage within walking distance to a marina, beach and park, all in the state's top school district. I didn't think twice and made an offer that night. The only downside of the house were the kitchen and bath, which both needed a major overhaul. I mean, we’re talking major 80’s décor with gold wallpaper and a vanity with a scalloped sink.

I started almost immediately peeling wallpaper down. Little by little, I tore pieces off the wall. I started calling the bathroom the Pee and Peel. I told guests to have fun peeling off pieces while they were in there. It was irresistible to almost everyone. And if you were one of those people who likes peeling off skin after a sunburn, it was especially satisfying.

But see, this is where the trouble began. I found that the glue beneath the wallpaper was a special, bionic glue that clung to the wall like a tick to a dog. It did not want to come off no matter what I did. Yup, I sprayed the special spray. Yup, I used the wallpaper scorer. Yup, I used vinegar. Yup, whatever it is you’re thinking of, I tried it.


And this continued for about three years. Try. Fail. Resolve I’ll need to hire a contractor. Then again… Try. Fail. Resolve to get a contractor. And again. You get the idea.

I kept waiting because, if you’re going to hire a contractor for the wall, then you may as well delve into the whole project, right? Except I couldn't afford the whole project. Until this year. I got so sick of looking at that wall and waiting to be able to afford a total overhaul that I decided to bite the bullet and at least get an estimate on a vanity replacement (labor). I thought if I could just get that done, then I could manage the rest by myself.

When the contractor was here, I told him that removing that glue was too much work and can’t we just shiplap over it. He said yes we could but we’ll need to remove the molding and the window casing and do all of these contractorie-type things and all I could hear were dollars and coins hitting the floor, so I said, “Nope. I’m just gonna slap on some boards and butt them up against the molding.” He blinked three times and stared at me. I could tell I was on my own. So, I hired him for just the vanity install. And I went to Home Depot.

And now, here’s how you shiplap a wall the cheap and lazy way…


At Home Depot, I blindly bought a saw and nail gun (because I had no idea which to get, so I guessed, and probably did some very light research). I came pretty close to getting it right, too. I ended up exchanging the saw for a different one, but I was definitely on the right path. I figured if I can sew (currently sewing masks for Covid), I should be able to measure and cut wood.


Previous to this trip to Home Depot, I had spent considerable time looking up shortcuts to using real shiplap. I looked up peel and stick shiplap look-alike stuff, which by the way, would have been way more expensive, had I purchased. I looked up how to use cheap vinyl flooring as shiplap (generally not recommended). I spent hours looking for a shortcut in both labor and budget.


I was in analysis paralysis.


And, I figured that, even if I did want to use regular wood, I didn't know which to buy. So, on this particular day, with a saw and nail gun already in my cart, I walked through Home Depot and found some wood that looked like it would make good enough shiplap. It was labeled shiplap, but I had already learned there are many different types. So, I went with the boards that I thought would fit in my car. Don't laugh; you would, too.


Again, I totally guessed. It was $5 a board and I thought that sounded reasonable. Looking back at this, I had some balls. I mean, I guessed my way through this whole thing.

I brought it all home and did nothing for at least a week, maybe two. Too scared to start. Finally, I bumped into a neighborhood friend who is a contractor and I asked him if he could show me how to use the saw. He came over the next morning and spent twenty minutes with me showing me how to saw and use the nail gun. While he was here, I made one cut by myself and put two nails in a board. And then he left. I thought that hardly seemed like enough practice and so I didn't do anything that day. I was still scared. So, it took me until the next day to get started. I finally talked myself into it.

And then? I started.

And then? I f’ing did it!

I mean, I really did it!


I was amazed. It really wasn’t that hard at all. And I didn’t do any of the extra steps that all the shiplap videos tell you to do. And it still came out great. And places where it’s not perfect? I call it character.


And now? I feel like a superhero. Now that I know how to saw and nail, imagine the things I can do! I said to my mother the other day, “I think I’m going to peel up the family room rug and put down a hardwood floor there.” I mean, who says I can’t do it, right? I sure as shit can! Just as blindly as I did the first project, I'll do the second.

If you’re a single mom out there who is paycheck to paycheck, like me, but who has always wanted to do this or that to your house, you can do it yourself! Yes, you can! I’ll send the whole bath reno in another post.


Here’s what I used for Shiplapping:

· Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless AirStrike 18-Guage Brad Nailer, $99 at Home Depot


· Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless Brushless 7-1/4 in. Circular Saw, $119 at Home Depot


· 1x8 – 6 Ft. Shiplap Board, $5.62 per board at Home Depot

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