Painting Shiplap:  A Full Guide

Shiplap is popular for adding texture and interest to walls, ceilings, and other surfaces in homes and commercial spaces. But if you're wondering how to paint shiplap, you might wonder where to start. What is the best paint to use on shiplap? Should you prime the wood first? And what's the best way to get a smooth, even finish? 

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green painted shiplap above fireplace

In this blog post, we'll explore the best paint options for shiplap, the benefits of priming, and the best practices for painting shiplap to achieve a professional-looking result. 

Whether you're a DIY enthusiast looking to tackle a DIY shiplap wall for your next DIY project or a professional painter, these tips and tricks will help you achieve a beautiful, long-lasting finish on your shiplap project.

What Is Shiplap?

Shiplap Is a type of paneling made up of overlapping boards that create a distinctive horizontal pattern. 

While shiplap is often seen in its natural wood state, painting it can provide any room with a fresh and updated look. 

Is Shiplap Hard To Paint?

Painting shiplap can be a bit more challenging than painting a flat surface, but it's not necessarily hard to do. 

The grooves and overlaps in the shiplap boards can make it tricky to get full coverage with the paint. However, with the right tools and techniques, you can achieve a beautiful finish on your shiplap.

One of the keys to successfully painting shiplap is to use a brush or roller with a long nap. 

This will help you get into the grooves and crevices between the boards, ensuring that you get better coverage. Working in small sections, focusing on one board or panel at a time, is also essential to ensure you get all the spots.

Another challenge when painting shiplap is getting the paint to look even across the surface. Because the boards overlap, it's easy to get a buildup of paint in some areas, and more is needed in others. 

To avoid this, use a light touch when applying the paint and spread it evenly across the board's surface.

Do You Have To Prime Shiplap?

Priming shiplap is not always necessary, but it can be a good idea for the best results.  Especially if the wood is unfinished (bare wood) or has been previously painted with an oil-based paint. 

unfinished shiplap
Here are a few reasons why you might want to prime your shiplap before painting:

Sealing the wood: Priming can help seal the wood and prevent moisture from getting in, which can cause the wood to warp or crack over time.

Covering up imperfections: If your shiplap has any knots, stains, or other imperfections, priming can help cover them up and create a smooth surface for painting.

Improving paint adhesion: Priming can help the paint adhere better to the shiplap, resulting in a more even, long-lasting finish.

When choosing a primer for shiplap, look for a product designed for wood use and compatible with the type of paint you plan to use. 

If you're painting over previously painted shiplap, be sure to choose a primer that is compatible with the existing paint; oil-based primer with oil-based paint, water-based primer with water-based paint.

Whether or not you need to prime your shiplap will depend on the condition of the wood and the look you are trying to achieve. 

If you're unsure whether priming is necessary, consult a professional or test a small section of shiplap to see how the paint adheres.  

You can also purchase a pre-primed shiplap to skip that step.

The Best Way To Paint Shiplap

It is important to approach painting shiplap with the right tools and techniques to ensure a smooth, professional-looking finish. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a professional painter, these tips and tricks will help you transform your shiplap project with ease.

Clean and Prep the Surface

Before painting, you'll want to make sure the shiplap surface is clean and free of residue. 

Use a damp cloth to wipe down the boards, making sure to get into all the crevices. 

Once the shiplap is dry, lightly sand any rough spots or imperfections in the wood. If you are painting new shiplap, skip the sanding step.

Prime the Surface

Applying a primer is an essential step in painting shiplap. 

The primer will help the paint adhere better to the wood and prevent any stains or knots from bleeding through. 

Depending on your preference you can use a paint brush, roller, or sprayer to apply the primer, depending on your preference. 

Let the primer dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Choose Your Paint Color and Type

When it comes to choosing paint for shiplap, you have several options. Depending on your preference, the finish can go with a flat finish, satin, or semi-gloss. 

Choosing a paint color that complements the room's decor and style is a good idea.

Paint the Shiplap

Apply the paint to the shiplap using a brush, roller, or sprayer. Be sure to get into all the grooves and shiplap cracks to ensure the best coverage. 

It's also a good idea to paint the edges of the boards for a more polished look. Allow the paint to dry completely before applying a second coat if necessary.

Finishing Touches

Once the paint has dried, you can add finishing touches to the shiplap. 

If you want a more rustic or distressed look, you can sand some areas of the paint off with a sanding block. 

Alternatively, you can apply a coat of wax or sealant to protect the paint and provide a smooth finish.

Painting shiplap is a relatively easy and affordable way to update the look of any room. By following these important steps, you'll have a beautiful and durable finish that will last for years to come.

can of paint

What Is The Best Paint To Use On Shiplap?

Several types of paint can work well when it comes to painting shiplap. 

The best type of paint to use on the shiplap will depend on a few factors, such as the type of wood, the condition of the wood, and the look you are trying to achieve.

Here are a few paint options to consider:

Latex paint

Latex paint is a popular choice for painting shiplap because it dries quickly, is easy to clean up, and is low odor. 

It's a good option if you're looking for paint that will provide good coverage and durability.

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paint is another option for painting shiplap. 

It provides a durable finish that can hold up well over time. 

However, oil-based paint can be more challenging to work with than latex paint and requires solvents for cleanup.

Chalk paint

Chalk paint is a type of paint that creates a matte, chalky finish. 

It can be a good option if you want a more rustic or shabby-chic look for your shiplap. 

Chalk paint is also easy to distress, adding to the vintage look and feel.


If you want to enhance the natural beauty of the raw wood, consider using a wood stain instead of paint. Stains can add depth and richness to the wood while allowing the grain to show through.

The best and right paint to use on shiplap will depend on your preferences and the look you are trying to achieve. 

Be sure to choose a paint appropriate for the type of wood you are working with, and consider factors like drying time, cleanup, and durability when making your choice.

What Is The Best Paint Brand For Painting Shiplap?

When it comes to choosing a paint brand for painting shiplap, there are many high-quality options available. 

The best paint manufacturer for you will depend on your personal preference, the look you are trying to achieve, and the specific needs of your project. 

Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore is a popular choice for painting shiplap because of its high-quality paint formulas and wide range of color options. In addition, their paint is known for its excellent coverage and durability, essential for creating a long-lasting, best finish on shiplap.

Sherwin Williams

Sherwin Williams is another popular brand for painting shiplap. They offer a wide range of paint formulas, including their famous Emerald and Duration lines, known for their durability and resistance to fading, chipping, and peeling.


Behr paint, the Home Depot proprietary line, is a top-rated paint brand offering a range of high-quality paint formulas, including their Marquee line, known for its exceptional coverage and long-lasting finish. They also offer a wide range of color options, including popular white shades for shiplap.


Valspar paint, Lowe’s proprietary brand, is a trusted paint brand that offers a variety of paint formulas, including their popular Signature line, known for its excellent coverage and smooth finish. In addition, they provide a wide range of color options, including their popular Ultra White shade for shiplap.

Ultimately, the best paint brand for painting shiplap will depend on your personal preferences and the needs of your project. 

Before choosing a brand, be sure to read reviews, consider the specific features of each paint line, and test your chosen paint on a small section of shiplap to ensure it meets your expectations.

Can You Use A Paint Sprayer On Shiplap?

Yes!  A paint sprayer can be a great tool for painting shiplap. It can help you achieve a smooth, even finish more quickly and efficiently than using a brush or roller. 

However, it's important to keep a few things in mind when using a paint sprayer on shiplap:

Prep work: Before using a paint sprayer, be sure to properly prep your shiplap by cleaning it thoroughly and covering any areas you don't want to be painted. This will help ensure that the paint goes on smoothly and evenly.

Use the correct tip: When using a paint sprayer, it's important to use the right tip for the type of paint you're using and the surface you're painting. For shiplap, a tip with a broader fan pattern may help cover the shiplap grooves and create an even finish.

Practice first: If you're not experienced with using a paint sprayer, it's a good idea to practice on a piece of scrap wood or a small, inconspicuous area of your shiplap before tackling the entire project.

Be mindful of overspray: Paint sprayers can create overspray, resulting in paint getting on surfaces you want to avoid being painted. Cover nearby surfaces and wear appropriate protective gear to avoid getting paint on yourself.

Overall, using a paint sprayer can be a great option for painting shiplap, but it's important to take the necessary precautions and practice beforehand to ensure a professional-looking result.

white shiplap

Can You Paint Shiplap A Color Other Than White?

Absolutely! While white shiplap is popular, there's no rule that says you have to stick to this color. In fact, painting shiplap in a different color can be a great way to add personality to your space's shiplap style.

When choosing a color to paint your shiplap, consider the room's overall color scheme and decor. You can choose a color that complements the other elements in the space or go bold with a contrasting hue that makes a statement.  There are so many cool colors to consider.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when painting shiplap in a color other than white:

Test your paint color: Before committing to a color, it's a good idea to test it out on a small section of shiplap to ensure you like how it looks. 

Paint a sample board and hold it up against the wall to see how it works with the other colors in the room.

Choose the right finish: The finish of your paint can make a big difference in the final look of your shiplap. 

Consider a matte or eggshell finish for a casual or rustic look. For a more polished look, choose a satin or semi-gloss finish.

Think about lighting: How your shiplap looks will also depend on the lighting in the room. 

If the space is well-lit with lots of natural light, you can get away with a darker color. 

If the room is on the dark side, consider a lighter shade to help brighten things up.

Painting shiplap in a color other than white is a great way to add interest and personality to your space. Just be sure to choose a color that works well with the other elements in the room and consider factors like lighting and finish to get the best possible result.

While painting shiplap requires a bit more effort and attention to detail than painting a flat wall, it's not a difficult task. With some patience and a little practice, you can achieve a beautiful finish that will add character and charm to any room.  But if it is all too much, you can always use faux shiplap wallpaper, as I did with my DIY Built In Office cabinets.

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