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How to Paint Shiplap: 3 Methods

Want to paint shiplap in your home? Whether you are installing it new or updating old, here is how to paint shiplap with 3 different methods!

Shiplap is a timeless way to add texture and interest to plain walls. 

But achieving that picture-perfect shiplap aesthetic isn’t as simple as painting a board you’ve hung on the wall (though that’s part of it!). 

Boards often have grooves or cracks, and while they undoubtedly contribute to a shiplap’s distinctive look, they’re a pain to paint over. Uneven surfaces make it difficult to achieve smooth and consistent coverage, which you need for a polished finish.

Vertical final picture of shiplap fireplace

In our most recent project, we added a shiplap fireplace wall to our living room. It’s a simple yet creative way to add a touch of character and warmth to the space. We painted it in navy blue, and let me tell you, it made a world of difference in our living room’s overall ambiance!

If you’re looking to paint shiplap to walls, stick around. We’ve had lots of experience painting shiplaps and we’re here to share everything that we learned with you here today.

We’ll show you how to paint shiplap in three foolproof methods and answer any questions you may have about the process.

Using small brush to paint between shiplap boards

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Need help getting organized? Our free printable DIY project planner will help you get it all organized and planned on one page!

Do I Need to Paint Shiplap?

Yes, you need to paint shiplap! Even if you want it to be white, you need to paint it with white paint to cover scuffs or imperfections in the wood, as well as nail holes you create when hanging the shiplap.

Be sure to check out our tutorial for how to build a shiplap fireplace wall!

Do I Need to Paint the Wall Behind the Shiplap?

This depends on the shiplap that you use!

If you use a true shiplap with tongue and groove joints, the wall won’t show through. As such, you don’t have to worry about painting it.

However, if you make a faux shiplap with boards, the wall will likely appear through the gaps, so you will want to paint it to match your shiplap first.

Painting shiplap boards with roller

Can You Roll Paint Shiplap?

Yes, you can use a roller to paint shiplap that’s already installed. However, you will have to also use a brush to get into the cracks and grooves.

Do I Need to Prime Shiplap Before Painting?

If you buy white shiplap, it’s already primed. If you have raw wood, you’ll need to use a primer. I suggest using paint and primer for the best coverage of your painted shiplap accent wall.

Does Shiplap Have to Be Painted White?

No. Shiplap is usually painted a neutral color. We went with Behr’s NYPD, which is a charcoal-navy.

If you choose a dark color, you can paint your outlet covers to match, too!

Painting shiplap wall

What Type of Paint Do You Use on Shiplap?

You can use any wall paint on shiplap, though I suggest a paint and primer in one. We use Behr’s scuff defense to prevent scuffing from our kids. You can also use pre-painted shiplap to skip the painting process altogether.

What Sheen Paint Should I Use for Shiplap?

You have a few options. One, you can match your walls- probably a flat finish or eggshell. Or, you can match your trim—semi-gloss, usually.

Personally, I prefer a more matte look. In my opinion, the best paint for shiplap is eggshell, which is what we use on all of our walls!

Be sure to check out our complete guide to paint sheens!

How Do You Paint Over Shiplap?

If the shiplap is already hung up, you can paint over it with a roller + brush or a paint sprayer!

Should I Paint Shiplap Before or After Installing?

Either method works. If you paint it before installing, you will still need to do touch-ups but will save time painting the grooves.

How Do You Paint Shiplap Cracks?

The biggest question when painting installed shiplap is how to paint shiplap cracks. The answer is—there’s no secret. You have to get in there with a small brush.

Dip your small brush into the paint, and carefully work it into the cracks. Take your time to make sure you cover the whole thing. No fancy techniques needed—just a steady hand and a bit of patience.

3 ways how to paint shiplap

3 Ways to Paint Shiplap

Here are some tried-and-tested methods to paint shiplap: 

Method 1: Roll + Brush in Place

This technique involves using a paint roller for larger surface areas and a brush for precision.  

Supplies Needed 

  • Paint roller + tray
  • Small brush
  • Tape


  1. Tape off all trim, flooring, or any neighboring walls
  2. Start with a brush and brush in every groove. This is time-consuming and eye-crossing.
  3. Follow it up by rolling 1-2 coats of paint.
  4. Touch up the brushwork in between rolls if needed, but finish with rolling for a smooth finish.

Method 2: Pre-paint grooves

In this method, you focus on the grooves of the shiplap before tackling the flat surfaces.

Supplies Needed 

  • Paint brush or sprayer
  • Paint brush


  1. Before hanging your shiplap, use a paint sprayer or brush to paint the grooves. You can paint the entire board, especially if you are using a sprayer.
  2. Hang the shiplap, then use wood filler on the nail holes.
  3. Sand and touch up the shiplap paint color in those spots.

Method 3: Paint Sprayer

Using a paint sprayer is an efficient way to cover shiplap surfaces with a smooth and even coat. Here’s how to use it: 

Supplies Needed 

  • Paint sprayer
  • Plastic to cover, with tape


  1. Tape off the floors, ceilings, and any adjacent walls—basically, anything around the area you’re painting. This ensures clean and precise lines, preventing unwanted spray splatters on surfaces you want to keep untouched.
  2. Fill your sprayer and paint the wall! It will get in the cracks easily. 

For more comprehensive instructions, check out our guide to using a paint sprayer!

Shiplap Wall Color Ideas

These colors add character and vibrancy to your space, creating a stylish and inviting atmosphere while highlighting the charm of the wood texture: 

  • Classic White
  • Soft Gray
  • Sage green 
  • Greige 
  • Navy blue
  • Charcoal gray
  • Coastal blue
  • Back 
  • Teal

Any more questions about painting shiplap walls?

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Get paint samples!

Samplize will send you 12″x12″ peel and stick samples of paint colors from many popular brands so you can see exactly how they will look in your home!

Love paint colors? Be sure to check out:

Painting for the first time? Check out my video tutorial on the easiest & cleanest way to open a paint can!

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