February 28, 2019

DIY Shiplap Look Alike Wall from Inexpensive Tongue and Groove


So decorative walls are a new thing now? Well actually, not exactly new but more and more “non-designers” are figuring out that there is more to a beautiful room than just a good paint color or wallpaper. Which is so right! Here I have the “Do It Yourself” version of a popular look of shiplap but better…it’s from tongue and groove which can be a lot cheaper than installing shiplap would cost you. Obviously, tongue and groove varies from price since it is sold in different kinds of wood material. So depending on your look and budget, you choose what is best for you! Even if you do go with shiplap this DIY tutorial will very much help with that too. They’re very similar in look, just that the tongue and groove is more beveled and not flat like shiplap, which has a longer lip that overlap. But all in all, an accent wall will dress up the room in so many different levels and create an amazing vocal point. Take a glance at our before shot of the guest bed/office and look at what a difference it is in the after shot! I’m not kidding, this simple t&g look was totally worth it. 

I have this post set up into sections for this project and each section has a list of materials you will need at that time. For this reason, some materials may be repetitive throughout.

1. Preparation

Enough pre-primed tongue and groove or shiplap for your wall (there are different kinds of tongue and groove material so you choose what style and budget suits you), we used the backside of pre-primed original T&G

Miter saw or a circular saw to cut T&G at appropriate length

Pencil for beginning marks

Utility knife to cut caulk

Tape measure for measuring wall, material, etc

Back end of a hammer to loosen baseboard or a pry bar


First thing first, if you have baseboard down already, you will have to loosen up your baseboard with the back end of a hammer or a similar flat tool, like a pry bar. Break up the caulk on the trim by using a utility knife and going along the top of the baseboard. Then to avoid cracking, focus on loosening the areas where there are current nails with a pry bar placed between the wall and the baseboard. That way the rest of the baseboard will loosen up and it’ll be easier to take out. 

You will then have to measure where the middle of your wall is VERTICALLY IF YOU’RE CREATING A VERTICAL DESIGN and HORIZONTALLY IF YOU’RE CREATING A HORIZONTAL DESIGN. However, IF YOU ARE ADDING A SHELF AFTER YOU BOARD HORIZONTALLY, you will need to draw the line in between the wall and the shelf. Using the traditional pencil, draw the line against something long to ensure that it is straight. Use a long level if needed or a Ryobi laser level works even better if you have one in your toolbox! If you are boarding vertically, draw a “T” shape with the top line being where you want your shelf to be and the bottom “T” line being the center of the wall. That is, if you want your wall to be vertical like we have it, shown below.

If you want to go for the horizontal design, you don’t need that bottom part of the “T” drawn. I probably could’ve explained it much simpler but it just didn’t come to me LOL so I hope it makes sense! But the line drawing is critical so that you don’t end up with any irregular pieces at random places.


2. Installation

Enough Pre-primed Tongue and Groove or Shiplap for your wall (there are different kinds of tongue and groove material so you choose what style and budget suits you), we used the backside of pre-primed original T&G

Miter saw or a circular saw to cut at appropriate length

Nail gun and nails for T&G installation

Level to ensure your nailing straight

Wood glue, if you are installing more than one layer of shelf

Wood filler to cover nail holes

Choice of wood for shelf (optional), we used a sheet of plywood

3 in. screws and a drill for shelf installation

Electric sander with 120-180 grit sandpaper


Alright, now that your baseboard is off and you marked where you’re going to start, it’s time to start cutting. If you are placing a shelf in like we did, there are a couple ways to go about it. One way is to cut the T&G UP TO where you want the shelf placed and after the shelf is installed, you would continue on with cutting separate pieces up to the wall. This is the way we went with, reason being that we didn’t have enough boards that were long enough to go all the way up the wall and then placing the shelf on after. Which is way #2.

Using the miter or circular saw, cut where you measured you need to cut the boards, one by one. To make things a little easier, I recommend cutting the first half and then go in and do the installation. If you are boarding vertically, DO NOT place the T&G against the floor. Instead, nail it a half an inch off the ground, like shown in the pictures below. Start where you drew your line with a board on each side, just like this. When you are placing the T&G on the wall, nail the first board from the top 3x and the bottom 3x. The top nails will be covered by wood filler and the shadow from the shelf and the bottom nails will be covered by the baseboard. When you place your next board onto the wall, you nail it the same way. However, you first want to slip on the T&G by placing the lip side right underneath where there is no lip under the T&G board (shiplap works in a similar way when installing). It’s like a puzzle with the seams and after a few boards installed, you’ll get the hang of it. Once you do one side of your drawn line, on to the other you go. MAKE SURE ALL YOUR BOARDS LINE UP THE SAME, THEREFORE ALL YOUR MEASUREMENTS NEED TO BE ACCURATE WHEN CUTTING. 

If you come across an outlet where you’re installing T&G, don’t freak out. Simply draw with a pencil a square or half a square (depending on how many pieces of T&G would cover it) on the boards that you need to and use a circular saw to cut out where you drew. It doesn’t need to be perfect but do make sure that it is small enough for the outlet cover to cover the edges of the cut. Then continue doing your thang, easy peasy.

Your done with the first half of the wall and now there might be some little spaces left on each side corner. That is okay as that will be fixed in a little bit. But for now, this is the time when you want to build the shelf if you are going by how we had it done. We had plywood stored in the garage so that turned out into a nice shelf. Plywood only comes in 96 inches long by 48 inches but our wall is 130 inches long. So to get the shelf you need, you rip the plywood down with a circular saw to the depth that you want the shelf to be (ours is at 12 inches). Cut the 48 in x 96 in sheet of plywood into 4 pieces of 12 in x 96 in with the circular saw. Take two of the pieces you just cut and extended it fully to the length of the wall by putting the two boards on top of each other only meeting in the middle, making the left side of the shelf have one board on the bottom and the right side of the shelf have one board on the top. Doing this leaves the top left and the bottom right as an empty space that you have to measure. Take a third plywood piece and cut it down again into the two sizes that you need to fill those spaces. Use wood glue first and clamps to piece together and then using a nail gun, nail the plywood pieces to each other once the glue dries.

When your shelf has been cut into size, glued, nailed, filled with wood filler over the nails, and sanded down it is ready to hang. You just might need some help with installing the shelf so that it doesn’t end up falling and hurting anyone. Better yet just be safe and have someone help you with it! Before you hang it up above the first half of the T&G though, FIND THE STUDS IN THE WALL AND MAKE A MARK FOR WHERE YOU WILL NEED TO SCREW IN THE SHELF.  

With another helping hand, pick the shelf up and place it right on top of the T&G and BEFORE YOU ATTACH IT TO THE WALL STUDS, MAKE SURE YOU USE A LEVEL JUST TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS LEVEL AND STRAIGHT AND EVEN AND LEVEL. If that bubble is in the middle, go ahead and screw in the shelf. I RECOMMEND USING 3 INCH SCREWS so that it won’t fall down in the middle of the night. It should be sturdy enough to where it doesn’t move or bend in any way.

Once the shelf gets installed, it’s time to finish up the T&G above it. Of course, assuming that you didn’t already place all the T&G on and placed the shelf over it (option #2). Measure the above the shelf to the ceiling once more to make sure you have the correct measurements for cutting the T&G. If you are installing horizontally than it should be the same length T&G boards as the ones beneath the shelf (which you would measure wall to wall). Cut the rest of your T&G boards with your miter or circular saw and go ahead and place them on starting from one side of the wall to the next, like shown below. MAKE SURE EACH PIECE ALIGNS WITH THE PIECE BELOW YOUR SHELF OR ELSE IT WILL NOT LOOK LIKE IT IS SUPPOSED TO (use a tape measure if needed). Use a rubber mallet or a hammer with a piece of wood in between the T&G and hammer to hit the boards tighter together from the side (if needed). Sometimes our human hands just aren’t enough, I tell ya. You should be able to place each piece of T&G on effortlessly into the seams but still make sure you nail the board into the wall also, like you did with the bottom part.

Now that all your boards are in, you might have some little gaps left on each side of the wall. To solve this problem, simply place narrow pieces of wood into the crack so that when you go to place a piece of trim over the gap, there is somewhere to nail to. See below pictures for example. We used 1½ inch length by ½  inch thick cypress trim pieces at to cover our gaps but you can use whatever wood you have on hand or what you find at the home improvement store. Also, you will need to cover the wild lines on the front of your shelf using another trim piece (similar or same as what you covered the gaps with) at shelf length ( ½ inch by ¼ inch thickness) to put over just like shown below. Nail it all in and step back and admire how far you’ve come. It’s time to fill in those nail holes with wood filler so that you can paint soon!

Just kidding.

I forgot to mention that you actually might want to place that baseboard that you took off, back on! Using the same nail gun, nail in your baseboard into the new T&G wall and then cover the nails with wood filler. Sand that down too once the filler dries. NOW YOU ARE READY TO PAINT! Well just kidding again. You always have to do a few preparation things before painting lol. Actually no lol because it’s the no fun part.



3. Paint Preparation & Painting

120-180 grit sandpaper

lint free cloth

paint color

drop cloths and plastic bags to cover overspray (optional but recommended)

spray gun or roller, brush

eye protection and breathable mask (if spraying)

caulk and caulk gun

painters tape to secure drop cloth/paper

current room paint color for touch ups

After you covered all your nail holes with wood filler, get out the caulk and caulk gun. You need to place caulk everywhere where there is an angle, pretty much. For example, below and under the shelf. Between the trim and the T&G. Between the ceiling and the T&G. Between the side walls and the accent wall. Between the trim and the T&G. And on the top and bottom piece if trim that is on the front of the shelf. BUT NOT BETWEEN EACH T&G BOARD. Place the caulk on with the gun as if you are drawing a line. Don’t over pile it. Once you do that, take your finger and wipe down the caulk you just put on. Reason being is to flatten the caulk down so it’s not bulky.


Well that wasn’t too fun. But now whip out a piece of 120-180 grit sandpaper and sand down the whole new accent wall. You want it all do be as smooth as possible before you get ready to paint. The wonderful thing about pre-primed T&G is that well..it is already primed! So that knocks off that worry. If you already have your paint color picked out and bought then it’s time to get serious. WIPE DOWN THE WHOLE WALL SO THAT NO DUST FROM SANDING GETS MIXED IN WITH THE PAINT. Make sure you use a lint free cloth and then for extra peace of mind, wipe it all down one more time. Use a drop cloth underneath where you will be painting and if the room isn’t entirely empty, than cover whats in there with plastic (if you are using a spray gun) We used a spray gun to paint and although it is not an easy thing to do, I thought it would be a lot better than brushing and rolling the paint on. It is whatever you prefer to be honest but just be sure that if you are spraying the paint on, that you cover anything that you don’t want paint on! Including your precious face. WEAR A BREATHABLE MASK! And possibly some safety glasses. Over spray is a pain in the butt. Here are some tips for using a spray gun. This was our first time spraying so we are still learning ourselves but if you don’t want any brush strokes than this is a good way to go. Just beware of dripping, because that tends to happen in some places! 

You just might need to touch up the side walls with some paint to obviously cover the over spray that got on there. We just used an angled brush for that so that I could get into the corners to cut in especially. Ah, it’s done! Doesn’t the room look like a whole new place? And just imagine how it’ll look once you put all your decor and furniture back together! Well, in clean up the mess that was made lol. Okay, okay I’m officially done typing. For a weekend project, this is too much writing. I just can’t help myself sometimes because I want to make sure that everything is explained step by step as much as possible! I know a lot of words can be intimidating but I can promise you that this post took a lot longer to write than it did to actually create this new T&G (or shiplap) accent wall. Like no joke. Okay, I said I was done writing but here I am still writing. Enjoy the new room look!  I said I’m done already but for some reason I keep typing. I’m done writing now. I think…yeah I am. Sorry. K, Bye.

I’m back. Just wanted to remind you to check out the before and after and the awkward in between pictures down below because I think those are always a fun treat 😉 Let me know what you think. K, BYYYEEEEE. ♥


diy accent wall from tongue and groove
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One Year Later: (when styles and photography change for the better!)

*Psssttt, if ya wanna check out the desk upgrade also, go here

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