How to DIY the Shiplap Fireplace of Your Dreams

Learn how to execute this red-hot design trend

Caroline Gilbert
Written by Caroline Gilbert
Updated January 9, 2023
Luxury living room with black shiplap fireplace with abstract gray painting in front of white built-ins with wood shelves
Photo: Allison / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Simple

Turn an idea into an I-did-it.

Time to complete

24 hours

Cost

$50–$100

You’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t do this themselves.

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Nail gun (16-gauge air compressor)
  • Miter saw and table saw
  • Level
  • Stud finder and pen

SUPPLIES

  • Shiplap planks
  • 2-inch finishing nails
  • Caulk
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Paint tray

Giving your fireplace a modern makeover is as simple as installing shiplap boards above it for an easy weekend project. Here’s everything you need to know to create a shiplap fireplace, as well as ideas on different ways to execute this popular interior design trend.

  1. Mark the Studs on the Wall

    Living room with white shiplap fireplace and tile surround, gray built-ins, and comfy gray furniture
    Photo: bmak / Adobe Stock

    Use your stud finder to find the wall studs behind the drywall above your fireplace. You’ll want to nail the shiplap boards directly into the studs to secure them and ensure they hold up over time. Mark where each stud lies with a pen, then draw a vertical line down from the ceiling to the fireplace along the studs.

  2. Cut Your Shiplap to Size

    If you didn’t have the home improvement store cut your boards to your desired width, now’s the time to bust out the miter saw and do it yourself.

  3. Install Your Boards

    • Starting at the top of the wall, place your first board against the wall and use a level to make sure it’s straight. 

    • Nail the board into the wall studs by placing a nail through the center of your board everywhere that it crosses the vertical stud line that you drew. 

    • Line up the next board and nail it to the wall. If you bought the tongue-and-groove shiplap boards often sold at home improvement stores, you don’t have to worry about placing a nickel in between them to create a space. Tongue-and-groove boards nestle together easily. 

    • Repeat these steps until you get to the last board.

  4. Rip Your Last Board

    While you may get lucky and have your last board fit perfectly in the gap between the fireplace and the previous board, chances are, that won’t happen, and you will have to make a rip cut on your last board. That means that you’ll need to cut your board parallel to the grain to make it narrower so it will fit in that space. 

    Measure the width of the remaining gap between the fireplace and the rest of the shiplap wall. Rip your board to this width using a table saw. You may need to trim a little more than the exact width so you can push the board flush against the other shiplap. 

    If you have a gap between the last board and the top of the fireplace mantel, that’s OK. You can use caulk to fill it in, or place a piece of trim on top to hide it.

  5. Fill in Nail Holes, Paint Your Shiplap Boards, and Caulk (Optional)

    White fireplace, tan leather chair, and wood shelves, and black-and-white rug in front of brown shiplap accent wall
    Photo: Pixel-Shot / Adobe Stock

    Fill any nail holes with wood putty, smoothing it out with a putty knife. Wait for it to fully dry, then sand the putty smooth, working with the grain. Clean up the dust with a tack cloth and vacuum. 

    Now it’s time to paint your newly installed shiplap fireplace wall. If you want the grains and knots of the wood to shine through, skip the primer. Otherwise, add primer using a roller to quickly cover the flat planks. Use a small brush to paint between the boards if necessary. 

    Once the primer fully dries, apply your paint using the same roller and brush method. 

    Caulk the gap between the last board and the top of the fireplace mantel once the paint dries.

DIY Build a Shiplap Fireplace vs. Hire a Pro

While this DIY project is perfect for a handy homeowner, it requires a significant time commitment and some building knowledge to complete. To ensure your shiplap fireplace is built correctly and quickly, you can hire a general contractor to tackle this task. If that’s the case, the cost of hiring a contractor is $300 to $500 per day. Contact a local general contractor to discuss pricing for your fireplace project.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you want to achieve the look of a shiplap fireplace without paying the higher material cost, we’ve got you covered. Consider using plywood strips, plywood panels, or V-groove wood planks instead of shiplap. You can even install peel-and-stick wallpaper with a wood pattern around your fireplace, but it will not look as realistic.

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Get quotes from top-rated pros.