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How to DIY the Shiplap Fireplace of Your Dreams

Caroline Gilbert
Written by Caroline Gilbert
Updated November 8, 2021
Luxury living room with black shiplap fireplace with abstract gray painting in front of white built-ins with wood shelves
Allison – stock.adobe.com

Learn how to execute this red-hot design trend

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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.  

Difficulty: Easy (2/5)Installing shiplap around a fireplace requires the ability to use power tools and potentially make saw cuts, but it’s a straightforward process and a good beginner DIY project. 

Total Project Time: 1 day

Cost: $2.50–$7 per square foot

Tools

  • Nail gun (16-gauge air compressor)

  • Miter saw and table saw

  • Level

  • Stud finder and pen

Materials

  • Shiplap planks*

  • 2-inch finishing nails

  • Caulk (only if you need to fill a gap between the shiplap and mantel)

  • Paint supplies (optional): paint, paint roller, paint brush, and paint tray

*To find what size boards you need, measure the width of the wall above the fireplace. To find how many you need, measure the wall from the ceiling to the top of the fireplace. If you’re not comfortable using a saw, see if the store can cut the planks to your desired width for you.

How to Install a DIY Shiplap Fireplace

Living room with white shiplap fireplace and tile surround, gray built-ins, and comfy gray furniture
bmak – stock.adobe.com

These step-by-step instructions discuss how to install shiplap on the wall above an existing fireplace. 

1. Mark the Studs on the Wall

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. These 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. 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 Nails Holes

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.

6. Optional: Paint Your Shiplap Boards and Caulk

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.

Shiplap Fireplace Ideas

Not quite sure how you want your fireplace to look? Browse these design ideas for inspiration for your shiplap fireplace DIY.

1. Opt for a Dark Wood Fireplace Wall

Vaulted living room with natural wood shiplap fireplace
Javani LLC – stock.adobe.com

2. Try a Blonde Wood

Living room with wooden shiplap fireplace wall and two gray armchairs
New Africa – stock.adobe.com

3. Incorporate Stone Tile for Added Texture

White shiplap fireplace with stone-tile surround in between two glass doors
Ursula Page – stock.adobe.com

4. Stagger Your Shiplap Panels

White fireplace with white flowers coming out of it and candles on the mantel against a white staggered-shiplap wall
Olga Mishyna – stock.adobe.com

5. Go Big with a Full Shiplap Accent Wall

White fireplace, tan leather chair, and wood shelves, and black-and-white rug in front of brown shiplap accent wall
Pixel-Shot – stock.adobe.com
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