How to Install Shiplap Kitchen Backsplash

Installing a shiplap backsplash in your kitchen can add beautiful texture and visual interest to your space. Shiplap is made of wide, horizontal boards that have grooved edges to give the appearance of overlapping planks. It creates a rustic, farmhouse style that works well in many kitchen designs. With some basic DIY skills and the right materials, installing a shiplap backsplash is a relatively easy weekend project.

Choose the Wood and Style

The first step is selecting the type of wood you want to use. Popular choices for shiplap are pine, poplar, oak, and cedar. Pine is affordable and versatile. Oak has a richer color and grain. Cedar has a distinctive smell and is naturally rot-resistant.

Consider whether you want boards with a smooth, planed surface or a rough-sawn finish with the wood’s natural texture. Rough-sawn boards have more rustic appeal. You’ll also need to decide on the width of boards. Many shiplap planks are 3 to 6 inches wide. Wider boards make a bolder statement.

Calculate How Much Shiplap You Need

Measure the space where you’ll install the shiplap backsplash. Multiply the length times the height to get the square footage. Add up the square footage of all areas getting shiplap. Purchase boards in that total square footage amount. It’s smart to buy 10% extra to allow for mistakes and cutting.

You’ll also need to factor in the overlap when calculating. Shiplap boards typically overlap by 1 inch. So if your backsplash area is 10 square feet and you use 6-inch wide boards with a 1-inch overlap, you’ll need approximately 15 square feet of boards.

Prepare the Wall for Installation

Shiplap should be installed on a smooth, flat surface. Remove any old backsplash material or wallpaper. Fill any holes or cracks with spackle and sand the wall smooth. Clean thoroughly to remove grease and dirt.

Prime the wall with a spackling or wood primer to help the shiplap boards adhere. Allow the primer to fully dry before starting installation.

Cut the Shiplap Boards to Size

Measure and mark each board to fit your space. Cut boards to size with a miter saw. The ends of boards should fit snugly against cabinetry, countertops, and inside corners. Use a table saw to rip boards to fit around outlets, windows, and other obstructions.

Pre-drill holes in boards near the ends and where necessary to prevent splitting. Countersink the holes so screw heads sit flush.

Fasten the Boards to the Wall

Attach a level ledger board near the bottom of the wall to establish your first row. Use finish nails or screws to attach shiplap boards to the studs or to Furring strips on the wall. Nail or screw into the top and bottom of each board.

Maintain the overlap pattern as you work your way up the wall. Use spacers to ensure even gaps between boards. Keep boards aligned and joints tight. Finish by nailing trim boards along the top and sides.

Fill Gaps and Finish the Shiplap

Inspect for any visible gaps between boards. Fill small gaps with painter’s caulk that matches your board color. For larger gaps, mix sawdust from cutting with wood glue to create a putty. Allow filler to dry completely.

Sand lightly with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth any rough spots. Finish the shiplap using food-safe paint or sealant made for kitchens. Consider a gel stain for richer color while allowing the wood grain to show through. Apply 2-3 coats following product directions.

Now step back and admire your new rustic shiplap backsplash! It will add charming farmhouse style to your kitchen for years to come.

FAQ About Installing Shiplap Backsplash

Should shiplap go all the way to the ceiling?

It’s common to install shiplap just on the backsplash area above countertops or cabinets. However, you can extend it to the ceiling for a cohesive look. Consider your ceiling height and how much of an impact the shiplap will make that high up.

What is the best wood to use for a shiplap backsplash?

Pine and poplar are affordable choices. Oak and cedar offer premium grain and texture. Use rot-resistant cedar or pressure-treated pine for areas prone to moisture and humidity. Choose the look and budget you prefer.

How do you cut shiplap around outlets?

Carefully measure and mark the outlet location on your board. Use a jigsaw or oscillating multi-tool to cut out the opening. Test fit the cut-out area around the outlet before attaching the board. Chisel out corners if needed to fit tightly.

Should you paint behind shiplap?

Painting or priming behind shiplap is recommended. This helps prevent moisture damage and gives a clean look if any gaps open up later. Use a mold and mildew resistant primer.

How do you attach shiplap without nails showing?

Use finishing nails and hammer them flush to hide nail heads. Screws with countersunk holes are another option. Apply wood filler in holes and sand smooth before finishing the boards. Adhesive can also be used.


Installing a shiplap backsplash is an achievable DIY project for most homeowners. With some basic carpentry skills and the right preparations, you can add stylish shiplap to upgrade your kitchen’s look. Pre-finished boards make the process easier. Just remember to measure carefully, install securely, fill gaps, and apply a protective finish. Get creative with different wood types and plank sizes. A shiplap backsplash will bring rustic charm to any kitchen design.