Refresh Your Bathroom Walls with Shiplap Wood Backsplash


Are you looking for ways to refresh your bathroom without a full remodel? Installing a shiplap wood backsplash can give a dated bathroom an instant facelift. Shiplap brings warmth, texture, and charm to any space with its horizontal overlapping boards. With its casual, rustic aesthetic, wood shiplap provides the perfect backsplash material for farmhouse, cottage, or craftsman style bathrooms.

Unlike traditional backsplash tile, shiplap wood offers a smooth, sleek look free of grout lines. The rich wood grain pairs beautifully with marble or quartz countertops, vessel sinks, and vintage hardware for a timeless look. Getting creative with stain or paint colors allows you to customize your backsplash to match your existing bathroom decor seamlessly.

Installing a shiplap backsplash is a straightforward DIY project for any skill level. With minimal time and effort, you can completely transform the look of your bathroom walls. This article will walk through everything you need to know, from materials and tools to step-by-step installation instructions. Let’s explore the endless design possibilities and benefits of using shiplap wood to refresh your bathroom backsplash!

Overview of Shiplap Wood Backsplash

A shiplap wood backsplash, often made from pine or poplar boards, consists of horizontal planks with rabbeted edges that overlap to form a flush surface. Shiplap boards are milled with a lip or ridge along the top edge that fits into a corresponding groove on the backside of each plank above. This interlocking design conceals seams and creates a seamless, cohesive look.

The planks are installed in a stair-step pattern starting from the bottom and working upwards. The overlapping design not only hides seams but allows for expansion and contraction of natural wood as humidity levels fluctuate. Gaps are left between boards to further accommodate wood movement.

While traditionally left unfinished, wood shiplap can be stained, painted, or whitewashed to complement your bathroom’s color palette. From crisp whites to grays, blues, and greens, the finish options are endless. The planks can also be pre-finished for ease of installation and moisture resistance.

Compared to tile, shiplap wood offers a clean, refined look free of grout lines that can easily become grimy. The smooth surface also makes cleaning and maintenance a breeze. A shiplap backsplash can span the entire wall behind a vanity or be applied as an accent border. This versatility makes it a budget-friendly option for bathroom upgrades.

Benefits of a Shiplap Wood Backsplash

  • Warmth and Texture – Shiplap wood adds natural beauty, character, and visual interest to bathrooms with its varied grain patterns and inherent texture. The timeworn, rustic aesthetic pairs perfectly with vintage, industrial, or farmhouse decor.
  • Moisture Resistance – When properly sealed, shiplap boards offer water-resistance comparable to tile backsplashes. The continuous surface leaves nowhere for water to seep behind. Pre-finished boards provide further protection.
  • Design Versatility – Available in various wood species and stain colors, shiplap can complement any existing bathroom style seamlessly. Go bold with a dramatic stain or muted with a whitewashed finish.
  • Quick Facelift – Installing a shiplap backsplash is an easy DIY project that can update a bathroom’s look in a weekend. No need for a full remodel!
  • Budget-Friendly – Compared to tile, shiplap is an affordable option for refreshing your bathroom. The boards can also be installed over existing materials like drywall.
  • Easy Maintenance – With no grout lines prone to mildew and grime buildup, shiplap wipes clean easily. Simply use a damp microfiber cloth and mild cleaner.

With this quick yet dramatic update, shiplap wood brings cozy, timeworn character to modern and dated bathrooms alike. Let’s look at how to plan your design and select materials.

Planning Your Shiplap Wood Backsplash Design

The first step is deciding on the overall look and feel you want to achieve. Here are some tips for planning your shiplap backsplash design:

Selecting Wood Type

Pine and poplar are the most common woods used for shiplap due to affordability and easy workability. Pine offers pronounced wood grain, while poplar has a more subtle pattern. Oak, maple, and alder are other options. Consider moisture resistance and desired finish look when selecting wood type.

Stain vs. Paint Color Options

For a natural wood look, opt for stain in shades like walnut, ebony, gray, whitewash, and driftwood. For painted shiplap, choose crisp white, light gray, blue, green, or charcoal. Sample boards with different finishes can help visualize the look.

Placement Area

Typically installed as a full backsplash or accent border, shiplap can also panel a whole wall, tub surround, or ceiling. Decide which areas you want to refresh with wood. Focus on high-impact zones like behind the vanity.

Layout Pattern

While traditional shiplap runs horizontally, you can also install it vertically, diagonally, or in geometric patterns. Vertical boards can create a reclaimed look. Play with layouts on the wall before permanently adhering boards.

Gap Spacing

Wider gaps show off more of the wood grain while thin gaps keep the focus on long continuous lines. The standard gap size is 1/8-1/4 inches between boards. Use spacers cut to your desired width for consistency.

Some key preparations will ensure your shiplap project goes smoothly. Taking measurements and gathering materials are the next steps.

Preparing for Installation

Once you’ve decided on the design, start prepping for installation. Follow these tips for a successful shiplap project:

Take Precise Measurements

Measure the total length and height of the installation area. Having exact measurements allows you to calculate how many boards are needed. Don’t forget to account for inside corners and outlets when measuring.

Purchase Shiplap Boards

Buy unfinished boards in your desired wood type and thickness from home improvement stores. 1×6 boards with a 1/2 inch thickness are common. You’ll also need wood filler, adhesive, and fasteners.

Pick Stain, Paint, or Sealer

Select your finish product before installation for best color match results across boards. Consider oil-based stain or paint for moisture resistance and protection. Polyurethane is a common sealer.

Prepare Installation Surface

The wall surface must be smooth, clean, and dry for proper shiplap adhesion. Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle. Sand glossy surfaces and wipe away dust. Remove existing backsplashes if applying over old materials.

Allow Wood to Acclimate

Let shiplap boards sit in the installation room 3-4 days prior to installing. This allows wood to adjust to indoor temperature and humidity, preventing buckling or gapping.

With thoughtful planning and preparation, you’ll be ready to install your beautiful new shiplap backsplash. Let’s go through the step-by-step process.

How to Install a Shiplap Wood Backsplash

Now for the fun part – installing your shiplap! With the right tools and materials, you can easily transform a dated, boring backsplash into a stunning focal point. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Cut Shiplap Boards to Size

Measure each wall space and cut boards to fit using a miter saw with a sharp blade. Cut pieces for inside corners separately. Leave 1/8-1/4 inch gaps between ends.

Step 2: Create a Ledger Board

Screw a straight 1×2 ledger board horizontally along the bottom edge to support the first row of shiplap. This provides a level base for stacking boards.

Step 3: Apply Adhesive

Run a zigzag bead of adhesive along the back of each board and the ledger using a caulk gun. Construction adhesives like Liquid Nails provide strong holding power.

Step 4: Install the First Row

Position the first board against the ledger with the bottom groove facing down over the lip. Attach using finish nails every 16 inches along the ledger and studs.

Step 5: Add Remaining Rows

Insert each subsequent row by engaging the tongue into the groove of the plank below. Stagger seams in a brickwork pattern. Use spacers to maintain even gaps.

Step 6: Address Corners and Outlets

Measure and cut boards to fit around inside corners and outlets. Use filler strips if needed to fill small gaps. Remove outlets and reinstall over boards.

Step 7: Apply Finishing Touches

Once all boards are installed, inspect for gaps and fill with wood filler. Lightly sand any rough edges. Clean surface well before applying finish.

Step 8: Stain, Paint, or Seal Boards

Using your chosen product, apply a finish coat using a paintbrush or cloth. Let dry completely and add additional coats for desired coverage and sheen.

That’s it – stand back and admire your gorgeous, on-trend shiplap statement wall! The warmth and texture of wood instantly brings new life to tired bathrooms.

Maintaining and Protecting Your Shiplap Backsplash

Taking steps to properly care for your shiplap backsplash will help preserve its beauty and function for years to come:

  • Use coasters, trivets, and heat protectant mats when setting hot items on the countertop to prevent damage from heat and moisture.
  • Seal any new cuts or drilling immediately with waterproof glue to prevent moisture seeping into exposed end grain.
  • Re-apply protective finish coats like polyurethane sealant every 2-3 years or as needed to refresh worn areas.
  • Dust frequently and clean using a damp microfiber cloth and mild cleaner to keep your backsplash looking its best. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Monitor for any cracks, lifting edges, or gaps indicating planks expanding and contracting. Refasten boards as needed.
  • Address scratches or gouges in finish by lightly sanding and reapplying stain or paint just to damaged areas, feathering out edges.

With proper installation and care, a shiplap wood backsplash can last for many years of beauty and enjoyment. The rich style will only improve with age. Let your stunning new focal point inspire the rest of your bathroom decor!

Design Inspiration: Shiplap Backsplash Ideas

Now that you know how to install a shiplap backsplash in your home, it’s time to start dreaming up the perfect design. Here are some gorgeous shiplap backsplash ideas to spark inspiration:

Fresh White Shiplap

Crisp white shiplap paired with marble countertops exudes an airy, elegant feel. The clean white backdrop allows pretty hardware, fixtures, and decor to really pop. Open shelving provides display space.

Weathered Gray Shiplap

A whitewashed or weathered gray shiplap finish ties in beautifully with concrete, quartzite, and other earthy textures. Touches of black metal hardware play up the worn-in charm.

Bold Painted Shiplap

Make a dramatic statement with navy, emerald, or even black painted shiplap contrasting light cabinetry. Go bold with paint color since stained wood would compete with vanities.

Rustic Woodgrain Shiplap

The raw woodgrain of natural pine or cedar shiplap evokes cozy cabin vibes. Whitewash or light driftwood stain allows the varied tones to show through.

Vertical Shiplap

For a more modern, reclaimed look, install shiplap boards vertically behind the vanity. The directional pattern makes small bathrooms feel taller.

Partial Shiplap Border

If your budget only allows a smaller project, apply shiplap along the top, bottom, or around a window as a backsplash border. Use standard backsplash in between.

Now that you’re filled with inspiration, it’s time to start your shiplap backsplash project! With this simple yet dramatic upgrade, you can affordably refresh your bathroom with beautiful, rustic shiplap charm.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shiplap Backsplashes

Here are answers to some common questions about installing and caring for a shiplap wood backsplash:

How is shiplap different from beadboard?

While both feature grooved planks, shiplap has interlocking tongues and grooves for a tight flush fit while beadboard has gaps between planks. Shiplap also has rabbeted edges versus beadboard’s squared edges.

Does shiplap need to be sealed?

It’s highly recommended to apply sealant like polyurethane or lacquer to shiplap boards. This waterproofs the wood, prevents stains, and makes cleaning easier. Use an oil-based variety for best moisture protection.

Can you use shiplap in a shower or tub surround?

Yes, shiplap can work in humid areas if using moisture-resistant wood like cedar or exterior-rated boards. Be sure to properly seal all edges and cuts and avoid direct water contact. An epoxy coating adds extra waterproofing.

How do you cut shiplap boards?

Use a miter saw with a fine-toothed blade for clean cuts across board widths. For lengthwise ripping, a table saw is ideal but a circular saw will also work. Go slowly to avoid chip out.

Should you use adhesive or just nails to install?

Use both adhesive and nails/screws for the most secure hold. Adhesive bonds the boards to the wall while fasteners provide added stability and hold boards tight to studs. Construction adhesive is recommended.

How do you work around an outlet?

Carefully measure and cut boards to fit around outlets. Remove the outlet covers and outlet to slide the cut boards into place. Reinstall the outlet over the boards and replace the cover.

Can shiplap get wet?

While wood can warp or deteriorate from prolonged wetness, properly finished and sealed shiplap boards can withstand occasional water splashes, steam, and humidity when used as a backsplash. Quickly wipe up spills and condensation.

How much does it cost to install a shiplap backsplash?

The installed cost is approximately $8-$12 per square foot including materials. Factors like wood type, size of project, and DIY vs. hiring a pro impact the overall budget. It is an affordable option for refreshing bathroom walls.


Installing a charming shiplap wood backsplash is a easy, budget-friendly way to update your bathroom’s aesthetic. The warm, textured look pairs beautifully with any style from modern to farmhouse. With proper planning, materials, and finishing, you can tackle this simple weekend DIY project and completely transform your space.

Keep moisture and steam exposure in mind, apply protective sealants, and care for your backsplash properly so it remains beautiful for years. Get creative with wood finishes and patterns tailored to your decor. With this simple facelift, you can enjoy a rustic-chic designer look without a major remodel!