How to Finish Shiplap Edges

Shiplap panels are usually used for barns and sheds. While this may make them a strange choice for interior wall paneling, the panels feature sharp modern lines, making them ideal for those who want to achieve an up-to-date aesthetic. At the same time, these panels have a touch of the traditional.

The lines of shiplap panels offer an orderly shape to your wall panels, and you can stagger them for more variety. Plus, you can paint or stain the wood to achieve any look you have in mind. The only real challenge you face lies in finishing the panel edges. Without an appropriate finish, shiplap panels are prone to rotting or warping. That’s especially the case for shiplap in kitchens or bathrooms.

You need to know how to finish shiplap edges. This article presents several techniques that do the job.

How to Finish Shiplap Edges Using Caulk

If you want to use shiplap to create a seamless look, caulk is your best option. Caulk is a material many people use to seal joints and cover up nail holes. In the case of shiplap, caulk gives your boards’ edges some nice and clean lines.

You should finish your shiplap edges with caulk before painting the panels. Follow these steps to caulk your shiplap seams.

Step 1:

  • After installing your shiplap, run a bead of latex caulk along every seam where the shiplap touches an inside wall corner, butts up to a wall, or touches the molding.

Step 2:

  • Use a clean rag to smoothen the caulk, ensuring it fits neatly in the seams. You can even use your finger because latex caulk is water soluble, making it easy to wipe off your skin with a wet cloth.

Step 3:

  • Use a lint-free rag to wipe away any excess caulk. Make sure you do this before the caulk dries. Otherwise, it’s much harder to remove. Then, check your shiplap edges. You may find that larger gaps need some extra caulk before you move on to the next step.

Step 4:

  • Wait for the caulk to dry. Most types, including latex caulk, require approximately 24 hours to dry completely. Once dry, you can paint over the caulk to complete the look you want to achieve.

How to Trim Out Shiplap

Trim is an excellent way to finish shiplap edges. It allows you to cover any gaps left behind by the installation and offers a polished look that’s ideal for accent walls. You may apply caulk before applying trim, though it’s not required.

Quarter-round molding is one of the best materials to finish internal shiplap corners. It provides a polished and professional finish that rounds out the installation perfectly. These are the steps to follow when using quarter-round to trim out shiplap.

Step 1:

  • Measure the shiplap edges so you know how long your quarter-round needs to be. Then, cut your quarter round using a miter or table saw.

Step 2:

  • Use a strong adhesive, such as Liquid Nails, to attach the quarter-round to your shiplap edges. Using a weaker adhesive may lead to the quarter-round coming loose over time.

Step 3:

  • Use finishing nails and a nail gun to nail your quarter-round trim to the edges of your shiplap wall. This final step secures the shiplap firmly. However, using nails isn’t an excuse not to use a strong adhesive as well. Your quarter rounds may still loosen or develop gaps in the seal between the trim and shiplap if your glue isn’t strong enough.

Step 4:

  • Fill any remaining gaps with latex caulk and leave to dry for 24 hours. Once dried, your shiplap, trim, and caulk are all ready to paint.

Finishing With Corner Molding

Using corner molding generally requires you to follow the same steps you use when fitting trim to your shiplap edges. You’ll use a pre-assembled corner trim or a pair of matching strips of 1 x 4-inch trim to create the corner molding.

In this scenario, the shiplap boards butt up against an interior wall corner. As the steps are mostly the same as installing a regular trim, we’ll recite them quickly here, and you can refer to the above for more details:

  • Measure the length of the corner so you can cut your corner trim to the appropriate length.
  • Use a strong adhesive to fit the corner molding in place.
  • Use finishing nails to secure the corner trim.
  • Fill any remaining gaps with caulk and leave to dry for 24 hours.

At Stikwood, we offer various corner trim options that offer the perfect finish to the edges of our peel-and-stick shiplap boards. Made using the same materials as our peel-and-stick planks, these corner moldings create a near-seamless finish.

Creating Butt-Joined Seamless Corners

Butt joints are wood joints you can use to connect two pieces of wood at a 90-degree angle. This technique creates a solid connection between the wooden panels. However, butt joints aren’t particularly strong.

The following are the steps to follow when creating a butt joint:

Step 1:

  • Use tape to measure the desired length of each piece of shiplap, using a small pencil to make a mark. Align a speed square with the mark to draw a straight line across your board. Mark the waste side with an X.

Step 2:

  • Use a miter saw to cut the board squarely at the cut line. Keep the blade on the waste side to ensure you stay as square as possible.

Step 3:

  • Place the end of your shiplap board’s face against the board it’ll connect to on the wall. Draw reference marks on both boards before using a power drill to make holes slightly smaller than the nails or screws you intend to use. Drill through the face of one board into the end of the other in two spots.

Step 4:

  • Apply glue to the end of the board that butts against the other board. As this is end grain, use plenty of adhesive to achieve a secure connection. Then, butt the pieces of wood together while using a clean rag to wipe away excess glue.

Step 5:

  • Drive nails or screws through your pre-drilled holes to reinforce the butt joint. You can also install plywood gussets or angle brackets for extra strength, though they’re not always necessary for shiplap boards.

Shiplap to Tile Transition

You can install shiplap panels in a room that has tile, such as a bathroom. In these cases, you can finish the edges with a small quarter-round, which creates a decorative separation between the tile and shiplap. Follow the steps in the “trim out” section for how to trim out the shiplap to achieve this finish.

Caulk is also an option. However, shiplap tends to jut further out than the tile, meaning you’ll end up with a heavy caulk finish that may not look attractive.

Outside Corner Edges

Corner trim is your best choice if you have shiplap that butts against the edge of a corner that turns into a different room. This trim finishes the edge and conceals any gaps, ensuring a nice transition into the next room. Stikwood offers several corner trim options in a wide range of styles and colors.

The corner angle is your key concern. Though it may seem like all room corners are at an exact 90-degree angle, that isn’t always the case. Measure the corner angle before purchasing corner trim to ensure you buy trim that offers the correct angle. Assuming you’ve measured the angle correctly, follow these steps to install your corner trim.

Step 1:

  • Measure the corner length from the wall’s base to its underside, which is where it connects to the ceiling. Using this measure, draw a cut mark on your trim with a pencil and use a miter or table saw to cut it. You’ll need to do this twice because you’ll have a pair of trim boards to install.

Step 2:

  • Place one of the trim boards against the wall’s edge and install it temporarily by driving nails into the top and bottom of the board.

Step 3:

  • Position the second trim board on the perpendicular wall and adjust until the edge face aligns with the first trim board. This time, use finish nails at the top and bottom of the board.

Step 4:

  • Remove the nails from the first board and drive it firmly against the edge of the second board. Drive pairs of spiral-shanked nails into the board at 24-inch intervals, starting from the top and moving toward the bottom. Repeat this technique for the second board. Make sure you drive at least one nail close to each board’s edge, so it sinks into the board behind.

Step 5:

  • Use a cutting tool to create a 45-degree bevel close to the corner of one of the boards. Create a similar cut near the joining end of the other board. Drive a nail through the first board. Then, match the nail placement with the second board and use another nail to secure it.

Get the Right Finish for Shiplap Panels

You have several options for finishing the edges of shiplap panels, meaning personal preference plays a role. Butt joints create the cleanest seams and require no trim, though they’re more difficult to create and reinforce.

Quarter molding offers an attractive trim, though you may find a simple caulk finish does the job with far less work. Internal corners are best finished with butt joints or corner molding, with exterior corners requiring a special type of corner trim.

Whatever your choice may be, take care when measuring your trim. You don’t want any unsightly gaps that force you to cut more trim, leaving seams between the trim pieces. The steps provided in this article should help you to DIY shiplap edge finishes in whatever style you prefer. Alternatively, you can use Stikwood’s simple, pre-assembled corner trims to achieve a beautiful finish with easy installation.