Nail Gun for Shiplap. (Best Nailer and Nail Size)

The old saying what goes around, comes around seems to apply to shiplap. Once a popular form of exterior protection for homes, it seemingly fell out of favor until recently. Today, shiplap is not only applied to the exterior to protect the home from the wind and weather, it is now being used as interior decoration that helps to accent walls and the ceiling in some cases.

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What size nails for shiplap over drywall

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What size nails for shiplap over drywall

The renewed interest in shiplap means that adding it to your home will require the right type of nails to ensure that it is properly installed. But what exactly is shiplap?

What is Shiplap?

What size nails for shiplap over drywall
Shiplap is a wood siding that features a rectangular tongue or rabbet joint on the ends of the board. When they are placed next to each other, the rabbets will overlap and create a strong connection. The result is that wind, weather, and the elements will not penetrate through as they would with panels that had flat or smooth edges.

The name shiplap comes from its original use in putting together slats to build wooden ships which made them watertight. Today, shiplap has become a popular interior décor that provides a beautiful accent to the walls. Installing shiplap siding on a plain wall can turn it into a center of focus. But putting shiplap together requires the right size nails for the job.

What size nails for shiplap over drywall

What Size Nails for Shiplap Cladding

Although shiplap cladding is unique in terms of how it is put together, the nails used are comparable to applying trim to the walls. This means that 18-gauge brad nails and 15 to 16-gauge nails, the same as you would use for baseboards, work well with shiplap.
This also means that you should either go for a brad nailer or a finish nail gun for shiplap installation.

The nail is large enough to hold together the different pieces but small enough not to cause splitting. The 15 to 18 gauge is the right nail size for shiplap with a recommended length of 1.25” or 1.75”. This is long enough to penetrate the shiplap and hold it to the wall, but short enough not to go too deep and hit conduits or electric lines in most homes.

Nail length for shiplap

As a general rule, the nail should penetrate 1-inch into the wall, stud or ceiling. This is excluding the thickness of shiplap itself and any other material such as drywall that reside between the panel and the stud or wall.

  • 3/4-inch thick shiplap: 18-gauge brad nail with 1-3/4″ length.
  • 3/4-in shiplap on 1/2-in drywall: 16-gauge nail with 2-1/4′ or 2-1/2″ length

Type of Nail Gun for Shiplap

There are three types of nail guns that are popular to use when attaching shiplap. For the most part, each nailer is designed to attach baseboards which is similar in terms of thickness and placement compared to shiplap.

  • Brad
  • Finish
  • Framing

So how do you decide which nail gun is best for shiplap installation? The answer depends on the thickness of the panels.

The faux shiplap sidings that are used for interior decoration are essentially thin plywood panels. So, you need the nail to make the smallest hole possible, yet have enough strength to be able to securely attach the sidings firmly attached to the walls.

This is why the 18-gauge Brad nailer may be the most popular option for faux shiplap siding. It provides the proper amount of force along with nail sizes that make them well suited for shiplap. Like I explained before, faux shiplap is usually thin plywood panels and the 18-gauge brad nailer is perfect for the job.

What size nails for shiplap over drywall
Above: Makita AF506 Brad Nailer – Click to See Amazon Price

A finish nailer is a popular option as well given the size of nails and force used to drive them into place. If you use a nail gun such as a framing nailer, the nails will produce larger holes and you have to go back and fill these holes with wood filler or spackling.

Framing nailers are not suitable for thin faux panels. However, if you are cutting your own thick siding for exterior walls a framing nail gun can work very well.

What Size Nails for Shiplap over Drywall?

The standard 15 to 16-gauge nails work well with drywall. The key is not the drywall but attaching the shiplap to the studs behind the drywall.

You do not want the weight of the shiplap to be held by the drywall itself or it will crack and fall apart. By attaching the nails to the studs behind the drywall, that will carry the weight. Get a good quality stud finder to locate the studs accurately.

If the drywall is quite thin or subject to breaking apart when using nails, consider pre-drilling holes into the drywall and studs behind it.

Can You Install Shiplap Without a Nail Gun?

Yes, it can be done.
One popular option is to use mounting tape on the sides. This means when they are placed, they will stick to the wall thanks to the double-sided tape. You will need to clean the boards thoroughly to ensure that no dust or particles are present on the surface. Plus, you will need a hammer to tap the shiplap and get rid of any air pockets that might keep the tape from sticking properly to the surface.

Read more  Can You Use Gorilla Glue on Nails? 

Another option is to use a heavy-duty construction adhesive such as Liquid Nails to secure the panels on the wall or ceiling.

The other option would be to use the good old hammer and nail. However, if you need to install a large number of panels I suggest you get a power nailer and an affordable air compressor for the nail gun which will make your job a lot easy.

Shiplap Installation Tips

Paint or Sand First: The first tip is that if you plan on painting or sanding the shiplap, do so before nailing it into place. This is because of the overlap created by the shiplap makes it difficult to paint or sand once in place.

1/8th-Inch Rule: To ensure that you keep the boards 1/8” apart, use a coin such as a quarter or nickel placed between the planks to keep the proper spacing.

Hide the Nails: If you want a smooth appearance with no nail holes, then place the nails in the rabbets or tongues of the boards.

What size nails for shiplap over drywall

Using the right nail gun and nail sizes will help you attach the shiplap to your walls with ease. Remember that you do not have to cover the entire wall with shiplap. Inside many homes, the shiplap is used to accent the décor. So, you can use what you want to create the right look for your home.

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— Update: 31-12-2022 — found an additional article Installing Shiplap Over Drywall. (Why & How?) from the website for the keyword what size nails for shiplap over drywall.

It’s true- shiplap is cool. It adds texture and dimension to any room, has an undeniably cozy aesthetic, and the effort to benefits ratio is attractive to DIY-ers everywhere.

Residentially, shiplap has traditionally been used as exterior watertight siding. It features a rabbet cut on the top and bottom of the board that, when assembled correctly, keeps out water, critters, and wind. It is not the same as tongue and groove paneling, though the intentions of both designs are similar.

Installing Shiplap Over Drywall

What size nails for shiplap over drywall

Do You Need Drywall Behind Shiplap?

Technically you don’t need drywall behind the shiplap panels. You can install the shiplap directly onto the studs. However, if you are installing shiplap in your furnace room or garage, the local building codes may require you to have fire taping. This is a layer of sheetrock with fire-resistant tape fixed on the joints and covered with at least one coat of joint compound.

100 years ago, if used indoors, shiplap was installed directly onto the studs. You could certainly still do that today if you’re finishing a room for the first time, working on a new build, or had to remove an existing wall for some other reason.

Can You Put Shiplap on Drywall?

Today, shiplap is frequently retrofitted in homes that already have existing finished walls. These walls most commonly will be drywall.

Proper shiplap made of either wood or MDF, on its own, is certainly stronger than drywall. It can handle more wear and tear while retaining structural integrity, and the kool-aid-man is much less likely to be able to smash through a wood-paneled wall vs. drywall.

It is not necessary to install shiplap directly onto your studs. If you are updating a preexisting wall, you’re far better off simply hanging it over the drywall that’s already there. Otherwise, you’ll have to remove a whole bunch of drywall first, which is messy, time-consuming, and can become pricey to haul away. The benefits of having both far outweigh the hassle of stripping down to the studs first.

Benefits of Shiplap Over Drywall

  • More energy efficient – Drywall will help further insulate the space receiving the shiplap, potentially decreasing energy costs over time, which is especially helpful in under-insulated or older homes.
  • Better soundproofing – This is a big one! Drywall plus shiplap plus potential interior-wall insulation will all work together to dramatically decrease the sound traveling through the walls of your home, which everyone appreciates!. As you add additional layers to a wall, you are increasing its mass and therefore its ability to reflect the sound waves and convert that energy into heat rather than audible noise.
  • Easier to cut out for electrical outlets and switches
  • If using faux shiplap (not recommended), drywall is an essential part of the paneling’s success. Faux Shiplap made from strips of plywood has no overlapping edges. Without drywall behind it, you’ll see right through the wall to your insulation or the room next door, kinda defeating the purpose of the “upgraded” wall.

How to Install Shiplap on Drywall?

Tools You’ll Need

Installation Instructions

  1. First, prepare the workspace. Move any furniture out of the way. Remove art, lamps, area rugs, and anything else that could minimize your freedom of movement, or be damaged. Remove switch plates, outlet covers, and vent covers, and lay down flooring protection. You don’t want to scratch wood floors, and you don’t want to damage the carpet or allow a ton of dust to fall unnecessarily into your carpet. Don your PPE.
  2. Remove all baseboards and any existing trim. Use your utility knife to cleanly slice through any caulk seals, and a thin-edged prybar to pop it off the wall. If you move slowly and deliberately, you’ll be able to reinstall it later without spending money on new trim! Move these pieces out of the work area so they won’t become damaged.
  3. Get out that stud finder and mark the wall on either side of each stud. This is important for later on! Don’t be tempted to only make one mark that vaguely indicates the stud’s position. Use your level and chalk line to mark vertical lines from ceiling to floor to show the exact positions of the studs in the wall. You’re now ready to start prepping the shiplap!
  4. Use a miter saw or circular saw, and cut your first piece to size for the wall. If your wall is longer than the length of 1 piece, start with the edge at one end of the wall. Make sure to use a level or a laser level and get this first piece in straight. If you’re working alone, use your measuring tape to put a tick on the wall where the top of your first piece will fall. Then use your level to scribe on the wall, the line the first piece should rest upon. If the first piece is level, the rest will follow suit. If you skip this first step, things can get wonky.
  5. What size nails for shiplap over drywall

  6. Break out your nail gun and if applicable, compressor. The market now offers battery-powered brad nailers or finish nailers that are perfect for tasks like these, but many homes still have perfectly fine pneumatic nail guns/compressor duos that will do the same job. Load with 1.5″ nails. For more information, see our guide on how to load a brad nailer.
    You could also use a hammer and hand nail the shiplap panels to the wall
  7. Line up the piece on the wall, and shoot in your first two nails before releasing pressure from the board. If you only shoot one nail in, the board may tilt, and you’ll have to reset. Two nails will hold it in place so you can thoroughly secure it to the wall.
  8. With proper shiplap, you can use fewer nails and have a cleaner look by shooting into the boards where they overlap at the top and bottom of the piece.
  9. This is where the two parallel stud lines come in. Make sure to measure and cut your pieces of shiplap so that they only come halfway into the width of the stud. This means that if a piece could be longer but the end falls into the gap between two studs, cut it down. It should fall halfway onto a stud so that the end is secure and not freely flapping, and so that there’s room left remaining on the stud to secure the start of the next piece, and so forth.
  10. Measure and cut, working your way up (or down) the wall. Some folks prefer to start above, as they feel that a “ripped” or partial board is less noticeable along the floor than at the ceiling. However, most feel that moving from the bottom up and not fighting against gravity is the more efficient approach, especially when working alone! It can be very challenging to hold trim up and shoot it in from 8’ or higher in the air. When starting from the bottom, you’re able to just rest each new piece on the level one below it.
  11. What size nails for shiplap over drywall

  12. Use your jigsaw to cut out any necessary holes in each piece to allow for electrical boxes and switches. Make sure to measure the exact size of the electrical stud-mounted box housing the switch or outlet. If you cut too large or too small, you won’t be able to reinstall your switchplates cleanly, and you’ll have to go back and redo the cuts. This can be costly as well as very annoying. When measuring and marking each cut, don’t forget to check three times before starting your cut. We’ve all made a mistake at some point, somehow reversing one of our measurements and having to start over, and it’s never fun!
  13. When you are installing shiplap on two walls meeting at a 90-degree inside corner, it is critical to line up your seams/grooves on each row when you start the second wall. Not taking the time to check could result in a vertical corner seam blemished by two staggered lines where the two walls meet. This will create a distracting and amateurish result and not provide the clean, professional finish we want. Of course, if the damage is done and you’re really only off by about ⅛”, you can always install cove molding vertically in the corner to cover up the rough joints.
  14. Putty the nail holes if desired, or leave them alone for a more rustic look. Reinstall switch plates or vent covers with your screwdriver. Your wall is ready for painting or whatever finishing touches you desire!
  15. What size nails for shiplap over drywall

Installation Tips

  • Trim your Edges – Instead of obsessing over perfect cuts or 1/16 differences in the boards, just use vertical trim to tidy up your edges. There are a variety of options out there- take to the internet to find a style you like, and save yourself time and stress over slightly imperfect work!
  • Measure for Mistakes – Don’t listen to anyone who tells you to order less than 10% extra of your material. It’s an industry standard for a reason: mistakes happen. You can always return unused material if you truly are a perfectionist that made zero mistakes. That being said, getting almost to the end of the project and being 2 boards short isn’t worth it!


Shiplap Adhesive

There are two schools of thought for using adhesive behind each board before nailing, and it’s clear where I fall! I don’t advise adhesive. It isn’t necessary, it’s an extra cost upfront, and it’s a pain in the butt if any part of that nailed and glued-in wall needs to come down in the future. If you are nailing into studs with a nail gun, there’s no chance of the panels just deciding to fall off of the wall one day.

Can You Glue Shiplap?

The only reason I could see for using adhesive is, if you truly want zero nail holes and are planning to apply pressure to every single piece to get a nail-less finish. To me- not worth the effort and not the point of shiplap!

Shiplap Materials

What Are the Different Types of Shiplap?

Shiplap typically comes in either wood or MDF.

  • Wood has a more rustic, textured feel, and is traditional for a reason!
  • MDF should not be used in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or other high moisture areas as it’s much more moisture-sensitive than wood (we’ve all seen swollen MDF baseboard in bathrooms- yuck).

However, it does have a smoother surface and is easy to work with, so if you want a very clean look, it may be the way to go!

Best of luck with transforming your space.

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— Update: 31-12-2022 — found an additional article What Size Nail Gun For Shiplap: A Complete Guide from the website for the keyword what size nails for shiplap over drywall.

Did you know that shiplap was originally created as a method of waterproofing ships via their overlapping pattern? Later on, shiplap became very popular as a way to externally protect houses against harsh weather conditions by blocking the wind that would otherwise pass through walls.

Despite falling out of favor with trendy designs over the years, shiplap has recently made a strong comeback. Not only is it still used to provide external protection for homes, but it now serves another new purpose as an element in interior decoration that uniquely accents walls and ceilings.

If you’re thinking about installing this type of wood siding, you’re probably wondering what size nail gun for shiplap works best? This is one of the most common questions we get.

To put it simply, the answer varies according to the thickness of the wood panels you’re planning to use. Generally, a 16-gauge or 18-gauge Brad or finish nailer is ideal for installing thin (faux) siding on interior walls, whereas an 18-gauge framing nailer is more suitable for thick panels that’ll go on exterior walls.

In today’s article, we’re discussing the type and size of nail guns and nails that are right for a shiplap job. So keep reading if you’re looking for a more detailed answer.

What size nails for shiplap over drywall

Shiplap Explained

Shiplap is a type of wood siding that features grooves in its structure to let the boards fit into one another, resulting in a distinct design. This special interlocking system is called a tongue joint, a tongue/groove fit, or a rabbet joint.

Every plank or board in shiplap has to be prepared for installation via this mechanism. As such, the cut pieces can be mounted horizontally with the grooves built-in so that planks overlap over each other and create a nicely fitted pattern.

The overlapping of the boards when they’re positioned next to one another forms a very strong attachment. This connection is what allows shiplap to prevent weather elements such as wind from seeping through as in the case of flat panels or planks with smooth edges.

Consequently, shiplap was often seen in sheds, constructing barns, or rural houses. The use of this particular wood siding decreased over the years as more designs came to life, however, it’s been gaining popularity once again recently due to appearing on reality TV.

But nowadays, the use of shiplap is less about protection and more about decoration. Thanks to the tiny gaps between the boards and the overall overlapping pattern, shiplap serves to highlight walls and ceilings, as well as add a level of depth that you can’t get from using paint only.

So where does shiplap get its name from? Well, it’s inspired by the original application of the siding back when people fastened planks together to make wooden ships watertight.

What size nails for shiplap over drywall

The Right Type and Size of Nail Gun for Installing Shiplap

No matter the reason you want to install shiplap, you should use a nail gun of the right type and size to make sure it does the job properly.

The 3 most commonly used types of nail guns when it comes to putting up shiplap are Brad, finish, and framing.

So, how do you choose the most appropriate type and size of a nail gun to get the work done? Well, consider the thickness of the boards you’re planning to use.

If you decide on using faux sidings for interior decoration purposes, note that they’re quite thin panels made of plywood. As such, you’ll need the nail holes to be as small as possible yet sturdy enough to support a secure attachment of the sidings to the wall.

In this case, a lot of people opt for a 16-gauge or an 18-gauge Brad nailer because it delivers the necessary amount of strength and uses the right nail sizes, making it ideal for setting up shiplap sidings.

Another popular option when it comes to faux plywood boards is a 16-gauge or an 18-gauge finish nailer thanks to the nail size and the level of force applied when driving the nails into position. If you go for a framing nailer instead, it’ll cause the nails to make bigger holes that you’ll have to fill in later on.

While framing nailers aren’t exactly the best choice for thin faux boards, they can perform well when you’re working with thick sidings for exterior walls. In this case, the nail gun has to be lightweight to counteract the pull of gravity in the opposite direction as well as capable of accomodating a decent range of fastener lengths to suit different panel thicknesses.

What size nails for shiplap over drywall

The Right Size Nails for Installing Shiplap

The rule of thumb in the nail size aspect is:

  • It should be big enough to securely hold pieces of sliding together.
  • It should be small enough to avoid splitting.
  • The nail has to reach a depth of at least 1 inch into the stud, wall, or ceiling. This is without counting the thickness of the shiplap board itself or any material present between the board and the wall such as drywall.

As such, the proper nail size for installing shiplap is between 15 to 18 gauge, and the proper length ranges from 1.25 and 1.75 inches. This way, the nail is long enough to firmly hold the shiplap onto the wall but still short enough to avoid hitting electric lines.

Of course, you can use longer nails in case there’s drywall to account for. For example, a half-inch drywall paired with a 0.75-inch siding will require a nail that’s 2.25 or 2.5 inches long.


There you have it, a detailed answer to the question “what size nail gun for shiplap?”. Here’s the bottom line:

The answer varies according to the thickness of the wood panels you’re planning to use. Generally, a 16-gauge or 18-gauge Brad or finish nailer is ideal for installing thin (faux) siding on interior walls, whereas an 18-gauge framing nailer is more suitable for thick panels that’ll go on exterior walls.


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