Finding the Perfect Brad Nail Size for Shiplap: A Comprehensive Guide

Shiplap has made a stunning comeback in interior design and construction, adding a touch of rustic elegance to homes and businesses alike. Its characteristic horizontal wooden planks have an appealing visual texture. But, if you’re planning to install shiplap, choosing the right brad nail size is crucial to ensure a flawless finish. In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of selecting the perfect brad nail size for shiplap, catering to contractors, construction workers, and avid DIY enthusiasts.

Understanding Shiplap Installation

The Shiplap Aesthetic

Shiplap’s enduring appeal lies in its timeless aesthetic. The distinctive pattern of overlapping wooden planks adds character and charm to any space. Its applications span from creating accent walls to covering entire rooms or ceilings.

Nailing the Installation

To achieve that flawless shiplap installation, nailing is the key. Brad nails, with their slender profile and holding power, are the preferred choice for securing shiplap boards to the underlying structure. However, selecting the right brad nail size is pivotal to achieving a secure fit without causing any damage to the wood.

Choosing the Brad Nail Size

Selecting the appropriate brad nail size involves considerations beyond just the length of the nail. You need to account for factors like the thickness of the shiplap boards and the material of the underlying wall or ceiling. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:

1. Length of the Brad Nails

The length of your brad nails should be approximately three times the thickness of the shiplap boards. For standard 3/4-inch thick shiplap, 2-inch brad nails are usually ideal. However, if your shiplap is thicker, adjust the nail length accordingly.

2. Gauge of the Brad Nails

Brad nails are available in various gauges, with 18-gauge and 16-gauge being the most common choices for shiplap installation. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the nail. For shiplap, 18-gauge brad nails are generally sufficient, offering the necessary strength without causing visible holes in the wood.

3. Material of the Underlying Wall or Ceiling

Consider the material you’re nailing the shiplap onto. For drywall, 18-gauge brad nails are suitable. If you’re dealing with studs or a more substantial backing, you can opt for longer nails for added security.

4. Nail Head Style

Choose brad nails with a narrow head design to minimize the risk of visible nail holes. The goal is to secure the shiplap discreetly while maintaining a clean and unblemished appearance.

Tips for a Successful Shiplap Installation

1. Pilot Holes

To prevent splitting, especially near the edges of the shiplap boards, it’s advisable to drill pilot holes slightly smaller than the nail diameter.

2. Spacing

Ensure even spacing between nails along the length of the boards to maintain a uniform and appealing pattern.

3. Angle of Nailing

Drive the brad nails at a slight angle (around 15 degrees) to ensure a strong and secure connection between the shiplap and the wall or ceiling.

4. Finishing Touches

Once the shiplap is installed, fill the nail holes with wood putty or filler and sand them to achieve a seamless, finished look.


Selecting the right brad nail size for your shiplap project is a critical decision that can significantly impact the final result. By considering the thickness of your shiplap, the material of the underlying structure, and nail head design, you can ensure a secure and visually pleasing installation. With the right brad nail size and careful installation, your shiplap project will undoubtedly become a stunning focal point in any space, embracing the timeless charm that shiplap brings to the table.

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