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How to Build a Shiplap Photo Wall Backdrop DIY


Shiplap is all the craze so when my wife asked me to help her build a backdrop for a photo booth, we thought, “why not shiplap it!” Shiplapping something is not really hard, it just involves cutting and painting the wood. Some hardware stores even have premade shiplap boards, but they are expensive. I wanted to keep this project as cheap as possible, so I used 2x4s and fence boards.

The photo backdrop wall received a lot of comments, so I thought I would do a tutorial on how I built it.

As I mentioned before, I wanted to do this on the cheap. I saw prebuilt fence style walls for $120 and I would have needed three of them. I saw the prefab shiplap boards, but they were $18-$25 each. That would have made the cost of my wall reach $500. No thanks!

I went to Lowe’s to purchase lumber because I happened to be closer to Lowe’s at the time. I ended up needing a few other boards and was closer to HomeDepot and noticed that Lowe’s lumber was higher quality and the boards I went with were 6″ wide where HomeDepot’s are 5.5″ wide. You can see the difference in the middle section of the wall which is slightly shorter than the outside two.

Here are the fence boards from Lowes that I used, hopefully this link always stays up:

2x4s are 2x4s, do you really need a link?


The entire wall is built from 2×4’s and 6 inches by 6 ft fence boards. We bought the cheapest white paint in the place and rolled it on as you will see below.

Each wall consisted of three 2×4’s and thirteen fence boards. I used screws to assemble them because I knew I might need to take them apart to store them. I will get to how I secured them so they stood up strong at the end.


I started by cutting off the top portion of the board because true shiplap doesn’t taper off at the ends like a fence. That took an inch off of the width making each wall five feet eleven inches in width. The walls being almost six feet in width made for an interesting challenge for transporting them. Luckily, I had access to a trailer that was just over six feet wide and ten feet in length. I decided to make the walls 59 inches wide because cutting the boards down to four feet would have just wasted wood. If I had found boards eight feet tall I could have cut them in half.


With my boards cut and three 2×4’s on the ground evenly spaced, I started to lay the trimmed fence boards. I measured across at the bottom, middle, and top to assure I didn’t build a slanted wall. I also measured from corner to corner to assure the wall was square in the corners. This is important to do before you start screwing boards in.

I used 2″ flat-head exterior wall screws. In the past I have used drywall screws, these screws are the same, just a bit tougher:


The walls came together fast. So fast that my wife was actually frustrated at how little time it took me. I think she hoped it would take actual blood, sweat, and tears. It only took a little bit of sweat, cause it was hot out.


This is the completed first wall. I wanted to stand it up to see how sturdy it was. I basically built a vertical fence. That is what Shiplap is, a vertical fence.


I ended up being short one board so I went to HomeDepot because it’s closer to my house. Their fence boards are 5.5″ instead of 6″. I was not about to drive all of the way to Lowes to get one single board so I bought one and one of my walls was slightly shorter than the other two. It ended up not looking bad at all. I could have cut down two of the other boards but I did not have a table saw to assure ripping a half of an inch off of the six-inch boards was perfect.


The next step was painting. Fence boards can absorb some paint. It took the entire gallon of paint to cover these boards. I went over them twice and I probably could have put another coat on them. The gallon of paint we bought was $18.00.


With the walls painted, I decided I should paint the sides because there will probably be a slight gap between them. I did not want anything unpainted showing through. In retrospect, I probably could have painted the side of the 2x4s that faces forward because through the boards you can just barely see the 2×4’s running down the walls. Painting the 2x4s would have been a nice finish touch.


My wife wanted to see how they looked standing up so I quickly stood them up so we could take a look.


Before packing the walls up, I took a selfie!


I built the walls to use them as a photo backdrop at a Market my wife and a couple of her friends put on each year. I wanted to make sure they were sturdy because the last thing I wanted was one of these walls to come down. I bought some metal T-Post posts, which are the same posts used for a temporary fence, and slammed them into the ground. You will need a Fence Post Driver to slam them into the ground. If the ground is hard, these will be a pain to remove from the ground. I was ok with that because I wanted this wall to be able to withstand some wind or something leaning up against it.


You can see the green T-Posts running down the 2x4s. I used 5/16″ x 2″ lag bolts to attach the T-Posts to the back of the walls. I used lag bolts because I wanted something strong.

5/16×2″ Lag Bolts:

Just in case I needed them, I brought a few extra 2x4s to attach to the walls mid way and run down at an angle to the ground. You can see two of them in the image. The wall did not need these, but I figured I would put them there just in case. We set the walls up the night before and I wanted some extra protection against wind. Enough wind or someone pushing on the walls could bend the T-Posts and make the walls fall. The two additional supports made it stronger and gave me peace-of-mind.

I attached the 2×4’s to the wall with a couple of Joist Hangers and put two small wood stakes in the ground where the 2x4s met the ground. I used screws to attach the 2x4s to the wood stakes in the ground. I was done!

1-3/4-in x 5-1/16-in Triple Zinc Slope/Skew Hanger:


Check out my wife’s market:

Blog Family Adventures Parenting Projects

3 Gun Nerf Battle Birthday Party for Liam


Liam’s 5th birthday was quickly approaching and we had no plans. I remember my wife and I sitting on the couch about 2 weeks ago contemplating just having some close family over for pizza or something. Something about that didn’t sit right. I mean it was my first born son’s 5th birthday. That’s kind of a big deal. The idea of getting a bounce house for our backyard sounded horrible. There’s a time and a place for easy entertainment, I kind of wanted to do something fun.

I remembered watching some 3-Gun Competitions on Youtube. 3-Gun Competitions have become really popular over the last few years. This form of shooting sport requires you to go through a course hitting targets while switching between three different types of guns. I began imagining how cool that would be to do in our backyard with Nerf Guns. It was decided that Liam would have an Epic 3 Gun Nerf Battle Birthday Party.


With little actual time to plan this between work and traveling to Seattle for 3 days, I took to Amazon to load up on Nerf arsenal. We didn’t have much, to begin with. Our kids have very few gun-related toys. A year ago I bought four small Nerf guns to my wife and I could battle with the kids, but some of them are too hard to shoot. Today, some of the six-year-old kids even had a hard time with them.

I wanted the backyard to be fun. My wife took to Pinterest and I worked on some ideas of my own. I had a bunch of moving boxes from when we last moved and some wood. We went to Home Depot to buy the wood stakes we used to hold everything up. It took more time to gather and buy everything I needed than it did to set it up. I set up the entire backyard in about 3 hours including painting things camouflage and cutting the wood stakes to size.

List of Nerf Guns & Darts:

The kids had such a great time. Most of my son’s friends are his age with a few of them a year or two older so this was a hit for everybody. My younger son enjoyed it just as much as the bigger kids.

As you can see, the set up was pretty simple. I used a bunch of yard marker sticks I got in a bundle from Home Depot and crossed twine over and around them to simulate razor wire.

The real bottleneck was reloading guns with Nerf darts. I purchased a few extra clips, but the main gun had to be reloaded each time. A couple of parents helped in that process which kept things moving along quickly.

Pool noodles worked great. I just stuck sticks in the ground and slipped the pool noddles over them. I bought these pool noodles.

I had some boxes and boards laying around so I used spray paint to add camo to the boxes and targets to the wood panels. It’s nothing fancy, but for a moment, the boys thought they were in a war zone. I even bought a couple of inflatable tire tubes pool floats that I turned up on their side and made into targets.

The party kept my wife and I pretty busy. I don’t remember standing still for even a moment. I wanted to get more photos of the action taking place, but the sun was kind of at a weird angle and made it hard. With so many kids running around and my focus on them having a good time, I ended up just putting my camera away.

After the somewhat organized portion of the event was over, we handed out little single shooter Nerf Guns that were part of the party favor for each of the kids and they went to battle in the backyard. With plenty of Nerf darts all over the place, there was endless fun to be had.

I have attended a lot of little kid birthday parties and at each one, the Pinata gives after the first few kids. My wife picked out this Avengers Pinata and filled it up with tons of candy. The problem is that this thing would not break. Each kid hit it and then we let Liam at it again, it would not break. I had to hit it as hard as I could with the plastic bat 3-4 times. Next time I will make sure we have a metal bat.

Of course, Liam fell this morning on the playground at church and gave himself a nice goose egg on the forehead. Either he or his brother does that often the morning before a day where many photos will be taken.

Liam’s 5th birthday party was a huge success. After all of the friends left, it was time for baths and the boys fell right asleep. They played hard today, and that is what it’s all about.


7 Year Anniversary Gift – Copper


When my wife and I started discussing what we would do for our 7 year anniversary, the topic of gifts always comes up. This year it was decided that there would be no gifts. My wife knows that I never keep my promises when it comes to gift giving. I am not sure which will be the bigger gift, this project, or the fact that I am doing a tutorial on it and pinning it to Pinterest.

In the past years, I have tried to be creative but have not really come through with anything really nice that would be worthy of hanging onto for any length of time. This year, I wanted it to be different. A quick Google search let me know that the 7-year anniversary gift was copper. Further research led me to a project that involved listing important dates with pennies. I really liked that idea so I went to Amazon to order the items I would need to create my own project (Project List Below).

I already had a few tools, so my list of items needed was not that long. It was a rather inexpensive project to pull off. The hardest part was finding pennies for the correct years.

My wife crafts. She has a room that is full of crafting tools, paper, and other materials. Being a man, I wanted to do this on my own and I didn’t want to leave a trace, so I opted to create my project at my office. I had an X-ACTO knife in my Slot Car Box. Slot Cars are a longtime hobby I have had since I was a child which involves building cars and painting the body that goes on the car. It’s kind of like building model cars, but you get to drive them on a track.

Having decided what I was going to make for her for our 7-year anniversary copper gift, I got started.

Here is a list of items I needed to pull off this project:

It took me a few minutes to come up with 7 milestones that have happened since we met each other. We have yet to purchase a house and neither one of us has graduated from med school so all I had was the day we met, the day we married, and the birth dates of our three children. I felt that I needed to have at least 7 dates on the list. If I could have come up with more, I might have gone for 10. To make 7, I added my wife’s birthdate and my own to the list.

I have Adobe Photoshop on my computer so I used that to create the page layout but I could have easily used Microsoft Word or something like that. The only part I was concerned about was making sure that the text and the pennies would be spaced evenly on the page. I wanted it to look good once it was in the frame.

After the text design was done, I printed the page on my Canon Pro-100 printer that I use occasionally for printing photos. I wanted the text to be crisp. The only other printer I had was a black and white laser printer. A test print with that laser printer did not look that good. The text did not turn out as sharp on the page. I bought a 50 pack of cardstock knowing that I would probably go through a few pages trying to get it right.

The most tedious part of this project was sorting through pennies to try and find the correct year for each of the milestones. I needed a 1980, 1986, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and a 2013 penny. I keep just about all of the change that is given back to me at the conclusion of a purchase so I had a lot to work with. The center console of my truck had about 3″ of change it in and in my office, I had a red solo cup full of change. I poured all of that change into a bucket and my employees and I started sorting. I also occasionally save one dollar bills. All that stuff adds up!

It took us about 10 minutes but by the time we had sorted through all of the pennies we had found at least 2 for each year. I wanted the cleanest pennies so it would be easy to see the year.

Here is the project laid out before attaching the pennies. Looking good so far.

Since the card stock was 8.5×11 inches, I needed to trim it to fit the 8×10 frame. This frame did not have a matte so I could not simply hide the excess behind the matte, it had to be cut to fit.

Attaching the pennies to the card stock could have been done a couple of different ways but I wanted them to be as close to the paper as possible and I did not want to use a liquid which could have made the paper soggy. I happened to have some high-end double-sided tape that I had bought when I changed out the glass cover on a Mac Laptop. Small roles of this stuff are kind of expensive but since I had it, and it’s thin, I used it. I could have just as easily used double-sided scotch tape, but I did not have any. Don’t buy the 3M VHB Tape that I used, it’s really expensive. Just use double-sided scotch tape.

The pressure on the pennies between the picture frame glass and the backing would hold them in place pretty well so I was not concerned with how tough the bond was between the pennies and the card stock. I used the glass from the picture frame as a straight edge so the pennies would stay aligned down the page.

The pennies are attached and it’s ready to see how it looks in the frame.

I was pleasantly surprised by the finished product. My employees were impressed with the idea and that I was able to remember exact dates. I have always tried my best to remember these dates because they are extremely important to me. Not everybody can remember the exact date they met their spouse. I even remember the day we started dating, which was Feb 19th, 2006. My wife is not so good with dates which makes it even more fun that I do remember these things.

Reaching the 7-year mark in marriage is a milestone itself. I have heard it said by many professionals on relationships that it takes about 7 years before you can truly be selfless in regards to your spouse. I was 28 years old when my wife and I married. I had been in relationships in the past where both of us in the relationship was selfish, so I have tried my best not to be since my wife and I married.

I am looking forward to the next 7 years and the next 7 after that. My wife and I have never been happier in our lives. Though having 3 children close in age is a lot of work, we believe it is the best work we could possibly be doing. We both agree that if we could go back and do it over again, we would not change a thing.

Happy Anniversary to my beautiful bride, who is just as beautiful as the day we first met.

I love you Mallory!

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