Elite Home Exteriors NW

What Is Shiplap Siding

What Is Shiplap Siding and What Is it Used For?

Shiplap: the proof that everything old is new again

Everyone is talking about it. 

Every home design show features it. 

And now, you want to get in on the trend. 

But you have some questions — and rightly so. It is important to know what you are getting into before you take that shiplap dream from Pinterest board to reality. 

It can be hard to find all the information you need when it comes to shiplap. 

Luckily, we are here to give you all the details

Read on to find the answer to the question “what is shiplap wood siding?” along with many others. 

In this guide you can find out the origin of shiplap, what it is used for today, and how to properly use it in your own renovation projects.


Table of Contents

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What Is Shiplap Wood Siding?

Despite its sudden esteem, many are still wondering… what is shiplap wood siding

Shiplap is a style of siding and it can be used on your home’s interior or exterior. 

Shiplap offers a type of “rustic meets modern” look that can help take a space from drab to cozy with ease. 

Contrary to popular belief, shiplap is not your typical tongue and groove style siding. Instead, it has a rabbet fitting

“Rabbet” (not to be confused with the hopping mammal) means that, instead of tongue and groove, the boards have a sort of step-style edge, each at ninety-degree angles. These “steps” fit together to create the crisp look that shiplap is known for. 

Shiplap is made to withstand difficult elements and to flex with humidity and other natural factors.

Why Do They Call It Shiplap?

As its name suggests, shiplap siding dates back to the time of Viking ships. Shiplap was designed to make vessels sea-worthy. Its durability led it to be used to build homes that would withstand the elements. But it wasn’t until many years later that it would be used decoratively. 

Shiplap is incredibly tough which made it ideal for use on Viking ships that needed to be able to survive harsh northern conditions. 

From being constantly in water to being beaten about by harsh weather at sea, Viking ships took quite a beating. 

Shiplap was a perfect solution. 

The rabbet fit allowed the wood to swell when wet, creating a virtually watertight seal.

The latch of the boards made it possible for the boat to flex and bend as needed to endure tumultuous seas. 

Needless to say, this style of woodwork soon made its way to land where it was used on houses and barns to create weather-proof homes for families and livestock alike. 

But for many years, shiplap was only valued for its sturdy reputation. While often left visible on home exteriors, interior shiplap was covered with siding or, eventually, drywall. 

It wasn’t until recently that shiplap as an interior design strategy became popular. 

In 2013 as the first episode of HGTV’s Fixer Upper rocked the design world, shiplap stole the limelight. When Chip and Joanna renovated a house built in 1911, they discovered shiplap underneath some drywall. To keep costs low, Joanna suggested painting the shiplap instead of covering it back over. The owners reluctantly agreed and a trend was born.

What Is Shiplap Siding Used For?

Since that episode aired, shiplap has taken the interior design world by storm. 

Its popularity has continued and many homes now feature this design element. 

Shiplap is commonly used as interior decoration — however, it is often used as exterior siding, too. 

Inside, shiplap offers an inviting farmhouse-style atmosphere. In contrast, outside use gives a rustic, cottage-style look.

Is Shiplap Good for Exterior Siding?

Yes, shiplap is good for exterior siding. Because its original use was to waterproof ships, you can rest assured that shiplap is a great exterior siding option that can help keep your home protected from the elements. 

Shiplap isn’t seen as often as some other siding options, like fiber-cement siding, but it is frequently used.

Exterior Uses of Shiplap Siding

Due to its hearty origins, shiplap is a popular exterior siding option. 

Shiplap siding is frequently used for:

  • Homes
  • Barns
  • Outbuildings

When a sturdy siding option is needed, shiplap often comes to the rescue.

Is Shiplap Good for Interior Siding?

Yes, shiplap works well for interior siding.  

Not only does it look beautiful and crisp, but it is also highly durable.

Interior Uses of Shiplap Siding

Shiplap is often used on accent walls as a design technique but it can also make a great option for full interior siding. 

This material is so versatile that it can be used for ceilings and flooring in addition to siding.

What Is the Difference Between Shiplap and Car Siding?

Despite its fame, shiplap is often mistaken for different siding and construction materials including:

  • Tongue and groove
  • Sheathing
  • Car siding

Tongue and groove is exactly what it sounds like; a board where one side has an indent (groove) and the other has a bit that juts out (tongue). These boards fit into each other to create a clean-edged wood paneling that looks similar to shiplap. 

Sheathing is simply boards nailed to support beams. It can help offer protection during rough weather. This technique is used to create a surface to which other materials can be affixed. While it can look very much like shiplap, sheathing is its own style. 

So, what is the difference between shiplap and car siding? 

That is a great question. 

While shiplap boards have that rabbet that overlaps, car siding is tongue and groove

This leads to a different look upon installation.

Can I Install Shiplap Wood Siding by Myself?

Can you DIY shiplap? 

Technically, yes. 

However, if you do not have experience, your DIY project could turn into a DIY disaster. Possibly even leading to the need for a full siding replacement

The installation process is not very forgiving and mistakes can cost you big time. 

DIY projects can be fun but, if you don’t have siding experience, you might want to leave the shiplap to the professionals. 

Elite Home Exteriors knows a thing or two about installing siding and ensuring that you get a quality job that will last you a while.

Shiplap Siding

The 7 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Shiplap Siding

When it comes to the wonderful world of shiplap, answering some common questions can help you avoid the “coulda-shoulda-woulda” moments that folks often have after a remodeling project.

#1: What Is the Best Wood for Shiplap Siding?

With countless lumber-producing trees to choose from, you have many options when it comes to selecting your shiplap material

Two of the most common shiplap woods are cedar and pine. 

If you are looking to use shiplap inside, away from humidity and moisture, pine is your best option. 

If you want it for outdoor use or in an area with lots of moisture, such as a bathroom, cedar is your ideal wood.

#2: Is Shiplap Siding Sealed?

The design of shiplap provides a natural seal that helps to keep out moisture and other unwelcome things. 

However, if you plan to use your shiplap in a place where it is likely to encounter moisture — think outdoors or in a bathroom — a coat or two of wood sealant, mold-resistant paint, or another type of varnish could be a wise idea.

#3: Can I Paint or Stain Shiplap?

Especially when used indoors, you will probably want to customize your shiplap wall. 

You might be wondering if you can paint or stain it. 

Yes, you can stain and paint shiplap. 

There are a few things to know before you stain or paint that shiplap wall. 

  • Stain looks different on different woods. Test a few stains on some scrap wood before deciding. 
  • Pine is very soft and porous and will absorb stain much like a sponge. To keep this from happening, apply a wood conditioner before staining.
  • Some woods work better with different paints. Do a little research to make sure you get the best paint for the wood you choose.

#4: How Do I Clean My Shiplap Siding?

Despite its large and adoring fan base, shiplap has an evil side. 

Those crevices are the perfect place for nasty little dust bunnies to hide. 

Giving your shiplap a dusting now and then is a great way to keep the grime at bay. 

Depending on the paint you use, a damp cloth can also be used to wipe away visible staining.

#5: How Long Does Shiplap Siding Last?

With proper care, you can expect your exterior shiplap siding to last around 20-30 years. Depending on the wood you use, that lifespan can be increased by several decades. 

Note that the operative phrase here is “with proper care.” If you do not keep up with repairs, sealing, weathering, etc., your siding will not last nearly as long. 

Interior shiplap will typically last as long as you care for it. Keep in mind that high-humidity/moisture-prone areas may not last as long or need more upkeep.

What Is Shiplap Siding

#6: Can Shiplap Be Installed Over Other Materials?

Shiplap is like a Swiss army knife — it can do almost anything and go almost anywhere. 

You can install shiplap over drywall and many other surfaces. The main thing to keep in mind is that whatever you install your shiplap on needs to have some strength to it. 

A great way to ensure your shiplap doesn’t end up crashing off your wall and into a pile on the floor is to locate the studs in your wall and make sure you put your nails into them.

#7: How Much Is Shiplap Siding?

If you want the job done right, you should be prepared to pay a decent amount. 

Shiplap typically runs around $2.50-7.00/square foot and installation can cost around $1,000 for a single room. 

While it is durable and stylish, shiplap is often not cheap.

Contact Elite Home Exteriors for a Free Siding Estimate

If you are feeling overwhelmed at the idea of installing your own siding, never fear. Elite Home Exteriors is here to help. 

We know how to install quality siding that offers your home a fresh look with a long life. 

We serve the Portland and Vancouver areas and are here to help you find the right siding option for your home. 

We can help you analyze your different options and find one that fits your style, budget, and needs.

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Posted on by PortlandSEOGrowth
What Is Shiplap Siding and What Is it Used For?

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