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What is Shiplap? Everything You Need to Know.

What is Shiplap


Shiplap is a classic way to construct a weather-tight wall out of wood. Planks are slotted together using overlapping grooves and rabbet joints. The final result looks like a wall made out of horizontal or vertical planks, but due to the overlapping joints, wind and water cannot pass through the wall. Shiplap was once used to construct ships, barns, beach houses, and sheds. What exactly is shiplap? Everything you need to know is covered in this article.


What is shiplap?

Shiplap can be made out of any type of wood. In essence, it is planks of wood joined together by rabbet joints. In a rabbet joint, a notch is cut at each end of the plank at a 90-degree angle, and then a groove is made along the top of the notch. The planks are slotted together using the groove. Shiplap was widely used in the recent past to make exterior walls in harsh climates. 

Prior to the invention of drywall, shiplap was also commonly used to make interior walls, but in previous times, the look was not appreciated, and shiplap interior walls were almost always hidden beneath another layer, such as wallpaper. Currently, the appearance of shiplap is in vogue, and many people are using exposed shiplap to create interior walls, such as in kitchens and bedrooms.


Why use shiplap?

The visible lines in a shiplap wall provide a texture that is appealing and draws the eye. This effect immediately makes a room appear larger, regardless of whether the planks are installed vertically or horizontally. In addition, the handcrafted charm of a shiplap wall makes a room feel comforting and friendly, like an old farmhouse. At the same time, the texture is clean and crisp, and the look fits right into contemporary, transitional, or even modern designs.

Shiplap is also eco-friendly. It is made out of biodegradable, all-natural wood, with no plastic or even adhesives involved. A new shiplap wall can be made out of repurposed or reclaimed wood; there is no need to use virgin timber.


Shiplap is easy to install

Shiplap is forgiving. It can be installed starting at the top or the bottom of the wall, and as long as everything is measured carefully and the first layer is installed completely level, the rest of the wall will rapidly and easily come together. If the final space at the top or bottom isn't quite wide enough to fit another full layer of shiplap, a baseboard, molding or quarter round can be used to finish the wall.


Shiplap is versatile

Once installed, shiplap can be finished in any way desired. The classic way to finish shiplap is to paint it white, taking care to leave the visible lines intact. However, shiplap can be painted any color, stained to reveal the beauty of the wood grain, or even left natural for a rustic look.


Shiplap is watertight

Due to the overlapping planks, shiplap is watertight. It can be used in kitchens and bathrooms where tiles are traditionally used, such as the backsplash wall behind a sink or tub. If you aren't fond of the look of kitchen backsplashes, a shiplap wall is definitely something to consider.


Drawbacks of shiplap

The major drawback of shiplap is it is difficult to repair. Unlike drywall, where patching and repainting are easy tasks, if a shiplap wall gets damaged, a piece of the wall may need to be dismantled and rebuilt. A minor drawback of shiplap is the lines can collect dust. However, regular cleaning with a vacuum cleaner or duster can resolve this difficulty.


Shiplap is a great choice for kitchens

Shiplap is economical, easy to install, and works really well in kitchens due to its watertight nature. Its charming look fits right into rustic and farmhouse styles, and at the same time, the clean lines commend it to contemporary, transitional, and modern kitchens.

Since the texture of shiplap attracts the eye, it naturally creates an accent wall, an effect that can be emphasized by finishing it in a contrasting color. Contact us to discuss your kitchen remodel and whether shiplap is the best way to achieve the kitchen of your dreams. 

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