Shiplap has been making waves in the world of interior design, and it’s not hard to see why. This versatile material adds a touch of rustic charm to any space while offering the flexibility to fit into modern and traditional decors alike. But what is shiplap, exactly? Let’s dive into the nautical origins of shiplap, its rise to fame in home design, and how you can incorporate it into your living space.

Understanding the Basics and Historical Significance

Walkway into a house with shiplap wall feature.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Shiplap is more than just a buzzword tossed around by home improvement shows and design magazines. It’s a type of wooden board traditionally used for constructing sheds, barns, and other rustic buildings. The key feature of this type of wooden board is the notch or groove (called a “rabbet”) cut into the top and bottom edges of each board. When installed, these rabbets overlap, creating a tight seal that prevents water from seeping through, which is why shiplap was originally used in shipbuilding.

The history of shiplap is as rich as the wood grains it boasts. Its design was a practical solution for waterproofing and fortifying the structures it graced. Over time, shiplap transitioned from a purely functional material to a stylistic choice for interior and exterior walls, often celebrated for its natural look and texture.

The Aesthetic Appeal of Shiplap in Various Rooms

Bedroom with modern bed flanked by shiplap wall.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Shiplap’s aesthetic appeal lies in its simplicity and the subtle texture it adds to walls. It can be painted or left natural, allowing for a range of looks from clean and contemporary to distressed and vintage. The horizontal lines of shiplap draw the eye across the room, making spaces appear larger, which is a clever trick for small apartments or rooms.

Designers love shiplap for its versatility. Whether you’re aiming for a cozy farmhouse feel or a sleek, minimalist vibe, shiplap can be the backdrop to your vision. It’s not just about the visual appeal; shiplap can also add a layer of insulation and soundproofing to your walls, making it as functional as it is beautiful.

Incorporating Shiplap into Your Home: Tips and Tricks for Every Room

Chic bedroom with a shiplap focal wall.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Incorporating shiplap into your home can seem daunting, but it’s easier than you might think. One of the most popular ways to use shiplap is as an accent wall. This can become the focal point of a room without overwhelming the space. If you’re feeling adventurous, shiplap can also be used on ceilings, adding dimension and character to a room.

When it comes to choosing the right shiplap for your space, consider the width of the boards. Wider boards tend to lend a more modern look, while narrower boards can feel more rustic. Think about the finish as well; a glossy paint can make shiplap feel chic, while a matte finish can enhance its farmhouse charm.

Installation and Maintenance

Bed with side tables on each side flanked by shiplap wall.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Installing shiplap might be a project for the avid DIYer or something you’d prefer to leave to the professionals. Either way, proper installation is key to ensuring that your shiplap looks great and stands the test of time. It’s important to allow the wood to acclimate to your home’s environment to prevent warping, and to leave space for expansion and contraction due to changes in humidity.

Maintenance of shiplap is relatively straightforward. Dusting and occasional wiping down should keep your shiplap looking fresh. If you’ve opted for painted shiplap, touch-ups may be necessary over time, especially in high-traffic areas. With the right care, your shiplap can maintain its beauty for years to come.


What is so special about shiplap?

Shiplap is special for several reasons. First and foremost, it adds a distinct and charming aesthetic to interior walls, giving them a rustic or farmhouse appeal. Additionally, shiplap is known for its durability and ability to withstand wear and tear. Its installation often involves overlapping wooden boards, creating a tight seal that can provide insulation and protection against the elements. Beyond its practical benefits, shiplap has become popular in interior design, contributing to a timeless and cozy atmosphere in homes.

What is shiplap and why is it called that?

Shiplap is a type of wooden board used for constructing buildings or, more commonly, for interior wall paneling. The name originates from its historical use in shipbuilding. The design involves overlapping boards, with a rabbet or groove cut into the top and bottom edges to allow for a tight fit. This construction method was crucial for creating water-resistant and weatherproof seals in the hulls of ships. Over time, shiplap made its way into architecture and interior design, maintaining its name and distinctive style.

What does shiplap look like?

Shiplap has a characteristic appearance characterized by horizontally or even vertically stacked wooden boards. The boards typically have a slight gap or groove (rabbet) along the top and bottom edges, allowing them to fit together snugly. This overlapping arrangement creates a distinctive pattern with visible horizontal lines and shadow gaps between the boards. Depending on your preferences, this type of wooden board can be left natural for a rustic look or painted to match the desired aesthetic of a space.

Is shiplap cheaper than drywall?

The cost of shiplap versus drywall depends on various factors, including the type of materials used, labor costs, and the region. In general, the materials for shiplap may be more expensive than drywall per square foot. However, the installation process for shiplap is often simpler, which can lead to lower labor costs. Additionally, shiplap’s durability and aesthetic appeal may be considered valuable, making it a popular choice despite potentially higher upfront costs. Comparatively, drywall is a more traditional and budget-friendly option, but the choice between shiplap and drywall often comes down to personal preference and the desired look for the space.

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Shiplap is more than just a fleeting trend; it’s a timeless addition to any home that offers both beauty and functionality. Its historical significance and versatility have cemented its place in the world of design, and its ability to adapt to various styles ensures that it will remain popular for years to come.

Whether you’re renovating an old farmhouse or updating a modern city apartment, shiplap can provide the texture and warmth that turns a house into a home. So, when you’re planning your next home improvement project, consider the many benefits of shiplap – it might just be the element you need to bring your design vision to life.

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