a white room with shiplap walls, a window, and a light hanging from the ceiling

Shiplap

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/10/2021

Whether you’re decorating your bathroom in a nautical theme or you’re adding a rustic look to your taupe bedroom, a shiplap wall or ceiling might just be the sophisticated style statement you’ve been looking for. And with numerous options available in a range of materials and prices, you should be able to get what you want on the budget you’ve got to work with.

Definition

Today, the term shiplap often refers to an overlapping, almost always horizontal, board pattern found on both exterior and interior walls. Once a functional and structural design element, this board pattern is now a common style statement found in bedrooms and bathrooms. Historically, it would have been used in shipbuilding and residential construction and would have been held together with special interlocking watertight tongue and groove type joints. Shiplap can now commonly be put together with simple overlapping assemblies and fastened together with adhesives and/or finishing nails. There are also wallpaper replicas that provide most of the look with almost none of the material cost and labor. Larger projects, such as exterior walls or ceilings, are still constructed with more traditional methods.

What Are The Most Common Questions Around Shiplap?

Shiplap, as a functional construction method, has been around for a very long time, but its use as a decoration is relatively new. A popular design choice these days, more and more people are opting to incorporate the style into their home renovations. However, there are a couple of key questions that keep popping up that need to be addressed before you get started:

  • Q: Why is it called shiplap?
  • A: As its name suggests, this method of overlapping wooden planks to create a watertight seal was probably first used in shipbuilding. With its successful design, the construction technique eventually became a popular choice for both exterior and interior walls in residential and commercial buildings. And finally, the traditional building method has had a bit of a renaissance as a modern design choice in recent years.
  • Q: Is shiplap cheaper than drywall?
  • A: People seem to agree that it ends up being cheaper than drywall in the end. When you consider the materials and time needed to install and finish drywall, the costs start adding up. Whereas, this method can sometimes be purchased on a budget and installed easily with low finishing costs.
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