Everything You Need to Know About Shiplap Cladding

With the rise and popularity of HGTV’s Fixer Upper has also come a rise in popularity of wood shiplap cladding. Named for its original use as a ship siding, shiplap cladding can be found in many homes both inside and out. It’s clean lines with no overlap make it a popular exterior cladding choice for contemporary homes, while the natural wood grain and ability to be painted make it a great option for interior accent walls. Shiplap is a powerful element for anyone wanting to add design interest and character to their home.

Shiplap History

While shiplap is currently an extremely popular interior and exterior cladding that’s used on all types of homes, this was not always the case. In fact, shiplap was most commonly used as a covering for outbuildings including sheds and barns, as well as for seasonal homes and cabins. This is mostly due to the fact that the material it was made of was most commonly 1-inch or ¾-inch pine that had been rough sawn. It was inexpensive and easy to install, giving the building it was put on a rustic appearance.

Eventually, shiplap began to make its way indoors as an interior wall covering, usually using a higher quality of wood, but sometimes still being produced of pine for a natural appearance. With the rise in popularity of the rustic modern home and the use of more durable materials for cladding that could be produced inexpensively and installed relatively easily, shiplap began to emerge as an alternative exterior siding for homes as well.

When the material first debuted on HGTV’s Fixer Upper, it gained instant popularity, making it a highly sought after cladding style. The show’s design team actively incorporates shiplap in many different styles of homes in both interior and exterior applications. This rise in popularity of shiplap has propelled more and more manufacturers to expand their product offerings, creating a diverse market for consumers.

Shiplap Appearance

What separates shiplap from other forms of lap siding or cladding is its profile. While traditional lap cladding, also known as Dutch lap or horizontal lap, has a distinct overlap of the upper board to the lower on the surface, shiplap cladding is sleeker. The boards fit together beneath the visible surface, making it appear flat as opposed to overlapping.

This style is very attractive to those looking to add diversity and character to their home’s exterior façade. This simple, clean appearance is what also makes shiplap so popular for interior walls. And with the ability to paint, stain or leave the wood cladding with its natural grain exposed, shiplap can complement a wide range of design styles.

Shiplap Installation

While installed shiplap cladding appears perfectly flat with one board hung independently from the next, the boards themselves are actually installed in conjunction with one another, it's simply hidden beneath the surface. Whether you’re using tongue and grooved boards or true rabbit edge shiplap, each board is profiled so that the edges overlap, while on the surface they maintain the appearance of being evenly spaced apart.

There is debate on whether it’s best to install shiplap from the bottom up or top down, but neither way is wrong. Most prefer top down so you have a full board width running along the top of the wall. Overall, wood shiplap is a pretty forgiving product when installing, if you mess up on one board you can easily take it off and start again.

Make a Statement with Shiplap Cladding

Whether you’re cladding your home’s interior or exterior, wood shiplap makes a beautiful addition to your walls. Rustic or contemporary in style, it has just enough variation from traditional lap siding to make whatever design statement you’re in pursuit of.