What is Shiplap, Anyway?

Shiplap is the building material everyone's talking about, thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper, who use it on pratically everything. But what, exactly, is shiplap?

I confess that the first time I heard the term mentioned on the show I thought Chip and Jojo were saying 'ship black'. How odd, I thought — a white wood wall covering called ship black made no sense to me. I rewound and listened closer: ship lack? ship slap? shiplap? Shiplap!

A little light internet research reveals that shiplap is a kind of wooden board that's often used for constructing sheds, barns, and other rustic buildings. Traditional shiplap has a rabbet (or groove) cut into the top and bottom, which allows the pieces to fit together snugly, forming a tight seal. This also gives shiplap its distinctive appearance, with subtle horizontal reveals between each piece.

Lately shiplap has become a popular choice for interior finishes too, thanks to its rustic charm and subtle texture. (Fixer Upper would lead you to believe that nearly every home in the Waco area is covered in it.) Whether you choose to use real, honest-to-goodness shiplap in your interior project or fake the look by applying MDF boards to your drywall (Studio McGee has an excellent guide to this) it's a great way to add a little character to any room.

Up top: shiplap brings a little texture to a rustic/modern kitchen from Coco Cozy.

Shiplap paneling in a bathroom from A Beautiful Mess.

Shiplap also works quite well in more modern interiors, as evidenced by this space from Studio McGee.

Shiplap and concrete make this modern living room from The Style Files anything but boring.

Shiplap makes for a cozy bedroom in this space from The Style Files.

Shiplap adds a rustic touch to a modern kitchen from Country Living.

A shiplap-paneled living room from HGTV.

The folks at Studio McGee used shiplap in a laundry room.

Shiplap can be quite elegant in the right space, as evidenced by this photo from Joanna Gaines, via Popsugar.

Here's another shiplap bathroom, from Amber Interior Design.

Shiplap pairs beautifully with rustic exposed beams in an interior from BHG.

Turn your shiplap vertical for a touch of the unexpected. Image from Brunch at Saks.

All of the images above feature painted shiplap, but the raw wood version is just as nice. Image from Clayton & Little.

Shiplap pairs with concrete tile in a bathroom from Studio McGee.

Shiplap in an airy modern kitchen from Style Me Pretty.

A shiplap adds a little country charm to a romantic bedroom from Colorado Homes & Lifestyles.

Shiplap covers a breakfast nook from Elements of Style Blog.

This bathroom from Coco Cozy uses shiplap together with other more traditionally bathroom-y materials: marble and cement tile.

White-painted shiplap makes for a dreamy bedroom space in this image from Love Grows Wild.

And shiplap isn't just for interiors, either! This modern farmhouse from Black Band Design uses shiplap on the exterior, for a look that's equal parts rustic and modern.

(Image credits: Coco Cozy; A Beautiful Mess; Studio McGee; The Style Files; Country Living; HGTV; Studio McGee; Joanna Gaines; Amber Interior Design; BHG; Brunch at Saks; Clayton & Little; Studio McGee; Style Me Pretty; Colorado Homes & Lifestyles; Elements of Style Blog; Love Grows Wild; Black Band Design)