What is Shiplap, Anyway?

What is Shiplap, Anyway?

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Nancy Mitchell
Aug 1, 2016
(Image credit: Coco Cozy)

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.

(Image credit: A Beautiful Mess)

Shiplap paneling in a bathroom from A Beautiful Mess.

(Image credit: Studio McGee)

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

(Image credit: The Style Files)

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

(Image credit: The Style Files)

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

(Image credit: Country Living)

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

(Image credit: HGTV)

A shiplap-paneled living room from HGTV.

(Image credit: Studio McGee)

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

(Image credit: Joanna Gaines)

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

(Image credit: Amber Interior Design)

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

(Image credit: BHG)

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

(Image credit: Brunch at Saks)

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

(Image credit: Clayton & Little)

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

(Image credit: Studio McGee)

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

(Image credit: Style Me Pretty)

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.

(Image credit: Elements of Style Blog)

Shiplap covers a breakfast nook from Elements of Style Blog.

(Image credit: Coco Cozy)

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

(Image credit: Love Grows Wild)

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

(Image credit: Black Band Design)

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.

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