Everything You Need to Know About Shiplap

updated Sep 14, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Shiplap is the building material everyone’s talking about, thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, who use it on practically everything. But what, exactly, is shiplap? The short answer: shiplap is a highly versatile material that’s real (or faux) wooden boards that fit together.

(Image credit: Coco Cozy)

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!

What is Shiplap?

A little light internet research reveals that shiplap is a wooden board 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.

Shiplap Walls & Ceilings

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. Even a bathroom shower.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Shiplap paneling in a bathroom from A Beautiful Mess.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

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

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

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

(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

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

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

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

(Image credit: www.saritarelis.com)

A shiplap-paneled living room from HGTV.

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

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

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Here’s another shiplap bathroom from Amber Interior Design.

(Image credit: Carina Romano)

Shiplap pairs beautifully with rustic exposed beams.

→ Next Level Shiplap: Creative Ways to Take Wood Paneling Way Beyond Walls

(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

Turn your shiplap vertical for a touch of the unexpected.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

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

(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

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

(Image credit: Julia Steele)

Shiplap in an airy modern kitchen from Style Me Pretty.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

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

(Image credit: Craig Kellmann)

Shiplap covers a breakfast nook from Elements of Style Blog.

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

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

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

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

Shiplap Siding

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

Where to Buy Shiplap

You can buy rabbeted shiplap from a lumberyard or even big box hardware stores these days. If you plan on painting your walls white anyway, save yourself some time by buying it pre-primed.

  • 0.375 in. x 6.000 in. x 8 ft. Primed MDF Shiplap Interior Siding (10-Pack) Home Depot
  • Rough Sawn 5.375-in x 8-ft White Pine Shiplap Wall Plank  $9.97 from Lowes
  • 7-1/4 in. x 12 ft. Prefinished Homestead Shiplap in four colors; $14.99 from Menards

Faux Shiplap

If you like the look of shiplap but are on a strict budget, source some MDF panels instead, which might save you some money versus real wood. Either 6″ or 8″ widths work well. Although you won’t have the official tongue and groove, it still adds interest and character to the wall for a little less. Use tile spacers to install each plank evenly.

  • 1 in. x 4 in. x 8 ft. Primed MDF Board Home Depot
  • ReliaBilt  3/4-in x 3-in x 8-ft Medium-density Primed MDF Lowes
  • 1 x 6 x 8′ Primed MDF Board from Menards

Peel and Stick Shiplap

If hammer and nails aren’t your thing, but you still want the look, turn to adhesive products instead—from wallpaper to wood-look panels.

  • Off-White Shiplap Peel and Stick Wallpaper; $39.97 for 30.75 square feet from Home Depot
  • Stikwood Adhesive Wood Paneling in four colors; $280 for 20 square feet from West Elm
  • Textured Shiplap Peel & Stick Wallpaper -Ultra White; $34.99 for 27.5 square feet from Target

Re-edited from a post originally published 8.1.16 – DF