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What is Shiplap and How Should I Use it?

, What is Shiplap and How Should I Use it?, KW Woodlands

Shiplap is a traditional wood panel feature used originally for exteriors of buildings in harsh climates because it’s interlocking, tight-fitting characteristics make it weather-resistant. If you’ve watched any home improvement TV shows lately, you’ve surely heard of this material and its versatility. Shiplap is having its time in the spotlight right now, so get in on the trend by adding it to your kitchen, foyer or living room.


Shiplap is a great way to add texture and interest to a room. You can make it rustic chic or modern sleek depending on your personal style by using a natural wood finish or any shade of paint. Typically, shiplap is laid horizontally, but you can experiment with using it vertically or even at an angle if you’re adventurous.


The feature that makes shiplap unique is the way the edges overlap. True shiplap has a groove along one side that fits just under a raised edge on the next board, giving it a tight fit and making it weatherproof. It also gives it the telltale thin line in between the boards which makes it such an interesting decorative addition.


Shiplap gets its name from the early days of shipbuilding. By fitting the wood pieces together along the grooves it formed a waterproof surface. In many older homes, you can find shiplap behind the wallpaper or sheetrock as it was used as insulation. Adding thin fabric or cheesecloth over the top made a perfect surface for hanging wallpaper.


Use shiplap on a long wall to get the full effect. You can add the panels to the entire wall or just the bottom half below a chair rail. This material is so versatile, you can even add it as a backing behind built-in bookcases. Or, try it on the ceiling – a tray ceiling with multiple levels of shiplap in natural wood raises the eye and makes the room seem taller. Flat ceilings with bright white shiplap in a high-sheen finish will brighten up even the darkest rooms.