No Joanna, That’s Not Shiplap

By Scott Sidler April 25, 2016

What is ShiplapMy wife and I, like most all old home owners, are fans of a lot of the restoration themed DIY shows these days. Rehab Addict, Barnyard Builders, American Pickers and, of course, Fixer Upper.

Their designs and passion to keep original elements of old houses is so rare in the renovation game that I can’t help but root for them to succeed.

One of my favorite shows is definitely Fixer Upper. Partly because I’m from Texas, and partly because Joanna and Chip are such a trip to watch. They even have a new book out telling all about their story. Her designs are almost always stunning, but she does have a real addiction to what she calls “shiplap.”

The only problem is that rarely is the wood she calls shiplap actually shiplap! I’ve noticed more of my clients recently asking about shiplap, if their house has it, or can they incorporate it somehow. And I always have to ask “Do you watch Fixer Upper?”

If the answer comes back yes (which it usually does) then my next question is usually, “Do you want actual shiplap or do you just want wood paneling?” This query often brings a cock of the head and a quizzical look. “Aren’t they the same?”

No, Joanna That’s Not Shiplap

Don’t get me wrong Joanna, I love your show and really don’t think you need to change a thing. You do enough for historic preservation that all of us in the field should be grateful.

But, I do want to give you a quick lesson of what shiplap actually is, so that your love affair with the material can continue, unimpeded by any lack of understanding. Don’t think of me as a hater, just a fan who wants to help!

What is NOT Shiplap?


It’s Not Sheathing

This is usually what Joanna calls shiplap and where I start to yell at the TV.

Shiplap is not plain wooden boards nailed on a wall. Often in old houses, these boards can be found on the exterior of the framing just beneath the siding.

Today, we frame a house and then install plywood sheathing to tighten the frame and help square everything up prior to putting on the siding and interior wall coverings. In the days before plywood, we used 1×6 or 1×8 boards, sometimes installed on a diagonal or horizontally as both sheathing and subfloor.

These boards can be salvaged and reused as paneling or other creative design uses since they can add a lot of rich character, but they are not shiplap.

It’s Not Tongue & Groove

Sadly, it’s not this one either. Tongue and groove boards are used in all different places in old homes. Flooring is of course the most common, but there is a lot of siding that is tongue and groove as well.

Tongue and groove (or T&G as it is sometimes simplified) is just what it sounds. One side of the boards has a groove and the other side has a tongue. When they are installed side by side, they fit together nice and snug, which strengthens the floor or siding.


What IS Shiplap?

what is shiplap
True shiplap

Shiplap, like tongue and groove, has a special rabbet or notch cut on the edges of the board.  These rabbets allow the boards, when installed horizontally, to self-space themselves and keep water from getting behind them because they fit so perfectly.

Shiplap is mostly found in siding designs because of the need for consistent spacing and water tightness, but it can be found in other places. The lapped joint is one of the simplest you can use to accomplish the spacing and water stopping needs, which is why shiplap was and is so popular.

Once installed, shiplap can look just like regular wood boards because the rabbets are hidden, so yes, it can be hard to tell it apart from regular sheathing boards to the untrained eye, but it is different.

There are various profiles of siding available in shiplap too. Sometimes it’s just flat shiplap boards and other times you can find profiles like Novelty Drop, Dolly Varden, or the poorly named but still attractive #117 lap siding.

For the purist, shiplap is the original flat profile with a rabbet on top and bottom, but I guess if Mrs. Joanna Gaines keeps making us smile with her clever designs and trash talking of Chip, then we can let it slide that she calls a few more things shiplap than actually are shiplap.

As long as she doesn’t start proclaiming that they come from the shiplap tree, I’m still a fan.

If you are having trouble finding shiplap in your area, you can easily make your own shiplap with this quick tutorial. If you’re one of the lucky ones to have true shiplap in your house and you just need help repairing it, read my post The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood.


Designing With Shiplap

There are so many ways to incorporate shiplap into your home projects and almost all of them are attractive. Whether you use weathered natural wood or want a more clean painted look, a wood covered wall makes any room feel warmer.

Here are some of my favorite designs using shiplap from to give you a little inspiration for your home.

Pittsboro Residence Farmhouse Entry

Classy Cottage

Bastrop County Plantation House Farmhouse Bedroom 

Traditional Bathroom Seattle

Share Away!

261 thoughts on “No Joanna, That’s Not Shiplap”

  1. “love the poste !!! love the vertical wall.
    I too have the same problem as you. Killing heat/sunshine over the summer months that burn my leaves and kill my plants. I am trying to think of a way to build a shelter for the plants from the sun.”
    Thank you for your intelligent post and for helping others become more aware. You made more sense than others who speak within this same area of expertise and I am really glad I found your blog-website. I’ve joined your social networks and will keep an eye out for future great posts as well. Additionally, I have shared your site in my social networks as well. Thank you again!

    1. Hello! So nice to meet you. Thank you for your kind words and shares! Welcome to The Craftsman Blog family. We look forward to keeping in touch for you!
      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  2. So what is floor to ceiling wood called? Looking at a home with wood covered EVERYTHING!! Built 1902, what is it? Is this feature just a tacky add on or was this common. I’ve never seen it before. It resembles hard flooring in the pics.

  3. I can beat your shiplap. Our house is pre-civil war and has real shiplap which has a different profile than the one you show. It is much thicker as well. I love Fixer Upper but they do get a lot of things wrong on their show. She’s not a designer by education I believe she her degree was in journalism. I am just a few years older than they are but have lived in this old house for almost 30 years (the house has been in the family for close to 175 years.) I was doing fixer upper way before, lol. I did things others are just discovering back then. I had no idea someone could make millions off of painting brick and throwing up some wood calling it shiplap. Her design ideas are not new but taken from other interior designers who have been doing this for years. I do like them but mostly because of Chip’s funny reminds me of my darling husband.

  4. Hi.
    I follow the program from Sweden with Chip and JoJo as one of your Swedish Chanels send it. I heard Jojo say “shiplap” in several episodes. As I Google any english word I don’t know I had to Google “shiplash” and found your Web site.
    Thank you for your explaination and that you still love Jojo 😀

  5. Any other information would greatly be appreciated. Thank you And yes I love Chip and JoJo. Watch them everyday.

  6. How far back early 1850 – 1900 was shiplap being used on the interior walls of a house/building ? And what areas of the USA is it mostly found in? My house in Southern Indiana that was built in 1905 all the interior walls seem to be made of 1″ slaths spaced 3/8″ to 5/8″ (rough estimate) apart and are plastered between them. Horrible mess when trying to knock out a wall. I started out trying to find out in what year builders started using sliplap. And how many layers could it be found under when gutting a house to remodel. And came across the Craftsman Blog. Just wanted some info on years it started being used. Wiki didn’t even have the info.

    1. Hi Roberta, I am actually inquiring about the exact same thing!! My husband and I are closing next week on a home that was built in 1906!! We are in GA, and I have been desperately trying to find out what these tiny boards are; they are even on the ceiling. I am writing because I would very much like to know if anyone does know. 🙂 Thank you for posting!

      1. Lindsay- the tiny boards are called lath, so your walls are lath and plaster. Most older homes walls were made that way.

  7. I have shiplap on the exterior of a 100 year old bldg. It is in good shape with the exception of the bottom rows of a 40′ wall due to the lack of gutters and splashing of water to the ground. How do I remove the bottom three boards?. start with the 3rd board up and work down or visa versa?

    1. Totally agree with you Scott, shiplap seems to have become a popular catchall term for planks on walls, but like anything with building or woodwork, it has a specific name relative to its specific design or use. Here in Australia we call overlapping boards used as external cladding weatherboards. I think shiplap is also originally an external cladding system, think anything used in interiors is just panelling!

  8. LOL! I found this blog when I googled shiplap to try to figure out why I had never heard of it before I started hearing about it on Fixer Upper! Now it’s everywhere!

  9. Who cares whether it is real ship lap or not?…. That is just nitpicking and showing your perfectionism. If people like it, what does it matter? It isn’t going to change the world, either way!

    1. My goodness what a snotty comment!! You could have made your point without insulting anyone. Sit down with a glass of wine and contemplate how wonderful spring is. Prayers and goodwill towards you and yours.

    2. That’s not nitpicking, he was just making clear what actually is and is not shiplap. I found it interesting, and maybe you don’t care but I care. I like referring to something as what it actually is.

  10. New to your Blog- Lotsa good thoughts and ideas! I have a project house with tongue and groove wood in an upstairs back dormer room, all the other bedrooms are plaster, this one has painted and chipped/peeling wood tongue and groove- what I wonder about is that it seems yo have “taped” over each T&G joint. Has anyone seen this, seems very time consuming to have done this. I am debating -cover it all with dry wall, or scrap, encapsulate, repaint. Any thoughts? The wood seems it would add character but will need to be maintained with lead precautions-none known just assuming since it was built 1900!

  11. Great info! I want to have a shiplap look on my kitchen wall but also I will have some cabinets and shelves too. Should the wall be done first then install the cabinets or is the shiplap installed around the cabinets?

  12. The more I watch the show the more annoying and awful I find her “designs”. Pull up all the carpet, tear down all the walls and put in hardwood everywhere is like all she says 90% of the time Never mind some people might actually like carpet and walls. I mean not on HGTV, but at least ask before assuming, ms thang.

    1. I don’t care what they call it, I don’t want it in my house. I was raised on a farm in Southern Idaho and we all had a barn and some milk cows. The barn wall were made of what Ms. Joanna calls ship lap and I don’t want to live in a barn. If you want wood on the wall, some T&G cedar, pine or bead board work just fine and it’s not a barn.

  13. We installed a pine ship lap in front of stairway wall -open to our kitchen and dining room. The pine is installed vertical and you can see the character of the knot. Our red oak hardwood floor is applachian prestige natural red oak. Also we have a wood beam in the ceiling. Now I have a debate with my husband: Stain a slight darker than the hardwood floor or paint. My question: Do we paint or stain the pine ship lap? Please let me know what is the right direction either to stain ( darker or not) and what color of paint should we use–we were advised to paint it with the same color of trim-white. Also someone mentions – stain pine it is difficult- bleeding. So please give us some advise since this needs to be decided soon.

  14. To be fair, I do remember seeing an early episode of the show where upon uncovering some old planked walls the actually gave a detailed explanation of what shiplap was. Maybe after the show took off and everyone was into they just took the ball and ran with it. We do that with a lot of things. Hummus, pashmina, champagne, MCM all very specific things that we now slapped all over the place as a more universal label.

  15. I, too, watch all of the renovation shows on HGTV & DIY. And, just as the term “shiplap” being used incorrectly makes you yell at the TV, I do the same when I hear anyone say, “hardwoods”. There are not “hardwoods underneath the linoleum”, there is hardwood flooring under it. There are not “hardwoods throughout the house”, there are hardwood floors throughout a house. I have a feeling no one would enjoy watching TV with us if you & I watched these shows together, yelling at the television every time we heard shiplap & hardwoods!

    1. Finally, my husband and I are not the only ones who yell at the tv, no is not shiplap! Lol! We love Jo and Chip but we totally agree with you. Please stop putting islands in every kitchen.

  16. We are building a new home in central Canada where winter temperatures are around -15 to -30 degrees Celsius for a good duration of the winter. I am wanting to have shiplap or boards that look like shiplap installed in various rooms throughout the house, many that are on exterior walls. Can we put the boards right onto the studs (with insulation and vapour barrier of course) or do we need to drywall it first? This is our forever house and I would hate to mess this up.

  17. We’re renovating an old bank that was built in 1912. The subfloor is shiplap (lapped, not T&G, just like your “true shiplap” image) installed diagonally, and the the ceiling above the tin tile is also lapped diagonal shiplap. Maybe it’s a generational thing, and they did use shiplap for those things at one time. Maybe it’s an geographical thing (although you are from Texas), but it obviously has been used for things besides just siding, although I know that was its main purpose. Just because she finds it in obscure places, doesn’t mean what she finds isn’t shiplap. I can’t say ever time it’s shiplap, but it can’t be dismissed because of the location she found it.

  18. Thanks for the correction/clarification. We are reviving a house built in 1910, I enjoyed reading this post and the comments.

  19. Thanks for the explanation of the difference. I got curious because I have never heard of Shiplap until just recent and I ran into your article. Your article is so funny. And I still love the show Fixer Upper.

  20. Hi Scott,

    We just bought a 1920’s Craftsman Bungalow in very rural town. Question: With indoor plumbing and kitchen cabinets that weren’t added until the 1950’s, how do we restore to the original? The cabinets aren’t in bad shape so would hate to have to replace them. There is a sunroom addition also, with cedar planks under the wallpapered drywall. Is that shiplap? Can I just leave it and paint or stain it, or will I have to plaster the walls like the rest of the house so it’s insulated?

    1. You can do either. My house was built in 1921 and has shiplap everywhere EXCEPT under the hardwoods! Crazy I know. When I’ve remodeled, I’ve put dry wall up – but that was before Fixer Upper. My guess is that your house is like mine and has shiplap on both sides of the studs. In my kitchen, there was cheesecloth over the original shiplap followed by 14 different layers of wall paper! What a hoot!

      1. So how can the cheesecloth be removed from the wood? We’ve removed the 1/4″ sheetrock from the wood, but there’s still stringy cheesecloth. UGHHHHHHHHHH HELP please. I wanna remove it so I can paint.
        Debby (you can also reply to my email at [email protected] OR this site…. I’ll stay online in case you reply to this site. Thanks ever so much……………………….

        1. Apr 15th…….Decided to NOT paint……. To get rid of the strings left from the cheese cloth and original wallpaper, we simple and carefully burned them off… Also decided to leave the natural wood and not paint …. We are luvin it !!!!!

  21. Hi Scott, just found your blog today while doing research and I hope you can help.
    Our home was built in 1950 ( Texas). The original inside walls/ceilings are either T&G or ship lap but not sure which yet as we’d have to pull the boards off to see ?. They are covered with Sheetrock and old thin paneling and in closets wallpaper/cheesecloth. The boards behind the wallpaper are fairly smooth but the boards behind some old paneling looks to also have had cheescloth nailed on it. Once I removed some of the paneling and decayed cheescloth the boards are very dark and rough. Not dark from stain but dark from some sort of black staining from age. Our house is pier and beam with old asbestos shingles covered over by a brick surround at some point. Not sure but I’m concerned that these boards are the only thing between the interior and the asbestos shingles. But how do you suggest j remove the blackish stain from the boards in order to paint them ? There are TONS of these boards throughout the house and I’m thinking I should just have new Sheetrock hung but leave a few ” focal” walls. Do you suggest we sand them then paint ? Thanks and do sorry for the long post. I’m just overwhelmed ?

    1. Remove the asbestos by a professional obviously. I would avoid painting this wood as it is likely hardwood. If anything use deft or stain the wood.

  22. My husband and I are trying to cover a brick, floor to ceiling fireplace with wood. We are told that we can go right over the brick – but I don’t understand how the wood would attach to the brick? I have seen ceramic put over brick on tv shows, but never wood. We want to do this project as inexpensive as possible and the type of wood doesn’t matter. We want a variety of colors (stain)

    1. Vertically screw into the brick 1×4’s with tap con screws on 16” centers. Then you have something to attach the shiplap or any other sheathing.

      1. With this construction the tap con screws provide a good path to transfer the heat of the fireplace to the wood furging (1x4s). Standard construction would require an air gap and fire stopping between a fireplace, it’s chimney and any wood consruction. Better check with local code officials, or an arcitect. This is building tech 101.

  23. We purchased a house that was finished construction about 1935 and I have a question. The whole house with the exception of the kitchen, baths and added room have original hardwood floors. We just removed two bookcases that were added years ago from the top of the stairs and found what I think is shiplap but not sure. I know it’s old because the wallpaper on top of it was the old type with the cheesecloth under it. Any suggestions?

  24. I realize this post in older but I need help. I have a new build home [finished in early 2016] with real painted shiplap. My builder primed and spray painted with Latex paint. Within 6 mos. I had knot holes and resin [yellow streaks] bleed. I hired another contractor to prime and paint using oil based paint. Now 3 – 4 mos. after it was painted with a brush by 2nd contractor knot hole and resin bleed showing up again. Also I have places on the boards that look dull while others look shinier. It was painted with satin both times. What do I need to do? I can’t afford to rip out. This was to be my dream home … farmhouse with real shiplap painted white.

    1. Tsa, that resin is tough to fight off. Try spot priming the knot holes or other trouble areas with a Shellac -based primer for max stain blocking. Then give give it all one more coat of oil primer and paint the whole thing again. I know this is a lot of additional painting, but your contractor should have stain blocked those knots before doing anything.

      1. Thanks for the reply. What do you think is causing the dull spots on the boards? It appears that the paint dried to different sheen in spots … some shiny and others dull. The entire boards were primed initially and during the do over. Do you think going back with a flat would eliminate any spots? I am leaning towards a flat because there are more imperfections in the pine than I realized.

        1. I just wanted to encourage you with that shellac! I used tinted shellac on my ancient trim to block out the orange bleeding through my white paint. It worked absolutely wonderful and has held up for a few years going strong.

        2. Go on HGTV in your computer and look for the “Fixer Upper” section. Look for a place where you can send her e-mail or ask her questions right on the site.
          Also, contact Chip Harper. He is the wood worker who creates her wood pieces on the “Fixer Upper” show. I have seen him working with painting and staining shiplap. Have also seen him the dumpster at the current house that Joanna is working. He is looking in that dumpster to find shiplap that has been discarded.
          As a quick reference, try calling Joanna’s Magnolia Silos or Magnolia Bakery or Magnolia Design and see if you can speak with her or leave a message or even obtain her home phone #. Maybe you could get a # for Chip through the same process. He is a real estate agent. Good Luck

    2. Your painter was very remiss in not using KILLS. This product should have been put on all knots in the wood before he started painting new wood.

  25. I want to use genuine ship lap with the rabbets in my new construction home at the lake. I’m confused on which wood species to use. Knotty pine? My cabinets and trim poplar is going to be smooth and painted white. My wood floorining is wire brushed drift wood oak. I am painting the ship lap, so would poplar, oak or pine species be best?

    1. Greta, poplar is the best for paint grade. Pine would be alright but oak is a terrible option if you plan to paint. Oak has an open grain that shows through on paint and looks rough. I’d stick with poplar.

    2. I tend to agree with the others who have shared their thoughts on this enigma. Popular is my choice.. Pine is a soft wood and oak Is grainy. Oak can be beautiful, but you have to deal with those grains. We took our daughters beautiful oak cabinets off the wall in the kitchen, sanded them down with a very fine sandpaper, put a sealer on them, painted them with a couple coats of semi-gloss paint, put them back up, put on new handles, and WOW! They look fantastic. They actually look like brand new cabinets. I tell you this because, if for some reason you want to use oak, it can be done. It takes a lot of work. I would still go with poplar. Good Luck

  26. I would say that she has effectively redefined the term. The way a “Coke” might mean any soda or a “Xerox” might mean any copier. Whatever it technically may be or have been, it’s now #shiplap. Joanna shoots and scores.

        1. I couldn’t agree more. Calling things (or people) by names that they are not is becoming very common these days, especially in the political sphere. I think it’s important to call a thing by its rightful name. But who knows, maybe Joanna’s 1x8s “identified” as shiplap that day.

          Sorry to start down this road. I couldn’t help it. This comment was juvenile, unwanted, and out of place. But our country needs it.

  27. Hi!
    We just purchased a 1950s cape cod in CT. What time frame was ship lap typically used? How would I tell if there was shiplap (or wood planks of any kind) beneath the dry walled ceiling or behind any walls? I’m hoping there’s a better way to know besides knocking out dry wall lol

  28. She does use shiplap. If you pay close attention, you can actually catch a glimpse of the notches during the renos. Not to say she always uses actual “shiplap”, but there’s no reason to attack her on social media.

  29. Thanks very much for the tips on doing a shiplap ‘type’ wall. So, do I start at the top of the wall with a full width board, or from the bottom up? (I”m anticipating that I’ll need to rip one board down.)

  30. We are restoring a 1914 rural Alabama farmhouse. We removed paneling, layers of wallpaper, and cheesecloth to reveal some walls with tongue and groove, and others with boards nailed side by side (not shiplap), and some that could be shiplap- we haven’t taken any boards down to check, yet. We want to keep the original wood, but need advice on filling the cracks between most of the boards. The gaps between the boards on the ceiling and floors are larger than on the walls. We have A LOT of cracks to fill! Your advice? LOVE your blog!

    1. If you are talking about the gaps between the boards I would usually leave those open for expansion joints it if there are other unsightly gaps then try using Abatron WoodEpox.

      1. Yes, I am talking about gaps between the boards. My boards, however, are not shiplap, so that makes for a drafty house with access for little critters to get in. Would Sheetrock mud work?

  31. This is awesome info. I want to move to the southwest and build a dogtrot house. I had seen their show where she talked about shiplap, but it just looked like boards- figured there HAD to be a lap (like there actually is). Thanks for the information and the picture. (I’m probably crazy for thinking I can do this)

  32. I wanted to get the “shiplap” look. Would using plywood be fine?? Could you please tell me advantages and disadvantages with plywood. I really just wanted to do one wall.

  33. We are doing a kitchen and bathroom remodel. I’d like to have an accent wall that has the shiplap look to it on one of the interior wall in the bathroom. My husband has to remove all the 1×8 old floor boards that are in the kitchen. Most of them are still in good shape but he said they have to be planed down so they are all the same thickness. Can we just use that wood for the accent wall? I’d like to paint it white. Do I have to treat the wood before I paint it?

  34. I just exposed the sheathing of a previous exterior wall in my 1892 Farmhouse. I want to keep it as the wall and the raw lumber mill look to it, but has some large gaps between some and a couple large knots missing. Do you have any suggestions for filling the gaps without loosing the raw wood look?

  35. thanks for the article, scott.
    i own a foursquare in the northeast. she has her belly band, but the hem (?, same as belly band, but at the bottom) wasn’t installed by previous owners, so there’s no water table trim! (of course, the house also has lath & plaster walls – so much fun finding studs.)
    at some point i’d like to put up new siding and i love board and batten, but the cove/dutch lap style of shiplap is so lovely. would either of these sidings be a suitable style for my home and will the belly band and water table trims work with either shiplap or b&b? too many similar foursquares in our neighborhood, so i’m looking for something different (not vinyl siding).
    Thank you. ~K

  36. I have an 8 foot long wall that I want to cover in shiplap style (don’t care about whether it’s real shiplap or not). Both ends of the wall wrap back (outside corners). Two questions: #1: Would you suggest doing all of the boards the same length, or doing staggered lengths to create irregular seams throughout the wall? #2: How would you finish the wall ends (L moulding or)?

    Thanks for the info!

    1. I would do staggered lengths and for outside corners a more finished look would be mitering the corners and a more rustic look would be simple butt joints. Personal preference.

  37. Although I thought I knew what true shiplap was, no one was explaining it in detail. Thank you for that. I saw Joanna quit the show, so no more shiplap confusion or Fixer Upper.

    1. Joanna quitting the show was Fake News. But I did see this week that the Gaines are together going to no longer do the show after this new season. They want to move forward with their family and other businesses.
      Someone further up in this post mentioned that what Joanna is calling shiplap is truly shiplap with the tongue and lap.

  38. I just acquired a used shed. I was going to install beveled siding but I can’t bear the thought of spending $400 on a free shed. I do have lots and lots of 1×6 Boards of various links and thought about trying to cut a beveled board from those, I haven’t figured out how to do it with either a table saw or even the band saw . the Band Saw tended to bog down and wander when I tried to cut it. So I’m thinking of taking my 1×6″s and doing shiplap but instead of doing it horizontal, is it okay to install exterior shiplap in a vertical orientation? If so, are there best practices or information I might need to know? Do I need to install tar paper or some other sheathing? What about batten’s or something to nail to? The existing shed has flat panels and the shed itself is 8 foot by 8 foot thanks

    1. Sounds interesting but your link won’t come up on my phone. Says it’s no secure. Maybe the web designer can help you.

  39. Hi Scott, just took down wood panelling in my basement. Since the walls I’m looking to do the ship lap look on are interior, do I need to worry about anything behind the boards or can I just install right over what’s there?

  40. If using 1/2 ” 1×6 pine with a spacer, is it necessary to paint the wall behind to get the distinct line in the “ship lap” look?
    I have heard some people paint the wall gray or black, and then apply the pine horizontally with spacer to get the line to ‘pop’… they claim that if applied to a white wall, that you won’t see the lines.
    Any thoughts?

  41. Great article! Hoping you had a suggestion on a similar project I’m doing. We moved into a house with an ugly accent wall in the master bedroom, wanted to go over it with T&G or something similar. There are a couple electrical outlets in the wall. Do I need to do anything to bring those outlets forward to be flush with the paneling? Or can I just simply cut around them and leave as-is? Thoughts?

  42. Thinking of applying it in part of a bathroom over drywall. What do you do about your door and window jams after you install it?

    1. Glen, you’ll have to remove the casing and then add an extension jamb to maintain the same look. Do a quick search for extension jamb and you’ll find some good tutorials.

      1. Is there a way to add an extension that will fit around the hinges (door swings inward), and will the door typically still open all the way with an extension there? Ill search for some videos. Thanks.

  43. We just bought a house with some really ugly wallpaper. Would like to do wainscoting with chair rail and paint. Can I do all that over the old wallpaper or does it have to be all stripped off?

    1. You can paint over it but any flaws in the wallpaper like bad seems will show in the paint finish. After painting, the wallpaper is sealed and much more difficult to remove. A spray bottle of water or a steamer will remove the paper and with hopefully minor patching, you have a fresh surface to work with. How do you want it to look?

    2. Please don’t paint over wall paper. Scott said go ahead No if u do u will activate the glue n u will get bubbles or lifting The seams so really badly n u r making ur job later if u every want to remove ur paper. If u put water on it to remove it it acts just like paint They use plain water or a solution to remove it. Scott doesn’t no what he’s talking abt. I’ve wallpapered for over 40 years. I no everything abt it. I’ve hung all types of paper including silk. Please take time to remove N if they prep walls before hanging it’s a breeze.

  44. This is more of a question than a comment; hopefully you can help. I am replacing a window in our master bedroom. I have to take out some sheet rock to do it, and I hate sheet rocking. Figuring I could take the sheet rock down and re-insulate while I am at it. Again, hate sheet rocking, so I told wife we could do “real” shiplap on this wall. Exterior wall of house, shiplap to be on interior side. Can I just put the shiplap right to the studs, or do I need to have something behind it??

    Any help appreciated.

  45. Hi! We just bought a 1940’s house in Louisiana. We pulled the head board off that covered the walls in the living and dining room. Behind it was wall paper and yay behind that was “shiplap”!! My question isn’t whether it really is or isn’t but however how much work do I have to do before we paint?!?!? The wallpaper came down very easily but there are Thousands of tacks and nails in the shiplap and millions of whispy strings of cheese cloth around them. We literally worked 8 hours getting the majority of it off ONE wall. 1st question is if we are going to paint them, do most people leave some tacks/nails in and just paint over it?
    (2nd) Obviously you couldn’t paint it with a roller but would you recommend painting it with a sprayer?
    I saw your post about priming with oil based and then latex on top so we will be doing that.

    1. The amount of prep depends on the final look you want so it’s completely up to you except to make sure the surface is clean of dust and debris which could keep the paint from adhering. A sprayer would work well as long as you are comfortable using it. Brushes usually looks better than rolling but both can look just fine.

  46. Thanks Scott, for explaining this difference.
    It always baffled me to see the extensive amounts of shiplap being found in just one place, Waco, TX and made me wonder whether it was all just there :).
    I am an amateur on the reno front and I am looking to remodel bathrooms for my townhome in NJ.
    I am skeptical about wood in bathrooms given all the moisture due to showers. Does this material choice come with its maintenance to dos? Are shiplap boards required to be either painted or sealed?
    Is there a difference when installing it for cosmetic purposes indoors Vs how it was originally intended to be used.
    Does the climate of north-east NJ area require any special considerations?

    1. Any painted surfaces in high moisture rooms are more prone to peeling paint but other than that there isn’t an issue. Installing for cosmetic purposes is very easy and you really only have to worry about appearance.

      1. I have actual shiplap in my bathroom. The master bedroom/bathroom/closet and living area were added on by the previous owners. I remodeled the bathroom/closet into one large bathroom, during the reno I opened up the orininal exterior window and shiplap siding. I painted it white (it was white from its former life as an exterior) and I have had no problems. It has been about 10 years now.

  47. I was looking for real shiplap on Lowes website since we have a Lowes in Livingston. Guess what they call shiplap….105 siding. I put “shiplap in the search and up came 105 siding. I tried 105 boards and got nothing. With #117, Igot fasteners.

  48. Thanks for this article. Every time Joanna says “shiplap” I cringe. Love their show and them, but when I had a house built in the early 80’s my carpenter drove for miles to another state to get spruce boards about 10in. wide. He installed these diagonally on the garage walls. He explained that this was called “shiplap” and that it gave much more support than boards installed vertically or horizontally because any weight from the roof would be distributed along the length of the board which may be 9ft. long rather than a 10in. board installed vertically (giving a 10 in. support)…the 10 in. board installed diagonally could probably give 9-10ft. of support. (easier to understand if I could draw these examples, but I think you get the idea!!)

    1. Ironic to hear your criticism through an explanation that reveals you don’t know what you’re talking about. No, using a diagonal board does not transfer the load diagonally. The direction of the load remains the same in static design. What you get by using a diagonal board is triangulation, which can stiffen the structure but does not increase its ability to handle a load.

      So stop cringing, because you’re in no position to do so.

      1. LogicHammer, I don’t think anyone is implying that sheathing carries a vertical load, but to explain complex engineering to the average homeowner might require a bit of simplification in a 500 word blog post. For wonks like you, the load a framing member can carry when stiffened by sheathing (either diagonal of horizontal multiplies exponentially. If you want to go back to reading your engineering manuals please go right ahead but leave the rest of us alone.

        1. With all due respect Mr. Sidler, LogicHammer explained it pretty well in fewer than 50 words. I firmly believe that a real understanding of building physics vs. pandering to ignorance is better for all concerned; both building professionals and the people who rely on their services.

  49. So was just watching the latest episode of Fixer Upper and they were installing shiplap. Granted the stuff they reveal during demo is sheathing the stuff she adds is the real deal. So yes she does the real deal with the rabbets and all. Think an apology might be in order. Just sayin

      1. Sure you’re not the teeniest bit envious? I suspect she’s good with what she knows and doesn’t know about shiplap, as are the producers.

      2. You mention in your article that until removed, you can’t really see the difference between sheathing and shiplap, yet you criticize Joanna based off observations prior to removal. Real smart, guy. Just a desperate attempt to namedrop until you appear credible as you explain something unbelievably simple.

        1. LogicHammer I think my credibility might be built on running a multi-million dollar historic restoration company rather than on a single post commenting on Joanna Gaines shiplap tendencies. But I’ll let the readers decide.

  50. Dear Scott,
    My contractor told me NOT to use shiplap in our outdoor bathroom in Florida – it does have airconditioning but no fan and wet feet coming from the pool in a small bathroom (around 60 square feet). He says any wood will have moisture problems over time. Is this so? If so, is there a terrific non-wood shiplap that looks just like wood up close?

      1. Hi! I live in Mexico and love shiplap, we are remodeling but it’s hard to find a person that will do shiplap here. Question is regarding your reply above, wood and water means problems, so what about the rain? I understood that shiplap was the way to go in the US coastal cities because of its weather endurance, do I have it wrong? Thanks!

  51. I have a Florida room in my house that appears to have what looks like shiplap walls, but it is installed vertically not horizontally. I’m not going to rip out the wall to see if it is true shiplap, but I was wondering if vertical shiplap is common.

  52. Question… I ripped my bungalow down to the studs and want to put up horizontal boards to look like shiplap on an interior wall directly on the studs. I know that most people leave a gap between boards, but won’t the frame be visible if I do that? Can I just butt them together or is there another solution that will let me have the gap look? I will be painting the wall white. Thanks.

  53. Thinking of shiplap in small bathroom in house built in 2014 after watching Fixer Upper. Needed to know and thanks to you, Scott now know everything anyone would need to know about it. Need to economize so can’t afford real stuff. Keep up this great blog.

    1. I’m thinking of doing this, too and am looking at using fiber cement siding that you can get from Lowe’s or Home Depot for about $38 for a 4 x 8 sheet. (I thought I saw it for about $20 too if it is not painted.)

      My plan is to turn it sideways on the wall. To put it up, I plan to cut out the pieces like a puzzle and then screw it into the studs – countersinking and filling in holes.

  54. Great post! I never knew what shiplap was to begin with but love the texture and casual feel it brings to her rooms she designs. I have the old fashion soffits in my kitchen and not in a position to remove them. I like the look of shiplap vs bead board which I have seen used on soffits to give them an updated look so was toying with the idea if using “shiplap”
    What is the material Joann is using and could I use that on my kitchen soffits to give them the “shiplap look? I would prefer a 4 inch width possibly 6. This would be my hisbands next project he doesn’t know about yet 🙂

  55. I have some old cypress window and door trim that I want to rip to about half inch width and cut shiplap rabbets into. How wide should the rabbets Be? This would be depth from the edge.

  56. Hi Scott, Im considering putting shiplap in our master bath. I’ve been having difficulty finding info on replacing drywall with it. Here’s my question. Do I rip out the drywall or apply it over the top of it. What I’m concerned about is my door jams and door/window trim being too shallow if I just put it over the drywall.

    Also, if I put it up with a nail gun, what size fasteners would you recommend? I’m assuming you would have to fill holes before you paint. Thanks for the great post.

  57. Hey There Scott….I have read thru all the comments and I feel I may have missed what is relating to my question….How far apart do I space them if I am using the #2 grade Pine boards…(not tongue and Groove)?

  58. I’m an Interior Designer but haven’t worked with shiplap before but that is part of the farmhouse look my client wants, so very happy to find your site. I’ll be keeping watch on your site, great info, thanks!

  59. I have been doing carpentry for almost 40 years. We have a siding that has a scallop like cut on the top and a rabbit on the bottom. We call it 105 lap siding. I saw you mention a 117 siding what is that exactly?

  60. I’m considering redoing our master bath walls with shiplap. What I can’t find any info on is whether I should remove the dry wall first so it will fit with door and window trim, or install over drywall? Think on top of drywall might be harder due to having to extend door jamb and trim.

    Also, what size nails would you recommend for this. I have both a brad and a finish nail gun. Thanks for the great post.

  61. Hi Scott,

    I have a 118 year old Victorian Farm house that is all TG or SL, walls, ceiling, etc. The walls and ceilings were painted by the family that moved the house to this site in 1989. They ended up selling in 1992 and for the next 22 years the house was a weekend home. Short story long, I believe do to the lack of climate control or improper prep the paint has peeled in some places. Lead tested the paint and tested negative. I have scraped and sanded the ceiling to repaint. I am planning on painting with a latex kilz and then a latex paint. I have two questions: 1. Has my prep process been good so far 2. I read where someone said you need to be careful to not paint/seal the grooves? I have a vision of me on a ladder with a toothpick…1500 sq. feet of toothpick and that’s just the ceilings! Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Scott,

      Since my original comment I have searched thru all your blogs on painting and I have have not found the answer to question 2. How do you repaint shiplap or tg without filling in the grooves between the boards? Any suggestions?


  62. I just used shiplap on my soffitt as well as my front room. WindsorONE has a 6 and 8 inch profile and a smooth and rough side and it’s treated with a 30 year warranty. I used the nickel gap for a little space in between. Husband is grumbling a bit as it can be a challenge painting in between.

      1. What size of nails would you typically use with shiplap? I’ll be working with 3/4″ shiplap exactly like what you have pictured above. Other people have said they use clipped head framing nails, it just seems excessive to me, but I could very well be wrong.

  63. I pulled up some gross carpeting in my finished attic and found what I thought was shiplap. I was excited until I read this blog. Now I’m sure it isn’t shiplap due to the gaps between the boards. Bummer! If I pull up this carpeting, will I be able to finish the floor boards or do I have to put another type of flooring over this? My plan was to whitewash/distress the floor.

    1. That is likely just plain 1x subflooring which is typical in older houses. If it’s in good shape you can certainly use it as finish floor, but it may be a little rough and need some repairing to be soft enough for bare feet.

  64. I have a house built in 1950, and assume it is the real shiplap on my walls, they are covered with sheetrock. i have uncovered a small area in my closet and there is a cheese cloth material and wall paper over it . I have removed it as well. My thought was to remove all the sheet rock and expose the shiplap, whitewash it. how does this affect my energy usage in home? Will removing the sheetrock make my house less energy efficent? (not that it really is to begin with)

  65. Hi Scott,
    My husband and I bought a house built in the 60s, and the walls were covered with years of various papers, vinyls, etc. We began stripping the various layers off and found that underneath the walls were what my husband said were tongue and groove. The son of the man who had built the house said that the wood came from an old school house that had been built in 1901. Even the barn at the back of the property has the same wood on the inside. The boards or planks are very thick and somewhat rough. My question is once we get all the glue residue off, should we sand the wood, paint it, or just leave it rustic looking. I have to say, the idea of covering up the old wood doesn’t appeal to me. Some of the wood is painted like green, red, brown…just ever so often a few will have paint. The walls in the dining room area are a pale white with a few red boards. What do you suggest

  66. We are going to put an addition onto our 1940 house and in doing will be tearing down the existing garage. It has cedar shingles covering the younger and groove paneling that creates the walls. I would like to salvage this and reuse it on the interior somewhere. What is the best way to remove it to reuse?

  67. Hi Scott:

    I have flipped two houses on my own and I’m now in my forever home I think, although I look all the time and I’m on my second round of redoing my current house. When I flipped the first 2 houses on this one 13 years ago wainscoting was the in thing so my bathrooms and my dining room now a family room has wainscoting. I’m thinking about changing it to shiplap but keeping my bathrooms wainscoting for a varied look. My hallways, dining room aka upstairs family room would have shiplap. I also have a very large family room downstairs (basement) with wainscoting. My house is 3,300 sq feet. I choose to turn my dining room into a family room and family room into a formal living room both with tvs, the formal living room is off the kitchen of my house witch is small and will be upgraded. I also have a first floor master bedroom with a full bath used as an office an project room for my daughter and her friends. The upstairs of my house has 3 bedrooms that are very large and a bedroom in our basement. All the rooms on the first floor have chair rails and crown molding. It is truly a custom made house. So my question is this, should I incorporate some shiplap (in your opinion) or should I stick with the wainscoting theme? My house is a Colonial Cape Cod with 5 dormers sitting on 2 acres with professional landscaping and prestigious grounds such as an in ground pool. I live in an upscale neighborhood and I guess I’m wondering if wainscoting is better to stay with over shiplap, please help…

  68. Hi Scott – excellent information! Our huge home-remodeling project in southeast GA incorporates shiplap walls in our living room. Our builder installed the pine boards back in November, typically a dry time of year here. There are only a few gaps here and there, but most of it is still very tight. We’ve been told to be patient and the boards will shrink to give us the uniformed grooved gaps that we want. My question: we will be heading into more humid and warm weather come Spring and Summer – do you think the expected shrinking will still occur? Can the seams be “scored” with a blade to achieve the look? The walls have already been primed – final coat will be done sometime this month. Thank you for any advice you can give!!

  69. I asked my contractor for a bid on “shiplap.” He bid me “shiplap” (that is what it says on the bid), and I did my research to make sure it was a fair bid for (real) shiplap. I knew there were such things as fake shiplap out there, like wood paneling, but I was clear that I wanted shiplap. Maybe I failed in not explaining to my contractor that there was a difference, and I was aware of it, between wood paneling and shiplap (I do not watch Fixer Upper). However, I figured that he knew that… he is the contractor here. My oversight, and it has cost me.

    He installed wood paneling. I saw the boards right before the last ones were nailed up, and it is wood paneling. It looks fine, but it is not real shiplap. Now, the issue, and I have not approached him with my knowledge of this issue. However, I think I should get a discount on him not providing me what he bid me, which was “shiplap.” He did not bid “wood paneling” or “faux/fake shiplap.” He bid shiplap, and the bid was so high, it matched my research on shiplap. Any advice on approaching him with this. Thank you.

  70. This week during a laundry room remodel, I discovered what I believe is original shiplap siding. My house was built in the 1930’s and the wall this is on is the original exterior wall of the house. My goal is to sand it down to the original wood and stain it. However the paint is really soaked into the wood. Do you have any tips for removing the paint?

  71. Hi Scott! I’m so happy to have stumbled on your article. I have a few questions:
    1) If installing over studs, is it necessary to put drywall up first and install over top?
    2) Either way, should it be installed behind any wood trim around a door or window or just butt up to the trim?
    3) If installing on just one wall of a room, should vertical a vertical piece of flat stock be placed in the corner where it meets the existing plaster wall, or just butt it up directly to the corner where it meets?


  72. Hey Scott,
    I’m trying to go for a traditional shiplap look in our family room. Should the spaces between the boards be painted or not? Or is it a matter of preference?
    Thank you!

  73. Hi Scott! I am planning an addition to my home with a master suite. I love the look of ceilings with wood panel. Is shiplap the way to go? Really I would like to stay on budget so I’m looking at cost difference for drywall vs. shiplapped ceiling. Thanks!

  74. How rough or smooth are the shiplap boards? Once painted, do they usually show indentations where the knots are, or is it fairly smooth? Also, what finish of paint do you recommend? I have found some posts on Pinterest where you can mimick the look of shiplap with plywood slats — thus making it easier for the next owner to change, if they don’t like the look!

    1. I would stay away from plywood because it doesn’t behave the same way and can give a faux look for not much less than the real thing. Shiplap will usually be #2 grade which means it has knots and isn’t a smooth mill finish 100%. I would prime with an oil based primer and then paint with a good water based enamel like Sherwin Williams SnapDry, Porch & Floor, or ProClassic.

      1. why would you do oil based primer and then water based enamel? I’ve always been taught water based “should” not go over oil. Oil based can be applied over water-based, but not the opposite.

        Also, can you show a photo of the shiplap joint for us? Would be super helpful as there’s a lot of misleading info on this out there.


        1. Industry best practices for painting wood are to prime with oil based primer for maximum adhesion then paint with latex. And the rule of thumb is that you should always prime when switching from oil to latex PAINT. Oil based primer is an excellent base for any paint.

  75. Just wondering if you do use shiplap, is it recommended to caulk before painting, or not? Would caulking ruin the intended look? Have a customer buying an existing home and wants to install shiplap on her kitchen backsplash, but only about 3 or 4 inches wide. Do they have shiplap that narrow? She also wants shiplap on the living room side of her Kitchen bar, this is to be the standard width of 5 or 6 inches. She wants to paint both this bar shiplap and the backsplash shiplap white. That is why I am asking about whether to caulk or not. Also, she wants me to buy paneling, something she calls underlayment, and cut into strips. That I am not quite comfortable with. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    1. Usually shiplap is 5-6″ wide but I’m sure there are some 4″ installations. I would not caulk it because that would likely destroy the look. Not sure what she is looking for with the underlayment though.

    2. What she’s asking you to do is buy the thin plywood (4’x8’x1/4″ plywood “underlayment” and rip it down to 3-4 inch planks using a table saw. You just need to know if she wants the boards butted together or spaced apart a small amount (like the size of a nickel) so there’s a “reveal”. It’s actually quite easy and inexpensive to do. Caulking would lose the whole effect. I have the same look in my kitchen.

  76. Great information here. What would you consider to be the main benefits of using shiplap as opposed to tongue and groove boards on interior walls. Obviously the shiplap would have an aesthetic value with the overlap, but would tongue and groove be a nice alternative. The reason I ask is I found a company southernAsalvage in our area who has a tremendous amount of 1900’s heart pine flooring and wide boards, but they don’t currently provide shiplap.

    We considered just nailing up the wide boards, but after reading your article, we may want to find some shiplap. I guess we could ask our contractor to cut the boards, but we don’t want to spend the extra money if we don’t have to. If we use the wide boards with no cuts on the edges, will they stick out too far? If we go with the tongue and groove, will it look to “plain”. Their wood is special, so we want to use it, but we’re just not sure which route is better.

    Also, would you recommend any type of moisture barrier on the wall to keep the boards from absorbing moisture and swelling?

  77. I live in the midwest and am doing a renovation using shiplap in 2 bedrooms. My local lumber store has a choice between “true shiplap” 1×8 pine boards or MFD 1x8s with primer. Can you get a smooth painted finish using the pine shiplap, or would it be better to go with the fake primer version?

  78. We wanted the finished look of shiplap in our new home without the cost so we elected to install 8″ wide, smooth finish James Hardi board over the existing drywall and using a 3/16 spacer between boards because we didn’t like the appearance of ripped down 1/2″ plywood that we found on many other blogs.
    And, on the exterior we’ve used 8″ smooth James Hardi board over sheets of Hardi backing to give us the look of shiplap which really does look convincing to the eye and without worries about expansion between boards.

  79. Hi Scott,
    Interesting article!
    I’m still confused between tongue and groove and shiplap. we are planning to install western cedar siding (horizontally) on our exterior bay windows. I talked to two different stores. One said T&G is better since nails won’t be visible. it is more expensive but looks clean. The other store guy said shiplap is better because it doesn’t retain water. he never said anything about nails. Since shiplap is less expensive, I’m leaning towards that, but at the same time I don’t want rot in the future. So is it true that the nails will be visible in shiplap option?

  80. Great article, I learned a lot!!! I have a room that has wood paneling that looks very similar to shiplap that I want to paint because I think it would look very nice. My question is: there are a lot of different sized gaps in the seams. Most look totally normal but some are just a bit too large and you can see the shiny insulation behind it. Can I caulk those openings that are just to large?

  81. Hi ,,,
    What are your thoughts about putting” shiplap” behind my cooktop for a backsplash , do I need to treat it in anyway ?

  82. Thanks for this fun post about shiplap. Im wondering if you can answer a question for me. I live in Dallas and my house was built around 1918 and I have true shiplap in most of my walls and ceilings. In a few spots there is still muslin nailed in place with the original wallpaper stuck to it! The people who owned the house before me were flippers and so the shiplap is covered by drywall. We had a leak in the dining room however so we had to pull the drywall down and have decided to keep the shiplap exposed. So finally my question, do you think we need to fireproof it somehow or should we not worry since the entire house is wood anyway? Thanks in advance!

    1. I don’t think fire proofing is necessary because most building codes count 3/4″ thick wood paneling (aka shiplap) as an acceptable form of wall covering for fire blocking purposes.

  83. Glad I found your website Scott!! Was wondering – would it be better to go with real shiplap or tongue and groove boards in a bathroom? Would a person use semi-gloss paint on it or gloss? We have an outside wall that just doesn’t look nice, but I thought the wood treatment would “warm” it up a bit. Thanks!

    1. Hey Kerry, glad you found my site too! I would find whichever is easier to obtain in your area since installation and appearance is not much different at all between the two. In a bathroom I would use semi gloss since gloss is very hard to get a perfectly smooth finish. Gloss shows every flaw.

  84. All the crap DIYer ‘shiplap’ walls (made of ripped plywood) will end up like shag rug of the 1960s. The first thing the next owners will do is rip it out and repair the walls!

  85. Hi Scott,. I think Chip & Joanna are funny and a great hard working couple. I sure hope their kids follow in their foot prints. Do you have a show? I’m very sorry, but I have not heard of you. But that doesn’t mean I wont work on that. K? K. Anywho The (Ship) in ship lap does come from the part where pine boards were layed end to end and some very well find indeed overbe work lapl Because shiplap really had to And then my workingp use of Ship. Lap, would have to be worked in another way. More later.Thanks. Cherie Seymour ,

    1. Hey Cherie! No show yet, but I’m almost always talking with the networks and looking for the right premise. It’s hard to have a show when you’re not a flipper. Anyway, hope you’ll stick around and enjoy the blog and newsletter and thanks for the tips on the shiplap!

  86. On one of the first shows when JoAnne discovered shiplap in a house, she gave a thorough explanation of the history of shiplap. I wish i could remember it, but it was something like when ships were retired, the shiplap from the ship was used in houses. I have been tempted to write and ask her to repeat the story.

  87. Hi Scott! Thank you, this inaccuracy makes me nuts, despite my love for the Gaines and their show! Anyway, which of the three – shiplap, tongue and groove, or flat-profile wood paneling – would you recommend for installation in a vaulted ceiling?

  88. Why is it called ‘shiplap’? Where’d the ship come in to the equation? I get the ‘lap’ part, because it overlaps, but ship?

      1. It was used on ships. I believe one tongue was cut longer than the other so there was a backed gap between the boards. This allowed asphaltic (or something similar water repellent) impregnated rope caulking to be tight fit into the joint – water proofing it.

    1. Having lived in quite a few coastal towns on the West coast. The history of shiplap used in houses is that it was salvaged boat wood from the board yards and wrecks around seaports. The whole inside of my very old house living room is cedar shiplap with dovetail corners which turns a very nice burnt orange at sunset on the west-facing windows. You only find the real stuff in very old houses.

  89. We just had true shiplap installed on several walls of our new build. I was so excited about it but when I went to look at them after, the spacing between boards was completely uneven. Some boards were overlapping or right up next to each other with absolutely no spacing and some had gaps of various sizes. It looked very poorly done and had no “flow” to it. I had been looking at “shiplap” and dreaming about it for over a year. Everything I saw, even on true shiplap had a fairly even small spaced look between boards. I’ve seen many people use coins or thin spacers when installing. I’ve never seen it look like what our builder did. He told me that is how he always does it. When I expressed my displeasure, he said, 1) it was my fault for not telling him how I wanted it (I never knew there was any other way installing it than having fairly even gaps between boards and HE never asked so I assumed he knew how shiplap looked 2) coins or spacers can’t be used when installing “real shiplap” only fake shiplap 3) if we did even gaps, it would eventually look bad because they would become bigger gaps because the boards will shrink (they are pine). He refused to change it unless we paid for all labor/materials again. And we ate out of budget…So, now I can’t sleep at night and the part of my house I was most excited for, I now want to cry about. Can you give us any helpful advice about how to salvage our walls? Will the boards shrink so I will maybe have some gapping that creates the shiplap look I was hoping for? Painters are in tomorrow and will be painting them white and I really need a shiplap doctor…

    1. New pine boards will shrink in time (a few months). It also depends on when they were installed. If the weather is cold and dry and you have no gaps then the wood will only get tighter in the summer when temps and humidity rise.
      It’s tough when there is a misunderstanding like you have. The only advice I would give you is next time if you have a specific design or look you want make it abundantly clear to the contractor other wise they are trying to guess what you want. I really hope the boards shrink up a bit and get you closer to the look you want!

    2. You dont need spacers on real shiplap. My question is did you actually see the material before it was installed? Are you sure they’re telling the truth about what they installed?

      1. Sure glad I did my reading or I’d be in ur position right now! Didn’t do ur research, that’s too bad. Yes, it is ur fault, but u can fix it. N it will look beautiful. Have patience n help others.

    3. Good grief! I would have it totally redone, but not by THAT contractor. You could probably even do it better yourself.
      I know money is tight, but, take it from me, the misery you will feel looking at that botched mess, over the years, will be overwhelming.
      A GOOD contractor would have discussed the process with you before hand AND shown you a small work-up of the finished job.
      When having a job like this done, ALWAYS have sketches or photos of the look you desire. If possible, make a small work-up yourself so that they are VERY clear as to your wishes.
      Also check in periodically to assess their work. (This does not mean pester constantly) This particular contractor tho, I would have checked on often, by you or a friend, or even an inspector.
      On an aside: How your materials are stored before installing them, can be a great determiner of how they will work out. But your contractor would know this and should work accordingly.
      I am so sorry for your misfortunes, in this matter. I hope it will be a lesson for the future, for you and for others. I have also learned the hard way!

    4. 1. ALL siding should be installed with even spacing. A recent issue of THIS OLD HOUSE magazine even had an old siding spacer shown and described. So your contractor was an idiot to think that he could put up wood in a random fashion.
      2. Contrary to what Mr. Sidler said on March 4, shiplap is not self-spacing. If you butt each board completely up against the other, that is simply fitting the boards together; that is not spacing them. To space them, use spacers, as you were saying; and the amount of space is called the “reveal”–meaning how much of the rabbet lap is showing from back between the faces of the boards. Obviously, you can’t have a reveal width that is wider than the rabbet width. So your contractor was doubly an idiot when he said that spacers couldn’t be used on real shiplap.

      Fix it yourself. Carefully pry all of your boards off, remove the nails, and put the boards up the right way–spaced evenly, with the amount of reveal that you want between the boards. Then repaint the whole thing. It’ll take you several days of work, but you’ll be glad that you did it.

  90. Hey Scott. I am installing true shiplap on an interior wall and have two questions. Should I work from top to bottom or bottom to top and will that dictate how the rabbets line up? Also, should the rabbet on top be open to the room?
    Thanks and great article.

    1. Greg, always start bottom and work your way up. Hiding the rabbet was never an issue in layout originally since it as usually hidden, but you can install a board without a a top rabbet or trim the rabbet off if you plan your layout properly.

      1. Can anyone help me regarding painting stained shiplap. I have true ship lap vertical boards that are stained brown and would like to paint white. I am concerned regarding seams treatment e.g. Do I ensure seam lines can be seen continuously or they may have paint drip and and show broken lines or do you let it go randomly. I imagine spray paint vs brush and roller may give different results also kilz type paint first or not?
        Anyone use a pickle type wash effect e.g. Knots etc kingd of fade through.
        In short anyone have a link or methodology for paint methods of older shiplap.
        thanks kindly

        1. You’re in a pickle, about pickling! (Sorry, just had to say it). Since wood is has a dark stain, you really can’t do a true “pickling, which is nothing more than a very thin whitewash. That’s done on a raw light oak, pine, cedar, etc.
          However, you certainly can simulate a whitewash or aged effect, using the brown color, as a base. This method will save a lot of time (IF YOU LIKE THE LOOK OF AGED WOOD).
          Just take latex paints in white & gray, and water them down (3 pts water to 1 part paint). then WASH your wood with these paints. There are good video tutorials, to help, if needed.
          Use a paint brush (not sprayer) to paint boards…and, use a dry brush to remove paint drips, between spaces between your boards. It will look great.

      2. Scott,

        Just curious as to why you would start at the bottom? The bottom would be hid by furniture ect. Wouldn’t you want your starter at the top so that you can get a full width to help with the over all visual appeal? Just asking, when I get the opportunity I wanna do a great room just side walls.

  91. The comments on this blog are nothing more than envy and jealousy for the Gaines’s success.
    I am not a building or wood expert so the true exact nature of every wood they find in their renovations is both minute’ and irrelevant to the show. The wood she finds is a nice stichk, but the success of the show revolves around their work ethic and their relationship to each other and their “no drama” clients; other HGTV shows should give that a try.

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way Joe, but you couldn’t be more wrong. I have nothing but appreciation for the Gaines’ and the spotlight they have shined on the restoration industry. They do great work and seem to be great people (though I have never met them).
      You misunderstood the piece which is meant as an homage to them. Just because she mistakenly calls things shiplap that aren’t doesn’t equate to jealousy or envy.

    2. Oh come on Joe…I like the show as well but every other word out of Joanna’s mouth is SHIPLAP…the article was spot on and answered my questions as well!!! I laughed when I spotted the heading because I mentioned the very same thing to my husband after watching a show yesterday…don’t be so sensitive and naive!!!

      1. I just found this article because Joanna was confusing me on what shiplap was too…I laughed as well but not offended or put off. I just need to know the correct technique to do a wall in my house. What she is calling “shiplap” is actually “planking” of sorts. I prefer the planking look and got lots of useful tips from this thread. Thanks!!
        Her show is refreshing and Magnolia Market at the Silos with Bakery…sweet!

    3. Scott clearly stated in the article that he wasn’t picking on the Gaines’ and was just clarifying what shiplap really is. He complimented Chip and Joanna and stated he appreciates their restoration work. It appears you read the article through a clouded lens and didn’t really read everything.

      1. Don’t put a nail in my head scott lol I think the clients sometimes don’t have it in the budget so she tries to give them the look verses the rabbit cut. Im doing real shiplap with pine and a dado blade! i have a youtube channel ”chet langford” and will be showing this. Im doing all the work from electric, framing roofing, drywall, flooring, block, concrete! im 3 yrs in but its hard when you ”pay as you go” verses i have the money lol but its fun and it will pay off. You are right about how she uses her words! but i have seen her use real shiplap in the episode the barn house! I do agree with restoring the old shiplap from skilled ship carpenters put back into the 20th century, they are a forever look that will never die out! happy new year to you and your family!

  92. Great article. My husband and I just remodeled with real shiplap. Our problem was in spacing. He is a contractor that has been installing ship lap with “Fixer Upper” spacing and I’m a realist that knows those spaces would collect dust on our dirt road and I also believe that panel look won’t be popular in 5-10 years. I won that argument and couldn’t be happier.

    1. So, forgive me for being dense, but does that mean you installed real shiplap and did not put an extra space in it? I need very clear instructions as I am a novice.

  93. Recently bought a 16′ x 20′ river cottage that needs full renovation and thinking shiplap on entire interior. Because this is 3-season use-only with chance of flooding (and it has flooded in the past), there is no insulation and shiplap will install directly on studs. I want to minimize cost by using plywood cut into strips at home improvement store. I have a table saw and can cut rabbets to make true shiplap but don’t know if that will work for plywood and if so, what is the minimum thickness of plywood I should get. Any advice?

    1. I think using common 1×6 or 1×8 pine boards would be a pretty economical and much easier way to go. Cutting the rabbets into them on the table saw wouldn’t be hard either like you said.

      1. Scott – Thanks for the answer but just not economical enough. This cottage is not meant to be high-end and my original thought was to install full sheets of sanded exterior plywood with batten boards across seams. But then I thought that I could kick in a little more labor to give my wife the shiplap look plus thinking that shiplap would help with expected wood movement due to the no-heat, no insulation, and humidity caused by being right on (and even over) the river. Was also thinking to have 12″ wide boards because all walls will be shiplapped and afraid that 6″ or 8″ boards will look too busy. This would minimize the tablesaw work.

  94. Is it possible to put “shiplap” or wood siding successfully over old plaster walls? If so, how? A nail gun wouldn’t do it, would it?

      1. What if your plaster is directly on top of brick? Our 1868 farmhouse has a solid brick exterior and the bathroom we plan to do shiplap in two of the four walls are plaster on brick. What would you suggest in this case? Liquid nails? Seems a bit…unauthentic to use glue. Any other nail or tool that you’d suggest?

  95. I’m pretty Joanna knows what genuine shiplap is considering she is from Texas and most houses built before 1940 have it here. When she installs it maybe she should say shiplap look. Ha Luckily I live in a house built in 1910 so I have the good stuff!

  96. Thank you for this explanation. I like watching the show, but couldn’t understand how she always seem to be finding it in all of these houses and it was deiving me nuts and now I also understand why former home owners were covering up what she was finding. Also, thank you for the pictures of real shiplap.

  97. But what is the HISTORY of shiplap used in homes? Was it originally recycled from its first use in boats in some coastal cities?!

    1. Some I’m sure was recycled, but most was installed direct from the lumber yard. It provided better sheathing and water resistance that just butting boards up against each other. Before plywood it was one of the most popular options.

          1. I used to own a home built in 1918 in southern Ohio. Unfortunately it didn’t have shiplap, but I was wondering if shiplap was used in any of the old homes built in Ohio in the early 1900’s or if this more of a regional thing in only certain parts of the country.

  98. either way, I love her designs, and she’s definitely cornered a market on what she does. Thanks for the info, now I know what shiplap really is. I’ve been using it incorrectly just like Jo Jo… 🙂

  99. THANK YOU! However, this part of your article truly helped me:

    “Shiplap is not plain wooden boards nailed on a wall. Often in old houses these boards can be found on the exterior of the framing just beneath the siding.

    Today we frame a house and then install plywood sheathing to tighten the frame and help square everything up prior to putting on the siding and interior wall coverings. In the days before plywood we used 1×6 or 1×8 boards sometimes installed on a diagonal or horizontally as both sheathing and subfloor.”

    When we gutted my bathroom I found diagonal boards on the exterior of the home…like it was closing my house in an entire box! Very interesting to me. My house was built in 1940 so this makes a lot of sense.

  100. I’ve just paneled my house in ShipLap. Now I’m questioning
    Maintenance? How do I clean it? I gave myself 1/2 in rabbet smooth board, now trying to figure out cleaning between the boards.When I paint one room in need of touch up , do I need to paint all rooms to match? Over the years how many times can I paint it ? We sprayed painted the boards.
    I live in the mountains on a lake. Can I open windows worry free of moisture? If my paint company changes formula I’m in trouble. Thanks

  101. I work in specialty lumber and this one has been driving me crazy, too. Thanks for posting this, it made my day. Sincerely, a True Shiplap, T&G and Paneling Supplier

  102. Yeah I’m always explaining different trim and what it is to family and friends. Wainscoting, beadboard, shiplap… all get me blank stares.

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