What is Shiplap?

Due to a highly successful show on a certain network, with certain hosts who happen to have a wooden walls fetish, shiplap has taken over our lives!
We LOVE this trend as well and have been integrating wood on walls for the life of our company (ie..way before it was popular) just call us cool!

But we are here now to correct a super common misconception…. All wood on walls is NOT called Shiplap. There are different names for all the different types of this design element. It can depend on type of wood, direction in which is lays, how it is installed and whether its painted, washed or natural. 

We will first explore the question….What is shiplap?

 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 very subtle horizontal reveals between each piece. This material is usually just reclaimed boards from a lumbar supplier or you can just buy 1x6’s from any home store and paint them. 

The next option is buttboard. These are planks of wood that are nailed up with gaps in between. This gap also has a name depending on its width. Nickel gap is most common and that is when the carpenter actually takes a nickel and uses it to determine the spaces between each board. The other coins (penny gap, quarter gap, dime gap)are used as well and vary in distance which allows you to create a look with or without spacing.

The next option is T&G. With tongue and groove planks, each piece has a side where there is a groove cut along the length of the board and a side where a tongue runs the length of the board.

This makes the gaps look uniform, they call them v-grooves. And they are preset by the boards. This product can be made out of different materials depending on whether you are going to paint it or not. If you paint it, a simple and inexpensive type would be MDF or pine. If you are going to wash or leave natural a beautiful poplar could be used to show great grain movement and such!

The last option is beadboard. This is sold in sheets of MDF or plywood and is a much easier installation as it covers much more sq ft per sheet. 

Some pictures are below of projects with each type of wood feature.


This kitchen and dining room both have shiplap planks. This compares the natural raw wood and the painted planks. On the ceiling is t&G boards. You can tell by the smaller plank and the v groove spacing. 


This bedroom is from a home we built custom for a client in Palmetto Bluff. She loves the look for raw wood and wanted it all over!