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Everything You Need to Know About Shiplap

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

If you have been following along with us in our Instagram stories, then you know that we have been consumed with installing floor to ceiling shiplap in my mom's basement half bath. We recently asked y'all to send us any questions you had on shiplap and we would answer them in a blog post....well here is that post we promised!!

By far the most common question y'all asked is....

Q: Is shiplap good for a bathroom with a shower and will it withstand humidity/moisture?

A: The half bath we are working on clearly does not have a shower, so we have not been too concerned with making sure it is moisture resistant. However, if you use true interlocking shiplap that is NOT MDF then it should hold up just fine in a bathroom with a shower. The biggest way to ensure moisture does not permeate the shiplap is to make sure you prime with a moisture-resistant primer, seal each board (caulk and wood fill to cover every single hole in the shiplap) and then paint with a moisture resistant paint (might be overkill, but worth it). Additionally, we ALWAYS use our vent while showering even though we don't have any shiplap in our bathroom. It is simply good practice to have good ventilation in a room while showering to prevent any mold from building up in the bathroom.

Here are some others that y'all asked in no particular order.

Q: Where did you order/get your shiplap? Is that actual shiplap or a lighter weight alternative?

A: It is real wood that is pre-primed from Home Depot. t is the same kind we used in our office ceiling and we haven't had any issues with it so far. We wanted real, sturdy shiplap that was pre-primed to save us time! Here is the link for our shiplap. It comes in various lengths. We also have the same kind in our kitchen and fireplace (installed by our builder) and have had no issues with heat in the year we have been here.

Q: What are the biggest pros and cons for using it?

A: The biggest pro of using real shiplap is that it is SUPER easy to install and you do not have to worry about using spacers or anything that you might use if you cut down plywood because each shiplap board fits into the next. The biggest con is probably the price as the cost of real, pre-primed wood in a large quantity is more expensive than a wall treatment such as board and batten.

Q: Do you have to start on a certain side because of the interlock?

A: You always want the side without the interlock to butt up against the wall if you are installing vertical shiplap. We always start right to left, but in theory you could start from the left as long as the interlocking edge faces out so that the next board can lock into the previous board.

Q: Is shiplap a type of wood or plastic?

A: The shiplap we used is real wood that is pre-primed. They do make PVC and MDF versions as well. We do not recommend using MDF in areas that will be exposed to moisture.

Q: Do you fit the vent cover into those spaces or on top?

A: We cut out holes that would allow us to place the vent cover on TOP of the shiplap that way in the future if we ever wanted to change the vent cover it would be easy to replace. Plus, the vent cover is not as deep as the shiplap so if we had simply cut around the covers than the vents would be inset which we did not like the look of.

Q: What are your plans with the gaps in the corners, trim or caulk?

A: First we will attempt to get the boards on the side wall as flush with the boards on the back wall, and then we will caulk!

Q: Why did you decide to position them vertically instead of horizontally?

A: We simply love the look of the vertical boards. We love the waterfall effect of the back wall running straight up to the ceiling. There is no structural difference between the two. It was a purely aesthetic decision.

Q: Is this a popular style where you live?

A: Yes!! So many of the new homes here in Nashville have some sort of shiplap whether it be vertical or horizontal. Welcome to the south y'all!

Q: Is shiplap easy to install for non-handy folks?

A: YES! If you purchase true, interlocking shiplap then it will be super easy to install. All you need is a saw (miter or circular) to cut it the appropriate length. If you have to work around outlets or light switches it will be a little more complicated, but we are going to post more in depth information as we work around outlets in the half bath.

Q: I have regular ceiling height, do you find the ceilings feel like you lost height?

A: The ceiling in this bathroom is 9ft, and we only lost 1/2in with the shiplap as that is the depth of the shiplap. I do not feel like we lost any height, plus by adding the vertical shiplap on every wall around the room it draws your eye up making the room feel larger. We added shiplap to our office ceiling this past fall and to make the room feel larger we painted everything the same color, so it tricks your eye into thinking the room doesn't have an end point!

Q: Do you attach at every stud?

A: Yes we do for the ceiling which is why we taped along the stud lines so that we could see exactly where they were when we were nailing each board in the ceiling. For the vertical planks there is a stud at the very top of the ceiling (technically called a top plate) and near the baseboard (a base plate) so each vertical plank hits a piece of framing at the top and bottom. Because the planks are vertical they hit only drywall in the middle, but we use 2in nails (which we found appropriate for our drywall) and angle them up and down to help secure the boards in the middle. We have done several walls like this before with vertical pieces of wood using only nails and securing at the top and base plates without any issues!

Q: Over time will the shiplap gap or wave since you aren't using furring strips or liquid nails? Have you seen shiplap boards bend over time? Can this be fixed without replacing?

A: One of the main reasons we invest in good, quality shiplap is to avoid any bending over time. These planks are all completely dried out so there will not be any further bowing. Additionally, we have done this several times before and have not had any issues with gapping nor bending of the boards. We use at least 7-8 nails per vertical board with one at the very top and one at the very bottom both into framing. The middle nails we angle up and down to better secure the boards to the wall.

Q: If attaching shelves do you just screw through the shiplap and into the wall?

A: We definitely recommend attempting to hit two studs if you can. Then you would simply drill a pilot hole through the shiplap first and then insert your screw. If you are not able to hit a stud then we recommend using toggle bolts such as these that are long enough to go through the shiplap and the drywall. If using the toggle bolt make sure to drill a pilot hole large enough for the bolt to go through. We will be installing a mirror over the shiplap in this half bath, so we will be sure to document how we do so!

Q: Cost?

A: As you all might know the cost of lumber has significantly increased lately which left us spending roughly $700 for shiplap for the entire half bath. We used real, wood shiplap that was pre-primed. MDF could be a cheaper alternative, but you would not want to use it in a space that might get wet.

Q: Why did you choose shiplap over just cutting plywood?

A: We chose to use high grade shiplap for a few reasons. The pre-primed, interlocking boards make install SO much easier and save the headache of ripping plywood and making sure the spacers between plywood boards are even. Additionally, we the shiplap came pre-primed which really saved time on painting. Overall, using shiplap boards is a HUGE time saver, but plywood could still get the job done if you are willing to invest the time.

And that's a wrap! We will be sure to document step by step our methods of cutting around electrical outlets and installing a HEAVY mirror into shiplap over on our Instagram stories!


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