Vertical shiplap is a beautiful wall treatment, but people often wonder if it’s trendy, difficult to install, or a good design decision. In this post, I’m breaking down the what, why, and where of vertical shiplap so you can make an informed decision about my favorite wall treatment.
It’s no secret that I love vertical shiplap. I’ve used it in five areas of my home already, and I don’t see a reason why I wouldn’t use it again if a space calls for it. What’s not to love about vertical shiplap? It’s fairly inexpensive, easy to DIY, and makes a subtle but timeless statement.
And let me clear something up right now…this type of wall treatment is timeless. It’s been around in various forms for over a hundred years. You can rest assured that this particular application of shiplap (vertically) is just as timeless as wainscoting, panel molding, and beadboard. So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the what, why, and where of vertical shiplap.
What IS Shiplap?
Technically, shiplap isn’t a type of plank, but rather a type of joint. The top part of one board laps over a part of the other board. We just call it shiplap for one reason…Joanna. It’s widely accepted to use the term shiplap now for any kind of planked wall, but a shiplap joint is not the same as tongue and groove. Tongue and groove is a type of plank with a groove running down one side where the tongue side is supposed to slide into. It’s a more secure joint, but a more costly product.
Some designers call the type of planks I have used nickel gap shiplap because the pre-spaced joints leave a uniform gap (about the thickness of a nickel) between each plank. You can widen it for a more modern look, like I did in our his and hers home office, but in general, the idea is to butt each plank up to the next one for precise spacing.
MDF versus Wood Shiplap
MDF shiplap planks are, in my opinion, better than wood planks because they’re pre-primed, perfectly straight, and so easy to paint. There are wood shiplap planks, but they can vary in texture and straightness, and I don’t like them for interior use.
I also prefer the 8-inch-wide planks as opposed to the 6-inch planks, but I have used the smaller size (in our office). You can cover more area with the 8-inch size, and the larger scale is more modern and appealing.
Why You Should Install Vertical Shiplap
Vertical shiplap is timeless, so it will never go out of style or look dated. But here’s another reason to use this wall treatment…it’s easy. Of all the wall treatments (panel molding, wainscoting and beadboard), this one requires the least amount of DIY skills. The planks are smaller to work with than sheets of beadboard, and the cuts are more straightforward than decorative molding or wainscoting. It’s also a simple way to cover up textured drywall if that’s your goal.
Of course, the level of difficulty depends on the space you’re installing it in. Our cozy café kitchen was a bit trickier than say, my home office niche. Even still, it’s very forgiving, looks great painted, and will appeal to most people.
Where To Use Vertical Shiplap
Where to use vertical shiplap is completely subjective and based on ceiling height, room size and budget. Because we have two-story, vaulted ceilings in our formal living and family rooms, I don’t even have the option to install this wall treatment in those rooms. So, I chose to use it in smaller areas, but ones that made sense to me design-wise.
The reading nook and home office niche were small, which made installing vertical shiplap so easy and affordable. But, I loved being able to fully cover Hannah’s timeless teen bedroom walls and our cozy café kitchen, including the hood, with shiplap.
Vertical Shiplap FAQs
My biggest piece of advice when thinking about where to install vertical shiplap is, consider if it makes sense for the space. If you think it does, then consider your budget and abilities and go from there. But before you do, here are some frequently-asked questions about vertical shiplap:
- Where did you purchase materials? Lowe’s, but they’re also at Home Depot or your local home improvement store.
- Is it easy to install? I wrote a whole blog post about it. How to Install Pre-Primed Vertical Shiplap.
- How did you make all the cuts for the outlets? Measure and mark your outlets, drill a hole in the center, use a multitool or jigsaw to cut out the opening. Remember to use an outlet extender to pull the outlet out flush with the plank. If you’re unsure at all, call your electrician.
- How do you finish at the edges and corners? This depends on your style. You can miter the edges of two planks and join them at a corner, but I prefer to use slim, low-profile trim, like I did on our range hood in the kitchen. As far as ending shiplap, I almost never end it unless it can die into a corner. But, when I needed to cap an edge of shiplap in our kitchen, I used a piece of trim to sort of frame it out.
- Does the wood hold up as a backsplash? Yes…with a caveat. I sealed all my kitchen shiplap with my favorite acrylic sealer in satin, and it cleans up beautifully. If you don’t seal shiplap in a bathroom or kitchen, you may notice water spots on the paint.
- Are there any Pros/Cons of Vertical vs. Horizontal? Nope…just personal preference because I do think horizontal shiplap, unless done all over a home and accompanied by the right accessories, brings to mind farmhouse décor.
- Is it expensive to hire out? I’m not sure. I’ve DIY’ed all my vertical shiplap. I can tell you though, that the cost of shiplap for Hannah’s bedroom (about 11×12) was around $500. Don’t forget to consider the cost of materials when thinking of hiring a contractor.
- How do you paint vertical shiplap? It’s all in this post.
Whew! I think that covered everything I know about using vertical shiplap. Still, I always seem to miss at least one detail, so feel free to drop any questions into the comments section below.
Do you have vertical shiplap in your home? Would you use this wall treatment? I just love it, and I think I’ll always have it in whatever home I’m in.
Until next time…
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