What Exactly is Shiplap? Everything You Need to Know About the Decor Trend

shiplap walls living room

Between your Pinterest feed and your Fixer Upper addiction, there’s a good chance you’ve been hearing about a lil’ thing called “shiplap” as of late. And if you’re like us, there’s also a good chance you’re still wondering what the heck it is. We’re here to clear the waters

So, what exactly is shiplap? In simplest terms, shiplap is wood paneling made of wide (typically) pine boards that have notched or “rabbet-cut” edges. These overlapping joints make panels fit together like snug little puzzle pieces—and shut out the elements brilliantly (hence, being built like a “ship”). 

Funny enough, shiplap was never meant to be decorative at all. It was originally used as siding in informal outbuildings (like sheds, barns and cabins), or in more dressy interiors as a hidden surface for wallpaper application. Nowadays, of course, unearthing shiplap during a reno is like finding hardwoods underneath linoleum—a freakin’ goldmine.

With its neutral look and timeless texture, shiplap can be used just about anywhere. (We’ve seen it shine equally well in shower stalls and entryways.And while most commonly painted white (to make the grooves really pop), you can totally go au natureldark-stained or colorfully painted instead.

The best part? You don’t need to live in Waco, Texas, to make it work for ya. 

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Home Editor

From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.