Shiplap and Tongue-and-Groove Paneling: The Comeback Kids of Wall Cladding

Wall paneling is back – and it’s here to stay. Shiplap and tongue-and-groove paneling are leading the charge in this revival, thanks to their versatility and renewed interest from designers and DIY homeowners. These wood paneling options work great for indoor and outdoor projects, and offer distinct characteristics that make them suitable for any style and climate.

Individual tastes, functionality requirements, applications, weather conditions, and desired aesthetics all play a role in determining whether a type of wood paneling is right for you. If you’re considering updating your home with shiplap boards or tongue-and-groove planks, knowing the differences and benefits of each is key to choosing one you’ll love for life.

Unique Characteristics of Shiplap Planks

Shiplap planks are a top-tier choice in the paneling world. Their rabbet joint design creates an overlapping effect that sheds water and protects the integrity of the wood. Plus, the beveled edges give them a unique look with visible gaps between boards.

Rabbet joint design:
The rabbet joint on shiplap planks makes installation a breeze and provides excellent protection against moisture. Perfect for wet environments like bathrooms or exteriors exposed to rain.

Great for rainy climates or outdoor applications:
Shiplap cladding is the go-to choice for areas prone to heavy rainfall or as part of your home's exterior siding. You can even find durable options like fiber cement or vinyl shiplap boards.

Shiplap and tongue-and-groove paneling can add texture, warmth, or even a pop of color to any space. When choosing between shiplap and other paneling options, consider these unique characteristics. Comprehending the distinctions between each option ensures you’ll make the right choice in line with your particular requirements and aesthetic tastes.

Fun fact: Though shiplap has been used for hundreds of years, modern day designers have brought it into light. With the popularity of modern farmhouse design trends, shiplap cladding and tongue-and-groove profiles have become go-to choices for interior decorators looking to create cozy yet stylish spaces.

Tongue-and-Groove Cladding – A Sleek Alternative to Shiplap

Tongue-and-groove planks offer a sleek, textured look that’s easy to maintain. The difference between shiplap and tongue-and-groove planks is immediately noticeable if you examine the profiles of each. Shiplap features L-shaped edges that fit together snugly, whereas tongue-and-groove planks have a small groove sticking out of one edge – and an indentation on the other side.

Seamless Connection Between Boards

The tongue-and-groove profile creates a tight and polished connection between planks, leaving no visible gaps. This not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also prevents dirt and dust from accumulating within the seams.

A Sleeker Finish Than Shiplap

Compared to shiplap boards, tongue-and-groove cladding often offers a more streamlined and modern finish. The absence of visible gaps between planks creates a clean and polished look that’s perfect for homeowners looking for a modern touch. 

A few more benefits of tongue-and-groove planks include:

The interlocking design of tongue-and-groove planks provides added strength and stability when installed correctly.

Suitable for various applications such as indoor wall paneling, ceilings, and exterior siding on structures like sheds or garages.

Easy Maintenance:
With no exposed seams between boards, cleaning is a breeze compared to shiplap installations where debris can accumulate in the grooves over time.

Whether you're renovating your home or office, tongue-and-groove cladding is a versatile and stylish option that's certainly worth considering.

Material Options Available

If you’re looking to upgrade your walls or ceilings with shiplap boards or tongue-and-groove cladding, you have a wealth of material options to choose from. This includes fiber cement, vinyl, metal, and hardwoods like European Oak.

Pro-tip: Local suppliers may offer better prices and more unique planks than larger sources. Some suppliers even produce bespoke moldings!

Shiplap cladding is generally more expensive than tongue-and-groove because it takes considerable time and effort to create – but installation costs vary greatly on the material, room size, and area of the project. 

Fiber cement:
A durable option that's resistant to rotting or warping due to moisture exposure.


A low-maintenance choice with a wide variety of colors and styles available.


Offers a sleek industrial look while being highly weather-resistant.

Provides a warm natural appearance with options like European oak adding an elegant touch to any space.

To make an informed decision between shiplap and tongue-and-groove cladding based on your budget, consider factors like: ease of installation (shiplap may require more labor), durability (some materials are better suited for specific climates), maintenance requirements (vinyl requires less upkeep compared to wood), and overall aesthetic preferences. Comparing quotes from different contractors can also help you find the best deal for your desired wall treatment without sacrificing quality. 

Aesthetic Goals and Functionality Considerations

Whether shiplap or tongue-and-groove cladding is a better choice depends on your preferences and functionality needs. Want a modern farmhouse look? Shiplap’s nickel-sized gap adds extra character to walls. If you prefer more of a traditional cottage feel, tongue-and-groove’s repeating step-and-curve design offers a cleaner look.

Climate factors also play a role in your decision. Shiplap may perform better in wet conditions due to its overlap shedding ability – which is particularly important if you live in a rainy or damp area.

Comparing Installation Processes

Installing shiplap boards or tongue-and-groove cladding is a breeze for DIY enthusiasts. Just make sure to fit the first board correctly to avoid future water damage. Both types of paneling have similar installation steps, making personal preferences and design goals the main factors for choosing.

Remember: Boards should point upward to prevent seepage. When installed correctly, shiplap and tongue-and-groove paneling will last for decades!

Shiplap installation:
Nail each plank onto wall studs, leaving a small gap between them to account for expansion and contraction.

Tongue-and-groove installation:
Slide the groove of one plank over the tongue of another before properly securing it in place.

Properly installed shiplap or tongue-and-groove paneling also offers excellent insulation due to its overlapping joints or interlocking edges. This helps to conserve energy, providing potential savings on heating costs during colder seasons.

Aside from wood options like oak, maple, and cedar, shiplap and tongue-and-groove profiles are also available in non-wood materials like fiber cement and vinyl. Using these alternatives in installation can provide additional benefits like increased durability and resistance against moisture damage.

Measuring Space and Choosing Orientation

To correctly install shiplap boards or tongue-and-groove cladding, start by measuring the area you want to cover. Both types of paneling can be installed vertically or horizontally depending on the desired aesthetic. When measuring your project space, estimate how many boards you’ll need and whether any special cuts will have to be made to account for electrical outlets or light fixtures.

Pro-tip: Not sure which orientation to choose? Remember: Vertical installation creates a sense of height, while horizontal installation adds width.

Shiplap and tongue-and-groove cladding offer great insulation, unique looks, and work in a variety of settings. Check out our selection of high-quality wood planks at to transform your space into a warm and inviting home.

Shiplap vs Tongue-and-Groove FAQs

Which is better: Shiplap or tongue-and-groove?

Shiplap and tongue-and-groove both have advantages, with shiplap offering a unique appearance where tongue-and-groove provides a cleaner look with added texture.

Is shiplap or tongue-and-groove more expensive?

When it comes to cost, it depends on the material used, though many shiplap planks are less expensive than hardwood tongue-and-groove planks.

Are shiplap and tongue-and-groove different?

Shiplap and tongue-and-groove claddings have some things in common, but they’re certainly not identical. Traditional shiplap features overlapping edges called rabbets, where tongue-and-groove planks have interlocking shapes on each edge.

For a traditional cottage feel, tongue-and-groove cladding’s design offers a clean look. If that modern farmhouse design catches your eye, though, you can’t go wrong with shiplap.


Both shiplap and tongue-and-groove have unique characteristics and uses. They’re great choices for interior and exterior applications, are easy to maintain, and will last a lifetime when properly installed. Consider aesthetic goals, climate, installation, materials, and your desired style if you’re thinking about investing in these popular paneling options.

If you’re a DIYer looking to transform a space into something unforgettable, check out our variety of real wood peel-and-stick planks at