Why is it Called Shiplap? Discover its Origins and Uses

Ever wonder how shiplap got its name? In this post, we’ll unravel the fascinating history and origins of shiplap, tracing its roots from Viking ship construction to modern-day applications in home decor. 

As we explore the rise of shiplap in interior design, you’ll discover how influential figures like Joanna Gaines have contributed to its popularity and learn about its timeless appeal and versatility. We’ll also provide a comprehensive guide on how to install shiplap paneling using materials like cedar and plywood while avoiding moisture-related problems.

Let’s jump right in!

The History of Shiplap

Shiplap’s history dates back at least 1,700 years to the time of Vikings, when it was used on ship sides for its effective overlapping technique. Over time, shiplap’s rabbet-groove installation transitioned into exterior siding materials for barns and sheds – and eventually found its way indoors as an interior design element.

Viking Ships and Early Use of Shiplap

The term “shiplap” is derived from its original purpose in shipbuilding. Vikings were known for their advanced maritime technology, which included using wooden planks with a rabbet joint along each edge. This allowed them to create watertight vessels capable of navigating rough seas without taking on water.

These innovative techniques not only contributed to their success as seafarers but also laid the groundwork for modern-day applications like using shiplap boards as walls, ceilings, and siding.


Transition From Maritime Application to Building Exteriors

As centuries passed, builders began incorporating this practical construction method into land-based structures such as barns and sheds due to its resistance to harsh weather conditions like wind and rain. In fact, many historic buildings still standing today feature shingle-style siding made from cedar or redwood, showcasing how these timeless techniques have endured throughout history.

Viking ships:
Shiplap boards were initially utilized by Vikings in constructing watertight ships. This was an advanced technology that surpassed other seafaring vessels in terms of complexity.

Barns & sheds:
Eventually, shiplap was adopted for use in exterior siding materials on buildings like barns and sheds. This gave them the same weather-resistant properties that were sought after by shipbuilders. 

Interior design:
Shiplap has continued increasing in popularity over the years, and is now a part of many people’s homes – often used as wall coverings or accents. This is thanks to its versatile applications and charming aesthetic.

Whether you’re looking to install shiplap boards on your walls or incorporate them into other aspects of your home’s design, these boards offer endless possibilities that transform living spaces into something special.

Shiplap has a long and varied history, from its use in Viking ships to the modern home décor trend popularized by shows like "Fixer Upper". With Chip and Joanna Gaines' influence on design trends, shiplap is now making waves as one of the most sought-after elements for interior designs.

Key Takeaway: While shiplap originated with the Vikings over 1,700 years ago, it has found a way into modern structures including barns, sheds, and homes. Shiplap offers a sea of possibilities that instantly transform a living space.

Shiplap's Rise in Popularity Through 'Fixer Upper'

One of the major factors that contributed to shiplap’s growth in popularity is Chip and Joanna Gaines’ TV show “Fixer Upper”. The couple, known for their creative home renovations and love for farmhouse style, introduced shiplap as a versatile design element during their inaugural season in 2013. 


Chip and Joanna Gaines' Influence on Modern Design Trends

The Gaines duo has had a significant impact on modern interior design trends with their innovative use of materials like shiplap boards. Their ability to transform outdated spaces into cozy, warm homes has inspired many homeowners to incorporate similar elements into their own living spaces. As a result, shiplap became synonymous with the ever-growing modern farmhouse style.

How "Fixer Upper" Introduced Shiplap into Mainstream Home Decor

In a memorable episode from season 1 called “Catastrophe House,” Chip and Joanna discovered original shiplaps hidden behind drywall while renovating a house built in 1911. They chose to expose these charming boards by removing the drywall layers – instantly adding character and visual interest to the space.

Showcasing shiplap’s versatility:
Throughout various episodes of “Fixer Upper”, Chip and Joanna demonstrated how easy it is to use shiplap not only as wall coverings but also for wainscoting and even ceilings.

Shiplap boards are relatively affordable, so they’re an attractive option for homeowners looking to update their interiors without breaking the bank.

One of the big reasons why shiplapping has continued growing in popularity after “Fixer Upper” is because of how easy it is to install. DIYers and new homeowners can give their living spaces a fresh look with minimal effort and expense.

“Fixer Upper” has undoubtedly played a major role in bringing shiplap into mainstream home decor. Today, you can find shiplap in almost any setting – from modern farmhouse aesthetics to coastal-inspired interiors. As more people continue to discover the charm and potential of shiplap boards, its usage is likely to keep growing across design trends. Moving on, let us explore some of the more practical applications that shiplap boards can bring to your home décor and interior design projects.

Key Takeaway: Shiplap’s rise in popularity is due in large part to Chip and Joanna Gaines’ creativity on “Fixer Upper”. Their innovative use of shiplap boards has inspired many homeowners to incorporate similar elements into their own living spaces. Shiplap is a versatile, affordable, and DIY-friendly way to transform your home.

Modern Applications of Shiplap Boards

Shiplap boards have come a long way from their maritime origins, finding new life in various interior design applications. These boards can be used to create stunning wall coverings, elegant wainscoting, and even statement ceilings that add character without overpowering other decor.

Wall Covering Ideas Using Shiplap

If you’re looking for an easy way to transform your walls, shiplap can be installed as a wall covering. This popular design choice adds texture and depth while maintaining a clean aesthetic that complements both modern and traditional styles. You can choose from various finishes to give shiplap painted or natural wood tones depending on your design style.

Wainscoting Applications with a Touch of Elegance

Incorporating shiplap into wainscoting designs brings an air of sophistication to any room. Traditionally used in dining rooms or hallways, this application involves installing shiplap boards halfway up the wall with holding at the top edge for added elegance. This combination creates visual interest by breaking up large expanses of blank walls, while maintaining cohesion within your overall design scheme.

Creating Statement Ceilings

Beyond walls and wainscoting, consider using shiplap boards on your ceiling for an unexpected – yet stunning – twist that draws attention upward. This technique works particularly well in rooms with vaulted ceilings where it helps create warmth and intimacy despite the open space.

Shiplap boards provide a range of options for interior design – from wall coverings and wainscoting to statement ceilings that express your personal style. Ready to get started on your own shiplap project? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to install shiplap and explore the wide range of options at Stikwood.com.

Part of what makes shiplap so popular is its ease-of-installation, allowing DIYers to give their home a makeover without having to hire a professional. 

Key Takeaway: Shiplap boards can be used to create stunning wall coverings, add a touch of elegance to wainscoting, and grab attention with statement ceilings. Shiplap offers endless possibilities for creating unique spaces that reflect your personal style.

DIY Installation Tips for Shiplap

If you want to give your home a makeover with shiplap boards, good news! Installing shiplap is quite manageable if you decide to do it yourself. In this section, we’ll give some practical advice on how homeowners can easily install shiplap right on top of their existing drywall.


Preparing Your Space for Shiplap Installation

Before you begin installing your shiplap boards, make sure the surface is clean and free from any obstructions like electrical outlets or switches. Remove any existing wall coverings, such as wallpaper or paneling, and repair damage to the drywall underneath. If necessary, use a stud finder to determine best placement of your shiplap.

Pro-tip: Even if you plan on installing shiplap yourself, finding a qualified electrician to move electrical outlets and switches can save a lot of time and headache.

Tools and Materials Needed for the Project

Tape measure:
To accurately measure your space before purchasing materials.


For marking measurements onto your boards.


A miter saw works best for cutting straight lines across each board at precise angles; however, a circular saw may also suffice if used carefully.


Nail gun or hammer & nails:
To securely attach each board directly into studs behind drywall using finishing nails (usually around 1-1/4" long).

Carpenter's level:
To ensure proper alignment during installation.

Step-by-Step Guide on Installing Shiplap Boards

Follow these simple steps to install shiplap in your home:

Measure and cut the boards:
Based on your wall measurements, determine how many shiplap boards you'll need and cut them accordingly using a saw. Remember: measure twice and cut once!


Start at the bottom:
Begin installing your first row of shiplap at the base of your wall, ensuring that it's level before nailing it into place.


Stagger seams:
To create a visually appealing pattern, stagger the seams between each board as you work up towards the ceiling.

Leave gaps for expansion:
As wood naturally expands and contracts with changes in temperature or humidity levels within a room, be sure to leave small gaps (about 1/8") between each board during installation.

Incorporating shiplap into your interior design can add unique character while providing personalized options for homeowners looking to transform a house into their home. With some basic tools and materials, anyone can successfully install shiplap right on top of drywall – giving rooms an entirely new look without overpowering existing decor elements.

Once you have all the necessary tools and materials, installing shiplaps is a relatively easy DIY project. To help create different design styles in your home, let's take a look at how to incorporate shiplap boards into modern farmhouse designs and coastal-inspired interiors.

Key Takeaway: With some basic tools and materials like a tape measure, saw, and nail gun, anyone can successfully transform their home’s interior with shiplap.

Shiplap in Different Design Styles

Shiplap’s charm comes from the visible gap between boards, which has made it a popular choice in modern farmhouse and waterfront homes. Let’s talk about a couple shiplap designs

Incorporating Shiplap Into Modern Farmhouse Designs

The modern farmhouse style is characterized by a mix of rustic elements and contemporary touches. To incorporate shiplap into this design, consider using it on accent walls or as wainscoting. White-painted shiplap is particularly popular for creating a crisp, clean look that complements other farmhouse features like exposed wood beams and reclaimed furniture pieces.

Accent walls: Install shiplap on one wall to create an eye-catching focal point in your living room or bedroom.

Kitchen backsplash: Use shiplap boards behind your stove or sink area for a unique alternative to traditional tile backsplashes.

Built-in shelving: Frame built-in shelves with shiplap for added texture and visual interest.

Coastal-Inspired Interiors Featuring These Classic Boards

In coastal-inspired interiors, where light colors and natural materials are key, adding shiplap can enhance the breezy atmosphere. Opt for lighter shades like white or soft gray when installing shiplap within your seaside home. Here are some ideas on how you can integrate them into different spaces:

Bedroom: Create a cozy, beachy retreat by installing shiplap on the walls or ceiling of your bedroom. Pair it with nautical-themed decor and soft linens for an inviting space.

Bathroom: Give your bathroom a spa-like feel by using shiplap as wainscoting or wall covering. Complement it with natural stone countertops and coastal-inspired accessories like seashell soap dishes.

Sunroom: Enhance the airy vibe of your sunroom by incorporating shiplap into its design. Install it on the walls or ceiling to create a serene environment perfect for relaxation.


No matter what design style you choose, adding shiplap boards can instantly elevate any room in your home. With timeless appeal and versatile nature, they are sure to remain popular among homeowners looking to add visual interest and character to their spaces.

Key Takeaway: Shiplap can be used in various design styles, like modern farmhouse and coastal-inspired interiors. It adds character to rooms with unique visible gaps between boards. Homeowners have used shiplap on accent walls, ceilings, built-in shelving and even as a unique kitchen backsplash.

Shiplap FAQs

How did shiplap get its name?

Shiplap got its name from its original use in shipbuilding. The overlapping technique creates a tight seal between wooden boards. On ships, this installation was called “lapping.” When this method was applied to building exteriors, it became known as “shiplap” due to the similarities with ship construction.

What did shiplap used to be called?

Before being more commonly referred to as “shiplap,” these boards were often called “rabbeted siding” or simply “lap siding.” This is due to the rabbet joint created by cutting a groove into each board’s edge, allowing them to overlap and form a weatherproof seal.

What does shiplap stand for?

Shiplap doesn’t have an acronym or specific meaning behind the term itself. It simply refers to wooden boards that are designed with rabbeted edges so they can overlap when installed horizontally. This creates a tight and seamless connection between boards. 

What is shiplap in construction?

In construction, shiplap refers to wooden boards that feature specially cut grooves along their edges. Shiplap provides an attractive finish for walls and ceilings while also offering insulation and protection against moisture due to its overlapping design.


Shiplap has a rich history dating back more than 1,700 years. Its popularity today can be attributed to influencers like Joanna Gaines and its timeless appeal and versatility. With the right materials and by following a step-by-step process, any DIYer or new homeowner can install shiplap. Understanding why it’s called shiplap provides insight into this classic design element.

If you’re looking to install shiplap boards for your next project, check out the selection on Stikwood.com today!