What Exactly is Shiplap?

Shiplap, those horizontal planks that seem to be popping up in interiors everywhere, are simply boards with two opposing rabbet joints that overlap each other. This overlap creates a subtle shadow line that in today’s designs adds lots of visual interest.

Rabbet joints used to create shiplap

Historically, shiplap in a home interior was never meant to be exposed.  Before the days of sheetrock, shiplap was used to provide the wall surface for wallpaper.  After the shiplap was installed, it would be covered with an inexpensive fabric like muslin or cheesecloth.  The fabric hid the joints in the shiplap so that the wallpaper application would go on smoothly.

Beautiful shiplap hidden behind the muslin and wallpaper-image courtesy of www.livingvintageco.com

Fast-forward to today; if you live in an older home with original shiplap behind the wallpaper, you have a unique design element to work with.  If your home is newer and you want to incorporate shiplap into your home there are countless ideas on the internet as to how to achieve the look.  

A shiplap look on back of a kitchen island using narrow panels installed horizontally

Wendy Anderson's picture