Is Shiplap In or Out of Style?

December 3, 2020

By: The Finished Space

Shiplap has been the talk of TV home-makeover shows for the last several years. It reached meteoric levels of popularity throughout the 2010s. As we’ve entered a new decade, many people wonder if shiplap has hit its prime.

Is shiplap going out of style? Or is this much-loved home design trend here to stay?

What is Shiplap, Anyway?

Attic Reading Nook with Shiplap Ceiling

There’s a lot of talk about shiplap in today’s DIY-world, but what is it exactly? Shiplap is a style of wall siding (usually wood) characterized by long planks. 

In interior design, it’s customarily painted white and mounted horizontally, but shiplap can be any color and mounted vertically, as well. The planks are placed to leave a tiny gap between each plank to mirror the look of exterior shiplap.

The defining characteristic of shiplap is the rabbets, which allow the boards to overlap and connect for a moisture-tight seal. The overlap also creates a shadow-effect between the boards that provides a stunning, visual touch.  

When placed horizontally, shiplap can make a room feel larger. When it’s installed vertically, it can make the space feel taller. These visual tricks are one reason that interior designers and homeowners love shiplap.

However, it hasn’t always been an interior design element. 

The History of Shiplap

The History of Shiplap

The earliest version of shiplap was found over 1,700 years ago on Viking ships! An ancient boat was found using overlapping planks around the outside of the boat to keep the water out. The technique used on this ship was called lapstrakes, but it was a precursor to what would become known as shiplap.

The production of watertight, overlapping planks evolved to produce shiplap (i.e., boards that overlap at rabbeted edges to create a completely watertight fit).

It worked so well to keep water out of ships, so shiplap soon became the norm for barns and sheds. Then, it moved to home exteriors as well, and eventually, shiplap made its way inside the home.

Initially, it wasn’t developed as a design element. Instead, it was placed over a home’s framing to produce a smooth backing for interior wall coverings, like wallpaper. It wasn’t until 2013, when Joanna Gaines decided to leave a home’s shiplap exposed on an episode of “Fixer Upper,” that interior shiplap became the much-loved design element she has inspired.

Today, plywood sheathing is used to cover a house frame, so you’ll only find genuine shiplap on older homes, which is why many people who want shiplap interiors have to purchase the shiplap planks themselves.

So, could this 1700-year-old technique be losing its luster? Is shiplap going out of style? 

A Recurring Trend

It appears that shiplap isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Interior designers and homeowners agree that the appeal of shiplap is just too much to let go of! 

Will shiplap look dated if you use it in your home? It is important to keep in mind that shiplap won’t work in every situation. It’s better to keep it in design themes that naturally flow with shiplap. 

What type of modern styles use shiplap? Let’s look at what styles shiplap will always look great in for some inspiring design ideas:

Modern Styles that Use Shiplap

Modern Farmhouse

Modern Farmhouse That Uses Shiplap

Credit: Rebecca Zajac, HGTV, 

Modern farmhouse motifs take the relaxed farmhouse vibes and merge them with modern touches to create a sophisticated yet rustic charm. It’s the perfect marriage of sleek and cozy, and shiplap fits right in. 

Mid-Century Modern

For Blog Only - Brittany Chinaglia, of Brittany Makes & the Vintage Rug Shop - Shiplap Bedroom

Brittany Chinaglia, of Brittany Makes & the Vintage Rug Shop

Mid-century modern is all about the furniture, architecture, and design elements from the middle of the twentieth century. It’s known for its organic shapes, sleek lines, and a mix of materials (think plastic, metal, and wood). Shiplap fits right into any mid-century modern design room.


For Blog Only - Brittany Chinaglia, of Brittany Makes & the Vintage Rug Shop - Shiplap Entrance

Brittany Chinaglia, of Brittany Makes & the Vintage Rug Shop

Since rustic design is all about a rugged, natural beauty – shiplap will always stay in style in rustic motifs. Rustic design embraces earthy colors, natural textures, and warmth – many of the same qualities that shiplap provides. 


Metrie Complete - Shiplap - Bedroom

Coastal designs are perfect for shiplap walls and ceilings. Remember the history of shiplap? It literally originated on ships! Plus, a white shiplap evokes an unmistakable beachy vibe. You’ll never have to wonder, “is shiplap going out of style?” if you use it in a coastal themed area. 


For Blog Only - Scandinavian Living Room with Shiplap

Credit: Vintage Revivals

The Scandinavian motif is known for its wooden floors, simple furniture, smooth surfaces, natural light, muted colors, and straight lines. It’s a minimalist design trend that’s all about breathability and function. The white, straight lines in shiplap make it a perfect choice for Scandinavian designed spaces. 


Industrial With Shiplap

Credit: One Kind Design

Industrial design embraces visible piping, ductwork, bricks, and other elements that make up a space. Many other designs try to hide these elements, but industrial design embraces them and makes them a focal point. The raw look and feel make these homes feel casual and relaxing. For older homes, shiplap is one of those hidden elements that industrial design embraces. For that reason, shiplap pairs beautifully with an industrial styled space.

Shiplap is Here to Stay

So, is shiplap going out of style? No way! As you can see from the examples above, shiplap can bring a rustic charm or a historic vibe to any home.

If you’re looking for shiplap for your space, we can help. We have primed boards ready to paint and pre-painted panels too. No matter what aesthetic, our shiplap is sure to impress. 

Use Option M to choose your shiplap based on your specific decor style. Or, take a look at all our shiplap options here.

For tons of inspiration for your next shiplap project, be sure to follow us on Instagram.