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The Shiplap Story

The History Of Shiplap

Sometimes decorating and remodeling trends come off as too trendy. Shiplap does not fall into that category. Rather than a trendy, new rustic farmhouse fad, shiplap has actually existed for years, used on barns and storage buildings in rural settings all across America. Its recent use on popular television shows has expanded its use. So,what is shiplap and why should you use it in your home?

The History Of Shiplap?

Shiplap first gained popularity in cold climates as an easy to use, low-cost siding for barns and other outbuildings. Shiplap acquired its name from the rabbet-joint on opposite sides of each long edge of a board. The rabbets allow the boards to fit together and form an overlap that makes them ideal as water proof and weather resistant siding. It provides a look similar to tongue and groove boards, but an easier installation.

Many times the boards used for shiplap were pulled off the sides of a large boat that had wrecked in a local harbor, hence the "ship" in its name. You can find shiplap used in many homes along the Eastern coastline as well as down south in the states along the Gulf.

Decorating with Shiplap

Don't worry if you don't have a barn to side or if you live in the city. The versatility of shiplap means it works in everything from rustic farmhouse-style to modern interiors. Like drywall, you'll find painting shiplap an easy task. You can create a modern look for a city apartment by painting with our 2018 Color of the Year, Black Magic.

Shiplap works equally well horizontally or vertically. Hanging shiplap needn't seem daunting. Most experienced do-it-yourselfers will have no problem. Unlike the complicated application of drywall, hanging shiplap requires only a simple saw, hammer and nails.
Its ready availability marks another benefit of shiplap. Chain hardware stores throughout the US carry the proper wood to use for a modern shiplap wall.

Standard shiplap board sizes include 3/4 of an inch or 1 inch thickness and widths between three to 10 inches. A good shiplap wall can be used for a number of interior projects:

  • backsplashes
  • bathrooms
  • bedrooms
  • ceilings
  • dining rooms
  • laundry rooms
  • living rooms
  • mudrooms

Adding Accents for Extra Appeal

The shiplap accent wall can function as the accent or the focal point. That's up to you and your use of it. Use these ideas as a starting point.

  • Shiplap provides a quick way to turn any bathroom into a traditional or modern farmhouse bathroom. Use it in conjunction with a vanity and vessel sink to add a high-end look on a tight budget.
  • Mudrooms gain a regal look with shiplap walls, cabinets, even floors. It looks great painted light or dark. Though it often gets a white wash paint, any colour works. It pairs well with marble or mosaic tiles.
  • Use this unique wood in the bedroom for a cozy cottage look, a farmhouse effect or as a ceiling treatment. It beautifully covers a popcorn ceiling, adding a light, airy and expensive look. Only you will know how little it cost to install.
  • In the kitchen, shiplap bends to the designer's will. Painted stark white (Try Olympic's Adobe White) and used as an all-over wall treatment, it creates a coastal kitchen. Add banquet seating and throw pillows for a friendly, family feel. Painted gray and paired with simple wood cabinets, it creates a Shaker-style kitchen. It even makes an easy to clean alternative to tiles for a backsplash. 
  • Your choice of reveal determines the look. If the boards butt with no reveal, you'll have a smooth, sleek look. If you choose a reveal of 3/16 an inch, you'll have a clapboard, farmhouse look. The boards also differ in mood whether hung vertically or horizontally. Vertical application provides an austere, modern effect. Horizontal application gives a traditional look.

No matter how you choose to use shiplap, it provides a long-lasting, hearty decorating treatment. Its low-cost and versatile nature makes it an affordable solution. Its unique nature allows the interior designer to achieve multiple looks with the same basic boards in the same room. A dark paint (such as Olympic's Sarsaparilla) to it as floorboards gives an expensive feel, while a pearl white provides an airy, country feel to the walls.

Shiplap has come a long way since its use as barn siding from salvaged shipwrecks. If you live in an older home in the northeast US, your home may have the original item. If not, you can give it a historical feel with shiplap from your local hardware store. Or you can give it a minimalist feel. Or you can give it a contemporary feel. The unique nature of shiplap means you can effect any mood you choose with it. It also makes it easy to change your mind. If you decide to go from a light, airy kitchen to a moody gray and black one, you can with a little paint. Your shiplap will bend to your will and define the mood of your room largely based on paint color.

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