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What is Shiplap Siding & Average Costs?

The finished look of shiplap joints is similar to that of tongue and groove joints, but the former involves less work and less expense than the latter. It is thus sometimes referred to as the poor-man's tongue and groove. It's very easy to install and the average DIYer can accomplish the project themselves.

Then again, if you are undertaking a large project, make sure you talk to a local siding professional to ensure the best final product.

The Costs 

  • Minimum Cost: $ .95/board-foot
  • Maximum Cost: $4.00/board-foot

What is Shiplap Siding?

Shiplap siding is a type of exterior or interior paneling, most commonly made of wood, with tight joints that are formed by the overlap of one board on top of another. It is most often 3/4 of an inch or 1 inch thick and between 3 inches and 10 inches wide. The overlap is made possible by a 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch rabbet cut on opposite sides, running the length of the board. Shiplap is commonly used as an exterior material for outbuildings, barns, and sheds, especially in colder climates. It's a relatively inexpensive material and the rabbet allows for a good seal against the cold. It also gives buildings a rough, utilitarian look, perfect for barns and garden sheds.

Installation of Shiplap Siding

Begin by estimating the size of the job. Determine the area that the siding will cover by multiplying the width times the height of each wall to be sided and then subtracting the areas of any doors or windows. Assuming that 1 inch thick shiplap siding will be used, the number of board-feet required is the same as the area to be sided in square feet. A board-foot refers to the volume of a 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 inch piece of wood.

Because it's an easy material to work with, many choose to install shiplap siding themselves, but professional installation is an option as well. Installation does not require any specialized tools or knowledge beyond basic carpentry, so a handyman might be able to install the siding or assist with installation for as little as $10 or $15 per hour. A professional carpenter will cost more, between $25 and $50 per hour. Professional installation can thus significantly increase the cost of the project.

Cost can be increased if the right tools are not already at hand for the job. A shiplap siding project requires a tape measure, a pencil, a saw, a hammer and nails. Sawhorses to set the boards on for cutting are a big help, if not a requirement. The simplest installation will involve only measuring and cutting the shiplap siding to length and then nailing it to the exterior of the building.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Shiplap Siding?

Among the advantages of shiplap siding are its relatively easy installation, relatively moderate cost, natural appearance and versatility.

Compared with some other siding options, such as vinyl and tongue and groove, shiplap siding is easy to install. The boards fit together intuitively, one on top of the other, and installation requires little more than a saw and a hammer.  Shiplap is typically cut from pine or other inexpensive woods so costs stay low. Assuming a price of $1.00 per board-foot for a standard-grade product, $100 worth of shiplap siding will cover a 10-foot by 10-foot exterior wall. In addition to lumber cost, the project will also require stain or paint or sealant to protect the lumber from weather damage. And because installation is relatively easy, labor costs are often minimal.

One of the primary reasons that homeowners choose to utilize shiplap siding is its natural appearance. It is usually a real-wood product and is available cut from beautiful woods like cedar and oak. Shiplap siding is most often installed horizontally, but it can be installed vertically as well without sacrificing the seal against the weather or the aesthetic appeal. For sheds and outbuildings, shiplap does not have many disadvantages, but it is not perfect for every project. It requires periodic maintenance and it is not the least expensive option on the market.

Because shiplap is almost always a natural wood product, care must be taken to protect the siding from the elements. Unless the siding has been specially treated before delivery, the wood may need to be sealed or painted and it may need to be re-sealed or re-painted every two to five years. Some vinyl and metal sidings are less expensive than shiplap. Those who are strictly interested in cost and utility may choose one of those options.

Shiplap Siding Compared to Tongue and Groove Siding

Shiplap compares favorably to tongue and groove in terms of cost and ease-of-installation. It is less expensive because of its less-sophisticated milling and it's easier to install for the same reason. Tongue and groove is superior because it potentially provides a stronger seal against the outside.

Shiplap Siding Compared to Vinyl Siding

Shiplap compares favorably to vinyl siding in terms of protective strength and ease-of-installation, as well as appearance. Vinyl siding provides no structural support or protection and often involves a more complicated installation procedure than shiplap requires. As for positives, vinyl siding is rot proof, insect proof, and available in hundreds of different colors, so it does not require painting or finishing like shiplap siding.

Repairing damaged shiplap is easier than repairing damaged vinyl or tongue and groove siding because shiplap boards can be more easily removed and replaced than the other siding materials.

Shiplap Siding Compared to Metal Siding

Metal siding is another popular option for the exteriors of barns, sheds, and outbuildings. It is among the most cost-effective siding options, but can be more difficult to install because installation requires at least some metal-cutting and drilling. Shiplap thus compares favorably to metal siding in terms of appearance and ease-of-installation.

Shiplap Tips

Wood expands and contracts in response to environmental conditions like air moisture and temperature. Wood siding should be allowed to acclimatize to the environment before installation. Shiplap can be paired with a variety of insulation materials, including felt paper, exterior insulation, or a vapor barrier. Reclaimed wood may save the buyer as much as 50 percent on the cost of the material, and it provides the most natural, rustic look. Reclaimed siding is available unprocessed or fresh milled after reclamation. The latter lumber provides a better fit, but costs a little more.

Find A Pro 

Now that you know all there is to know about the poor-man's tongue and groove, are you ready to change your exterior? If so, let ImproveNet connect you with a local siding professional. As always, it’s free to connect.

Last updated on Aug 4, 2016

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