Pros and cons of a shiplap ceiling

Know The Potential Cons Before You Shiplap a Wall or Ceiling

Shiplap brings a cozy, rustic vibe to the wall or ceiling in homes everywhere. However, before you get swept up in a trend, it’s important to understand it – including the possible pitfalls.

Knowing all the facts ahead of time can save you from future headaches and help you decide if shiplap is the right choice for your space and purposes. In this post, we’ll help you find out and answer some other common questions while we’re at it.

What Exactly is Shiplap?

Shiplap is a type of wooden board traditionally used for barns, sheds, and other rustic buildings. The boards are milled with a rabbet, or notch, along the edges, which allows them to overlap and fit snugly together. The overlapping design creates distinctive, tight seams that add a charming, textured look to a wall or ceiling.

In more recent years, shiplap has found its way into modern home design, thanks to its aesthetic appeal and versatility. Homeowners and designers alike appreciate shiplap for its ability to transform plain surfaces into focal points.

However, despite its popularity, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons before deciding to use shiplap in your home. That’s what we’ll do next!

Home entryway with a shiplap accent wall

Home entryway with a shiplap accent wall

Potential Cons of Shiplap Walls and Ceilings

Shiplap’s popularity is undeniable, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Before you commit, consider the potential challenges. Here are some of the most common examples.

Aesthetic Limitations

Shiplap has a distinct charm, so it may not suit every interior style. Its rustic look might clash with modern or minimalist designs. Take a close inventory of your overall decor before making a selection.


Installing shiplap can be more complicated than it seems, especially for anyone trying to do it on their own.

Proper alignment and securing of the boards are critical to achieving a polished look. Mistakes during installation can lead to uneven seams and gaps, detracting from the aesthetic appeal.

Shiplap wall and ceiling cover can be stylish or it can clash with the rest of your decor.


Shiplap requires regular maintenance to keep it looking its best. Dust and grime can accumulate in the grooves between the boards, necessitating frequent cleaning.

Also, shiplap made from natural wood can be susceptible to warping, cracking, or swelling due to humidity changes.


The cost of shiplap can add up quickly – especially if you opt for high-quality wood. In addition to the material costs, labor expenses for professional installation can be significant. Budget carefully and consider if shiplap is a financially viable option for your project.

Environmental Considerations

Lastly, using natural wood for shiplap does have environmental impacts. Harvesting wood contributes to deforestation, and the production process can be resource-intensive.

If sustainability is a priority for you, consider alternative materials or certified sustainable wood options.

Pros of a Shiplap Wall or Ceiling

While shiplap comes with its challenges, it’s also beloved for several reasons. Shiplap offers a unique and charming look that can transform any room. From a farmhouse feel to a more contemporary twist, its clean lines and textured surface add visual interest and character.

Shiplap’s versatility means you can use it in various settings – living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, or bathrooms. It can be painted to match your decor or ceiling or left in its natural wood state for a more rustic appeal. Customization options are plentiful, whether that means painting it a bold color, applying a whitewash for a vintage look, or installing it in unique patterns like herringbone.

Finally, Shiplap is durable and can withstand daily wear and tear, making it a good option for high-traffic areas in your home. A well-done shiplap installation can enhance market appeal since potential buyers often appreciate the added charm.

Common Shiplap Wall and Ceiling Questions

As with any home improvement project, you likely have some questions about shiplap – we’ve answered some of the most common ones so you can have them all in one place.

Can shiplap be used in bathrooms or kitchens?

Yes, shiplap can go in bathrooms and kitchens, but it’s essential to choose moisture-resistant materials. Painted or sealed shiplap helps protect against humidity and water damage. Ensure proper ventilation to maintain the integrity of the wood.

How does shiplap react to humidity and temperature changes?

Natural wood shiplap can expand and contract with humidity and temperature changes, potentially leading to warping or gaps. Using engineered wood or specially treated shiplap can minimize these issues. Installing shiplap with a slight gap between boards can also help.

Is shiplap easy to clean and maintain?

Shiplap requires regular cleaning to prevent dust and grime buildup in the grooves. A soft brush or vacuum with a brush attachment works well for cleaning. For shiplap with paint, a mild detergent and damp cloth are best. Regular maintenance checks help address any signs of wear or damage early.

Can I install shiplap myself, or should I hire a professional?

Installing shiplap can be a DIY project if you’re handy and have the right tools. However, for a flawless and polished look, especially on ceilings or large areas, hiring a professional is often the best choice.

Recommended Maintenance for Shiplap

As mentioned above, to prevent dust and grime in the grooves, make it a habit to dust your shiplap walls or ceiling frequently. Using a soft brush or a vacuum with a brush attachment can effectively clean the surfaces without causing any damage.

For painted shiplap, a mild detergent mixed with water and a soft cloth will help remove any stubborn dirt or stains. Be gentle to avoid damaging the paint or wood. For unpainted shiplap, using a damp cloth is usually sufficient, but ensure the wood dries completely to prevent moisture damage.

Regularly inspect your shiplap for any signs of warping, cracking, or swelling, especially in areas with high humidity. Early detection of these issues can help you address them before they worsen. If you notice any significant damage or wear, consider reapplying a protective finish or paint to maintain its appearance and durability.

When to Call a Professional

If you’re planning to install shiplap on a ceiling or a large wall, the precision required for a polished look can be challenging to achieve on your own.

Also, if your shiplap shows signs of significant damage, such as extensive warping, cracking, or mold growth, it’s advisable to consult a professional. They can assess the extent of the damage and recommend the best course of action, whether it involves repairing or replacing the affected areas.

Hiring a professional is also a good idea if you’re using shiplap in high-moisture areas like bathrooms or kitchens. They can ensure that the installation is done correctly, using moisture-resistant materials and proper sealing techniques.


Shiplap can bring a unique charm and rustic appeal to a home, but it’s important to weigh both the pros and cons before making a decision. While its versatility and durability make it popular, potential challenges like installation complexity shouldn’t be overlooked.

Your maintenance and knowing when to call in a professional will keep your shiplap looking pristine. When you need an expert’s assessment or guidance in Florida or Alabama, call Knockout Inspections.

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