You’re eager to upgrade your walls with paneling! For starters, you’re fascinated by photos of the various types. Now, you’re debating which one is best for your project.
Here I share the pros and cons of shiplap, tongue and groove, and beadboard wall coverings. For instance, you’ll learn about their respective:
- moisture resistance
- design styles
- required maintenance
I also compare shiplap to the other two types of paneling, including their average costs.
This post will help launch your decision!
Shiplap: What is shiplap wall paneling?
A shiplap board has an L-shaped notch or “rabbet” on both sides. One rabbet is cut at the upper edge and the other at the lower edge. The rabbets fit those of adjacent boards, sliding into place.
Overlapping the boards yields a raised seam. Shiplap paneling may also have a beveled long edge, angled at 45 degrees, creating a softer look. Interior shiplap comes in wood, PVC, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
Shiplap complements the rustic, farmhouse, and coastal design styles, imparting a homey feel.
Why is it called shiplap?
The Vikings invented the forerunner of shiplap around the year 1021. At that time, they made ship walls with wood planks called “lapstrakes.”
In the 1900s, shipbuilders refined the method, calling the finished product “shiplap.” Yet, most folks used the material for siding on their sheds and barns.
Gradually, homeowners moved shiplap indoors as a base for wallpaper.
Then, with the airing of the “Fixer Upper” TV show, shiplap entered the spotlight. Since then, it’s become a homeowner favorite!
Advantages of Shiplap Wall Paneling
Shiplap made of PVC or treated MDF excels at repelling water. Yet, wood planks are vulnerable to moisture damage. So, after installation, apply mildew-resistant paint, followed by a clear coat sealer. Now, your shiplap wood paneling can fend off humidity.
Ease of Cleaning
If stains appear on shiplap, you can lift them safely with a mild water-based cleaning solution. If any moisture remains, skim a cloth over the paneling, and the rest will air-dry.
Shiplap is remarkably sturdy! Thus, it suits high-traffic areas in your home, such as the entryway, kitchen, bathroom, hallways, and living room.
You can install shiplap either horizontally or vertically.
Do you want to panel a small room? If so, situate the boards horizontally, enlarging the space visually. Or if a room has a low ceiling, place the boards vertically. They’ll draw your eye upward, making the ceiling appear taller.
Many homeowners choose white as a paint color. Still, pick any color you like. Other inviting hues are gray, cream, pale blue, and pine green.
Here’s a painting tip. Apply thin coats with a roller brush, preventing paint from building between the boards. Otherwise, your shiplap will lose its signature traits, becoming a flat wall.
Disadvantages of Shiplap Wall Paneling
Dust particles tend to gather in the seams of shiplap wall paneling. You can minimize this problem by installing the boards vertically rather than horizontally. This way, when dust settles, you can remove it easily.
First, vacuum the surfaces with a brush attachment, moving the wand in one direction. Then, lift any remaining dust with a damp sponge.
What is Tongue and Groove Wall Paneling?
On a tongue and groove plank, the long edge or “tongue” projects outward on one side of the board. The opposing side has a U-shaped “groove,” locking into the tongue of an adjacent panel.
Hence the name, “tongue and groove,” fitting together like puzzle pieces. Most planks have unbeveled edges, forming smooth seams.
These wall coverings are distinctly rustic. Some homeowners use tongue and groove boards in their bathrooms as half-walls.
What types of wood are best for tongue and groove paneling?
Tongue and groove paneling comes in both hardwoods and softwoods. Sustainable woods are best since the timbers are sourced from well-managed forests. Otherwise, woodlands get stripped, turning barren. Meanwhile, the soil erodes.
Below I describe sustainable woods and their characteristic appearance.
- Aspen – white with horizontal graining and occasional knots.
- Basswood – cream to light brown with the grain in concentric circles.
- Birch – grayish-brown with a varied circular grain pattern.
- Hickory – sand brown with an orderly horizontal grain, punctuated with tiny knots.
- Reclaimed Pine – made from recycled wood, closely resembling hickory.
Advantages of Tongue and Groove Paneling
Since tongue and wood boards fit snuggly, they have insulating qualities. So, consider this paneling if you live in a frigid climate with frequent blizzards. It will curb heat loss through your walls, yielding lower energy bills throughout the winter.
Choice of Orientation
Like shiplap, you can install tongue and groove boards vertically or horizontally. If you want to give the appearance of a larger room, use a horizontal orientation. Or if you wish to simulate a taller ceiling, place the boards vertically.
Disadvantages of Tongue and Groove Paneling
Weakened by Humidity
Moisture can lodge inside tongue and groove joints made of wood. In turn, they degrade over time. So, if you’re paneling a humid room, choose PVC or moisture-resistant MDF boards instead.
Each tongue and groove board has a dual profile, a ledge on one side and an opposing notch. It can take a couple of tries to line them up. Then, you anchor the panel by nailing it through the tongue. Thus, secure installation requires precision.
Beadboard: What is Beadboard wall paneling?
Beadboard panels have long, narrow strips. Flanking each is a rounded ridge called a “bead.”
You’ll find beadboard in wood, MDF, and PVC. Many home improvement stores sell beadboard in 8-foot linear sheets, which you cut to size.
Beadboard gives a classic touch to kitchen backsplashes and bathroom walls! The most popular colors are white, baby blue, cream, light gray, and fawn. Or you can paint the panels any color you like.
Beadboard complements the coastal, farmhouse, contemporary, and cottage design styles.
Pros of Beadboard Paneling
Comes in DIY Kits
You can either cut beadboard sheets to size or buy a prefabricated kit. Either way, the boards have a tongue and groove mechanism, locking together. Next, glue the panels to your wall and secure them with nails.
Simple to Clean
Beadboard repels dust and dirt, although particles may collect in the grooves. Still, you can banish dust in a jiffy using a vacuum with a brush attachment.
To banish stains, rub them lightly with a damp sponge treated with a drop of mild liquid detergent. If dirt lines the grooves, gently remove it with a soft toothbrush.
Cons of Beadboard Paneling
May Need Waterproofing
In humid conditions, wood beadboard is vulnerable to warping, mold, and rotting. So, after installation, apply mildew-resistant paint and a sealant or lacquer.
Or choose PVC or moisture-resistant MDF material instead of wood.
Comparison of Shiplap VS. Tongue and Groove
You can install both ship and tongue and groove either vertically or horizontally. Additionally, you can paint or stain both materials to your liking. Thus, they’re equally customizable.
While both types of paneling are strong and long-lasting, shiplap repels moisture better, making it more durable.
Conversely, tongue and groove joints can trap moisture, causing the wood to deteriorate.
The seal created by tongue and groove joints is smoother than on shiplap. Thus, it retains indoor heat during cold months, whereas shiplap doesn’t.
Since tongue and groove panels lie flush against the wall, they look refined. Hence, some homeowners like its clean lines versus the prominence of shiplap. Still, this aesthetic depends on your personal preference.
Ease of Installation
Whereas shiplap glides into place, tongue and groove planks can take some finagling. Moreover, you must drive the nails directly into each tongue.
With shiplap, after you place the boards, you just nail straight through the overlapping section. Thus, shiplap is simpler to install than tongue and groove paneling.
Shiplap attracts dust more so than tongue and groove wall paneling. To reduce dusting frequency, you can install shiplap vertically.
If your paneling is made of wood from well-managed, renewable forests, the material is sustainable. This fact applies to both shiplap and tongue and groove wood paneling. Thus, they’re equally eco-friendly.
Generally, shiplap costs less than tongue and groove since the manufacturing process is easier. It takes more labor to fashion tongue and groove planks, ensuring they fit together properly.
Prices for shiplap range from $2.50 to $7 per square foot. Costs vary by the type of material, whether PVC, wood, or MDF. If you hire an installer, budget $6 to $9 per square foot, which includes materials and labor.
Tongue and groove paneling costs $4 to $10 per square foot. Again, prices vary by your choice of material. For professional installation, figure on paying $7 to $12 per square foot, inclusively.
Comparison of Shiplap VS. Beadboard
Choose either shiplap or beadboard for wall accents and hiding wall imperfections. Both types of paneling suit either half or whole walls. Moreover, you can install each one vertically or horizontally.
Both shiplap and beadboard can handle humidity when made of PVC or treated MDF. Still, beadboard is more vulnerable to impact from dings and scuffs. Thus, shiplap has a longer lifespan.
Ease of Installation
Shiplap installation is relatively foolproof since the planks space themselves.
Yet, beadboard takes more skill and precision. First, you drive the nails through the tongues in the planks. Then, you anchor the panels with a top rail and baseboard, which you nail into the wall studs.
Beadboard repels dust and dirt, whereas shiplap is a dust magnet. Thus, you’ll likely spend more time removing it. Still, stains lift easily on both types of paneling.
Overall, shiplap prices are less than beadboard. As mentioned, shiplap costs $2.50 to $7 per square foot, uninstalled, depending on the material. If you choose professional installation, earmark $6 to $9 per square foot, which includes material and labor costs.
By comparison, prices for beadboard prefab panels range from $2 to $3.50 per square foot. For a DIY beadboard kit, home improvement stores charge $2.50 to $4.20 per square foot on average.
Meanwhile, professional beadboard installation costs between $7 and $20 per square foot, inclusively, so beadboard is a little more expensive.
Your Best Option
This summary will help you choose between shiplap, tongue and groove, and beadboard wall paneling.
You can orient all three types either vertically or horizontally. Meanwhile, they each come in wood, PVC, or treated MDF.
After installing wood boards, you’ll want to apply moisture-resistant paint and clear coat sealant. Other than these commonalities, each type of paneling differs.
Its boards have L-shaped notches called rabbets on both sides. The rabbets slide into those of adjacent planks. Of all three kinds of paneling, shiplap is the most durable.
Moreover, it’s less expensive than tongue and groove and beadboard. Shiplap suits farmhouse, rustic, and coastal design styles. The only downside is that dust collects in shiplap seams. Still, it’s a breeze to remove.
Shiplap costs between $2.50 and $7 per square foot, uninstalled, depending on the material.
Tongue and Groove
These panels fit together like puzzle pieces, insulating your walls. So, consider this type of wall covering if you have a cold, snowy climate.
Wood tongue and groove joints have moderate durability since moisture can build inside them. To avoid this hazard, choose either PVC or moisture-resistant MDF material.
Meanwhile, installing tongue and groove panels takes skill and precision. First, you align the notches, followed by nailing through each tongue.
Prices range from $4 to $10 per square foot, varying by panel material.
Beadboard panels have long, narrow strips defined by rounded ridges called beads. The planks feature tongue and groove fittings.
You’ll want to have experience in wall panel installation before undertaking beadboard. It comes in prefabricated kits and sheets you cut to size.
During installation, you drive the nails through the tongues in the planks. Then, you anchor the panels with a top rail and baseboard, nailing them into the wall studs.
Beadboard complements the coastal, farmhouse, contemporary, and cottage design styles. Since it repels dust, beadboard gives bathrooms and backsplashes a polished look. Still, it’s susceptible to damage from dings and scuffs.
Prefab panels range from $2 to $3.50 per square foot. On average, DIY kits sell for $2.50 to $4.20 per square foot.
By now, your choice is likely evident. Enjoy your stylish walls!
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