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Yes, You Can Create a Shiplap Bathroom with These Precautions

Caroline Gilbert
Written by Caroline Gilbert
Updated November 8, 2021
Primary bathroom with a large standalone tub, crystal chandelier, shiplap walls, hardwood floors, and large glass shower door
Wollwerth Imagery - stock.adobe.com

Because you shouldn’t just put it anywhere

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With its clean lines, rustic charm, and ability to instantly update a room without breaking the home renovation budget, it’s no wonder that shiplap is everywhere. But should it be? Specifically, is it OK to add shiplap to a bathroom, where high levels of moisture and humidity occur? 

Whether you’ve scoured the internet for modern farmhouse design ideas or simply watched enough HGTV, you’ve definitely seen shiplap bathrooms. And it absolutely can be done, as long as you take a few precautions.

1. Don’t Install Shiplap in Areas That Get Wet

Because shiplap is a type of wood paneling, avoid placing it in areas that are frequently exposed to water, such as a shower wall or ceiling. When wood gets wet, it can swell, warp, and sag. It can also develop mold and mildew. 

The problem becomes a little more complicated when you want to do a sink backsplash or an accent wall by a standalone tub. The shiplap will undoubtedly get wet from time to time—especially if you have young kids—but it won’t be in frequent contact with water. So what should you do? 

2. Apply a Wood Protectant to Shiplap Bathroom Walls

To ensure your shiplap boards are protected against the occasional splash of water, apply a coat of mold-and-mildew-resistant paint. These paints are specifically designed for bathrooms and other high-moisture environments and can effectively repel water. 

For additional protection, you can apply a clear coat wood sealer on top of the paint. Alternatively, you can forgo the paint and just use the clear sealer if you want a wood shiplap look.

We also recommend applying some sort of wood protectant to all the shiplap in your bathroom, even if you’re installing it far away from your water sources, such as on the ceiling. That’s because bathrooms are prone to humidity, which can still wreak havoc on your wood. 

The exception to this would be if you are doing a shiplap bathroom ceiling in a powder room with only a sink and toilet. Without a shower, the bathroom shouldn’t get hot and steamy, which means moisture resistance will be less of a concern. 

3. Ventilate Your Bathroom

It’s also important to keep your bathroom properly ventilated if you want to extend the life of your shiplap. That means installing a bathroom fan and using it while showering. And it means opening the bathroom door—and windows if possible—to let steam escape. 

4. Opt for Faux Shiplap

If you really want to install shiplap inside your shower or are simply worried about overall wear and tear, consider doing faux shiplap with PVC planks/trim. While it’s true that they don’t have the signature wood texture and rabbeted edges of shiplap, they can mimic a shiplap look. The best part? PVC resists mildew, rot, and swelling without any help from protective paint. 

Shiplap Bathroom Ideas

As long as you take certain precautions, shiplap works well in a bathroom. So how will you use it for your next DIY project? Check out these bathroom designs for inspiration and don’t miss our roundup of shiplap wall ideas for every room in the house.

1. Wood Accent Wall

Porcelain and wood bathtub below wooden shiplap accent wall
Adriana Duduleanu/EyeEm via Getty Images

2. Farmhouse Bathroom

Bathroom vanity with double sinks, marble countertop, large mirrors, and gray shiplap walls
Wollwerth Imagery - stock.adobe.com

3. Wood Full Wall

Luxury modern bathroom with full wood shiplap walls, two large round mirrors, gray stone vanity, and yellow stool
tulcarion/E+ via Getty Images

4. Loft Ceiling

Modern gray loft bathroom with slanted shiplap ceiling and tub with single glass shower panel
asbe/E+ via Getty Images

5. Bathroom Wainscotting

Rustic white and baby blue bathroom with freestanding tub and double vanity
TerryJ/E+ via Getty Images
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