Shiplap has a rabbet groove that allows the boards to self-space and fit together perfectly.
Beadboard is a popular type of wainscoting with raised “beads” between each plank.
Beadboard covers the lower portion of a wall, while shiplap is a versatile accent.
We’ve come a long way since the dated wood paneling that dominated the ’60s and ’70s. Fresh designs breathe new life into this concept and add rustic charm to modern spaces, and there are a few different ways of achieving the look.
Enter, shiplap and beadboard. Although these styles have similar looks, the design behind them varies. Here’s what to know about shiplap versus beadboard before you start adding one to your walls.
Shiplap Pros and Cons
Shiplap is a wooden wall paneling with a rabbet, or groove, at the top and bottom of each plank. This allows the boards to self-space and fit snugly together, while forming a tight barrier against wind and water. The term “shiplap” actually came from its original purpose as waterproof paneling for ships.
“When we were restoring an 1850s historic property, we decided to use beadboard for the kitchen celinting,” says Bob Tschudi, Angi Expert Review Board member and general contractor in Raleigh, NC. “The contours gave the ceiling an antique look, even though we installed recessed lighting to make the kitchen space brighter.”
Shiplap’s versatile farmhouse look makes it work as a beautiful accent or as a whole-wall (or whole-room) covering.
If you have an older home, you may just have some shiplap hiding behind the plaster. Keep an eye out for it if you do any demolition or remodeling.
The rabbets between shiplap boards are perfect catch-all crevices for dust, so it’s necessary to hit your shiplap regularly with a duster or microfiber cloth.
The grooves also make it a bit difficult to paint—too much paint can easily get goopy, while too little can leave behind annoying bare patches.
Beadboard Pros and Cons
Beadboard is a popular type of wainscoting—a term used to describe decorative wood paneling that’s added to the lower portion of an interior wall. It features long, vertical panels with raised ridges (aka “beads”) between each plank. These interlocking joints make it fall under the tongue-and-groove category of wood paneling.
Although beadboard’s primary purpose is its decorative appeal, it also adds an extra layer of protection.
It’s an especially good choice for areas that might see regular impact from furniture and other objects, such as dining rooms or offices.
It may rot or warp if exposed to excess moisture or high humidity. This makes it a risky choice for basements and homes that are without central AC or those that have chronic issues with humidity.
Beadboard is labor-intensive to install and a huge pain to remove—you’ll need to carefully (read: painstakingly) cover up every little hole with caulk before sanding it down and giving it a fresh coat of paint. If you prefer to change up the look of your home often, think twice to ensure it’s something you’ll be happy with, as it can be a challenge to get rid of.
“We recently remodeled a bathroom and surrounded a standalone soaker bathtub with shiplap,” says Tschudi. “The final look was both modern and rustic, and the homeowner was very pleased with the result.”
Shiplap vs. Beadboard
Shiplap and beadboard can be pretty similar in appearance, but there are a few distinct differences to note. Here’s how they compare side-by-side.
Shiplap is recognizable by its distinct beveling. This gives the appearance of slight grooves lengthwise between each plank. Beadboard, as well as other tongue-and-groove paneling, fits together more tightly and typically lacks the same indentation between boards.
Best Appearance: Depends on personal preference
Shiplap costs an average of $1,000 to install, or between $2.50 and $7 per square foot. Beadboard and similar wood paneling costs around $1,325 on average, or about $7 to $20 per square foot. You also may need more beadboard to finish a project, as it will cover the entire lower portion of the wall rather than acting as an accent. Of course, this will all vary based on the type of wood and the thickness of the boards.
More Affordable: Shiplap
Ease of Installation
Although DIY-friendly beadboard kits can simplify the installation process, beadboard requires time and care to install. On top of cutting the sheets to size, it’s also important to properly measure the spacing for the perfect look. Shiplap, on the other hand, self-spaces and is much more fool-proof.
Easiest to Install: Shiplap
Both shiplap and beadboard will naturally collect dirt over time—however, the grooves between shiplap planks tend to collect a ton of dust and call for regular dusting. Beadboard is usually easier to wipe down, but given its location, is more prone to dings and scuffs. Still, a quick wipe-down and the occasional sweep with a melamine sponge should keep it looking spotless.
Easiest to Maintain: Beadboard
Both shiplap and beadboard are built to last. However, beadboard doesn’t boast the same weatherproof qualities as shiplap. With excess moisture or humidity, the boards may rot or warp over time.
Longer Lifespan: Shiplap
Is Shiplap Wainscotting?
While similar in style and technique, shiplap isn’t considered a type of wainscoting. Wainscoting typically covers the lower third or half of a wall, while shiplap is a standalone accent that can get installed in a variety of locations. It may cover an entire wall, or it may act as strategically-placed decorative paneling behind a focal point (such as a headboard or mantle). Either way, because it doesn’t strictly cover the lower portion of the wall, it doesn’t quite fit under the “wainscoting” umbrella.