Shiplap Siding: Tips for a Top Installation

Shiplap siding can be made from real wood or engineered wood with tight joints that fit together to achieve a flush finish. The edge of each board has a rabbeted groove that fits tightly into the adjacent board. This provides a smooth finish that's extremely watertight.

The flush joints of shiplap provide a clear advantage over clapboard siding. Alongside the extra weather protection for your shed, it's also very easy to install and many people like the smooth finish that is achieved.

Shiplap really is suited to cold and aggressive climates because it can absorb the natural movement of wood that occurs during temperature changes. It's commonly used in sheds, outbuildings and in homes because whatever the weather, the joints very rarely open or buckle.

The other clear advantage of shiplap is that it's very easy to install. The installation grooves are already rabbeted into the edges of the wood, meaning all you have to do is stack the boards on top of each other. Or you can stack them side by side if you're going for a vertical installation.

What type of shiplap?

The most common types of woods used for shiplap siding are cedar, redwood, pine, white fir and engineerd wood such as LP Smartside. Which you choose really depends on your budget, with natural wood generally being the more expensive.

You'll find a number of different finishes and it really depends on the look you're going for. Rough-sawn wood gives a more rustic finish or you can choose a smooth finish for a sleeker style. Boards are typically available in 3" to 10" widths.

Buying and measuring shiplap

The easiest way to buy and install shiplap siding is to purchase the boards already rabbeted with the installation grooves on each side. It would take a fair amount of time and specilised machinery to cut these grooves yourself. Then all you need to do is cut the boards to size, depending on the size of your shed.

To calculate the amount of siding you'll need, first measure the height and width of each side and multiply the measurements together to calculate the total square foot. Then deduct the area for the doors and windows. If you take these measurements to a good lumber yard they'll be able to work out the exact linear measurement you'll need, based on the width of the siding you'd like to use.

A rough estimate of how long it takes to install this kind of siding is 6 to 8 hours per 8 x 16 foot wall.

Tips for a top installation

Shiplap siding is pretty easy to install and can be used either horizontally or vertically.

Here are some tips from the experts to ensure you get a good quality finish that will last for many years to come:

  1. For garden offices and dry storage buildings attach a vapour barrier to the sheathing to prevent moisture getting inside. Also thoroughly caulk around all the windows and door frames.
  2. If you're planning on painting your siding, prime all sides before you install. This also gives the inside of the boards protection against rot.
  3. Never nail through the overlaps - this will prevent the wood from naturally contracting and expanding with temperature changes. You need to allow this movement to prevent warping and cracking.
  4. Use galvanized siding nails for strength and to prevent rust. Siding nails are typically very thin with small heads.
  5. For horizontal installation, drive 2 to 3 nails into each stud along the boards. Make sure the nail head ends up flush with the board.

So, there we have a great summary of the pros and cons of selecting and installing shiplap siding. It can give a very sleek and good looking finish for the more sophisticated shed! ;-)

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