Is Shiplap Waterproof (the answer may surprise you)

By Mike

May 1, 2021

Initially, people used shiplap to keep water and wind out of their houses, thanks to its watertight overlapping joints. It was also frequently used on the exteriors of homes with no fear. Does that mean that it’s waterproof?

In short, no, shiplap isn’t waterproof. Any type of wood is prone to rotting if it’s not well taken care of, and shiplap isn’t any different. However, there are some ways to get around it, and that’s why shiplap’s most common use is in bathrooms and around showers.

People love the clean texture shiplap creates in any room. It’s suitable for several interior settings, whether modern or traditional. You can use it to add a modern flair to a room with a traditional setting, and it can make a modem room feel more warm and cozy. You rarely find that versatility in any other material.

Let’s see how people use shiplap in bathrooms and humid settings, although it’s not waterproof.

Is Shiplap Waterproof?

Shiplap isn’t waterproof. In fact, it can quickly rot or wear out if a lot of moisture gets in behind the tiles. Despite that, it’s perfectly fine to install it in moist or humid places—only if you take the necessary precautions.

If you want to install shiplap somewhere moist, you’ll have to take some precautionary steps before installation, consider the quality of timber you use, and pick the right finish for the wood.

Some people paint shiplap to make it waterproof, and some people use a waterproof sealant. But both solutions are temporary, and they’re prone to wear out.

Alternatively, some people ditch the shiplap and use tiles that mimic wood instead. They add a thin grout line between the lines to get the look of shiplap. Although that’s an innovative solution, it won’t look as good as the real thing.

Let’s see how you can use shiplap in a wet room without worry.

1 in. x 6 in. x 4 ft. UFP-Edge Rustic Collection Pine Shiplap (6-Pack) (Gray), Factory Finished, Bold Colors, Interior DIY Decor

How to Prepare Shiplap for Moisture

You may be installing the shiplap in a bathroom, a humid room, or even a garden shed. In all cases, it’s at risk of getting wet frequently. To protect it from getting ruined, here are the necessary steps.

Step 1: Get Pre-Dried Planks

When ordering the shiplap planks for your new room, make sure they’re pre-dried before being delivered. This helps remove all the moisture from them before being installed. As a result, the walls won’t warp after a while, as it happens with a lot of people.

Step 2: Install Properly

If it’s your first time dealing with shiplap, it’s better to get professional help for installing it. It’ll ensure the shiplap stays intact for years to come without falling out of place.

If the shiplap isn’t installed well, it becomes at risk of cupping, cracking, or crowning. Cupping occurs when the tiles’ edges come out or rise, while the middle sections remain where they are. Cracking happens when the moisture gets too much for the tiles and migrates through the joints. You’ll find cracks and gaps appearing on the wood and near the edges. Lastly, crowning happens when the tiles’ edges stay intact and the middle section comes out.

Installing the shiplap correctly and without any gaps will ensure none of that happens.

Step 3: Finish the Shiplap Properly

Finishing the shiplap is as necessary as installing it. If it’s not done correctly, don’t expect it to withstand the moisture. After the tiles are installed, make sure to let them rest for one day before proceeding with the caulking. That way, they’re not as vulnerable as when you’ve just installed them. When you’re done, seal the nail holes and sand them.

When the tiles are completely dry, it’s time to paint them. Some people prefer painting the tiles before installing them because it gives them the chance to correct any faults. However, you may do it with the tiles already on the wall.

For sealing, you may use urethane or linseed oil; they’re both equally effective at keeping moisture away. You can apply it as a base coat or on the outside if you’re afraid of the unpleasant smell. Additionally, you can use a waterproof sealant spray at the end for extra protection.

In the end, remove the paint from the gaps to give the shiplap its distinctive look. You may use a brush, a roller, or a sprayer.

1 in. x 6 in. x 4 ft. UFP-Edge Rustic Collection Pine Shiplap (6-Pack) (White), Factory Finished, Bold Colors, Interior DIY Decor

How to Take Care of Shiplap

To keep your shiplap intact for the longest time possible, there are some steps you should take. Wood is one of the most durable natural materials, but placing it somewhere humid typically reduces its lifespan.

You can avoid that by cleaning the shiplap regularly to keep it from wearing out. Bear in mind that shiplap is a notorious dust magnet. You’ll have to clean it every day if you live somewhere dry.

You should also wipe it down frequently to prevent the moisture from leaking inside the boards. After you take a hot shower, give the wall a quick wipe down to get rid of the condensed steam.

Lastly, make sure to use the proper detergents. The wrong one can easily damage the wood. There are multi-surface detergents available you can use for that purpose.

MRS. MEYER'S CLEAN DAY Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner, Lemon Verbena, 16 fl oz, 3 ct

Why Shiplap Works Well for Bathrooms

If shiplap isn’t waterproof, why is it frequently used in bathrooms? It seems illogical, doesn’t it? Well, not exactly. Shiplap is affordable, making it the target of users on a tight budget. On top of that, it’s pretty easy to maintain and take care of. Not to mention, installing it is a breeze if you know your way around it.

Furthermore, shiplap gives a spacey feeling to tight rooms. Painting it white or any other light color will make your bathroom look two times bigger, which is a bonus for small houses.

Conclusion

Shiplap isn’t waterproof, but it can be used in humid rooms as long as it’s not frequently exposed to water spills. Painting it and using a waterproof sealant ought to do the job. Plus, taking care of it is pretty easy. As long as you clean it regularly, you can expect it to last a lifetime!

About the author

Hi I'm Mike! I'm the owner, writer, and sometimes editor of Foundedproject.com. Being a new homeowner can be a little daunting, which is why I created this blog. I write about problems that a new home owner might run into. 

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