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3 Reasons to Consider Shiplap vs Tongue and Groove

Gary discusses the frequently asked question of Reliance Timber. “What is the difference between shiplap and tongue & groove, and which should I choose?”

Shiplap vs Tongue and Groove:

Gary Discusses How Shiplap differs from Tongue & Groove

Gary Campbell: Our clients commonly ask us, “What’s the difference between shiplap and tongue and groove?” So I’d like to show you what the difference is. We’ve got shiplap, and you can see how one piece laps over the other. And in this case, this is nickel gap shiplap. So the only thing holding this to the wall or the ceiling is the nail.

Gary Campbell: If it weren’t for the nail, you could see how this would come right apart. All right. Then we’ve got tongue & groove, and the groove joins together by the tongue and the groove. You join them together. In this case, this is nickel gap tongue & groove. When it comes to both shiplap and tongue and groove, we make a variety of profiles.

Gary Campbell: We can do a tight fit. We can do nickel gap. We could do V joint edge. We could put a band saw face on it, or we could hand hew it, or we could leave it smooth—whichever you prefer. I just wanted to share the difference with you. In my opinion, the way these join together, tongue & groove is better because you’ve got the tongue, the groove, and the nail holding it. Whereas with shiplap, it’s just the nail.

Discover what other products Reliance Timber has to offer!

You can find Reliance Timber nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. We cater to the log home, timber frame home, and conventional home industries, shipping our product throughout North America and internationally.

shiplap vs tongue and groove reliance timber

More Information about Shiplap vs. Tongue and Groove

Typically, planks for tongue and groove and shiplap are wood, but if you are hoping to take a more DIY approach, the most simple would be pine planks- inexpensive and most easy to paint. However, if you intend to leave the panels unpainted, we suggest a more attractive wood like cedar. We have several options on our products page that you can view here. 

Shiplap and tongue and groove planks have also been used through other materials such as metal, fiber cement, and vinyl, however they are more often used for the exterior of a building or home. When considering the exterior paneling, considering your area’s climate is also important because of the way these two types of paneling react to water. 

Shiplap will shed water off much easier than tongue and groove because of the difference in the interlocking connections and their security.

FAQ’s about Shiplap vs Tongue and Groove

What is cheaper?

Regardless of the other work for them to lay flat and efficiently shaped, shiplap is often cheaper while tongue and groove is typically pricier to install because of the details and labor that go into joining the paneling together properly.

Which one should I use?

There are several factors that go into choosing between shiplap vs tongue and groove, but the main things to consider are your climate (if you are planning for to use either for the exterior of a home), budget, and your overall preference between the two. 

How do I officially decide to use either shiplap or tongue and groove?

To make a final decision in the process we’d recommend asking yourself these questions: 

  • Would it bother you to see nails left over from installation?
  • What color or finish do you imagine in the space?
  • How much space would you prefer between the boards?

If you can get past these questions positively, then it’s likely your space can work effectively with shiplap or tongue and groove, and you can move forward with choosing your specific materials. 


You can always reach out to your friends at Reliance Timber for more information and guidance on the topic.