Can Shiplap Be Used as a Backsplash?


Shiplap paneling has become an incredibly popular wall covering option in recent years, often used on accent walls in living rooms, bedrooms, and even bathrooms. With its clean, crisp lines and slightly rustic vibe, shiplap offers a charming decorative touch. But can you also use shiplap as a kitchen backsplash? The short answer is yes! Shiplap can make for an attractive, unique backsplash choice.

What is Shiplap?

For those unfamiliar, shiplap is a type of wooden board that features a groove cut along each edge. This allows the boards to slot together tightly, creating a flush, even surface. The grooved edges give shiplap its signature striped appearance.

Shiplap boards are commonly made from pine, but other wood types like poplar or cedar can also be used. The boards are milled so that they interlock snugly without any gaps. Traditionally, shiplap was used for exterior siding on barns, sheds, and other structures. But today it’s popularly employed for interior walls and ceilings.

Benefits of a Shiplap Backsplash

Installing shiplap as a backsplash in your kitchen offers several advantages:

Unique, Rustic Look

Shiplap provides a reclaimed, vintage vibe that instantly gives character and charm to a space. The softly weathered boards add welcoming texture and visual interest. It’s a great option if you want your kitchen to have a modern farmhouse or rustic cottage style.

Covers Flaws

The overlapping planks camouflage any imperfections, gaps, or uneven areas in your wall surface. Shiplap can be installed right over drywall.

Easy to Install

Putting up a shiplap backsplash is a relatively simple DIY project. The tongue-and-groove boards easily fit together. Just secure with adhesive and nails or screws. Custom-cut pieces may be needed for corners and around outlets.


Wood shiplap is typically an affordable choice, especially compared to materials like tile or stone. Opt for a cost-effective wood species like pine.

Design Considerations

When thinking about using shiplap for your backsplash, keep these tips in mind:

  • Go for a tight board spacing of 1/2 inch or less to limit splatter and crumbs getting caught between planks.
  • Use a protective polyurethane finish to make the wood stain- and moisture-resistant.
  • Consider the size of your kitchen. Shiplap works best in small to medium-sized spaces versus large, expansive kitchens.
  • Pair shiplap with complementary rustic or farmhouse style cabinets, hardware, lighting fixtures, and decor accents.
  • Choose a crisp white color to keep the look light and bright. Soft greys also work well.
  • Accent with black metal hardware and accessories for pleasing contrast.
  • Opt for a medium or rough-sawn wood texture over super smooth shiplap for more visible grain character.
  • Use rectangular subway tiles on the wall below the shiplap to offset the linear plank look.
  • Add floating shelves, open cubbies, or ladder-style towel racks over the shiplap to enhance the aesthetic.

Installing Shiplap as a Backsplash

Here is an overview of how to install shiplap boards for your backsplash:

Step 1: Prepare the Wall

Make sure the surface is smooth, clean, and dry. Fill any holes or cracks and sand down high spots. Prime and paint the wall if desired.

Step 2: Cut the Shiplap Boards

Measure and mark planks to proper length. Cut boards with a miter saw, table saw, or circular saw.

Step 3: Seal the Shiplap (Recommended)

Brush or spray boards with polyurethane or similar waterproof sealant and allow to dry fully.

Step 4: Install Bottom Row

Mark a level line and attach the first board aligned with line. Use adhesive and nails/screws spaced 12-16 inches apart.

Step 5: Add Remaining Rows

Slot overlapping boards into place, securing with nails/screws as you go. Use spacers to maintain even gaps.

Step 6: Finish Up

Fill nail holes, caulk seams, and apply final protective coat of polyurethane. Allow to dry before use.

Maintaining a Shiplap Backsplash

Caring for your new shiplap backsplash is easy:

  • Use a mild soap and damp cloth to spot clean. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Reapply protective sealant annually or as needed to refresh water resistance.
  • Immediately dry any liquid spills to avoid damage to the wood finish.
  • Dust lightly with a dry microfiber cloth or soft brush periodically.
  • Consider applying a food-safe mineral oil to refresh and hydrate boards as needed.

Inspiring Shiplap Backsplash Examples

To spark additional ideas, here are some gorgeous kitchens featuring shiplap backsplashes:

Rustic Farmhouse

This cozy farmhouse kitchen uses rough-sawn pine shiplap painted crisp white for the backsplash and lower wall. A classic apron-front sink and antique-inspired lighting and hardware complete the nostalgic style.

Modern Cottage

Knotty cedar shiplap with visible wood grain provides rustic contrast to the sleek modern cabinets and stainless steel appliances in this aesthetically pleasing cottage kitchen.

Contemporary Industrial

Wide-planked gray shiplap made from recycled wood makes a chic, eco-friendly backsplash statement in this urban loft kitchen. Exposed brick and steel finishes play up the industrial vibe.

Coastal Casual

Weathered sea green shiplap paired with beadboard wainscoting gives this breezy coastal kitchen loads of laidback charm. Bracket shelves for displaying nautical accents match the relaxed mood.

FAQs About Shiplap Backsplashes

Can you use shiplap as a backsplash in the kitchen?

Yes, shiplap makes an attractive, on-trend backsplash choice. The rustic wooden boards offer great decorative texture and character. Just properly seal the shiplap to protect it from moisture and stains.

What type of wood works best for a shiplap backsplash?

Real wood shiplap is recommended over faux alternatives. Opt for durable, inexpensive species like pine, poplar, or cedar. Avoid very soft or porous woods that can show damage.

Should you put anything over shiplap in the kitchen?

It’s a good idea to seal shiplap with a protective polyurethane or similar waterproof finish. This safeguards the wood from water, condensation, and foods. Reapply sealer yearly. Also caulk between boards.

How do you waterproof shiplap?

Allow new or freshly sanded shiplap boards to fully dry. Apply 2-3 coats of a clear matte polyurethane, letting each coat dry 24 hours. Waterproofing oils like tung oil are another option. Always test sealers first.

Should shiplap have gaps?

Yes, small gaps are typical with shiplap. Boards should be installed with a 1/8 to 1/4 inch gap to allow for expansion and contraction. The overlapping edges will help conceal gaps. Use colored caulk that matches the shiplap to fill any larger spaces.

Can shiplap get wet?

Occasional minor wetness won’t harm properly finished shiplap boards. But consistent exposure to moisture can cause swelling, warping, discoloration, and mold growth. Prevent direct contact with water. Immediately wipe up spills and condensation on a shiplap backsplash.


Adding rustic wooden shiplap as a kitchen backsplash creates an inviting feature wall that provides warm, earthy contrast to sleek modern finishes. Tongue-and-groove shiplap offers a relatively easy, budget-friendly DIY project that can be customized with varied plank species, colors, and stains. Just be sure to properly prep and seal the boards to withstand their new role as an active backsplash zone. A shiplap backsplash allows you to enjoy on-trend farmhouse style along with a practical, protective wall covering above your work area.