Which Is Better, Shiplap or Tongue and Groove?

With timber cladding experiencing a resurgence in popularity, which is better, Shiplap or Tongue and Groove?


As a current favourite of home renovation shows, timber cladding has caught the attention of the viewing public and is very much ‘on – trend’ as a decorative medium.


With spring approaching, many homeowners are considering renovation or new building projects. Additionally, with working from home at an all time high, purpose built outdoor home offices are also becoming more common.


A Note on Design

Their physical shapes possess distinct strengths and advantages.


Tongue and Groove has a channel cut along one narrow edge (the groove) and a corresponding thin projecting ridge on the other (the tongue). When two planks are pushed together, the tongue slots into the groove along their length. This results in a strong join with no need for glues, nails or tacks.


Shiplap connects together similarly, but each plank has an added overlap at the bottom when laid horizontally. A corresponding chamfered, curved edge sits under this, giving a repeating step and curve design down the wall.


Designs of Shiplap of Tongue and Groove Styles


When used indoors, Tongue and Groove is by far the most common choice of cladding.


The individual planks fit together almost seamlessly. Ideal for plain wooden flooring or modern wall panelling. Thus, Tongue and Groove is easier to clean and maintain as dirt cannot build up in recesses.


For a more modern farmhouse or coastal style, Shiplap can be used. This is especially true for bathroom and kitchen panelling.


For a compromise between the two styles, Tongue and Groove Cladding is available with a chamfered edge on each side of the board.


This is known as TGV and has a ‘v’ shaped recess where the boards connect to add visual appeal.


For further decoration, Bespoke Oak Mouldings can be added to create picture rails or dado rails at the top of oak wainscotting.


Strength and Weatherproofing

Tongue and Groove Cladding was originally designed with two main properties in mind, strength and waterproofing.


The interlocking timber adds to the strength of the building by connecting more surface area together than boards laid one atop another.


The added friction between boards that results prevents movement, and the natural strength of Oak enhances this. Coupled with an Oak Frame, this makes an exceptionally sturdy structure.


The shape of the Tongue and Groove profile also prevents water seeping through joins and into the structure.


Shiplap, apparently designed after the interlocking boards on wooden ships, is even more waterproof.


The overhanging lip prevents back-flow of water through the boards and the curved edge beneath speeds up runoff.


For use in areas with particularly high rainfall, this gives it a clear edge in weatherproofing.


This also makes shiplap an attractive choice for bathrooms or kitchens with high levels of condensation.


While slightly less robust, shiplap is still strong enough to make most outdoor buildings secure, even more so when made of Oak.



Due to the added lip and chamfered ‘valley’, shiplap takes more time and effort to produce. This comes with a corresponding increase in price.


For larger projects, especially in a premium material like Oak, this can drive the cost of the project up considerably. If the choice is mainly an aesthetic one based on looks, Tongue and Groove may be a more cost effective option.


While some concession on strength and weatherproofing will have to be made, it is still perfect for basic storage buildings.


Ease of Construction

With their interlocking design, both Tongue and Groove and Shiplap are quick and easy to erect.


It is always important to pre drill holes to avoid splitting the timber. Also, it’s imperative to use only stainless steel or brass screws.


Fitting Tongue and Groove and Shiplap Cladding is almost identical, but there is one important instruction to bear in mind.


If the boards are upside down it can lead to water damage in the future.


Always ensure the first board is fitted with the tongue pointing up and subsequent boards will then have the same orientation. If the groove is on the upper edge, water can flow into the groove. This will allow the water to penetrate the wood.


If cladding is being fitted vertically rather than horizontally, this will not be an issue as water will flow off the timber at the same rate regardless.


Hardwoods Group are specialists in Oak Moulded Profiles.


Crafting all of our Cladding lines onsite, we can ensure high quality boards every time.


Get in touch today, and ask about our Bespoke profiles!