Shiplap Vs Drywall: Cost and Comparison for 2024

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 12/01/23 •  10 min read

In this detailed guide, I’m going to answer this question as thoroughly as possible and help you better understand which material is easiest on your wallet and why.

I’ll also walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of both materials to help you identify which works best for your design.

What is Shiplap?

Shiplap, a type of wooden board, has become a hot trend in home decor, thanks to its spotlight on shows like HGTV. It’s similar to tongue and groove, but it’s unique. Shiplap boards have special notches, known as rabbet joints, that snugly link up. This creates a charming, hand-made look on walls or ceilings, adding a crafted touch to any space.

The name ‘shiplap’ comes from its roots in shipbuilding. Later, it was used on the outside of houses for its ability to keep out the weather. Nowadays, it’s moved indoors, adding a cozy, character-filled vibe to homes.

Shiplap Pros and Cons (When Compared to Drywall)

ProsCons
Adds a unique, rustic aesthetic to interiors.Higher material costs, especially for premium or pre-primed wood.
Installation can be DIY-friendly.May not suit all interior design styles.
Durable and can last for many years.Requires additional treatment for moisture resistance in certain areas.
Provides some insulation and soundproofing qualities.Can be more challenging to change or update compared to drywall.

What is Drywall?

Drywall, also known as sheetrock, is an interior wall technology made up of gypsum material. The gypsum boards are placed on either side and attached with drywall screws, the seams and screw holes are then patched with drywall tape and drywall mud.

Drywall Pros and Cons (When Compared to Shiplap)

Is Shiplap More Expensive than Drywall?

Most of the time drywall will be considerably less expensive than shiplap simply because of the cost of materials. But if you can somehow get a deal on the shiplap wood, installing shiplap is cheaper than having drywall hung and finshed.

Let’s make a closer comparison:

Reducing Shiplap Costs

You may want all of the great advantages of installing shiplap, but feel like you can’t afford it. If that’s you, here are some tips to consider in order to reduce the costs of shiplap.

First, find wood that is within your budget. Today, most interior shiplap is made from pine or poplar, but you can get cheaper options, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), can still give you all of the benefits you want.

The next thing you can do to save money on shiplap is install the panels on your own. DIYing it will save you considerably on the over-bloated costs of hiring a contractor or handyman. There are a ton of how-to guides out there as well as detailed videos that can point you in the right direction.

If you are considering both drywall and shiplap for your home, it’s worth remembering that cost isn’t the only factor to take into account. Shiplap may be more expensive than drywall, but it could be the right choice for you. Let’s dive deeper into the comparison between shiplap and drywall:

Shiplap Vs. Drywall: Factors Other Than Price

Advantages of Shiplap

If you had your heart set on shiplap, don’t give up yet. Here’s a small breakdown of the advantages of going with shiplap:

Versatility

Shiplap is becoming a popular choice for homeowners because of the attractiveness it can bring. Natural wood siding brings a more classic and warm look. Regular drywall won’t be able to give off this natural feel.

Whether it be the kitchen, living room, bedroom, or bathroom, installing shiplap can drastically change the appearance of your home in ways drywall can’t. The panels can be stained or painted any way you like them.

This allows for almost endless design possibilities to give you the home of your dreams. It’s a great DIY project for those looking to redesign their home.

Durability

When it comes to durability, shiplap will win every time against drywall. Because of the thickness and height of the boards, it’s more resistant to dents and scratches.

Also, with drywall, you have to worry about water damage. Just a few inches of water on your drywall will completely ruin it.

In contrast, although it might stain a bit due to water damage, shiplap almost always can dry out and won’t get destroyed.

Makes Rooms Feel Bigger

Shiplap can be installed horizontally or vertically. Most people think of shiplap as horizontal only, which is why you see it that way more commonly. However, if shiplap is installed vertically, it can make small rooms feel bigger.

It does this by emphasizing the room’s height. You can also install shiplap boards on the ceiling to draw the eye upwards instead of carrying the eye around. 

Boards Follow Suit

After installing the first board, the rest follow suit. They fit perfectly next to one another making installation a tad bit easier.

Pro tip: whether you install it with the top board or bottom board first, you need to make sure the board is level. The leveling of the first board is important to evenly install the rest of the boards.

Less Messy Installation

There is little to no mess when shiplap is being installed. All you need to do is nail the board without sanding or mudding.

On the other hand, drywall can leave your home a mess because you need to tape, mud, and sand. This will almost always leave your house with a lot of unwanted dust.

Hang Objects Easily

You’ve probably made a few unattractive holes trying to hang something on drywall. That said, hanging things on shiplap is much easier. Every space of shiplap wood is strong enough to hold nails for pictures and decor without putting unsightly holes in your walls.

Disadvantages of Shiplap

I would be remiss if I didn’t also share with you the disadvantages of shiplap. Above and beyond the cost factor, here are a few of the disadvantages of installing shiplap:

Dust

Shiplap that is horizontally installed can have small gaps that dust can collect in. This can be an annoying factor when it comes to having shiplap panels, but the solution is easy. As long as you regularly go over the boards with a duster every so often, shiplap will stay dust-free. Nevertheless, this is not necessary if you go with drywall.

Replacement

Although very durable, shiplap can still get damaged and require replacing. Replacing the boards that become damaged can be quite annoying and isn’t exactly a favorite item to find on your honey-do list. Why? Shiplap typically comes in large boards that make it next to impossible to remove only a small section. That means, you can’t just take off the busted piece and put on the new one. You’ll have to remove and replace several at a time. Not fun.

Installation Time

Lastly, the installation time can be a disadvantage. Drywall can be put up in record time if you know what you’re doing, but shiplap tends to just take longer no matter who you are. While drywall lends itself to quick installs, the subtle look and feel of shiplap simply doesn’t. Be prepared to be slow and methodical to get it just right. Yes, the install is easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s quicker than putting up drywall.

Advantages of Drywall

If shiplap just doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, that’s okay. There are advantages to having drywall too:

Easy Repairs

For different types of damage, drywall is considerably easy to repair. Chips, holes, and cracks can be fixed in a heartbeat. It’s also affordable to get these problems taken care of if you don’t want to deal with it on your own.

Most businesses tend to use drywall because of this reason. Drywall is also a safer option because it’s fire-resistant.

Energy Efficient

Drywall works great as an insulator. It keeps heat in during colder months while cooler air gets kept inside during warmer months of the year.

These energy savings will start small, but they will grow in the long run. You’ll be saving money and resources with drywall.

Recyclable Material

When it’s time to say goodbye to your drywall, you can enjoy an easy breakdown. Replacing entire sections of drywall can be really easy even after it’s installed.

After your drywall begins to wear down, you can recycle the old material. This makes drywall an eco-friendly product that can help the environment.

Disadvantages of Drywall

Where there are advantages, there are disadvantages too. Some of the disadvantages of drywall include:

Not Water Resistant

Drywall is not water-resistant, which makes it a bad option for rooms with high moisture. Water damaged drywall is incredibly hard to dry and fix and even just damp drywall can cause mold problems.

Easily Damaged

Drywall is prone to damage if it’s not plastered over. A plaster will make the drywall more impact resistant.

If you do not plaster your drywall, you may find damaged corners and holes. These issues can be easily repaired, but the repairs will eventually add up.

Difficult Finish

Drywall can be easily installed, but it’s harder to finish correctly. You’ll need to make sure you are dealing with a reputable professional that can finish the drywall correctly or learn how to do it yourself. If it’s done wrong, you can have issues with tapes and joints.

Not Flexible

On curved surfaces, drywall may not be the best option. It’s less flexible than other materials and can leave certain rooms looking strange, to put it mildly. 

Is Shiplap for You?

So, is shiplap for you?

Hopefully, after reading this entire piece, you not only know the answer to the question, but also have a pretty good idea of the benefits and detriments of each building material.

Ultimately, the choice is yours and completely up to your personal preferences and budget.

thewriteDuffy

At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.