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    Board and Batten vs. Shiplap: What’s the Difference?

    In the world of exterior design, trends come and go, but some classic styles remained, well, classic. Two such styles that have exploded in popularity recently are board and batten and shiplap. These design elements add a touch of elegance and charm to any residential facade. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two styles, from their origins to their applications, helping you make an informed choice for your home decor.

    Choose based on style, material, climate, and color preferences.

    Board and Batten and shiplap have captured the hearts of homeowners and exterior designers alike. These classic designs have made a resurgence in modern homes, giving them a timeless appeal. For a general cladding overview, see this from gbd magazine.

    Understanding Board and Batten

    Board and batten siding is a classic architectural element with a rich history that dates to medieval Europe. Originally used for practical purposes, such as fortifying structures and providing insulation, it has evolved into a popular design choice valued for its aesthetic appeal. The fundamental design of board and batten siding consists of wide wooden boards (the “boards”) alternating with narrow strips (the “battens”) that cover the seams between the boards.

    “Board and batten are sold by a number of distributors in an assortment of widths and in a variety of materials—wood, composite, aluminum, vinyl, steel, insulated or not,” according to online lifestyle site The Spruce. “Remember that board and batten is not a construction material and often the materials used will affect the overall final appearance.” 

    Vertical Orientation

    The vertical orientation of board and batten siding is a distinctive feature that sets it apart from other siding styles. This orientation not only contributes to a visually appealing facade but also serves functional purposes.

    Board and batten siding: Vertical design, rustic appeal, versatile materials.

    The vertical boards can visually elongate a structure, making it appear taller, and they can help direct the eye upward.


    One of the key advantages of board and batten siding is its versatility. While it maintains a timeless charm, it can be adapted to various architectural styles, from traditional farmhouses to modern homes. Additionally, the material choices and finishes allow for customization, giving homeowners the freedom to achieve the desired aesthetic for their residences. Board and batten siding continues to endure as a design element that seamlessly blends history with contemporary appeal, according to this overview of board and batten siding from Today’s Homeowner.

    Exploring Shiplap

    Shiplap, a popular interior and exterior design element, has gained widespread admiration for its rustic charm and versatility. This wooden board siding is characterized by its distinctive rabbet or groove, which allows the boards to overlap, creating a tight seal. Shiplap comes in various styles and profiles, each offering individualized aesthetics and applications.

    Styles and Profiles

    One of the classic shiplap styles is the square edge, where boards feature a straightforward right-angle edge. This clean and simple design provides a timeless look, often associated with traditional and farmhouse-inspired interiors. The square edge shiplap is versatile, seamlessly blending into a variety of spaces, from interior rooms to exterior facades.

    Cove edge shiplap introduces a subtle curve or concave indentation along the edge of each board. This adds a touch of sophistication and softness to the design, making it an excellent choice for spaces where a more refined aesthetic is desired. Cove edge shiplap is commonly used in upscale residences, boutique hotels, and coastal-inspired interiors.

    Nickel gap shiplap features small, recessed grooves between each board, creating a subtle and modern look.

    Whether one opts for the clean lines of square edge shiplap or the refined elegance of a cove edge or nickel gap, the versatility of these styles allows them to complement a wide range of design schemes. From accent walls to entire room coverings and exterior applications, shiplap continues to be a favored choice for those seeking a blend of aesthetic appeal and architectural interest in their interior and exterior living spaces.

    It’s particularly important to note that, although shiplap profiles may be used both inside and outside, there are definite material types suitable only for interior use, such as solid softwoods painted white. Materials must be matched to their environment, as best-for-interior soft woods used in an exterior application will rot and fall apart in a few years if installed outside.

    Horizontal Orientation

    When it comes to application, shiplap can be employed in both horizontal and vertical orientations, but the former is particularly effective at creating a visually elongated and expansive feel.

    Shiplap siding: Horizontal planks, clean and cozy look, various styles.

    This fundamental difference affects how it complements your home’s aesthetics. When applied horizontally, the lines can create a sense of width and openness in a space, making it a popular choice for coastal, farmhouse or rustic-themed interiors. Be sure to consider the advantages and drawbacks of this orientation when deciding if shiplap is right for you.

    Comparing Board and Batten vs. Shiplap

    Style Differences

    Board and batten and shiplap are two popular exterior and interior treatments that add character and charm to homes. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct differences that cater to different design preferences.

    As mentioned earlier, board and batten consists of wide vertical boards (battens) separated by narrower strips (boards). This creates a more pronounced, textured look, adding a rustic or cottage-style feel. The vertical lines draw the eye upward, making spaces (including expanses of a house) appear taller. Board and batten is versatile and suits various aesthetics, from traditional to farmhouse.

    Shiplap involves horizontal planks with overlapping edges, creating a seamless, clean look. Shiplap is often associated with coastal or farmhouse styles, providing a more subtle texture compared to board and batten. It can make a space feel cozy and inviting, and it works well in both traditional and contemporary settings.

    In terms of installation, board and batten may require more precision due to the vertical orientation of the battens, while shiplap is relatively easier to install with its horizontal alignment. Ultimately, the choice between board and batten and shiplap depends on the desired aesthetic, the level of texture preferred, and the overall style goals for the space.

    Benefits of Mixing Cladding Types

    Combining Board and Batten and Shiplap

    Mixing exterior cladding types can offer a myriad of benefits, enhancing both the aesthetic appeal and functionality of a building. One of the primary advantages is the opportunity to achieve a dynamic and visually interesting facade. By combining different materials, textures, and colors, architects and designers can create a visually striking exterior that captures attention and adds character to the structure.

    Diversifying cladding materials also brings functional advantages. Each material has its unique properties, such as durability, insulation, and weather resistance. Combining these materials strategically allows for a tailored approach to address specific environmental challenges. For instance, incorporating both brick and metal cladding can provide a balance of robustness and sleekness, ensuring longevity and modernity in one design.

    The juxtaposition of various cladding types enables homeowners and exterior designers to play with contrasts and harmonies. Mixing natural materials, such as wood, with contemporary materials, such as glass or metal, can result in a harmonious blend of traditional and modern aesthetics. This blend not only adds visual interest, but also allows for the creation of structures that resonate with diverse tastes and architectural preferences.

    Creatively, the possibilities are vast. Architects and designers, as well as homeowners, can experiment with geometric patterns, layering and innovative designs that would be challenging to achieve with a single cladding material. This approach opens the door to distinctive and (dare we say?) iconic structures that stand out in the urban landscape and suburban neighborhoods. Additionally, it enables the expression of a building’s identity, whether it be a commercial space or residential structure, through the artistic fusion of materials.

    The benefits of mixing exterior cladding types extend beyond just aesthetics. The practice allows for a thoughtful integration of form and function, providing durability, energy efficiency and a visually captivating facade. The creative possibilities are vast, offering homeowners the chance to push boundaries and envision homes that are not only functional, but also contribute to the visual diversity of the built environment.

    Tips for Choosing the Right Style

    Factors to Consider

    Choosing the right exterior siding style is a crucial decision that significantly influences the overall aesthetic and durability of your home. Two popular options, shiplap and board and batten, offer unique characteristics that can enhance your home’s curb appeal. It also involves practical decisions.

    When selecting siding, consider the architectural style of your home. Shiplap siding, characterized by horizontal overlapping boards, imparts a rustic and coastal charm. It suits a variety of architectural styles, adding texture and visual interest. Board and batten siding, with vertical boards and narrow strips (battens) covering the seams, provides a more traditional and farmhouse look.

    The material is another vital factor. Both shiplap and board and batten are available in wood, vinyl, fiber cement, composites and other materials. Each material has its own maintenance requirements, cost, and longevity, so choose one that aligns with your preferences and budget. If a homeowner values performance in tandem with a lower environmental impact, they should consider RISE siding.

    When thinking about climate, also consider the environment in which the home exists. Certain materials may perform better in specific climates, resisting moisture, pests and extreme weather conditions.

    Lastly, explore color options and finishes to complement your home’s style and surroundings. Sample different colors and finishes in natural light to ensure the chosen siding complements your vision. (Some suggestions on choosing a siding color.)

    By considering architectural style, material, climate and color, you can make an informed decision on the right siding style for your home, whether it’s shiplap, board and batten, or another option that suits your preferences.

    Consulting with Design Experts

    While you can certainly make an informed choice on your own, consulting with exterior design experts can provide valuable insights. Professional exterior designers can help you assess your home and offer suggestions tailored to your needs that ensure your cladding vision is executed flawlessly.


    Board and batten and shiplap are both outstanding choices for residential design, each with its own charm and versatility. Board and batten’s vertical orientation and elegant lines add a touch of sophistication, while shiplap’s horizontal profile invites a cozy and rustic feel. By understanding their differences and applications, you can make the right choice to enhance the beauty and character of your home.


    What is board and batten siding?

    Board and batten siding consists of wide wooden boards alternating with narrow strips (battens) to cover the seams between the boards, creating a textured and rustic look.

    What is the distinctive feature of board and batten siding?

    The vertical orientation of board and batten siding sets it apart, visually elongating structures and directing the eye upward.

    What are the advantages of board and batten siding?

    Board and batten siding is versatile, suitable for various architectural styles, and offers customization in materials and finishes.

    What is shiplap siding known for?

    Shiplap siding is known for its horizontal planks with overlapping edges, creating a seamless and clean look.

    How does shiplap siding affect the feel of a space when applied horizontally?

    When applied horizontally, shiplap can create a sense of width and openness in a space, making it popular for coastal, farmhouse, or rustic-themed interiors.

    What are the style differences between board and batten and shiplap siding?

    Board and batten provides a more textured and rustic look with vertical lines, while shiplap offers a clean and cozy feel with horizontal planks.


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