Can you shiplap a bathroom? Find out here – along with all kinds of top tips for using shiplap in these small spaces.
Shiplap, as subtle as it is, can do a lot for a room when it comes to introducing texture and expanding the space.
Bathrooms, being small and often rather dull, could really use this element of design, don’t you think?
Well, with just a few affordable supplies, your toolkit, and some patience, you can DIY your own elegant shiplap bathroom exactly the way you like it.
Read on to get answers to all of your why’s and how’s so you can get started!
Can I Shiplap a Bathroom?
The short answer is yes!
You can definitely shiplap a bathroom. However, there are some constraints due to the presence of moisture in this space that you need to be aware of.
Will Shiplap in a Bathroom Warp?
Wood, in its natural state, has the tendency to absorb water, making it susceptible to rot and warping.
Add to that the very real possibility of mold growing behind the shiplap due to the moist environment, and it becomes imperative you learn how to protect your work from water.
How Do I Prevent Shiplap from Warping?
The most basic answer to all of these issues is to protect your shiplap with wood sealant and the correct type of paint, along with making efforts to keep your bathroom well ventilated. We talk about this in greater detail down below.
Choosing Paint-Grade Lumber Panels
One thing you can do to prevent the warping of wood is to go for paint-grade lumber panels instead of stain-grade lumber panels.
That is, of course, if you are not planning to stain your shiplap.
Paint-grade lumber panels are made up of many short pieces of wood spliced together with finger joints. This prevents the entire panel from warping all at once.
It’s also important to allow the wood to acclimate for several days in the space they are intended to be used before use to prevent warping prior to installation.
Proper Cleaning & Maintenance
Cleaning and maintenance is another crucial component of protecting your shiplap bathroom from the elements.
One thing wood paneling is notorious for is dust accumulation.
Dust the gaps between your shiplap regularly, use a vacuum for hard-to-reach places, and check for mold behind the panels often to ensure that your shiplap bathroom stays in tip-top shape.
Why Shiplap a Bathroom?
Paneling using shiplap is versatile in that you can achieve a variety of looks and functionalities by making the subtlest of modifications to how you choose to use it.
Add to it that it’s economical to buy, install and maintain, and it’s a no-brainer why it’s a favorite among DIY-ers.
Back in the day, dark-colored laminated plywood shiplap was installed vertically to lend an austere quality to a room.
While shiplap has indeed come back in style now, the way it is used has gone through some very welcome changes.
Today, the paneling technique is mainly used to “expand” a room, make it feel lighter and warmer.
To this effect, shiplap is now usually installed horizontally and painted light, bright colors – like classic white!
You’ll find people likening the look to the charming yet chic modern farmhouse style that is so popular right now.
What About Small Bathrooms?
The aesthetic effects of shiplap make it perfect to use in small spaces like bathrooms. Subtle textures and long lines help make such spaces feel larger and more welcoming.
Generally, shiplap installed horizontally visually expands a room, while shiplap installed vertically heightens it.
Furthermore, shiplap bathrooms tend to stay warm during winter, adding to the cozy atmosphere they create with their look!
If you’re going for a heightening effect with your renovation efforts, wainscoting might be the way to go.
This will it make your bathroom appear taller. It will also protect your walls from the dirt and muck of a lived-in home (especially if you’ve got kids).
The most common way of using shiplap in bathrooms is to completely panel all the walls. Yet, you may also consider using it to panel a single wall as an accent wall, or even to panel behind your sink as a backsplash.
With proper sealing, wood can last a very long time even with exposure to water and moisture.
When paneling with shiplap as well as with tongue and groove, go with 10 inch wide planks to ensure that the end result resembles paneling and not siding.
What Kind of Shiplap Should I Use for Bathroom Shiplap?
The most important factor to consider when choosing paneling for your bathroom is the amount of moisture you expect the paneled wall to encounter.
Whether it be in the kids’ bathroom, powder room, or inside a shower cubicle, where your to-be-paneled wall is located along with how much light and ventilation it gets will ultimately affect what type of paneling you choose.
What Are the Main Types of Shiplap?
The three main types of paneling are:
- Faux Shiplap
- Tongue & Groove Paneling
The finished looks that the three methods provide are basically indistinguishable. Yet, each type has some distinct characteristics that are crucial to understanding in order to obtain long-lasting, satisfactory results.
The main difference between shiplap and tongue and groove paneling lies in their side profiles, or in other words their joints.
Shiplap has L-shaped profiles (called rabbet angles) on both edges which lay flat on top of each other when installed on a wall edge to edge.
Tongue and groove panels have a projection on one edge and an indentation on the other, which interlock when installed on a wall next to each other.
Faux shiplap bathroom paneling, on the other hand, involves gluing or nailing flat panels directly onto the wall.
While the joints of shiplap and tongue and groove both prevent the growth of mold behind the panels to a certain degree, faux-shiplap does not offer that advantage, making it not as wise an option in comparison.
Between shiplap and tongue and groove, shiplap fares marginally better owing to its joints having less surface area in which they may retain moisture.
Cost & Effort of the Three Types of Shiplap
Another factor that most will consider while making their choice is cost and effort.
Generally speaking, shiplap tends to be both easier and cheaper to install compared to tongue and groove.
While tongue and groove panels require you to fit the panels in place, shiplap requires you to simply align the panels correctly, one on top of each other, and nail them in place at the joints.
What Material is Best for Bathroom Shiplap?
Another important decision to make for your shiplap bathroom wall is the material.
If you’re planning to paint your shiplap as most do, it does make sense to opt for an economic option like pine.
However, for shiplap paneling in the bathroom, it’s best to splurge a bit upfront and invest in more durable, moisture-resistant wood like cedar, oak, teak, and maple.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective option, there’s always water-resistant plywood.
If all this talk about wood has got you stressed, there are a few other options out there that might appeal to you.
Modern PVC planks, although not rabbeted, are water-resistant themselves. So, they can help you achieve the look you’re going for in moist areas like shower cubicles.
Long and slender porcelain tiles that resemble wood are another reasonable option for wet areas in the bathroom.
One type of panel to steer clear of when shiplap paneling your bathroom is MDF!
Not only is it heavy and difficult to cut and handle, but it also absorbs water like a sponge. It suffers from scrapes and nicks more easily than wood does, as well.
What Kind of Paint Should I Use on Bathroom Shiplap?
You probably have a specific look you’re going for with your shiplap bathroom paneling. As with most things DIY, there are more than a few ways you can achieve it.
With wood, you can choose to go with the exposed/distressed look, a polished and painted look, or even a rugged stained look.
Bathroom Shiplap Painting Tips
However, no matter what style you choose, remember that it all starts with priming your wood to make sure it dries in a consistent manner.
If you’re going the painting route, we suggest you opt for a semi-gloss mildew-resistant paint. This will prevent mildew and facilitate easy cleaning once it dries.
Paint a couple of coats before installation.
This is to make sure you don’t miss some spots due to them being too hard to reach when they’re up on the wall and you’re painting the final coat.
Hand painting shiplap is recommended over rolling, in order to really bring out the warmth in the final look of the room.
Using Color on Bathroom Shiplap
Although white shiplap is what is in right now, do consider other, more dark colors for the bathroom walls since they are easier to keep clean.
If you are instead inspired to go the other direction with your bathroom interiors and opt for the distressed look or stained wood style, just make sure you remember to seal your work with a clear coat sealer.
This will help protect your shiplap from moisture.
What Kind of Protectant Should I Use on Bathroom Shiplap?
Wood expands and contracts due to humidity throughout the seasons. So, it’s essential to use protectants to manage this property of wood.
The first thing you’ll want to do is use a wood sealer as a base coat.
This seals all the cut ends, preventing the end grain and any other incongruencies in the wood from being exposed to the elements.
It also provides good adhesion between the wood and the primer you’ll layer on top.
Use a coat of polyurethane wood sealer after every few coats of paint to seal the paint and wood in even more.
After the wall is done drying, fill the nail holes and seams with drywall compound and sand it down. Once dry, fill it again, and then sand it once more.
This is also when you caulk the corners and other necessary spots using paintable caulk. Let it all dry, layer on some primer, and finish it off with a top coat of paint.
Any Other Obstacles While Shiplap Paneling a Bathroom?
While installing shiplap in your bathroom is fairly straightforward, there are a couple of things you need to take care of.
Prepping Your Space for Shiplap
Before marking studs and starting the installation process, remove everything from the wall including light switches and baseboards.
You might even need to remove the toilet and sink if they are blocking access to the wall you are paneling.
Ensure the wall is clean, dry, and flat, then caulk and fill any holes or cracks that you find. After sanding it down to be flat, paint it using mildew-resistant paint.
Starting Your First Panel
When installing your first panel, make sure you start from the top so that if you need to split the last one at the end, it’s below eye level.
It’s important that your first panel be leveled correctly to avoid the rest of your panels being crooked!
Working Around the Toilet
If you can’t remove the toilet before beginning installation, you will have to panel around it.
First, choose the panels you want to nail behind the toilet and paint them with the color of your choice. This is because painting behind a toilet is no easy feat!
Make sure the panels are long so that when you insert them behind the toilet from one side they poke out from the other side. Then all you have to do is nail them at the studs on either side of the toilet.
Proper Bathroom Ventilation
Another obstacle that DIY-ers face with their shiplap bathrooms is dealing with the humidity. It’s important to remove as much moisture from the air in the space as possible. But, how do you do that in a bathroom?
For starters, keep the windows open as often as you can. If you don’t have enough windows, you can ensure your bathroom stays properly ventilated by installing fans. You could use a dehumidifier as well as leave your AC running.
If you are looking to shiplap your bathroom, it is definitely possible, and it turns out beautiful. Yet, be sure to keep the above tips in mind.