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Do You Need Drywall Behind Shiplap?

Shiplap behind drywall and a circuit breaker.

If you’re putting up shiplap siding on your home or building, then you are probably wondering if you also need to put up drywall behind it. Short answer – no, you don’t have to put drywall behind the shiplap siding, but there are some things to consider first.

Shiplap Vs. Drywall

A living room with shiplap wall and sofa.

Cost is often a big factor in any home renovation. But don’t let it be your only consideration. There are plenty of other factors that can help you decide between drywall and shiplap, including: 

  • Time (it will take longer to install Drywall then Shiplap on top of it) 
  • Cost (drywall costs $2-$3 per foot including labor)
  • Product selection

You could save a significant amount of money by skipping the drywall installation and installing your shiplap right on top of the insulation.

How Long Does it Take to Install Shiplap?

Generally, it will take about 3-5 hours to install shiplap in a space of about 200 square feet (based on two people working simultaneously). This includes time for baseboard and casings, which is often included when hiring someone to install shiplap. 

However, there are other factors that can impact how long it takes to install shiplap. For example, if an electrician needs to be called in to hang light fixtures or build an outlet box out of shiplap (this is sometimes done), or if your room’s shape presents challenges with regard to access and trimming. 

Still, these are pretty rare situations—and when they do happen, it’s almost always a question of logistics rather than hours needed for installation.

Is Shiplap Able to Be Used in New Construction?

A nice house made from wood.

The simple answer is yes, it is possible to use Shiplap in new construction. It all depends on your design and how much you plan to spend. 

You can decide whether or not it makes sense for your project based on your needs. For example, if you are aiming for a country-style look, then having no drywall will work with that design. 

On the other hand, if you simply have a small room and do not plan on framing most of your walls, then having some form of insulation will be more than sufficient to help keep warm air inside during the winter months and cool air inside during summer months.

Is Installing Shiplap Directly to Studs Legal?

A gavel, a weighing scale and a protective hat.

When it comes to installing anything on a wall, local building codes are your primary authority. In fact, every state has a state code that dictates how buildings should be constructed. 

You’ll find they vary by region—in one place you may only be required to install fire-rated insulation; in another, fiberglass or cellulose is all you’ll get by with. Another important question: Will codes allow your particular project at all? 

What to Put Behind Shiplap

With shiplap, the best route is to use a breathable membrane that is resistant to rain and snow but allows the movement of air. You don’t want your interior walls to be susceptible to mold or mildew buildup, so it’s important to choose something that will keep moisture out while still allowing for ventilation. It can also help soundproof your home by reducing reverberation.

Is It That Important to Have Drywall Behind Shiplap?

Putty knife and protective gloves in a small table.

Drywall provides extra insulation and soundproofing, so it’s definitely a good idea if you’re looking to insulate your home. However, drywall is not absolutely necessary. 

It depends on what you are trying to achieve with your paneling. If you’re just looking for a simple design that will enhance your living space, adding drywall could actually take away from your overall aesthetic by making things feel boxy and stiff. 

On the other hand, if you want better insulation and soundproofing, you should use drywall as it will also give extra protection against flames spreading across your wall surfaces during an emergency situation. Shiplap itself doesn’t provide any kind of fire protection, so it’s important to have something solid behind it when installing it on interior walls.

Does Shiplap Typically Go Over Drywall?

In most cases, drywall is already in place and it makes no sense to remove it. Unless your wall is a load-bearing wall, there’s no reason to go about removing drywall.

For example, if your room has two large windows, it will be difficult and incredibly expensive to add new drywall just so you can install a few rows of decorative planks along the top of it. If a room doesn’t have any drywall up yet and some planning ahead is involved in your design, yes—go right ahead and install your shiplap over studs as needed.

Is it Possible to Install Shiplap Without Nails?

A yellow gun tacker stapler in a metal table.

The answer is yes. While the standard technique for installing shiplap involves using nails to secure your edges, there are other ways to achieve a neat, flush installation. 

Whether you’re simply replacing old siding or building something from scratch, using a combination of staples and glue may be your best bet. This process will create tight joints with less labor than traditional methods that use nails. 

With care and preparation, it’s possible to install Shiplap without nails for a professional-looking finish. 

Pros of Shiplap

A modern living room with rustic sofa.

Shiplap walls are beautiful, modern, and give a house or apartment an immediately updated look. You can also buy them pre-milled or choose to have your lumber milled to fit your room’s dimensions if it’s not readily available at your local home improvement store. 

Whether they’re made of natural wood or recycled material, shiplap boards are easy to install, making them a DIY favorite. You can find them in different colors and a variety of patterns—from smooth to textured—to create your own unique aesthetic that fits with your individual style. 

Because they’re so inexpensive and easy to work with, people who lack traditional building experience feel comfortable tackling DIY projects, allowing you to add wall art that makes a statement on any budget.

Cons of Shiplap

Shiplap has gaps that allow dust to settle, can rot in high humidity, and is easy to damage if it isn’t protected. The above-mentioned reasons are why a lot of people ask: “Do I really need drywall behind the shiplap?”

The short answer is yes; you’ll want to protect your investment, especially if high humidity and moisture are present. If you choose not to use any kind of protection for your new paneling, be sure to clean up any dust on a regular basis.