Ship Lap Planks


Ship Lap: The Popular Wall Covering

The ship-lap plank has taken all of the honors regarding home improvement techniques and applications as a wall covering. The use of the now famous, ship-lap wall covering has exceeded the popularity of beadboard paneling and wall covering.

What is a ship-lap?

Ship-lap is an application that has been used to plank wooden boats. The physical characteristic of wood, and its ability to absorb water and swell, has been used for years as a method of waterproofing the hull of a boat.

The individual planks are milled to produce an overlapping tab, that when exposed to water, will swell and seal the joint. This swelling will cause the hull of a wooden boat to become watertight as these joints swell and absorb the water. During installation, each plank is tightly fastened to the adjacent plank with nails, that are driven into the tab of each plank.

The use of this type of wall covering within the home has become very popular to all do it yourselfers and homeowners trying to add some texture and richness to their homes.

Some interesting and significant comments that will assist you in the installation of individual ship- lap planks.

  1. There are two distinct sides to a ship-lap plank. There is a smooth surface that will align itself closer to its adjacent plank, and the rough side that will show a distinct joint between the planks. The orientation is really your choice, however, the majority of individuals prefer the rough side out with an obvious joint between the planks.
  2. The planks are meant to be fastened through the exposed tab that will conceal the fastener once the second piece of plank is installed.
  3. There might be a need to nail the face of the plank on the opposite side, to avoid cupping out from the wall. It is recommended that you minimize these exposed face nails.
  4. The best nails to use are small finish nails with a minimal head. If you are painting the planks, set the finish nails with a nail set and fill the holes with wood filler, or caulking prior to applying the paint.
  5. The best sub-surface to apply the ship-lap plank, is a full plywood sub-base. This will enable you to secure the planks at any position along the board and provide a very stable surface.
  6. If plywood is not a possibility, the nailing of the planks into the studs is highly suggested. If you are applying the ship-lap to the entire wall, simply hammer a small finish nail into the wall to find the stud. Once you have found one stud, the normal spacing will be 16 inches on center. Mark the wall with a straight edge to ensure that you continually secure the planks into the studs. Another clever idea when identifying the location of wall studs, is to place a piece of masking tape on the floor to identify the location of the wall studs.
  7. If it is either impossible to nail the planks to the wall due to any reason, such as concrete immediately behind the sheetrock, then a construction adhesive can be used. This construction adhesive should be applied liberally to the plank, and then the plank can be nailed simply into the sheetrock temporarily to hold the plank in-place as the glue dries.

The use of ship-lap planks is a very easy method of adding some texture and drama to a normal sheetrocked wall. In addition, the installation eliminates the need to tape and finish a sheetrock wall as well as provides a nailable surface for pictures, shelving, coat hooks, etc. to be installed on the surface of the planks.

Ship-lap planks can be found at any lumber yard or home improvement store. It has become extremely popular and all finishes, types of wood and textures are available. Enjoy, it is a pleasurable and rewarding application.

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