Skip to content

Car Siding vs Shiplap: 7 Primary Differences

car siding vs shiplap

Last Updated on September 16, 2023

The choice of wall decoration for your home is wide, but car siding and shiplap have gained enormous popularity over the years. These sidings can provide a pleasing aesthetic appearance but differ regarding joint profile, interlocking mechanism, etc.

Car siding has a seamless look with minimal gaps between each board, while shiplap has a distinctive overlapping design with visible gaps between each plank. 

Also, car siding is resilient against harsh weather conditions, while shiplap may require additional treatment or maintenance to withstand exposure to the elements.

As part of this article, we’ll explore the primary differences between car siding (AKA tongue and groove siding) and shiplap. We will also discuss their suitability for exteriors and their similarities.

7 Primary Differences Between Car Siding & Shiplap Home Paneling

7 Primary Differences Between Car Siding & Shiplap Home Paneling

When comparing car siding and shiplap home paneling, several key differences exist.

  • Joint profile and interlocking mechanism
  • Appearance after Installation
  • Durability
  • Exterior use and climate considerations
  • Versatility
  • Maintenance
  • Cost

1. Joint Profile and Interlocking Mechanism

The joint profile and interlocking mechanism of car siding allow for a tight and seamless fit between panels. With its tongue-and-groove design, one end of each plank has a small section that juts out, while the other end has a U-shape.

This unique configuration ensures that the panels can be easily aligned and connected together, creating a smooth surface with no visible gaps or joints. The tongue-and-groove profile also adds strength and stability to the installation, preventing any movement or shifting over time.

In contrast, shiplap panels have an L-shaped (rabbet) notch along each plank’s edge. The notches alternate between the upper and lower parts of the plank. When installed, the notches create a distinctive gap between each panel.

2. Appearance after Installation

You should consider the tongue-and-groove design of car siding to achieve a more polished and seamless look. The tight fit and lack of gaps in the panels create a uniform surface that appears smooth and flawless. This design is perfect for those who desire a clean and modern aesthetic in their space.

Contrary to this, shiplap panels have visible gaps between each plank due to the L-shaped notches. While these gaps can add texture and character to a room interior, they may provide a different level of refinement than car siding. Shiplap is often favored for its rustic charm or coastal vibe.

3. Durability

If you want a long-lasting option, go for shiplap panels, as they are known for their durability. Shiplap is designed to withstand the test of time when properly installed and anchored. These panels have a protruding section on the edge that allows nails to be securely fastened, ensuring a strong and durable installation.

However, the snug fit of car siding panels also contributes to their sturdiness. While slightly less tightly fitted than shiplap, car siding can still hold up well over time if installed correctly due to its interlocking mechanism.

4. Exterior Use and Climate Considerations

Consider the climate for exterior use and choose between car siding and shiplap that suit your specific needs.

Shiplap siding is a better choice for wet climates due to its overlapping planks that shed water effectively. It’s also preferred in high-heat, low-humidity climates where wood shrinkage might occur, as shiplap’s overlapping connections hide gaps.

Conversely, in wet climates, trapped water in the interlocking connections of the tongue and groove can lead to deterioration. However, this siding has slightly better insulating ability for colder climates.

5. Versatility

When looking at versatility, both car siding and shiplap have their own unique applications and charm.

With its tongue and groove paneling, car siding is highly adaptable for indoor and outdoor use. Its tight seal and insulation properties make it ideal for areas where waterproofing is important. Whether you’re looking to enhance the exterior of your home or create a cozy interior space, car siding can meet your needs.

Meanwhile, shiplap is more commonly used for interior design due to its distinctive appearance and charm. It adds character and visual interest to walls, ceilings, and furniture.

6. Maintenance


Regarding cleaning, car siding has an advantage over shiplap due to its flush surface. Car siding is easier to clean and maintain, with fewer dust and debris accumulation crevices. A simple wipe-down or occasional dusting should keep it looking clean and fresh.

Alternatively, the shiplap’s overlapping design can trap dust and debris in the gaps between boards, especially if the wood is rough-sawn.

This means that more attention needs to be paid during cleaning to ensure all the nooks and crannies are thoroughly cleaned. Regular vacuuming or a soft brush attachment can help remove any trapped dirt.

7. Cost

If you’re on a tight budget, shiplap might be more affordable than tongue and groove panels. Conversely, tongue and groove panels are precision-made, which increases their manufacturing cost and makes them slightly more expensive.

Is car siding good for the exterior?

Car siding can be a great choice for exterior applications in cooler areas because of its superior weather resistance compared to shiplap siding. This siding is designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, making it highly durable and long-lasting.

However, trapped water can cause deterioration in tongue and groove connections in wet climates. Although the overlapping design of car siding provides an additional layer of protection against wind-driven rain and other elements, it can still accumulate rainwater in interlocking areas.

Is car siding the same as shiplap?

When installing car siding on a wall, you’ll notice distinct differences in appearance compared to shiplap.

Car siding creates a seamless and smooth surface when installed, making it an excellent choice for interior walls or ceilings. In contrast, Shiplap features a rabbet joint, resulting in a slight gap between each board when installed. This distinctive feature gives Shiplap its rustic and charming look.

What are the disadvantages of shiplap?

While shiplap has gained popularity recently for its rustic charm, it may only be suitable for some design styles or architectural contexts.

Shiplap’s characteristic overlapping joints can accumulate dust and dirt over time in dry areas, requiring regular cleaning to maintain its pristine appearance. This can be a hassle for those seeking low-maintenance options.

As a result of the overlapped boards, shiplap may not provide as tight a seal as other wall cladding options, resulting in drafts or moisture issues.

Car Siding or Shiplap Siding: Discovering the Perfect Paneling for Your Home

Shiplap and car siding are both good options for house paneling, depending on your needs. While both car siding and shiplap offer a rustic charm to interior and exterior spaces, their profile, appearance, cost, and installation techniques differ. 

Understanding these differences will help you make an informed choice for your home paneling needs. Symbolically speaking, the decision to embrace car siding or opt for shiplap can represent a deeper desire for functionality or a more rustic charm.

Ultimately, the choice is yours based on what best suits your style and vision for your home.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *