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Shiplap vs Vinyl Siding: 7 Differences [Discovered]

Shiplap vs Vinyl Siding

Last Updated on September 16, 2023

Shiplap and vinyl siding make excellent choices for cladding your home’s exterior or enhancing its interior aesthetics.

Before you decide which one is the right fit for your project, it’s crucial to understand the key differences between shiplap and vinyl siding.

One significant difference lies in their material composition. Shiplap siding embraces the natural beauty of wood, with options like cedar or pine, imparting a rustic charm to your space.

In contrast, vinyl siding takes a synthetic approach, crafted from PVC plastic resin, offering a versatile range of styles and colors.

The cost of shiplap siding is generally higher than that of vinyl siding. Other differences also exist.

With these two siding options in comparison, we’ll explore their aesthetics, durability, maintenance, and more to help you decide which one is best for your home.

Shiplap vs Vinyl Siding: Differences and Comparison

Shiplap vs Vinyl Siding: Differences and Comparison

When considering the contrasting characteristics of shiplap and vinyl siding, it is important to examine several key points. The following are listed:

  • Material composition
  • Thickness and durability
  • Aesthetics and style
  • Installation difficulty
  • Maintenance and painting
  • Cost
  • Energy efficiency

To help you choose the right siding option, let’s compare these materials in detail for each category.

Material Composition

Shiplap and vinyl siding differ significantly in terms of their material composition. A shiplap board is typically made of natural wood, such as cedar or pine.

As opposed to this, vinyl siding is made from PVC plastic resin, which is a synthetic material. While shiplap offers a natural and sustainable option, vinyl is a man-made alternative resistant to pests, fungal decay, and rotting.

Thickness and Durability

The thickness of shiplap and vinyl siding is another key factor that distinguishes the two materials. Shiplap boards are typically 1/2-inch or 1-inch thick, with widths ranging from 4 to 8 inches.

Conversely, the thickness of vinyl siding ranges from 0.038 inches (1/32 inch.) to 0.055 inches (1/18 inch), with thicker siding indicating a premium brand.

In terms of durability, vinyl siding surpasses shiplap siding due to its resistance to different elements, such as moisture, pests, and fading.

Also, shiplap is susceptible to warping, splitting, and cracking over time, making it less durable than vinyl siding’s lasting endurance. But modern shiplap has fire resistance properties that set it apart from its competitors.

Aesthetics and Style

Aesthetics and style are subjective, and shiplap and vinyl siding offer distinct visual appeals.

Shiplap siding provides a classic, farmhouse-style look, which is highly sought-after for interior walls and ceilings. Its natural wood grain texture and earthy color tones convey a cozy and welcoming vibe.

Meanwhile, vinyl siding can mimic different materials and styles, such as stone, brick, or wood, allowing homeowners to customize its appearance to suit their preferred aesthetics.

Its extensive range of colors and profiles makes it versatile and adaptable to various architectural styles, from traditional to modern.

Installation Difficulty

Installing shiplap requires precision and alignment. You need to carefully fit the tongue-and-groove joints together, ensuring they align perfectly for a seamless finish. This task can be challenging, especially for DIY projects requiring meticulous attention to detail.

Conversely, vinyl siding is relatively easier to install than shiplap due to its interlocking design and lightweight nature. The panels easily snap into place, creating a secure and tight fit. Vinyl siding simplifies the installation process with its innovative interlocking system.

Also, vinyl siding is lightweight compared to shiplap, making it easier to handle and maneuver during installation. Its simplicity and ease of use make vinyl siding popular among DIYers.

Maintenance and Painting

Shiplap may require regular maintenance like other wood materials, including sealing in moisture-prone areas. It can be painted or stained to change its appearance, with considerations for wood type and conditioning.

In contrast, vinyl siding is low maintenance and doesn’t require painting. The color is baked-in, and occasional cleaning with a damp cloth is typically sufficient.


If cost is a factor, vinyl siding is generally more cost-effective than shiplap siding. Vinyl siding costs an average of $4 to $5 per square foot, depending on its quality and thickness. However, the price doesn’t account for labor or materials involved in installation.

In contrast, shiplap prices vary depending on the wood type used, usually ranging from $0.95 to $7.00 per square foot for interior use. Exterior siding can cost anywhere from $2,800 to $7,500, making it a pricier option.

Energy Efficiency

Shiplap can offer some insulation benefits when installed over existing surfaces, which can help regulate the indoor temperature and potentially lower energy bills.

However, insulated vinyl siding can significantly enhance energy efficiency by providing an additional layer of insulation, resulting in increased savings over time.

You should consider your local climate when choosing between shiplap and vinyl siding for energy efficiency.

How long do shiplap and vinyl siding siding last?

How long do shiplap and vinyl siding siding last

Exterior shiplap siding can last approximately 20-30 years with proper care. The lifespan of shiplap siding can vary depending on the type of wood used and how well it’s maintained over time. Regular cleaning, sealing, and repainting can help extend its durability by several decades.

On the other hand, vinyl siding typically lasts between 30-40 years. Vinyl siding has seen improvements in durability since its introduction in the 1950s and is known for its longevity. 

With advancements in manufacturing techniques, modern vinyl siding can withstand various weather conditions and resist fading or cracking for up to four decades.

Is shiplap siding waterproof?

Shiplap siding made from natural wood is not waterproof by nature and is prone to water-related issues. While it is possible to apply sealant or finish to the wooden planks to provide some level of protection against moisture, it is not a foolproof solution.

Areas where moisture can potentially cause damage should be avoided, as should any neglect of the sealing or finish maintenance.

Does vinyl siding have a fire rating?

Vinyl siding is considered inherently flame-retardant due to its chlorine-based composition. The primary ingredient in vinyl siding, PVC, does not readily ignite and releases minimal energy when it burns.

Vinyl siding will not catch fire easily, even when exposed to an external flame at temperatures of around 730 degrees Fahrenheit (387 degrees Centigrade). It will self-ignite once it reaches approximately 850 degrees Fahrenheit (454 degrees Centigrade).

These properties contribute a level of fire resistance, making it a safer choice for exterior cladding in terms of fire protection due to wildfire or other sources.

Choose Between Shiplap and Vinyl Siding for Your Home

Your project requirements, aesthetic preferences, and budget determine whether shiplap siding or vinyl siding should be used.

Shiplap offers a natural, rustic charm with its wooden composition but demands more maintenance and care. Vinyl siding, made from synthetic PVC, provides durability, ease of installation, and versatility in style choices.

Consider factors like the climate in your area, desired aesthetics, and long-term maintenance when deciding. Both siding options have their unique advantages, so weigh them carefully to find the perfect fit for your home.

Whether you opt for the timeless elegance of shiplap or the practicality of vinyl siding, your choice will shape your home’s exterior and interior for many years.

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