What is the Difference Between Shiplap and Clapboard Lap Siding?

  • Product Knowledge

Comparing clapboard to shiplap can be confusing if you’re not sure what the difference is. After all, there are so many styles of lap siding that most people don’t know how to tell them apart. When you’re building or renovating a house, every detail matters. So let’s dive in and clarify the comparison of shiplap to clapboard.


The Legacy of Lap Siding

Lap siding is iconic, and it can be found in a wide range of settings. From coastal New England cottages to homesteads built on the open prairie, lap siding looks great in just about any setting, which makes it a timeless choice. Traditionally built with wood, lap siding typically features an assortment of panels that are evenly spaced. The panels can be installed horizontally or vertically, with horizontal lap being the more common of the two orientations.

Though the panels are evenly lined up, they are carefully arranged so that one edge overlaps the next, creating subtle texture and a stylish appearance. The overlapping edge can be created in a couple different ways, which yields various styles of lap siding to choose from. The depth or height of the overlap determines the intensity of the shadow lines that appear on the surface of the siding.

Homeowners who love the textured look of shadow lines tend to prefer more dramatic and noticeable lap styles, while those who like a more understated surface prefer flatter lap siding.


Shiplap vs. Clapboard – What’s the Difference?

Many use these terms interchangeably, but there is actually a distinct difference between shiplap and clapboard siding – though that difference is often overlooked or considered insignificant in the big picture. Nonetheless, it can be good to know the differences between shiplap and clapboard in case you’re presented with a variety of options and want to be sure of what type of siding you’re getting for your home.


With clapboard siding, each individual panel is shaped like a wedge, meaning one side is thicker than the other. This yields a natural overlapped look with a fairly smooth yet noticeable lap profile when installed on the exterior.

Shiplap, on the other hand, relies on another installation technique to pull off the lapped look. Panels are set with extremely tight joints, featuring rabbet grooves that help bring the overlapping panels together with such smoothness that the profile appears flat, making the shadow lines almost imperceptible.


Color, Texture & Style – How to Choose the Right Lap

In most cases, the choice of lap siding truly depends on personal preference. Some homeowners prefer a flatter appearance for their lap while others like a more dramatic profile. Either way, you’ll be getting a timeless style that is always in demand on the market.

Keep in mind that color can affect how visible the lap lines appear in the daylight. Lighter colors tend to make shadow lines more noticeable than darker colors.

You should also think ahead when it comes to color upkeep. If you’re working with traditional wood siding, the exterior will most likely need a fresh coat of paint or stain every 5 or 6 years, as well as seasonal cleaning. Horizontal lap with deep grooves can require more attention to detail when it comes to cleaning and painting, too.

With that said, switching to a modern material like fiber cement can be a great way to alleviate chores and to-do lists down the line, since it’s built to maintain its original color consistency and continue to look great season after season.


One of the most immediate benefits of choosing a modern lap material like fiber cement is that installation is an absolute breeze. Traditional wood lap requires an incessant amount of detailed work to be installed correctly, whereas fiber cement lap is often presented in large sections that are easier to install. This helps homeowners get the authentic look of lap much quicker and without the worry about installation errors.

Another big benefit of fiber cement lap is that it is incredibly more durable than wood and vinyl siding options. It resists peeling, chipping, and moisture damage, so homeowners have much less maintenance to worry about – not to mention the fact that fiber cement avoids the flammability concerns of wood and vinyl, as well as the risks of insect damage and infestation.

Allura offers high-quality fiber cement siding in a wide variety of colors and styles, including classic lap, vertical board and batten, and horizontal shiplap. They also offer trim, soffit, and other products in coordinating colors to make the entire exterior renovation easy.

When you’re ready to get started on your next siding project, contact the team at Allura today to explore the fiber cement lap options available.

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