Shiplap Vs. Wainscoting Vs Beadboard: What Are The Differences?

Are you planning to update your walls or create a focal wall in your home, but you aren't sure what the difference is between shiplap, wainscoting, and beadboard? Well, you've come to the right place. We've done the research to bring you this handy guide.

Shiplap is a horizontally grooved wall covering that can be used in a variety of situations. Wainscoting is a wall paneling that comes approximately halfway up the wall, while beadboard is grooved paneling that covers the entire wall. 

You're probably wondering which option works best for a focal wall. And which style will fit best in your home? Keep reading to learn all about these different wall decor options.

collab photos of Shiplap, Wainscoting, Beadboard designs for interiors for house, Shiplap Vs. Wainscoting Vs. Beadboard: What Are The Differences?

Why Add Shiplap, Wainscoting, Or Beadboard?

Adding paneling to your wall can quickly elevate the look of a room, giving it a more finished appearance. In some home styles, paneling like wainscoting or beadboard works better than plain options like drywall.  Paneling can also be used to create focal walls, like with shiplap.  


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These horizontally grooved panels have become increasingly popular in recent years, and their versatility is useful in all kinds of situations.

It comes in a variety of colors and finishes, or you can get it unfinished and treat it in your preferred style. Shiplap is a common choice for focal walls and works great to spruce up any room.

Kimberly Bay Primed Shiplap Panels

These shiplap panels make installation easy since you don't have to put up each plank individually. They come in a pack of six which will cover 25 square feet.

Click here to see this shiplap on Amazon.



Wainscoting is a type of wall paneling that comes part of the way up the wall, usually stopping between 36 and 42 inches high.

It can have different decorative aspects to it, like grooves or panels, so there's an option for every home. The wainscoting will have a shoe molding at the bottom and a chair molding at the top, which will protrude slightly more than the rest of the piece. 

Manor House Wainscoting Paneling Kit

This paneling kit contains eight linear feet of paneling, pre-primed and ready for you to paint. It also includes the chair rail and shoe molding so you will have everything you need to get started.

Click here to see these wainscoting panels on Amazon.



This paneling has small grooves cut vertically that make it appear as if multiple slats of wood were used together. It typically covers the entire wall from floor to ceiling and can be painted or have a natural wood appearance. Beadboard is a versatile and reliable paneling option that looks great in any home.

Graham & Brown Beadboard Wallpaper

This beadboard wallpaper is made to look exactly like traditional beadboard panels, but it's even easier to install. It's paintable, so you can add any color you would like to it and make it fit into your home easily. 

Click here to see this wallpaper on Amazon.

Which Is Better, Shiplap Or Beadboard?


Beadboard does a better job of protecting the wall beneath it, providing an extra layer of durable protection, while shiplap is more fragile.

Shiplap can also be difficult to paint due to the dramatic grooves in the paneling. Both options can be excellent choices for your home, but they each have their own benefits and drawbacks.

Which Is Cheaper, Beadboard, Shiplap, Or Wainscoting?

Beadboard and wainscoting tend to cost between $7 and $20 per square foot for installation, but keep in mind that beadboard covers the entire wall and wainscoting only covers half. Shiplap costs between $2.50 and $7 per square foot to install, making it the lowest-cost paneling option. 

Is Beadboard Out Of Style?

No, beadboard is still a popular option and is used on walls in many homes, including newer homes. Beadboard is a tested and true choice when it comes to wall paneling and has been used in homes for centuries. This paneling isn't going out of style any time soon and remains a solid choice for any wall.

Is Wainscoting Out Of Date?

Wainscoting isn't in danger of losing its place in the paneling world either. It's a great addition to any home and provides a charming and traditional aspect that makes a room feel more prestigious. It's also available in a wide variety of styles and can be customized to fit into any home's decor, making it a versatile choice.

Will Shiplap Go Out Of Style?

white modern interior design of house

Shiplap is a timeless choice when it comes to wall paneling, and while it tends to fall in and out of mainstream popularity, it's a staple on the east coast.

It's still a safe style to choose and many homebuyers are attracted to it, which helps with resale value. If you don't want to fully commit to shiplap for fear it loses popularity, try using more temporary shiplap wallpaper.

Is Shiplap Hard To Keep Clean?

Shiplap has deep grooves that can catch dust and hair easily, so it does need regular cleaning. Cleaning the shiplap isn't difficult though; a good duster or a microfiber cloth will make short work of the task and have your shiplap looking great. This can be a bit time consuming if you have a lot of shiplap in your home to keep clean.

Swiffer Duster Starter Kit

This Swiffer duster kit includes a duster with an extendable handle so you easily reach higher areas. It also comes with 12 duster heads, so you'll be well supplied.

Click here to see this duster on Amazon.

Is Beadboard Hard To Keep Clean?

Beadboard has more shallow grooves than shiplap, so it doesn't collect quite as much dust. It's not difficult to keep clean and can easily be done with a wet washcloth. For an extra thorough cleaning, use a stiff bristled scrub brush to get into the beads on the paneling. 

Is Wainscoting Hard To Keep Clean?

The chair molding and shoe molding used for wainscoting will collect dust, requiring regular cleaning. The style of the wainscoting will dictate how difficult it is to clean with complicated panels collecting more dust.

If you choose wainscoting with a beadboard design or plain style, it will be easier to clean than more complex designs.

Does Shiplap Make A Room Look Smaller?

No, shiplap actually makes rooms look larger. The horizontal grooves on the shiplap create an optical illusion that makes rooms appear wider when used appropriately. This can be advantageous in smaller spaces, making the room seem a little larger than it really is.

Should Beadboard Be Vertical Or Horizontal?


Beadboard is most commonly hung with the grooves running vertically, which makes the room feel taller. More recently many people have been experimenting with beadboard hung horizontally, which has become a popular trend. It lends a more modern appeal to this style of paneling and can help make your walls look wider.

Can Beadboard Look Modern?

Yes, beadboard can easily be modernized with a fresh coat of paint or by positioning it with the grooves running horizontally. Choose fresh, bold colors that are popular and trendy to make your beadboard look more modern. Hanging it horizontally can also put a fresh spin on this classic look.

What Rooms Should Have Wainscoting?

Wainscoting can be used in any room you want and lends a refined atmosphere to any space. It also protects the lower half of your wall, which can be handy in rooms with heavy furniture that can cause scuffing.

Having wainscoting in the foyer can even raise the resale value of your home since it's popular with buyers. 

Should Wainscoting Be Lighter Or Darker?


Wainscoting painted lighter than your walls will make your walls feel taller and make the room feel more airy. Dark paint or natural wood tones on wainscoting will make the room feel more traditional and grand. Wainscoting painted to match the walls will make the space feel larger and more open.

In Closing

collab photos of Shiplap, Wainscoting, Beadboard designs for interiors for house

Now that you know all about the different wall paneling options as well as their advantages and drawbacks, you're ready to choose the style that's right for you and your home.

Don't forget to consider the amount of maintenance you want to put into your choice, since some styles take more time to clean. Have fun and enjoy your new home remodel!

If you want to learn more about wallpaper as a wall-covering option, read this article: Contact Paper Vs. Wallpaper: Which To Choose For Your Home Project?

Now that you've chosen a paneling style, read this article to find out how to paint it: What’s The Best Paint Finish For Wall Paneling?

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