Definitive Guide to Ceiling Shiplap Design

When we installed our DIY Shiplap Bathroom Ceiling last month, I had to make lots of ceiling shiplap design decisions I didn’t expect. Today I’m breaking down that design process to make it easier for you! If you’re thinking about adding Shiplap to a ceiling in your home, here’s everything you need to consider.

White Ceiling Shiplap Design with low-profile trim

Is Shiplap right for my home?

Shiplap is, in my opinion, a classic look that works well with different interior design styles. Shiplap works best for interior design styles like:

  • Traditional, Modern, Transitional, Old World, Farmhouse, Rustic, French Country, Coastal, Cottage.

But you could also blend it with these styles:

  • Scandinavian, Bohemian, Industrial, Eclectic, Southwestern, Mid-Century Modern

I would avoid using shiplap in your home if you’re trying to achieve a more ornate look, or one of these styles:

  • Glam, Contemporary, Art Deco

Shiplap is versatile because you can make it look super smooth, clean line, and minimal while adding architectural interest–like in a sleek modern style. OR you can use really textured boards to create a sense of character in the design–like in a cottage or country style.

Should I use shiplap to cover my popcorn ceilings?

Decide first what style you want in your home, and then choose your ceiling design accordingly.

If your budget is small and scraping and painting your ceiling is worth it to you, I’m cheering you on! Be prepared for lots of mess, but it’s not a complicated job at all. Here’s how I started mine for $25.

A smooth ceiling gives you the option to add crown moulding, decorative light fixture plates, and other moulding elements that will draw your eye upwards and offer pretty details.

It also gives you the option of painting your ceiling to match your walls, creating an intimate and moody vibe.

If the room is large and you’re DIY’ing your popcorn ceiling update, I’d suggest using shiplap, tongue and groove, beadboard, interesting ceiling tile, or another option to cover up your popcorn texture instead of scraping and painting it.

It will save you time, effort, and loads of mess!

Shiplap Ceiling Trim Options

Crown Moulding

  • Crown moulding sits nicely into the corner between a ceiling and a wall. It adds a nice transition between the two planes, and comes in many different styles.

A Layered Look

  • You could layer multiple sizes of flat boards along with crown moulding to create a layered trim look.

A Simple Outline

  • Use a simple flat board all around the edges of the shiplap on the ceiling. It outlines the ceiling and creates a nice edge. We chose a very low profile, modern option with lattice trim like this.

No Trim at all

  • If you love the seamless look of the shiplap flush against the walls, you need to be extremely precise about your measurements. Try to leave as little gaping as possible at the ends of your Shiplap boards. Fill in your edges with caulk or wood filler to create a seamless flow between the wall and the shiplap boards. This is a beautiful and elevated look!


  • Is there anything prettier than beams over a shiplap ceiling? The best part is: you have so many pattern options! Run long beams from one wall to another. Or create squares using a “cross” in the center of the ceiling. A more complex pattern would be to angle your shiplap to create a diamond, chevron, or herringbone pattern underneath the beams.

Choose what style you’d like and plan accordingly.

View of the white shiplap ceiling above the toilet.

Deciding The Direction Of Your Shiplap Boards

The direction of your boards will depend on the direction of the studs beneath the drywall. Use a stud finder to determine which way the ceiling joists run, and mark them on the drywall. Nathan drew a lines directly onto the drywall to make it really easy.

If you don’t like the direction the boards will have to run, I’d suggest contacting a contractor or builder. They may have solutions for this.

Is It Okay To Put Shiplap In A Bathroom?

Bathrooms are moisture-prone areas and untreated wood can absorb that moisture and get warped and rot over time.

However, there are options! I chose to paint my pine shiplap with a glossy exterior paint to protect it from moisture. Your best bet against moisture is to use PVC shiplap because it is waterproof and mold resistant.

What Color Should My Shiplap Ceiling Be?

This is a big decision because repainting the ceiling down the road is no easy task! If you’re nervous about color, I’d encourage you to paint it white and incorporate color in other ways.

White Dove or Simply White by Benjamin Moore are two of my favorites.

A shiplap ceiling adds a beautiful architectural detail to any space, even when it’s just white.

If you’ve committed to a non-white color on the walls, you could paint your ceiling to match the walls.

Another option is to paint the ceiling a non-white color, while keeping the rest of the space paired down visually to let it stand out.

What other questions do you have about Ceiling Shiplap Design? Comment below and I’ll answer them and add to this post!

2 Responses

  1. Thank you for the information…my question is can you shiplap on a bare ceiling no drywall up we r going to put sound barrier and the plastic but can I shiplap over that and not drywall?

    1. You can just install them directly onto the studs! I’m not a contractor so I can’t say for certain what is up to code, but I would think you need some kind of moisture barrier or insulation behind it?

Leave a Reply

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

Want to love Your Home Even More?

Pinterest is great for finding room inspiration. But sometimes you need to get more specific. I’d love to help you fall in love with a room in your home by creating a Custom Mood Board for you.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you find something you like and purchase it through a link I shared here, I may make a small commission from that purchase. 

The Latest Posts