How to attach shiplap siding

Updated February 21, 2017

Shiplap siding is a popular building material designed to create a water-resistant shell around the exterior of your house. The top edge of a piece of shiplap siding is bevelled to give an attractive look to the seams, and to lock underneath the rebated lower edge of the piece above. This interlocking pattern creates a traditional clapboard look, while providing superior protection from water. Shiplap siding is installed by starting at the base of the house, fastening the boards to sheathing or studs with nails, and working your way up, fitting the pieces together, to give your house cohesive protection from the elements.

Use your level and chalk line to snap the baseline for your first course of siding. Find the lowest point of the house foundation, and follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding how high from this low point your first course of siding should be positioned. The guideline will mark the lower edge of the first course of shiplap siding.

Fasten the first course of siding to the wall. Use corrosion-resistant nails. "Splitless" nails, with a dulled tip and a narrower shaft are recommended by many manufacturers. In addition, ring-shanked nails can increase grip. The length and type of nail recommended will depend on the thickness of the siding you are installing and the type of wood. Consult the manufacturer's recommendations regarding the size and type of nail to use.

Face nail the shiplap siding into each stud or blocking. Nails should be driven a maximum of 24 inches apart on centre. Hand hammering is the best method for installing wood siding because it affords you the most control. Don't overdrive the nails. The siding should be secured to the house but allowed a little room to expand and contract in varying weather conditions.

Work your way up the side of the house. The lower edge of each shiplap siding course will rest over the bevelled upper edge of the course below.

Use your circular saw to cut siding boards to the proper length. Joints on adjacent siding courses should be staggered by at least 16 inches to provide maximum water resistance.

Check your level every fourth or fifth siding course, and make minor adjustments accordingly. If you notice the courses starting to line up off level, make minor adjustments over a series of courses, as opposed to making one major, highly visible correction.


Corner boards can be mitred to fit, or corner pieces can be installed on the inside and outside corners prior to siding installation.

Things You'll Need

  • Level
  • Chalk line
  • Circular saw
  • Corrosion-resistant nails
  • Hammer
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About the Author

Robert Howard has been writing professionally since 2004 and writes a weekly column for the "Synthesis," a Chico, Calif.-based newspaper. He maintains a blog and has published articles and works of fiction in a variety of different print and online magazines. Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego.