5 Simple Steps to Clean Shiplap
(and not ruin it!)

Shiplap looks great wherever it is installed but is cleaning it really that easy? Yes, it is, and here's how you can do it!

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J. Bolívar

July 18, 2021


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Introduction

Shiplap wood panels are one of the easiest and low-maintenance wood paneling ever. You don’t have to clean them daily, but it’s essential that you do it regularly after a certain period. Since it’s either solid wood or MDF (medium density), shiplaps would need some cleaning from time to time, for them to shine!

Shiplap panels can be easily cleaned using a dusting brush, cloth, and a mixture of 1 cup vinegar and 2 cups warm water. For older and extremely dirty shiplap panels, using a liquid soap solution could be beneficial.

Shiplap cleaning in 5 simple steps

You don't need to go fancy with the supplies for cleaning your shiplap panels!

Although there are many options available in the market, you wouldn’t need to buy a solution separately. You may even have the accessories already lying around in your room! 

Here is how you clean shiplap using these 5 simple steps.

1. Start with dusting

You will have to start by wiping off the dust!

Wiping off dust with a sponge from a nearby window

There are three things to use for dusting:

  1. A vacuum with a brush attachment
  2. A dry cloth
  3. A dry brush (you can choose the width according to the width and length of your ship panels, and the gaps between them)

You can also use a sponge to wipe away the dust.

PRO-TIP

you can use brushes of various sizes

It's best to get a brush kit of assorted sizes. Use a small brush for the gaps in between the shiplap panels. You can use a larger brush for dusting the overall surface of the panels.

2. Prepare a cleaning solution

Your very own cleaning solution for shiplap? Yes, it's possible!

Two bottles of vinegar

The best part about cleaning shiplap panels is that you can easily make the solution at home.

PRO-TIP

for extremely old shiplap paneling

You can use a liquid soap or solution that has been approved for cleaning wood. 

3. Use a cloth 

Take some solution on a clean, soft cloth and rub it onto the wood!

A lint-free cloth can be used both dryly and soaked with solution for cleaning shiplap panels.

That being said, the cloth should be spotless. It’s preferable that you keep a separate piece of cloth for cleaning shiplap panels. 

WARNING!

never use a dirty cloth to clean

Shiplap panels are made of wood. Before cleaning with a cloth, make sure it's oil and dirt-free. Oil, dirt, or even oily dirt can damage the wood over some time.

4. Wipe the panels in one direction

Wiping in one direction will help you remain smooth!

A spray bottle and paper towel

Do you move your hands in all directions while cleaning? While there is nothing wrong with that, moving in the opposite direction can make the dirt get caught up on the wooden panels. 

WARNING!

Be mindful of the pressure

Never go too hard on the shiplap panels while wiping. Although shiplap is durable and hard, you may cause scratches if there is friction between the surface and your nails.

5. Repeat when required

Since the solution is handmade, you can repeat the above process as many times as you want. If your shiplaps have been unclean for some time, you may want to dust and wipe clean a couple of times before they’re truly spotless and shining.

PRO-TIP

Use a different cloth for white shiplaps

White or lightly colored shiplap may require more thorough and regular cleaning.

Is the texture of a shiplap important in cleaning?

Shiplap panels are either smooth or rough!

Cleaning shiplap panels could be different for both smooth and rough textures. It may also be dependent on the material.

Although most of the shiplap is smooth and flat, there are ones with rougher textures too. These could have more tiny dust particles hidden inside them, so it’s wiser to clean them appropriately with a tiny brush before proceeding to the wiping part.

For rough shiplap panels

You may need to use a vacuum for shiplap with the rough texture. You can use a brush too, but that would take a lot of time and twice the effort. If you want to pursue somewhere in between, use a vacuum that also has a brush installed in front of it.

Does the orientation matter in shiplap cleaning?

You'll be surprised at how dust gathers more in some orientations!

Dust may gather more on a shiplap that has been horizontally installed.

A horizontally installed shiplap paneling is more prone to capturing dust. This is due to the reason that the specks cannot fall down with the wind. Horizontally installed planks act like hurdles or obstacles for the dust particles caught up in between the pieces. 

So, you may find that you have to clean horizontally installed shiplap panels more often than the other orientations you may have.

Should you whitewash a shiplap?

What if you have white shiplap paneling?

If you have white shiplap panels installed, you should whitewash them if the color has faded or if the surface is covered with scratches. 

Should you gloss a shiplap?

Does your shiplap paneling look too much dull?

Glossing shiplap panels can give it a smoother and shinier appearance, ideal for rooms that have a lot of neutral shades.

You can make your panels shine by choosing a relevant varnish or coating. If your room has a lot 

The main three varnish coatings are semi-gloss, matte, and gloss. Semi-gloss gives a partially shiny appearance, the matte coating gives a solid look (not glossy at all) and glossy varnish has the most immense shine ever.

PRO-TIP

Matte varnishes won't add gloss

Matt is the opposite of gloss. Only apply a matte varnish if you want a solid appearance, without any shining at all.

Conclusion

To begin cleaning the shiplap, always dust it before you begin to wipe it with a cloth. It’s best to use a homemade solution, as using a chemically concentrated formula could end up warping or weakening the wood paneling. You only need 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water for the cleaning solution. Dip a clean cloth into the little solution a bit and rub in one direction for cleaning the shiplap thoroughly. Only repeat whenever required.

You can also whitewash your shiplap or gloss it if you find it appearing too rusty. Remember that horizontally installed shiplaps will gather more dust, particularly in the nickels, so use a smaller brush or a 2-in-1 vacuum plus brush for those areas.

Are you looking for wood paneling options other than shiplap? Have a look at these 5 differences between shiplap and beadboard .

Shiplap vs Beadboard: 5 Important Differences You Must Know

Do you love the vibes of wood in home interior and design? If yes, then you need to know these 5 differences between shiplaps and beadboards!

J. Bolívar Picture

By J. Bolívar

Carpet and Rug World Founder

I'm Jimena and I love Home Decor! When I got married I wanted my home to look as amazing as possible. I read and read and read about home decor. And although I found some very helpful information, I hardly found anything regarding Carpets and Rugs. I learned so much I wanted to share everything I know with the whole world!

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J. Bolívar Picture

J. Bolívar

Carpet and Rug World Founder

I'm Jimena and I love Home Decor! When I got married I wanted my home to look as amazing as possible. I read and read and read about home decor. And although I found some very helpful information, I hardly found anything regarding Carpets and Rugs. I learned so much I wanted to share everything I know with the whole world!

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