What’s the Difference Between Overlap, Shiplap and Tongue & Groove?

What’s the Difference Between Overlap, Shiplap and Tongue & Groove?


When buying larger items such as Cabins or lodges, or even everyday items such as playhouses, fence panels or gates, a common question we receive in our showroom is what the difference is between overlap, shiplap, and tongue & groove. You see this mentioned on most websites retailing wooden products, and it’s important to have an understanding of different build styles when making a choice in what to buy. This allows your choice to suit your purposes and requirements, and to make the most of your product to your demands.

Overlap, shiplap, and tongue & groove are different building styles and how wooden slats fit together. Different building styles mean different levels of structural integrity and strength, and the style of wall build. Retail prices vary between each style, which is essentially a “good, better, best” scenario, due to the more intricate and secure build styles.  

However, don’t rush into buying the cheapest wooden product thinking this is the best value for money, or the most expensive product thinking it will be the best option for you, as a cheaper build style may actual suffice for your specific and individual demands.

What is Overlap?

This is the more basic kind of build, and is ideal for those with a more limited or constrained budget. The build style of overlap allows horizontal wooden panels to be overlapped successively, and allowing for rain and precipitation to run-off. The bottom of the wooden panel above will always be to the front of the panel beneath, to allow gravity to do the work and stop water getting in.

Overlap Build - Notice the Panels Overlapping Each Other

Overlap Build – Notice the Panels Overlapping Each Other

Although overlap products tend to be cheaper, and all at Garden Street would come with the manufacturers 12 month warranty, they are inferior to shiplap panels in their strength. However, they are very traditionally styled, and preferred for those who require a classical and more simplistic look.

Overlap is also tended to be performed in smaller gardens, as short term options, or in areas generally more protected from the elements.

What is Tongue & Groove?

The next step up on the quality ladder is tongue and groove. You may have seen sheds featuring tongue & groove floors or walls, which allows the panels to slot into each other rather than overlapping/sitting on top of each other. Tongue & Groove is superior to Overlap, and products showcasing tongue & groove styling (Such as floors or wall builds), generally demand a higher price.

This tends to be more mid-range quality, as although more structurally rigid and superior in strength to overlap, tongue & groove panels can be prone to warping in the heat and in some instances can cause gaps, due to the natural condition and properties of wood.

What are Shiplap Panels?

Shiplap panels are the next level up in build quality, and arguably the most superior for the general domestic market. This allows the horizontal wooden panels to interlock into each other; slotting them into place almost like a jigsaw. You may now think that this is the same as tongue & groove, but an additional lip on each panel offers even further protection. This allows a more structurally hardy product to both an overlap and tongue & groove build, and offers enhanced protection to the weather.

Shiplap Build - The panels slot into each other rather than sitting on top of each other

Shiplap Build – The panels slot into each other rather than sitting on top of each other

These are ideal for those who are looking for a high quality building, with further protection and superior build quality, however this increase in quality is usually reflected in high prices than their overlap counterparts. Assembly time is usually longer on Shiplap products, due to the build style, but arguably lead to a product that will stand up to the test of time (if correctly maintained).

At GardenStreet.co.uk, we feature different build styles to cater all demands and budgets. With free nationwide delivery*, we have cabins, sheds, and fences to suit all tastes in Shiplap, Overlap, and with tongue & groove features.

For more information on what build style is best for you, feel free to pop into our showroom for professional and friendly advice.