Are you looking to buy a garden shed? Then you might be wondering what all this talk about tongues, grooves, and shiplap is. Lucky for you, we’re here to help.
But we realised people still had questions. So we’ve scoured the internet and racked our brains to try and answer them all.
So keep reading for our ultimate guide and FAQs to tongue and groove shed cladding.
What is Tongue And Groove Panelling?
Tongue and Groove panelling or cladding is a unique type of wooden boarding that is used to make wooden buildings.
T&G panels are uniquely designed so that they can fit together without the need for nails or glue. Regular wooden cladding, such as overlap panels, need glue or nails to fit two panels together.
With T&G cladding, the wood panels are purposely constructed to fit together using a special tongue and groove joint. Each wooden panel has both a tongue – the part that sticks out – and a groove for a tongue to fit into. The tongue and groove are situated on opposite ends of the panel to allow them to connect to other T&G boards.
You can a cross-section of a Tongue and Groove joint below. In the image, two panels are fitted together.
As you can see above, fitting two planks together is as simple as sliding the tongue of one panel into the groove of another!
In a Garden Building, such as a shed, the panels are fitted together vertically with the groove fitting to the tongue of the panel below. Further panels are stacked on top of each other to form a wall, roof, floor, or another wood surface.
As you might have already guessed, this method of joinery has a heap of advantages. Since we love them so much, we won’t keep you waiting! Let’s get a closer look at what makes them so good!
Different Types of Cladding
Cladding is a layer of material that gives a building a protective skin. Cladding improves a building’s insulation, weather resistance, and appearance.
Cladding can be placed on the exterior or interior of a building (for design purposes).
Cladding is affixed to a building in horizontal or vertical rows to weatherproof and insulate it.
Cladding gives sheds and buildings their unique, rustic design. Cladding comes in many different materials and constructions. This way in which cladding fits together give it its ‘profile’.
Tongue and groove cladding, for example, is well-suited to many different timbers, including:
- And even Oak
Our carefully sourced timber, for example, is selected from dependable, high-quality European wood.
Cladding comes in a range of materials, from timber to Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride (uPVC). But cladding also comes in a variety of constructions.
These constructions include overlap, shiplap, and tongue and groove cladding. These are the three most common types for garden sheds and buildings. But tongue and groove joinery is also popular in flooring and decking. It can even be used for ceiling panelling.
Tongue and groove and shiplap outdoor buildings tend to be:
- More often than not, pressure-treated
- Made from thicker wood
- More durable
- Lower maintenance
Than, say, overlap cladding. If you want to read more about exterior cladding, check out this comprehensive guide.
Below, you’ll find a comprehensive overview of the most common types of shed cladding.
Shiplap cladding offers the visual appeal of overlap cladding. But this is combined with the strength and durability of tongue and groove cladding.
Shiplap cladding fits together with L-shaped notches. These run alternating at the top and bottom of panels. These fit into a recess (or rabbet) in the other panel. When installing, these fit together over and under each other for a tight join.
We could even think of shiplap as ‘shiplap tongue-and-groove’.
It’s this that makes shiplap cladding great for garden sheds. The ‘profile’ of shiplap creates a watertight construction. This means that it can contract and expand with changing climates without warping.
So shiplap sheds also last a long time and give your shed a sleek appearance. This is also why shiplap-clad sheds come at a higher price point.
Shiplap cladding for sheds also often has a channel in each board. This allows for better water run-off to combat the build-up of damp. Like most other cladding, shiplap can be used in interiors as well. So if you’re looking for exposed wood in your bathroom, shiplap might be for you.
- Subtle joins for a modern design
- Weather-resistant and ‘breathable’
- Easy to install for DIY projects
- Durable and strong
- Low maintenance
- Higher price point
- Can be a magnet for dust if installed in interiors
Loglap cladding is like shiplap but with a curved exterior profile resembling a log. The back of this type of cladding is flat, so your cabin interior won’t have walls with overlapping boards.
This style comes at a higher price-point but is a good alternative to those looking for a log cabin design.
Overlap cladding is where overlapping timber boards make up a garden shed’s profile. Rather than panels locking together, they overlap one another. They are then secured by nailing one plank into another and your wall studs.
Variations include waney edge, with boards with bark on them and a straight cut on only one length. You might also hear of feather-edge overlap cladding. This is like waney edge but where boards are cut straight to give a more modern and uniform look.
Overlap cladding is easy to construct and a cost-effective way of creating a durable shed. And, whilst overlap cladding allows for good run-off, it is prone to warping. You’ll also find it hard to install things like shelves hard up on the wall of your shed’s interior.
- Good rainwater runoff
- Rustic look
- Still strong
- Worse quality construction than shiplap and tongue-and-groove
- Not as durable
- Prone to warping
- Not watertight
- More easily broken into
- Difficult to install shelving
Tongue-and-groove cladding is made from wooden boards that fit together (either vertically or horizontally) with the extended notch on one board locking into the rabbet (recess) on the other. Tongue and groove cladding offers durable, watertight construction with a sleek finish.
Tongue and groove boards, unlike waney edge, get planed and cut. Their profile hides the join between boards and offers a watertight face. T&G refers to the joining of the notch (tongue) into the groove (rabbet) to create a single flat surface.
Tongue and groove cladding is usually made from wood but can also be made from uPVC. The tight interlocking nature of tongue and groove sheds also make them harder to break into. Although very good, water run-off is not quite as effective as shiplap cladding.
- Sleek modern finish
- Strong and durable
- Good water runoff
- Hard to break into
- Resistant to rot, damp, and harsh weather
- More accessible price point than shiplap
- Low maintenance
- Costs more than overlap
- Need to ensure thick enough boards (e.g. 11mm tongue and groove wall panels)
Tongue and Groove Cladding
Now, we should all be familiar with the basics of cladding. All set with shiplap, overlap, and tongue-and-groove?
Then, as this is an ultimate guide to tongue and groove cladding, let’s more on to why it’s so popular. Then we can look at how to build your own T&G shed and what you need to bear in mind.
Are you after the perfect combination of quality, weather resistance, durability and price? It’s a tongue and groove shed.
Tongue and groove is also great for people who store expensive tools and machinery in their sheds. The interlocking panels make it much harder to break into than, say, overlap panelling.
This also means your shed is more protected against water ingress. And it’ll be better insulated. This is one of the first major steps in looking at how to damp proof your shed.
Tongue and groove also offers the aesthetics of exposed timber. But, it comes in a clean, modern design. If you’re looking for a more rustic exterior to your garden buildings; think overlap.
Like shiplap, though, tongue and groove boards also contract with the climate. This makes them less prone to rot and warping. T&G’s robust nature is why it’s also so popular as a flooring material. It can withstand heavy, prolonged footfall.
And if you’re worried about a DIY project - don’t be. Tongue and groove cladding is easy to put together. It’ll only need you, a friend, and a bit of time to construct a T&G shed. Plus, you won’t need many tools.
Shiplap Versus Tongue and Groove
Now that we’ve looked a bit more and tongue and groove cladding, let’s compare it with shiplap.
Technically speaking, shiplap’s profile is a form of tongue-and-groove join. Whereas shiplap features an ‘over-and-under’ rabbet, T&G has interlocking recesses.
This means that shiplap and tongue and groove also have a similar appearance. Their join creates a smooth exterior without noticeable gaps. Shiplap’s V-groove does offer better runoff and may be better suited to large-scale constructions.
The question is - which is better?
The main differences between shiplap and tongue-and-groove cladding are water runoff and resistance. But even these are minimal.
Shiplap’s longer ‘lip’ means that the area of the seal is extended. This, in turn, might offer better protection against moisture and water ingress. Shiplap also deals slightly better with runoff.
Yet, with this comes a higher price tag. And all for quite minor improvements on tongue and groove cladding. So, ask yourself this - are you building a shed right next to your lighthouse?
If not, then tongue and groove offers more than adequate protection.
Depending on what you use - timber. uPVC is also a cheap form of cladding, but high-end versions may approach the same price as timber cladding. Overall, timber is going to be the cheapest. But make sure that you opt for quality timber.
That’s why we offer the option of pressure treatment for our high-quality European timber.
The best cladding for a shed depends on your needs, climate and environment, and budget. For example:
- Overlap, best for: A cheap alternative with a rustic feel. Perfect for sheds with no insulation and basic storage.
- Tongue and groove, best for: Accessible price point with superior strength and durability. Perfect for functional garden sheds with a modern design.
- Shiplap, best for: Harsh weather conditions with a need for durability. Perfect for more expensive constructions.
Overlap vs Tongue and Groove Cladding
|Tongue and Groove||Overlap Cladding|
|Appearance||Creates a smooth and modern finish for any garden building.||Provides an outdated slatted finish – not preferable for contemporary sheds.|
|Security||Flat surface and no-grip exterior walls mean it is nearly impossible to break cladding apart. Extremely secure.||Exposed board ends and connecting nails make cladding easy to break and vulnerable.|
|Cost||Specially constructed boards are expensive to build. High costs.||Versatile, able to use any type of wooden boarding. Cheap to buy and very cost-effective.|
|Assembly||Easy-slide in assembly with no tools or knowledge required.||Manual assembly requires tools and knowledge of how to create proper overlaps.|
|Space between boards||Next to no space between the boards. Repels draughts and water while providing insulation.||Gaps are likely after construction and can form over time. Lets in wind and rain, susceptible to water damage.|
|Strength||Internal connections create a strong structural spine.||Boards are nailed together rather than connected so provide little strength.|
Installing Tongue and Groove Cladding
Whether you’re buying or building your own shed, you’ll want to consider corners and trim. Check out our guide for treatment and trim ideas before you buy.
Once you’ve got that figured, you can look at building your tongue-and-groove shed.
The great thing about tongue and groove cladding is that it can be used for:
- Outdoor garden buildings
Installing it in your ceiling can be easier than using plaster sheets. You can then stain the boards whatever colour you want. With two people: measure your ceilings and cut T&G boards. Then, affix to your ceiling joints through the tongue joins and fit the panels together.
A similar process applies to tongue and groove flooring. But boards will still need to be nailed into your subfloor.
Tongue and groove cladding can also be used in bathrooms and out in porches. Check out this article for a more comprehensive guide to installing T&G board.
You can always add extra shiplap or overlap cladding to your shed if there’s a gap or crack. But with tongue-and-groove cladding, you shouldn’t need to.
To build your BillyOh tongue and groove shed, simply follow the digital assembly instructions included with your order. You and a friend can have your tongue and groove pre-assembled panels up in no time.
If you’re fixing tongue and groove panels, you’ll still need to nail them to something.
- Flooring - Nail into the sub-floor
- Decking - Nail into the floor frame
- Ceiling - Nail into joists
- Walls - Nail into studs
For a sleek finish without noticeable nails you can:
- Use stainless steel nails
- Hammer gently into the ridge above the tongue (Approx at a 45° angle)
- Using a nail pin, hammer in further until less visible
- Fit board into the corresponding groove
- Using a block (so as not to damage panels) hammer in to secure
- Ensure all panels are flush along the bottom edge
You could also do this with a gas gun on a very low setting. And if you’d like to read more about nailing down cladding check out this guide.
The good news is, for any tongue and groove sheds purchased from GBD, your panels come pre-assembled.
Just follow the instructions (like in the video below) to build your tongue and groove shed.
Tongue and groove cladding can be laid horizontally or vertically, depending on where in your house you’re decorating. The good thing about T&G is that there’s no way to get it wrong. This is especially true if all your boards are the same length and size.
Each piece of timber will have a tongue and a groove on opposite sides. This means that you can easily figure out what goes where. This is why tongue and groove cladding is so great for sheds and flooring.
T&G cladding for sheds, though, is usually horizontal to allow for runoff. If mounted vertically, this can allow rainwater to run down the entire length of the joint.
Installing a vapour barrier can help reduce condensation (and damp) build-up. It can also help to insulate your shed and protect it from water ingress. But it’s not always necessary. And it might be an expenditure you don’t need for a small garden shed.
When timber cladding is mounted on battens but not water-tight, it may be necessary. But with tongue-and-groove cladding, this need is reduced.
Check out our helpful infographic below to see if and where your shed needs a vapour barrier.
Tongue and groove cladding is designed to offer a watertight, weather-resistant finish. Although, it also has enough wiggle room to expand and contract in hot weather. This means that it’s unlikely to crack or rot.
Because of this, you should avoid caulking tongue-and-groove siding boards together. You can still paint the exterior, though. But you need to ensure that nothing is getting into the tongue and groove joint.
You may still need to treat tongue and groove timber, though. But you can always opt to have it pressure-treated before purchase.
Tongue and Groove Cladding and Weather
T&G cladding is weather resistant and able to expand with varying climates. Due to its resistance to rot and tight seal, it is unlikely to rot. Yet, tongue and groove timber should still have timber treatment applied. Otherwise, it should be pressure treated.
Tongue and groove cladding is not just for looks. It’s also adept at protecting your garden shed from water ingress and damage.
The interlocking system of T&G panels means that water can’t penetrate wood or the inside of your shed and contents. This also makes tongue and groove cladding less susceptible to rot.
If you’re buying a T&G shed from Garden Buildings Direct, you can opt to have it pressure treated. This is where timber is locked in a vacuum in a vat. It’s then treated with preservatives and chemicals.
Barring that, you should:
- Remove any old paints and treatments with a solvent-free oil remover
- Clean your wood with a neutraliser
- Use a water-based, saturated, or opaque finish
For tongue-and-groove sheds, we recommend spirit-based treatments. Water-based treatments may need to be applied yearly.
Garden Buildings Direct Tongue & Groove Sheds
The Expert takes pride in its T&G construction, where the timber used has been formed to allow the panels to interlock. Because of this, the Expert will remain free from water ingress and weather damage.
A pressure-treated tongue and groove building is excellent for anyone who is looking for a low maintenance shed or workshop. It will also maintain its fantastic aesthetic all year round.
If you’re planning to use your shed as storage for sizeable tools and other garden tools, or perhaps you intend to use it as your official DIY workspace, then the Expert Apex is the perfect choice!
Built using tongue & groove panels, the Bella has a secure and stable structure that’s built to last. The panels interlock, creating a smooth finish that enhances the style of the summer house. The interlocking tongue and groove panels form a strong connection which creates a high degree of structural strength.
Built using T&G panels, the Mini Master has a secure and stable structure that’s built to last. The panels interlock, creating a smooth finish that enhances the style of the storage unit.
This finish can be complemented by the additional flooring options, which we offer as a solid sheet, 11mm or 19mm T&G.
The Renna Summerhouse is also constructed using an interlocking tongue and groove method. The T&G boards provide a smooth engineered finish, which complements the modern style of the building. Each panel is 11mm thick and provides the summerhouse with excellent strength.
Pressure Treated Options
And for ultimate protection and longevity, we recommend opting for a pressure treated garden building. Pressure treatment is an extra step in the construction process, where the wood is treated in a pressurised tank, and chemical preservatives are forced deep into the wood’s fibres to resist rot, weathering, and pests.
This protects the wood inside and out and is better than regular dip treatment, as this only coats the surface of the wood. By pressure treating the wood, you’re left with a building that is low maintenance and cost-effective. You may even save money in the long run thanks to freeing yourself of maintenance worries.
To find the garden building that will suit your needs, head over to our website and shop for your dream outdoor structure!
Tongue and Groove Cladding for Sheds
And we’re done! Well done for making it this far. Now you should be an expert on tongue and groove cladding. That goes for whether it’s sheds, flooring, or decking.
We hope you’ve found the answers you need so you can make the best choice about shed cladding. But we’ll recap just in case – tongue and groove cladding:
- Is waterproof and weather-resistant
- Offers a tight seal
- Is harder to break into
- Is low maintenance
- Can be ordered pressure-treated
- Is reasonably priced
And if you’re looking to add a shed to your garden, check out the steps you need to follow to prepare your garden for a shed.Shop Reverse Apex Workshop
We think that tongue and groove sheds offer all the benefits of shiplap at a more accessible price point.
If you’re working on a large scale construction where water run-off is a necessity, though, shiplap may be a slightly better option. For the average garden shed, summerhouse, or log cabin, tongue and groove construction is a perfect choice.
We offer a wide range of high-quality tongue and groove sheds and garden buildings.
Tongue and groove cladding offers a price compromise between overlap and shiplap. For example, our sentry box storage sheds start from as low as £199.
Here at Garden Buildings Direct, we believe that tongue and groove is the most superior all-rounder. As for shiplap’s claims to better runoff and waterproofing? Some people even say that T&G is more weathertight and resistant to warping than shiplap.