How to Install a DIY Board and Batten Wall (2024)

A DIY board and batten wall can add depth and visual interest to your interior that's unachievable with ordinary painted drywall. While there are many DIY accent walls across the internet labeled "board and batten," a true board and batten wall feature narrow vertical battens covering the seams between wider vertical boards.

Often associated with farmhouse style, board and batten walls look great in several home styles, like modern, minimalistic, and coastal. While this exterior siding style started as an effective rain-shedding solution for exterior walls, it has made its way into interiors as a purely decorative element.

Before You Begin

To better understand the difference between traditional board and batten and the interior iteration we've outlined in this tutorial, we've broken them down below:

  • Traditional Method: Traditional board and batten consist of installing vertical panel boards, then covering each seam with thin battens. The only reason you would opt for this method over the drywall method is if you were starting on a stud wall with no drywall installed or if you planned to leave the board and batten wall raw or stained rather than painted. Of course, this method is also ideal on an exterior.
  • Over-Drywall Method: This method is outlined in the steps below. It treats your drywall as the wide boards in the board and batten look, rather than requiring the actual installation of boards. This makes the project more accessible by cutting costs and labor significantly. Because of this, this method is the most common method for interior walls.

Board and Batten Size and Spacing

Because the over-drywall method doesn't rely on the width of actual board seams for batten placement, you can really place them wherever. While placing 1x3 battens on 10- to 12-inch centers will yield the most traditional board and batten look, playing with the spacing can yield a better look that's more tailored to your space. For example, if you want a thicker batten such as a 1x4, which has an actual width of 3-1/2 inches, you'll likely want a larger space in between battens.

This will be dependent on the size of your wall and the look you're after. In a tighter space, it often looks better to opt for closer battens. However, on a large wall, spacing the battens more will keep the wall from looking too busy. In the same vein, thinner battens will look better in a smaller space, while wider ones will work in larger spaces. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules, and you can always adjust according to your preference.

How to Determine Your Board and Batten Spacing

While a quick online search will yield several calculators for determining your board and batten spacing—the easiest way is to decide how many spaces you want between the battens, then add one to this number to determine the number of battens needed. Once you determine this, input these numbers into the formula below.

Wall length in inches-(batten width X total number of battens) ÷ total number of spaces = space between battens

For example, here is what the formula would look like for a 15-foot wall with 15 spaces and 16 battens measuring 2-1/2 inches each:

180 inches - (16 x 2.5 inches) ÷ 15 = 9.33 inches

This means the battens will have 9-1/3 inches between them. Always round your number to the nearest 16th inch.

If your results of the formula yield too large of spaces between the battens, simply increase the number of battens and spaces in the formula until it yields a space width that you like. Likewise, if the spaces are too small, decrease the number of battens and spaces. Just make sure to add or subtract the same number from the battens and spacing when changing the formula. The number of battens should always be one more than the number of spaces.

Tip

Check with the hardware store or lumber yard you're shopping with. If they have a return policy for materials, it may make more sense to buy one or two extra boards. This will ensure your project doesn't come to a halt due to not having enough boards and allow you to adjust your plans if desired.

Board and Batten vs. Wainscoting

Many people use the terms "board and batten" and "wainscoting" interchangeably. The main differentiation is that wainscoting typically describes a type of trim and paneling system that covers part of the wall, most often the lower third. Additionally, wainscoting can be done in a variety of styles such as beaded paneling, flat paneling, and stile and rail, which closely resembles board and batten.

What Wood to Use for Board and Batten

Premium pine (pine with no knots) is a great, economical option for an interior board and batten feature wall. But, if you'd like to upgrade the wood and still plan on painting it, poplar is an excellent choice. While the tight, unique grain isn't known for staining, it accepts paint very well and is easy to work with, even for amateur carpenters. Additionally, poplar is more impact-resistant than many pine options.

Another popular option for the painted board and batten walls are MDF (medium-density fiberboard), which is very dimensionally stable and easy to work with. However, we don't recommend the use of MDF in areas with potential water exposure.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Miter saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Level or laser level
  • Utility knife
  • Flat pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Brad nail gun
  • Caulk gun
  • Rag
  • Painting supplies

Materials

  • 1x4 x 8' premium pine boards
  • 1x3 x 8' premium pine boards
  • 1x2 x 8' premium pine board (optional)
  • 1-1/2" 16-gauge brad nails
  • Latex caulk
  • Construction adhesive
  • 120-grit sanding block
  • Raw wood primer
  • Latex interior paint

Instructions

How to Install a DIY Board and Batten Wall

  1. Remove Existing Baseboard

    Remove the existing baseboard and any other trim present on the wall. To do so, first, lightly score the caulk seam between the trim and the wall using a utility knife, then pry at each nail point using a flat bar.

    Tip

    If there is shoe moulding present, remove it carefully and reinstall it after installing the base of the board and batten wall.

  2. Mark Wall for Horizontal Board

    If you're installing a partial board and batten wall rather than a full wall, measure up from the floor the distance that you've specified for the wall to stop, then use a level to trace a horizontal line across the wall or set up a laser level representing the line on the wall.

    If you're installing a full-height board and batten wall, simply mount the board against the ceiling.

  3. Find and Mark Studs

    Locate the studs using a stud finder and mark them at several points from the floor to the horizontal line for future reference. Your finish nails will not always land on studs, especially when securing the battens, but the construction adhesive will hold them in place once it dries.

  4. Install Horizontal Board

    Measure the length of your wall and cut a 1x4 to length. Apply a wavy bead of construction adhesive to the back of your board, then hold the top of the board against the line, press it against the wall, and fasten it using finish nails in the studs where possible.

  5. Mount Top Trim (optional)

    On a partial board and batten wall, you have the option of placing a decorative trim board on top of the upper horizontal board. To do so, cut a 1x2 to the exact length of the horizontal board. Place a small bead of construction adhesive along the top of the horizontal board, then place the 1x2 on top of the horizontal board with its thin dimension facing the wall so the edge is overhanging, and secure in place with brad nails.

  6. Install Baseboard

    Cut and install a 1x4 (or whatever board matches your baseboards) along the floor using construction adhesive and a brad nailer.

  7. Install Corner Vertical Battens

    Cut each corner board to length, apply a wavy bead of construction adhesive to the back, then nail it in place using a brad nailer.

  8. Cut Spacer Board

    To make quick work of mounting the vertical boards, use the formula above to determine the space between each batten, then cut a scrap board exactly to this length.

  9. Cut and Mount Each Batten

    Cut each batten to the length of the space between the two horizontal boards. Starting at one of the corner boards, slide the spacer board in place, then butt the edge of the batten against the end and mount it in place.

    Continue this method on the top and bottom until you reach the other end of the wall. For extra holding power, apply a wavy bead of construction adhesive to the back of each batten.

    Warning

    There is a good chance your floor isn't perfectly level, especially in older homes. If that is the case, make sure you individually measure the length of each batten, rather than cutting them to one specific length.

  10. Sand the Boards

    Sand away any splintered edges or rough points, then lightly sand each board's edge to remove the sharp edge. This will add durability and help keep the edges from being creased as easily on impact.

  11. Prime the Boards

    Once all dust has been removed, prime the boards using a raw wood primer, following the manufacturer's instructions for application and re-coating, including sanding between coats if necessary.

  12. Caulk the Joints

    Caulk every single joint and fill any nail holes with caulk. If necessary, drive the nails further into the wood using a nail set.

  13. Paint the Boards

    Once the caulk has hardened, paint the boards and the wall with your desired paint color, applying as many coats as necessary for coverage.

How to Install a Stained Board and Batten Wall

If you desire to show off the wood grain of your board and batten wall, the installation process is similar, yet slightly more involved. The main difference is that, because you obviously can't stain drywall, you must either remove the drywall or cover it with wood.

Covering it with wood is the easiest route, but this can add nearly one inch of thickness to your board and batten wall. If that works for your space, simply cut panels using stain-grade plywood and install it over your drywall before following the steps above. Account for the need to cover the seams between plywood panels when planning your batten placements.

Tip

To elevate the look even further, swap the pine boards for wood that better accepts stain such as oak, maple, or other hardwoods.

How to Care for a Board and Batten Wall

To keep your DIY board and batten wall looking its best for years to come, regularly clean it according to the paint manufacturer's guidance. Keep any leftover paint on hand for touch-ups in the future.

FAQ

  • What kind of wood do you use for a board and batten wall?

    You can use nearly any type of wood for an interior board and batten wall. Popular options include premium pine, poplar, and even MDF. For board and batten walls that won't be painted, hardwoods such as oak and maple are great options.

  • Is board and batten an easy DIY?

    Installing board and batten in your home is an easy DIY project that nearly anyone can do. Once you figure out the best board and batten layout for your space, the installation process is quick and can be finished in one weekend.

  • Does board and batten go over drywall?

    Board and batten can easily be installed over drywall in interiors that already have drywall installed. In most scenarios, it makes more sense to use the drywall as a backer and simply attach vertical battens to the wall. Once the entire feature wall is painted, the drywall behind the battens looks like boards.

How to Install a DIY Board and Batten Wall (2024)

FAQs

How to Install a DIY Board and Batten Wall? ›

What kind of wood do you use for board and batten walls? Both wood and MDF are common for board and batten installation. MDF is easier to work with, smoother, and more cost-effective.

What kind of wood do you use for board and batten walls? ›

What kind of wood do you use for board and batten walls? Both wood and MDF are common for board and batten installation. MDF is easier to work with, smoother, and more cost-effective.

Does board and batten need to be nailed to studs? ›

If you're using thin, lightweight lumber, you won't need to stress about it. However, for everything else, it's a good idea to attach your boards to the studs wherever possible. If you can't find a wall stud, use wood glue/liquid nails and a nail that's long enough to secure the wood to the wall.

Is board and batten easy to install? ›

Is DIY board and batten hard to install yourself? This is a fairly easy beginner to intermediate project. Board and batten doesn't require a ton of tools or woodworking experience, which makes it a great project to DIY in your home.

What are the rules for board and batten? ›

apart, battens should overlap by at least 1/2 in. With wider boards, increase batten overlap proportionately. While there are no set widths for board and batten siding, an attractive combination is 1×3 battens with 1×10 boards. Siding should be nailed to horizontal blocking lines or to furring strips.

What is a cheaper alternative to board and batten? ›

Engineered wood is typically opted for due to its wood-like appearance yet cheap price, making it a great alternative for the pure wood board and batten siding. The material is easy to maintain and install. It is quite durable too and can last up to 25 to 30 years.

Do you screw or nail board and batten? ›

You will need at least 1-3/4” screws for the wide boards and at least 2-3/4” for the narrow battens. Boards should be screwed 2” from both the top and the bottom and then at least every 2' vertically. Nails are not recommended for exterior wood siding!

Do you need backer board for board and batten? ›

With traditional board and batten walls or siding, the battens are laid on top of backer boards. An easier method, though, is to attach the battens directly to the drywall. The look is the same as if you had installed backer boards. You can add backer boards if you like.

Can I use liquid nails for board and batten? ›

Once you finish all of your cuts, lay the boards face down and get ready to start hanging! Our spacing didn't match up with the wall studs, so we used liquid nails to attach the vertical boards. You can use a combination of adhesive and brad nails if you have spacing that will match up with your studs.

How do you attach batten board to wall? ›

Measure the length of your wall and cut a 1x4 to length. Apply a wavy bead of construction adhesive to the back of your board, then hold the top of the board against the line, press it against the wall, and fasten it using finish nails in the studs where possible.

Do you have to caulk a board and batten wall? ›

You want to FILL the holes and CAULK the gaps. Here are some tips on how to use the Filler and Caulk: Use a putty knife to help fill the holes. No putty knife, use your fingers.

What are the disadvantages of board and batten? ›

One major drawback of board and batten siding is the cost. It can be more expensive than other siding styles, like traditional lap siding. However, many homeowners find that the durability and timeless appeal of board and batten siding justify the higher upfront investment.

How high should DIY board and batten be? ›

For this style, a good rule of thumb is that the vertical boards should be in the range of ⅔ of the height of the wall. Tape it and adjust. If you want to add artwork or lighting, that may mean a bit lower.

How much does it cost to DIY board and batten? ›

DIY Board and Batten Siding Installation vs. Hiring a Professional. The cost to install board and batten siding yourself is between $0.75 and $10 per square foot.

How thick should wood be for board and batten? ›

The most common arrangement uses 1x10 boards and 1x2 or 1x3 batten. You can also use 1x8 or 1x12 boards and 1x4 battens. To seal out moisture, the boards should be in sound condition and free of open knots, and the battens should lap at least 3/4 inch onto the boards on both sides.

How thick is wood for board and batten wall? ›

2) Full Board with Battens – This is probably the most common method. You basically install a giant piece (or pieces) of 1/8 inch thick Hardboard, or Plywood, or Beadboard on to the wall.

What material to use for exterior board and batten? ›

While board and batten siding is typically wood, it can be made from vinyl, fiber cement or steel. But when it comes to durability, engineered wood siding is a smarter buy compared to solid wood siding because it mimics its look, but features greater durability and easier maintenance.

What wood is batten made from? ›

Lath: Usually made treated softwood or hardwood. Typically ranges from 1 inch to 2 inches in width and 3/8 inch to 3/4 inch in thickness. Batten: Also made of timber like wood pine, but can include metal or plastic options. Generally broader than lath, ranging from 1 inch to 4 inches in width and similar in thickness.

References

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