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DIY Board & Batten Tutorial (On a Textured Wall)

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Article by Trim Design Co.

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DIY Board & Batten Tutorial (On a Textured Wall!) was originally published in Trim Design Co.

In case you missed it, we recently installed board and batten in the living room to cover the awful textured wall that had been taunting me since the day we moved in.

Here’s a before and after look:

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Before we get to the tutorial, let’s answer a couple of key questions.

1. What is board and batten?

To quote Wikipedia, board and batten is a wall “treatment of vertical boards with battens covering the seams.” Basically, it’s flat panels (the board) mounted to a wall with long skinny boards (the batten) mounted vertically (and evenly spaced) to hide the seams where the panels meet. You can get fancy with top and bottom trim, and ever add horizontal pieces to create a grid look, but the basic concept is the same.

2. What are some reasons to install board and batten?

  • To cover a textured wall that you don’t want to deal with sanding down

  • To add architectural interest and character—wall moulding is so charming and can make a home feel more historic, refined, and elegant

  • To fill a large blank wall in a less expensive way than buying large-scale art

  • And many more!

Ready to do this? It’s Tutorial Time!

These are the materials that we used:

  • Measuring tape
  • Trim puller
  • Caulk and caulk gun
  • Level
  • Nail gun with 1 ¼” brad nails
  • Adhesive like this
  • Circle saw for trimming panels down to size (a table saw would have been better, but we didn’t have one)
  • Miter saw for trimming board length (again, a table saw would have been ideal and could have done all the cutting needed for this project)
  • Sawhorses w/ plywood board to create table for cutting
  • Benjamin Moore paint-and-primer-in-one, semigloss, Decorator’s White  
  • Paint rollers (1 regular and 1mini)
  • Small paintbrush for painting the trim

*If you don’t have a saw and don’t want to rent one (or if you want to avoid using a saw around little kids) you can have all of your wood pre-cut when you buy it at Home Depot or Lowes. Since I live in a historic building with floors and walls that aren’t always straight, we decided to cut our wood ourselves as we went, since we knew some boards might need to be a skosh longer or shorter than our calculations, thanks to our wonky old building.    

*Every project is different*

For our project, these are the boards and sizes that we used:

Backing boards: 1/8” x 4’ x 8’ hardboard tempered panels, trimmed to size (4 total)

Long battens: 1 in. x 4 in. x 6 ft. Select Pine Board, trimmed to size (8 total)

Base moulding:  3/8 in. x 1-1/4 in. Pine Stop Moulding

Cove moulding::  9/16 in. x 1-3/4 in. x 96 in. Pine Cove Moulding

Top trim: 1 in. x 5 in. x 7 ft. Pine Board , trimmed to size (2 total)

Top ledge: 1 in. x 3 in. x 6 ft. Pine Board, trimmed to size (3 total)

*The actual width of the board is half and inch less than the name, so a 1”x4” board is 3.5 inches across and a 1” x 5”  board is 4.5” across etc… So the batten pieces are 3.5 inches wide even though the boards we used are called 1”x4” boards.

**A note on wood selection: We used pine because it’s very affordable and we knew we’d be painting it, but we selected each board carefully, avoiding boards with large knots, splinters, or warping. You could also use MDF or another wood like oak.

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STEP 1: Plan your board and batten wall 

Planning makes perfect!  Grab a tape measure, pencil & paper (graph paper if you have it!) and a calculator (aka your phone) because it’s time for some basic math and some sketching! This is going to tell you how much wood you’ll need to buy.  

It’s important that the batten pieces (which are the vertical trim pieces that are attached on top of the boards to hide the seams where the boards meet) are evenly spaced, so take the width of your entire wall and divide it by the number of spaces you want on the accent wall, which in our case was 7.  

Remember to add one to the number of spaces and that’s how many battens you will need because you want to have one in each corner.

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But how far apart should each batten be? Typically, batten are spaced anywhere from 12” to 24” apart. I think it looks best to space them as close to 18” as possible, but that’s just a personal preference. Our wall is 164” wide, so we used 8 batten (for a total of 7 spaces) with a distance of 19.42 inches between each batten. That’s as close to 18” as I could get because we need to make sure all of the spaces are exactly the same width.

Here’s how I got that number:

  1. Add up the total width of all the batten pieces:

    • 8 batten x 3.5” (width of each piece) = 28”

  2. Subtract the number you just got from the total wall width:

    • 164” - 28” = 136”

      • This is the remaining wall area that will be showing between each batten

  3. Divide this number by the number of spaces (remember there is one less space than there is batten because you will have a batten piece at either end of the wall):

    • 136” ÷ 7 = 19.42”

      • This is the distance of the space between each batten.

Next, measure the height of your wall and decide how high you want the board and batten to be. For our wall, I wanted it to be the height of the doors on the adjacent walls, but level with the doorway inside the door casing, not the height of the casing itself. I chose this height because I wanted it to be tall (to hide the textured wall!) but not quite as tall as the door casing since I didn’t want to match the style of the top ledge with the style of molding on top of the door casings and I thought they might look incongruous if they were the same height in slightly different styles. If that’s confusing, here’s a picture of how high I made the board and batten compared to the adjacent doorway:

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STEP 2: Cut your panels (the 'boards' of board and batten) down to size using your circle or table saw

You’ll want to use your graph paper and measuring tape to decide how wide to cut each board. The goal is to cover the length of the wall with the boards, making sure that each seam where two boards meet will be hidden by a batten.

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STEP 3: Use your trim puller to remove the trim that sits above the baseboard so that when you install the panels onto the wall they can rest on the baseboard

Later you’ll be installing the base trim piece to cover the seam where the panels and baseboards meet.

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STEP 4: Install the panels

  • Use your sketch and your measuring tape to figure out where the batten pieces will be installed on top of each board and then traced a line down the board with a pencil to represent the batten.  This will tell you where you can safely use the nail gun to attach the board to the wall because the batten pieces will cover the nail holes.

  • Load your adhesive into your caulk gun and cover the first section of wall liberally in squiggles of the glue

  • Lift the board into place and lean on it with all your weight while one person uses the nail gun to add some nails for extra reinforcement around the edges of the board where they will be covered by batten pieces and down the pencil lines you drew.

  • Repeat until all the boards have been installed

Video: DIY Board & Batten Install Part 1

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STEP 5: Add the batten and the top trim

Note: I’m switching tenses to first-person and speaking about what we did here because it’s too complicated and confusing to explain this part in second person.

  • First, we assembled the two pieces for the top trim together on the floor, this was because to get the sizes just right for ours we wanted to mount the part that stuck outward on the face of the wall-mounted board, so it needed to be attached first. If you want to install that piece ABOVE the wall-mounted board for the top trim, then you can just install it once it’s on the wall.

  • Then we installed top trim at the height we wanted using a level to make sure it was straight and securing the ends first with brand nails from a nail gun. We added some nails in the middle, following up with a few more nails every foot or so for added support.

  • After the top trip piece was up we attached the cove piece using a nail gun

  • Then we used a pencil to mark where the middle of each batten needed to go (using the length for between each batten that I calculated earlier + the width of a board) measuring from the middle of one batten to the next (be careful on the ends where the middle of the batten is half the board width from the wall).

  • Then we measured the height at each point (because we knew the baseboard was not perfectly level) and cut each piece to the right size, putting it up to fit and re-cut as needed. (You really want this to match up very well since any gaps will need to get covered.)

  • Next, we installed the batten on either side of the wall first, using a level to make sure it was pointing straight up (definitely double check this if you have old walls!). We put in 4 pairs of nails at the top, middle, and bottom parts of the board to make sure they were firmly secured and relatively flat against the wall.

  • Now we cut a scrap piece of wood to the length I calculated earlier for the spacing between two battens, to use as a spacer, first putting it at the top of the board we had just attached and putting only one nail in (so it could still swing a little) and then putting the spacer at the bottom, quickly checking to make sure it was straight with a level, and then nailing the bottom. At that point, the board was straight and equally spaced and we could finish putting in the rest of the nails.

  • We then just worked from one end of the wall across to the other side...easy-peasy!

Video: DIY Board & Batten Install Part 2

STEP 6: Install the base trim using a nail gun

STEP 7: Caulk and/or putty any cracks/gaps

STEP 8: Paint!

Video: DIY Board & Batten Install Part 3

That’s it! And now that ugly textured wall is GONE, BABY, GONE! 

If you have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment or message us on the Gram!

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Follow Trim Design Co. @trim_design_co.
 

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