How To DIY A Board And Batten Wall [Step-by-Step Guide]

What is board and batten?

Board and batten detailing makes for a charming aesthetic on walls. It has been used in interior and exterior designs for many years, adding timeless appeal and interesting architectural elements to otherwise ho-hum walls. There are myriad applications for this style; from board and batten on kitchen, walls to board and batten living room wall designs. It’s textural interest makes it a home decor favorite for a reason. 

What is the history of board and batten?

While DIY board and batten walls have become popular, this type of wall is far from new. Traditionally, board and batten was a type of building facade that complemented the housing structures of the past, and covered up seaming while producing a more stable, energy-efficient siding. This type of exterior style was used on log cabins and barns, which is why half-board and batten walls can be referred to as ‘barn siding’ at times. 


Nail your Vertical Boards in Place

Once the horizontal boards were all in place, he moved on to cut, fill, and nail the vertical boards into place. Going off of the design plan, he knew the accurate measurement of the length of each board should be cut too.

However, he measured twice before running out into the garage, on the job site, to cut before putting it into place. And even though he still had his pencil lines to follow the design, he also had his laser level on to ensure accuracy. 

STEP 4: Install top bottom horizontal boards

In order for your new baseboard to fit, you may have to notch your existing baseboard on the left and right wall (see picture below). Make a pencil mark on your existing baseboard where it needs to be cut, and cut the baseboard using a multi tool.

Secure your boards to the wall with liquid nails and your brad nailer.

For the top horizontal board get a measurement either from the ceiling or from the floor on where you want your top board to be. Once you nail in one end, use a level to level out the board, then put nails in the rest of the board to secure it to the wall


Frequently Asked Questions

Is board and batten outdated?

No! You can make it look as modern as desired based on the way you paint it and how you furnish the room. 

Is DIY board and batten hard to install yourself?

If you follow a single tutorial that you are comfortable with, nope!

How much space do you leave in between boards?

This is personal preference and often based on eye balling spacing. We will often tape a few battens up on the wall with painters tape to get a visual idea. 

How high should a board and batten be?

This is totally personal preference. It doesn’t matter at all and there are no rules for this. 

Can you do board and batten on textured walls?

You absolutely can! We did it in our last home’s dining room turned living room and it worked out beautifully. 

Of course, you could smooth out the walls first if desired or install a thin piece of drywall or wood over the textured walls if you wanted. 

How much does board and batten cost to add to an interior wall?

This project can cost anywhere from $50 to $300 depending on which materials you use and how fancy you get with it. Of course, even on the high end, this is still a very economical project in the big scheme of projects. 

What kind of lumber is best?

You can use pine boards, MDF boards or plywood boards (ripped down to desired size).

4. Add top and bottom pieces

(Image credit: Kaitlin Madden)

Next, it’s time to install the horizontal trim pieces. If you’re doing a whole room’s worth of wall decor, you’ll want to use a miter saw to cut the ends of the trim pieces to a 45-degree angle so they fit together nicely at the corners. If you’re only doing an accent wall, you can make a straight cut.

(Image credit: Kaitlin Madden)

Then, add a squiggly line of liquid nails to the back of the trim, and stick it on the wall, using a level to make sure the trim is even. Once it’s level, use a brad nailer to secure it to the wall, adding a nail every 3-4″. Repeat for the rest of the walls and/or the bottom trim piece. 

5. Attach battens (vertical boards) to the wall

Mark on the wall exactly where your battens need to go based on the spacing you determined in step #4.

Then, measure the exact height needed for each batten based on where they will be attached to the wall. Because most walls aren’t perfectly straight, the measurements may be slightly different for each. Cut each 1×4 batten to size using a miter saw.

Use construction adhesive (we used Liquid Nails) a

Use construction adhesive (we used Liquid Nails) and 1 1/4″ brad nails to attach the battens to the wall.

What kind of wood is used for board and batten?

‘If you plan on installing exterior board and batten siding, you must use wood that is both insect and moisture resistant. A popular choice is a cedarwood, cypress, white oak, and redwood, to name a few,’ says Rebecca Fernandez, author at Restyled Homes Blog (opens in new tab)

‘For interior projects, the standard wood choice is pine since it does not need to withstand outdoor elements. You can opt for  MDF instead of wood to reduce your cost even further.’

Level Plan

Get your level out and pencil in your design. Jamie uses a laser level so he can see the light and follow it perfectly along for a straight line. He also uses a hand level to pencil the lines in as he traces along. 

My secret weapon to an inexpensive board and batten wall treatment:

Here is the trick to installing board and batten wall treatment on the cheap……furring strips.  

What are furring strips you ask? Well, they are thin strips of wood generally used in construction and other rough lumber jobs.  You can use them in installing doors, installing them under something to keep them away from moisture.  They are used all the time.

You can usually find these furring strips in an assortment of sizes including 2 by 2 inch square, 1 by 4 inch, and 1 by 3 inch strips.

The reason they are so inexpensive to use is because they are not perfect.  They are not grade A lumber and you may often find pieces with knot holes or ones that are slightly warped.  Don’t worry though, you can easily find pieces that are perfect for your DIY projects.  And…if you find you have some with imperfections such as knot holes, it is totalyl fixable with some wood putty.  Nobody will ever know.

How to Install the Boards

Follow these steps to properly install the boards:

  1. Before starting the vertical board installation, install a skirt board (a board that’s wider than the siding boards).
  2. Place the skirt board at the bottom of where the siding will end, and make sure it’s level before moving onto the next steps.
  3. Once the skirt board is level, use a nail gun or hammer to install three vertical nails every 18”-24”.
  4. Now, you can install the drip edge. You can use a piece of metal flashing for this.
  5. After that, you can begin installing the siding boards.
  6. Starting at one corner of the house, place a board flush up against the wall and make sure it’s plumb.
  7. When it is, secure the board by installing two nails at the top of the and two to the bottom of the board.
  8. Once it’s secured, install two nails every 18”-24” along the board’s length.
  9. After that, measure the gap that you’d like in between the boards.
  10. Install the next boards the same way you installed the first one. Keep going until you reach the other corner of the house.
  11. When it comes to the windows, measure and cut your boards to the size that will fit above and below them.

Now, it’s time to install the battens.

Find qualified siding company

Not a real zip code.

STEP 8: Sand

I used 320 grit sandpaper to sand off all of the excess wood filler. I took the same sand paper to lightly go over every board before painting.

Board and Batten Materials

As I mentioned, we have installed board and batten numerous times. And each time we did it a little differently. In general though, for most applications you will need:

  • 1″×4″ primed MDF boards (top board)
  • 1″×3″ primed MDF boards (battens)
  • 1″×2″ primed MDF boards (optional top ledge)
  • wood filler/spackle 
  • paint
  • 2″ nails for your brad nailer

Step 3: Cut and Nail the Battens

Using the measurements from my Sketchup model, I cut each piece of 1×4, making sure the miter saw was set correctly at 45 degrees. It’s easy to get mixed up, so double check which piece you are cutting and which way the 45-degree cut is running.

I started by nailing up the two longest pieces.

I started by nailing up the two longest pieces.

To make spacing easier, I found a scrap piece of w

To make spacing easier, I found a scrap piece of wood, and cut it to 12″ in length, and used it as a spacer as I nailed up each piece.

I continued this until all of the pieces were nail

I continued this until all of the pieces were nailed to the wall.

Step 6: Spackle, caulk sand

Put your power tools away because the hardest part is done! Time to spackle those nail holes…

And caulk allllll the seams (the most time consuming and my least favorite part)…

Give those time to dry, use a sanding sponge to get all the spackle nice and smooth, then move on to the last phase.

Step 4: Install the top ledge

Once all the battens are up, it’s time to add the top ledge. This part is optional, but I think it makes the molding look more finished (plus it’s so cheap and easy to add!)

Grab a ladder (or a taller person) and measure the width of your first wall. You’ll want to miter the corners of these just like the baseboards and 1×4’s.

Apply a generous line of liquid nails along the back.

Set your ledge in place. Happy face optional.

Nail down at several points along the ledge, being careful to aim towards the back so your nail doesn’t end up coming through the front. It can be a bit tricky to get the tip of the gun flat against the molding, but you can always hammer the nail down later if it doesn’t fully countersink (we had to do this a few times).

Here’s a closeup of the mitered edges in the corners (we had to come back and do the wall on the right another day because we were waiting on our door trim to be installed).

On the opposite side where the wall ended, we made simple straight cuts.

Carry the ledge all the way around the room. Here’s an inside joint from above:

And an outside joint:

Almost there!

How to Install Board and Batten Cheaply and Easily

So I started sketching out plans and crunching numbers to brighten it up with some extra chunky, double tall board and batten. (Skim, hold the whipped cream.)

We wanted to do it cheaply but didn’t want to be ripping MDF or plywood boards to get the job done. We wanted a one and done process.

So the answer for cheapest DIY board and batten? Furring strip pine boards.

What about the trim?

You can choose to replace all of your base molding when you install board and batten, but that isn’t very cheap or easy so I didn’t want to go that route. 

The problem is most base molding angles to a very narrow edge at the top.  I have seen some people deal with this issue by using 1/4 inch MDF to make their board and batten.  That works well because then the board and batten is as narrow as the top of the base molding so there is no problem. 

I chose not to go that route because I wanted chunkier, more textured board and batten and also I didn’t want to deal with ripping a big sheet of MDF into dozens of strips of wood.

Instead, I went with a method I found at the site School of Decorating.  I simply cut a 45 degree angle into the bottom of each of my vertical boards where they met the base molding.  This is really easy to do with a miter saw and in my opinion still looks great.

In our bathroom, we were also dealing with a window.  The window had a similar issue with the bottom casing of the window frame angling down to a very thin edge. 

After considering my options, I chose to simply remove the existing board below the windowsill and replace it with a piece of 1″ x 3″ board cut to the same size. 

It blends in with the rest of the molding much better now and I saved the piece I removed in case we want to put it back at some point in the future.

Cost Considerations

Installing board and batten exterior siding is more expensive than vinyl siding but comparable in price to engineered wood and cement-fiber siding. Siding is measured and estimated in “squares,” with each square containing 100 square feet. Both cedar and redwood are comparable in price, running $500 to $650 per square when using 1×12 boards for the wide planks and 1×2 boards for the narrower battens. The cost to install Cyprus, locust, white oak or hemlock runs about $250 to $400 per square. Add another $15 to $50 per square (for any type of wood) to seal, stain, or paint the siding after it’s installed, and for the screws, caulking, and furring strips required for installation (see below).

Trimming interior walls with board and batten is far less expensive because no base planks are used—the battens install directly to drywall, which substitutes for the wider vertical boards used in exterior siding. It’s also possible to use cheaper wood, such as pine, because interior walls needn’t stand up to the elements.

Instead of squares, the standard is to estimate the cost of interior board and batten is per linear foot. For example, to install a board and batten wainscoting (32 inches high), using 1×4 boards (spaced 12 inches apart, for instance) and installing a horizontal top board and a baseboard (of the same dimension), you’d pay approximately $3.00 to $4.00 per linear foot. The cost will increase if you choose to position the battens closer together or extend the battens higher on the wall. Add another $1.00 to $1.50 per linear foot for paint or enamel, plus the nails and glue required to install the boards.


Photo: Zillow Digs home in Howell, MI

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Howell, MI


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