15 September 2009

Board and Batten ~ A Tutorial

If you or your man can paint and operate a table saw, then you can do a board and batten treatment on your walls. The great thing about this treatment is that it can be as simple or as fancy as you want. We went with a very basic, sort of rustic design, which is perfect for our room. I've seen plenty of designs that use more trimwork or only cover part of the wall. Whichever way you like it, this is something you can do.

Here's our "before".

And the "after". If you want to see tons of "after" pictures, click here to see another post about this project.

I'll bet that most of you could figure out how to do this without our help. I'll give you the rundown of how The Hubster and I made it happen but you'll probably end up doing it your own way. Here's what we used:


  • 2 sheets of 3/4 MDF
  • 2 inch trim nails
  • Primer (Kilz because that's what I had in the garage already)
  • Paint (Fence Post by Behr in semi-gloss because I had lots left-over from painting my kitchen stools)
  • White, paintable caulking
  • Sand paper

  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Nail gun

If you want a more detailed cost and time breakdown, click here for those details.

Step 1: Paint the walls. It may seem illogical, but the first thing that I did was roll on two coats of the paint directly on the walls. My logic was that getting that base color on with a roller would be way faster than doing it with a roller AND brush once the wood was attached to the wall. We had flat paint on the walls in this room so I didn't feel the need to prime (not that I ever feel the need to prime walls).

Step 2: Cut your crown pieces. The crown piece around our ceiling was cut from the 3/4" MDF. We decided to go with a 5" crown. No real designer-type reason. 6" seemed too wide (if we had 9' ceilings, I would have done 6") and I was afraid 4" would look like a 2x4. So we went with 5".

Step 3: Prime and paint the crown. Since this was made from MDF, it needed to be primed. It was going to butt-up against the ceiling so I decided it would be easier to paint it before putting it on the wall. No cutting in against the ceiling.

Step 4: Hang your crown. We started in the far right-hand corner of the room and worked our way around to the left. We miter cut each board where they butted up against each other then used a nail gun with 2" finishing nails to hang the boards. We used a power nail gun. You could do this by hand, but I don't think I would want to. It's a LOT of nailing. I would say rent or borrow a power nailer if you can.

You'll end up with little gaps where the boards don't line up perfectly. That's OK. You'll fix it later with caulking.

Step 5: Cut your vertical strips. We decided to go with 2" vertical strips (the battens). Not for any good reason. It just looked right. You could go wider or skinnier depending on the look you're going for. We used about 37 of the vertical strips.

We also cut a 45 degree angle at the bottom of each batten so that it doesn't overhang the existing baseboard where they butt-up against each other.

Cutting MDF is MESSY!

Step 6: Prime your battens. This was the most irritating part of the project. Priming each of those strips was a pain in the wahoozit. After about 45 minutes, I figured out that you could stack a group of strips and paint all the edges at once, then lay them out side by side to paint the top surface.

Step 7: Hang your battens.
We decided to hang our battens 12" apart. It just looked right. We also did a little math ahead of time and figured out that 12" apart meant that none of the battens landed directly on the window trim. We cut 2 pieces of wood that were 12" long and used them as spacers. That way we weren't having to measure each time. It also helped make sure everything was plumb (that's the vertical version of "level"). We got the first board plumb and used a spacer at the top and bottom of each new board to make sure things were straight.

Once we got rolling, this part went quickly. Each batten needed to be cut to the right height as we went so The Hubster would do 4 or 5 at a time and we would attach them to the wall with the finish nails. Depending on your walls, you might want to use some liquid nail on each piece but ours were holding fine with just nails.

Step 8: Fill your nail holes. We used a lightweight, paintable wood filler to fill in all of the tiny little nail holes in the crown and on the battens. We also used paintable caulk to fill in an gaps in the crown seams and between the batten and the crown. I also ran a line of caulk between the top of the crown and the ceiling. It eliminated that tiny, annoying gap at the ceiling.

Step 9: Paint the whole thing. We used a brush to paint the sides of each batten and a narrow roller to do the flat surface. Since the main part of the wall was already painted, we just touched it up where needed. And don't forget to touch up the nail holes in your crown.

And that's about it. It wasn't a difficult process although it did get tedious at times. Here are a couple of lessons learned through this process.

1. I'm not sure that the process of painting the wall first was the fastest way to go. I could be convinced that it would have been easier to hang all of the wood first, then prime and paint everything (including the wall) at once. It's probably 6 of 1, half a gallon of the other. Is anyone still reading this?

2. It's HARD to get an even finish when you use semi-gloss paint on the wall. At some point, I might repaint with satin. Shhhhhh. DON'T tell The Hubster. Surely he's not still reading this.

3. This is addicting. I'm already dreaming of what we can board and batten next. The dining room. The master bedroom. The doghouse. We don't even have a dog.

4. I used the word "butt" 3x in this post. Heh heh.

So what do you think? Are you dying to try this? I'd love to hear if you have plans to try it out.

59 comments {Click here to leave a comment}:

{oc cottage} said...

Does that look awesome, or what???!!!

m ^..^

Cheryl said...

I love this treatment on the walls, but my hubs wouldn't go for it. : (
Your version of it looks BEAUTIFUL!

Unknown said...

I DO love it! I AM dying to try it. But it will have to wait until I need something new here, or buy another house. It really does seem to be pretty simple with the right tools, time, attitude and helper :)

Yours looks great, Kimba!!

Kelee Katillac said...


This is great! So happy your MAN is manly::)...
saw and ALL!

Really looks great--way to go!

love, kelee

The Weathered Cottage said...

haha. you're hilarious. We've been planning on doing this in our living room since we moved in. hopefully this week!! I'll let you know how it goes, thanks for the tips especially!!

jeanne @ Inspiring Ideas said...

Looks great! I'm excited for you!! Fun transformation!

The Book Addict said...

Looks great! I'm curious to see how you'll decorate the wall with pictures and whatnot!

southerninspiration said...

love the look....it looks fairly easy and so worth it!!!


Kristy said...

Could you estimate about how long it took you to do the whole thing, and how much you spent? And maybe how big the room is?

I'd like to do this in my office, but am waiting until I can rope someone into helping me. Right now I'm just trying to get as much info as possible!

Anonymous said...

excellent tutorial!

CourtneyKeb said...

I love how it opens up the room and gives it a lot of character!

BlueCastle said...

I love how your room turned out. It's so beautiful. I'm kind so impressed. I am saving this and filing it away. Definitely something I want to do in my house. Thank you for taking the time to make a tutorial. :)

Candace said...

Plain and simply LOVE IT!

Jen said...

First, your post is hysterical...and no, your hubby was not possibly still reading :)
Second, LOVE IT!! I am going to use you to convince my hub that we NEED this on our stair-wall going up. Yay!!!
You did an awesome job!

duchess said...

I am dying to try this. I was showing my husband yesterday's post & listing the rooms I wanted to do.
He was thrilled (not really).
I'm glad I now have details to give him once I talk him into it.
Great job Kimba (& hubby).

bj said...

I have the one wall in our dining room (post coming up 28th (using some of your photos since you said I could..:O)
and as soon as I can swing it, we'll do our entry. Will let you know.
xo bj

Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs said...

Yes. I am totally dying to try this. Layla did a redesign for me, too, and I just emailed her to "ask permission". We'll see what she says! Thanks for the clear instructions, tips and pictures! My hubby will have to come read this!!

Cheryl @ a pretty cool life. said...

Very pretty, but not for me. I'm a wainscotting kind of girl. :)

Gina said...

I love it-and oh how my husband would roll his eyes if I even suggested it! But it does look great!

Leyla Preissinger said...

Love the lamps on the table btwn the 2 leather chairs; where did you get them?

Unknown said...

Great job! I'm gonna do this in my bathroom sometime this week, I just gotta get around to it. It's such a small room that I can do it in a couple of hours, easy peasy. Oh yeah, and I'm not even telling the Hubs what I'm doing, just gonna go at it.

You always dish up such great inspiration!

Brittany@Superwoman said...

Thanks for the tuturial! I'm really thinking about doing this to my living room!

Nepperess said...

Love, love, love it. Yours looks so good, it looks like I've convinced my man to do it in our stairwell (halfway up, chair rail height). Not anytime soon mind you, but still, we both love the look, the cost and how simple it is!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Wonderful!! :) My husband loves to use his tools, but has to be motivated to get them out. :)

Amber said...

Great tutorial! (I know I'm tired because I just had to respell tutorial 3 times, ha!) I love all your little helpful hints. I would love to try this somewhere in our house, but I'm just not sure where!

The Nester said...

I adore you.

will you marry me. No butts.

The Nester said...

PS, how long would you guess it would take a person and her husband to do this?

a weekend? 5 weekends?

Kimba said...


Those two lamps came from Target about a year ago. I snapped them up when they went 75% off. Major bargain!


It' an Evolution said...

Gives the room so much more height and texture....great job!
We have board and batten on the exterior of our home and I just love love love it...some cozy.
Great job!

Jenny@ L.O.T.s of Love said...

I would like to try this on the angled wall under my stairs. It just needs something! It would be MUCH smaller than your project and a good place to start. Thanks for the tutorial!

Lucrecia said...

I AM dying to try this! I can't pick a place yet, office - long hallway - living room - our bedroom....

Mrs. Gray's Class said...

Looks great - I'd love to try this in the basement room of our house. It just gives the room such a custom, finished look. I'm looking forward to seeing how you arrange and hang things on the walls.

Gussy Sews said...

LOL! I loved this post. Loved the little jokes and funnies throughout.


Astrid in Bristling Acres said...

We'll be doing this very soon! I just need to decide on paint colors for the living room/kitchen and which walls to do the treatment on...can't wait! Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

Anna K said...

Great tutorial. Can't wait to see your finished dog house (ha ha)

Kristina said...

I love this. I will probably have to try this one day. I think my rooms would look so much better with this wall treatment!!

Miss Mustard Seed said...

MDF is so cheap, I've got to give this a try. I'm waiting for hubby to get a new table saw and I'm going to give it a try in our bedroom. I've always thought I would put up bead board, but that's an expensive project. Thanks for sharing the details!

Erin said...

fantastic. instant architectural interest! not to mention the 3 "butts" kept me interested as well.

Denise Vakili Fine Art said...

Wow, that really looks great. When will you be posting "how to squeeze a few more hours out of a day?" That's the how to I'd love to see! Nice, nice job.

Timi said...

That looks awesome! Another thing to add to the Honey-Do list. Thanks for sharing. Love your blog.

Ribbonwood Cottage said...

Oh my gosh! This make me ache just thinking about all the work you did. But boy oh boy does it look amazing! I'm lovin' it. You should post all about this on DIY day! Cause baby you get the award! I love it.

Amanda said...

Great tutorial and tips at the end. My hubby and I are hoping to do this in our upstairs hallway sometime (hopefully soon!).

Anonymous said...

This looks awesome! You're so lucky to have a hubby who's willing to help with decorating projects! BTW- are you going to name a winner of last weeks DIY day?

Room to Inspire said...

Wowwww! It looks fantastic...thank you so much for the step by step. I think I will have to show the Mr. :)


Junk Mammas said...

Looks beautiful. We love it!!

CRICKET said...

Its pretty fabulous! Makes me wish we had a new home to work on! Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark for when we are there.

Unknown said...

Yay! Thanks for the directions, girl, but you forgot the most important one! How do I convince the hubby that we NEED this? :)

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

YES! This is wonderful! You always give the best directions. I'll be linking.

Amy {The Red Chair Blog} said...

Wow--what a transformation! Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

Mandi @ Sweetly Home said...

I deifnatly want to try this. I've actually wanted to for some time. We have absolutely zero arcitecture in our home minus the baseboards. It's B-O-R-I-N-G. I'd really like to do it to our hallway. We shall see!!! I think my hubby would go for it...

Unknown said...

Kimba, Thanks so much for the tutorial. I have been wondering about how you handle the baseboards. I love it and am trying to decide if I want to tackle this project.

The Fabric Floozie said...

Great tutorial and it looks fabulous!

grannyann said...

That came out so neat. I love the look.

Unknown said...

I love it! Yes, the Hubby and I are planning to use board and batten in our family room and kitchen nook (they are right next to eachother) to give it a cozy cottage feel. I have seen this idea popping up in new homes in our area and on bloggy land. It's a fantastic way to make a major impact, customized look, without a lot of $$$.

Thanks for sharing...your family room looks fabulous!!

Roeshel said...

I would love to give this a shot. It's gorgeous. Great job! Now - if only the walls of our old house were square...I think it'd go a lot better. ;)


michelle@somedaycrafts said...

This is such a beautiful technique. I love it. when we build a new house..... I will do this!!! I featured this at somedaycrafts.blogspot.com I am totally inspired for your blog.

Melanie said...

Just saw this in a magazine yesterday & pointed it out to my husband as something I'd like to do! Thanks for the tutorial, it is great! I'm going to have to wait until we get moved into our new (old) house to give this a try...it's being renovated right now, but my hubs will kill me if I add on anything else now that work has begun!

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