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Home Improvement: DIY Board and Batten

Oh my.  Once again, I’m so surprised what a little paint and some measly pieces of wood can do.


We decided right after we moved in to this house, that we wanted to gussy up the dining room.  And, oh my, I’m so glad we did!


The room was sort of a tan color, with oak baseboards and crown molding, and carpet.  So……..we tore out the carpet (the person who originally thought carpet was a good idea in a dining room, should be punished…  Kid or no kids, spill and crumbs happen.  Grrr.), installed hardwood floor, painted the walls, painted the ceiling, primed and painted the crown molding, Trimmed out the Window, trimmed out the entryway, and…….



……..added some Board and Batten.  Ahhhhh.  ((…swoon))





Yeah, it took some time to complete.  But I would do it again in a heartbeat.  And I surely wouldn’t appreciate it quite as much as I do, had we hired someone to do it for us (oh yeah, and we couldn’t afford to to hire someone either).





The Board and Batten wraps all the way around the bottom third of the dining room, and butts right up against the trimmed window.  (Yeah, the window is another satisfying project!)





Along the top of the Board and Batten, there’s a slight edge, about 3/4 of an inch thick.  It creates such a nice crisp line, all the way around the room.





And I’m kinda crazy about how it looks with our newly installed floors.  (I’m almost ready to share how we installed those bad boys ourselves and saved some cash.  We’re finishing up the kitchen section this week, and then I’ll be back with that.)





Okay, and because before and after pictures are even more exciting then the projects themselves, here’s the best I had.  They’re different angles, but you get the idea.  (And sadly, I should have taken more photos of the house before we began ripping things apart.  I thought I had taken so many.  But apparently not of this room, oooops.)





Oh, and in case your dining room doesn’t need an update but you’re wondering how this would look in another room…






The dining room is officially the first room in the house that is completely done.  (Except for replacing an outlet cover that was stepped on and broke.  Ooops.)   But I’m so happy that we took the time to really pretty it up with this Board and Batten stuff.  It adds such nice lines and really brightens it up!


So, SO happy we decided to give it a try! :)




Would you like to tackle Board and Batten too?



Before you get started, you need to sit and stare at the room/area you’re making over.  Then ask yourself some questions…  Where do you want the Board and Batten to begin and end?  Do you need to re-paint?  Will you need to tear out your baseboards?  Can you make the current ones work?  How will the transition look from one space to the next, if I add it in? 


However, don’t let those questions scare you.  I think you can make this stuff work in most spaces… just takes some thought.  And if you have a set up different than mine, trying searching the internet, because maybe someone has done it already and you can piggy-back off their idea. :)

. . . . .


***Read through the tutorial completely before purchasing supplies, because what you need may differ from what I used.

But here’s everything I needed to complete this project:

  • 3 1/2 inch wide x 3/4 inch thick MDF (for the top of the B&B)
  • 5 1/2 inch wide x 3/4 inch thick MDF (for the base of the B&B)
  • 2 1/2 x 1/4 pieces of wood (for the vertical slats of the B&B)
  • sheets of thin paneling (for the background of the B&B)…more info about this below
  • Construction Adhesive
  • Staple Gun (or hammer and nails)
  • Paintable Caulk
  • Wood Filler
  • Electric Saw (or a hand saw….and lots of patience)
  • Miter saw (or miter box and a hand saw)….you’ll only need this if you’re turning a corner with your B&B
  • Primer Paint
  • Top Paint



If you’re painting the main section of the wall another color, do that first.  (And if you’re painting ceilings and old crown molding, do that very first.)  However, you only need to paint the top 2/3 of the wall.  The rest will be covered… save yourself some paint.




Now, measure the height of the wall you’re adding Board and Batten to and then decide how high you want it to go.  I’ve seen Board and Batten 2/3 of the wall height….and it’s beautiful, but I went with a 1/3 of the wall height.  (However, if you’re working with a vaulted ceiling, you’ll have to play around with the measurement a bit.  Look around at finished homes too, you’ll surely find an idea that you like.)  Our walls in the dining room are 8 feet tall or 96 inches, so a 1/3 of that is 32 inches.


Next, is when you need to decide if you want to cover the bottom section of the wall with a smooth surface or just use the textured wall as the background of the board and batten.  I’ve seen it done both ways and if your wall is only lightly textured, I’d say go for it.  But ours is heavily textured and I just really wanted a super smooth Board and Batten background.  So, I searched Home Depot for something really smooth and cheap.  And I found this thin paneling stuff for about $15 for a 4×8 foot sheet.  It’s smooth on one side (like a white board) and brown and un-sealed on the other side.  Written on the sticker, it said that one side was smooth and the other side was paintable, so I bought several sheets.  Then, we measured pieces of the paneling that were 32 inches tall.  (Steve is using a really long straight edge that we used to lay the hardwood floors.  It worked great for making a straight line on this stuff.)



Then, we used a Jig Saw to cut right along the line.  (This paneling is kinda floppy, so try hard to keep it still while cutting.)  It’s pretty easy to cut but makes a bunch of dust.




But before you actually put this first piece up on the wall, decide where you want each of your vertical B&B slats to be.  The reason why, is because you’ll save yourself some finishing work (meaning, less wood filling, sanding, etc.) if you position the lines where the pieces of backing meet together, behind those slats of the vertical wood pieces.


So, the easiest way (at least for us), was to measure the wall and then divide it by your magical number of how far apart you want each vertical slat to be.  Our studs are 16 inches apart and we initially were going to nail them into the studs, so we went with 16 inches apart.  However, the studs weren’t evenly spaced at each end and may have driven me crazy to see my slats not evenly spaced on each end, etc.  So then, we realized that those little slats were so light and weren’t going to go anywhere after they were glued, nailed and then caulked in place.  So we ditched the “nail-each-one-into-a-stud” idea. However, we kept the 16-inches-apart idea. And made marks all the way along the top of the paneling, 16 inches apart and about 8 inches at both ends.  And then we put our big sheets of 32 inch high paneling along the wall (not glued or stapled in, only sitting there), making sure that any time we pieced the paneling pieces together, it hit right at one of the marks where a vertical slat would go.



Then, if you have any outlets along your wall, it’s time to do some measuring.  Measure how far from one end and how high from the bottom edge of the paneling the outlet will pop through.  (This is the white side of the paneling, just so that you could see the marker line.)



To get your Jig Saw in there to cut out the opening, drill a large hole within the lines of your outlet box.



And then place your Jig Saw inside of that hole and then cut out the rectangle for your outlet.





Then, be sure that your outlet openings are centered over your outlets (circled below).  And since this picture is a little closer, you can almost see the green marks, where our vertical slats will go (above each arrow).



When you come to something that will interrupt the flow of the B&B, be sure to measure around it and cut out the exact shape in your paneling.



However, if it’s not perfectly flush, remember that we’ll be caulking.  And caulking covers a LOT! :)



After you’re sure all of your paneling fits, glue all of it in place.  We like to used Liquid Nails….it’s crazy strong and dries quickly (just don’t get it on your skin).  And add a few nails/staples if you want to.  But truly, this construction adhesive works incredibly well.  And the paneling isn’t super heavy.



Now, it’s time to add the top and bottom pieces to your Board and Batten.  I put wider MDF along the bottom and more narrow pieces along the top.  Just be sure to use a level for the top board, so that they are completely level and are even with the top edge of the paneling.  (If the paneling was slightly lower in some spots, that’s okay, you’ll be able to fill it in with caulk.  But if it’s too tall, you’ll need to cut it down.)  Also, before you nail your MDF pieces in place, remark your little vertical slat markings up onto your wall, so that they aren’t hidden beneath those pieces of horizontal wood.  (Yeah, putting the marks on the wall to begin with would have been smart.  So yeah, maybe do that! ;) )



If you are turning a corner with your Board and Batten, miter the corners at 45 degrees, so that they fit nice and snug.  (That just means that each end is cut at a 45 degree angle, so that they fit together nice and snug, in that 90 degree corner.)



And if your top or bottom board runs into anything (i.e. a window), just cut it off straight, so that it butts right up to it.



Then, place your slats up against the wall, and get a good look at your spacing.  Then cut each slat at the correct height, between the top and bottom horizontal wood pieces.  And because floors and walls are often times uneven, your slat heights may vary slightly.  So, measure each one individually.



Then, put each slat beneath your mark on the wall, level it vertically……



….then staple in place.  (You can glue it first and then staple it, but it really doesn’t need the glue if you don’t want to add it.  (The caulking will really seal it in at the end.)



Also, be sure that your staple (or nails) or buried beneath the surface of the wood, so that you can fill with wood filler and disguise it later on.  If the nail sticks out, you won’t be able to hide it.



Repeat with all of your vertical slats.


Now, it’s time to fill all of those holes in the short vertical slats and the long horizontal wood pieces.  Fill, fill, and fill some more.



And I forgot to take pictures of this step, so I’m borrowing some pics from the Window Trimming tutorial……..but after your wood filler has dried, be sure to sand everything down, nice and smooth.


***And then sand down any other hard corners or curves along your Board and Batten.  Such as, where your top and bottom pieces meet a window or an entry way, etc.  You want things to look pretty smooth and uniform, but the amount of sanding and blending is up to your preference.



Once you’re done sanding, vacuum up as much as possible.  Then wipe with a damp cloth to get all of that dust off and then let dry.  However, if you don’t want to wait for the wood to dry (after wiping it with a damp cloth), using denatured alcohol on a cloth will make the cloth damp enough to attract the dust but dries instantly.


Now you’re ready to caulk.  Oh, caulking, I love how you hide all those gaps and itty bitty mistakes.


And in case you didn’t see it, here’s an example of a before/during/after shot when I trimmed out my windows and then caulked and painted them.  Good ol’ caulk.



Now, begin caulking all your cracks and gaps, hiding any imperfections.  I’m serious……this stuff is magic! :)  (Just be sure you’re using paintable caulk.)



But here’s my secret.  A bowl with a bit of water and some wet paper towels.  ALWAYS keep your fingers wet when working with caulk because it keeps it smooth and easier to work with.  And then you can wipe your fingers off on the towels when they get gunky.



Then, smooth out those lines with your wet finger.  (There are caulking tools to smooth out those lines…..but I prefer my finger.)  Then re-wet your finger, and repeat.  After every swipe, I wipe my fingers on the wet paper towels and continue on.  If your caulk is looking bumpy……just really wet those fingers and smooth it out.  Just be quick about it all, because caulk starts drying pretty quickly.



Then, repeat until all of your cracks are filled and smooth.



Now, add some primer paint to that dark paneling board.  It’s pretty dark and the primer really helped seal it.



Now, paint your little heart out.  If you need help painting straight lines, check out my Painting a Perfectly Straight Line tutorial.


And like I was explaining above, you may have some spots that need some extra sanding to help blend.  For example, the top horizontal piece came out slightly more than the vertical entry way board on the left (and that’s because the horizontal board is sitting on top of the paneling behind it).  The arrow is pointing to where I sanding it slightly, so that it blended it.



Here’s a close up.  See how it comes out just a bit more on the right.  I smoothed it out and rounded the edge a bit, so it blends in a little better.  And who would know whether or not it’s supposed to be like that or not.  I like it just as well….because it adds another line.



Now, touch up any paint where needed………and enjoy your newly installed Board and Batten.


Let me know how it goes for you…..and send pictures/links if you’ve done this already and want to share! :)



. . . . .

Keep that home reno momentum and try your hand at some of these tutorials:


How To Stain Oak Cabinets


Trimming Out Your Windows


How To Stain/Paint and Oak Banister


Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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