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Omaha Magazine

Board & Batten DIY: Add Dimension, Charm with this Arts & Crafts-inspired Wall Treatment

Aug 28, 2020 11:43AM ● By Sandy Matson
bedroom with DIY board and batten

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I got my first glimpse of a board and batten wall while going through a new-construction open house a year ago. I thought it was so unique and a sophisticated way to define a space in any given room. It turned out to be

the perfect DIY project for my lower-level master bedroom. 

There are many online tutorials for DIY board and batten projects, and many surprisingly easy ways you can achieve this upscale look at a low cost. In my case, it was a weekend project for my husband and me.

So, exactly what is board and batten? Essentially, it’s a classic type of wainscoting or wood paneling. True board and batten is made with wide, vertical panels and narrow battens—long, flat strips of metal or wood—fastened over the gaps between the boards. This treatment has been popular for home exteriors, barns, and sheds for centuries. It’s more recently become quite trendy for interior walls, specifically to add visual interest.

Something to note upfront: We chose to skip the board part and use our existing smooth drywall (not textured) for the backdrop. This saved a lot of time and money and created the same effect. However, if you desire the real thing, by all means do it! We also chose a preprimed MDF wood to reduce the time spent sanding imperfections and painting. 

Overall, we are very happy with the project that a little paint, wood, and teamwork made happen in a short time. I have to give my husband a lot of credit, since I really needed his help due to a fractured wrist and my lack of power-tool experience. Four hands are definitely better than two. The end result exceeded my expectations, and it’s become a lovely addition to our recently renovated basement.

Supplies needed:

* 5 1/2” x 3 1/4” x 96” Pre-primed MDF base moulding
* Nail gun
* Stud finder
* Table saw and/or miter saw
* Level
* Tape measure
* Sanding block
* Pencil
* Safety glasses
* Primer
* Paint
* Paint roller
* Paint brush
* Paintable caulk
* Caulking tool

Instructions:

Step 1: Place a horizontal header batten board at the desired wall height. (We measured 70 inches up from our baseboard, but you can choose the height you prefer. A 36-inch height will achieve a wainscoting look.) Once level, nail the batten into a wall stud. Do this across the entire length of the wall. 

Step 2: Place a second horizontal batten 14 inches below the header batten. Repeat across the entire length of the wall, securing into the wall studs.   

Note: For our battens, we used the same material as we did for our baseboards previously on our basement renovation, so the two matched up perfectly. If your materials don’t match, I suggest you miter them so that they end up the same width at the bottom of your baseboards.

Step 3: Measure and cut two vertical batten boards for both corners and secure.

Step 4: Measure the total width of the wall, find the center, and decide how many battens you’d like. Our total width was about 102 inches. We decided to go with six spaces, so we’d need five battens. Subtract the total width of all your battens from the width of the wall. Then divide the number you came up with by the number of spaces you want. This provides the proper spacing you’ll need for the vertical battens.

Step 5: Measure and cut additional vertical battens as needed. Then secure to the wall, paying close attention to spacing. (We placed the verticals about 24 inches apart.)

Step 6: To finish it off, cut a 1/2-inch strip from an extra piece of batten. Secure the strip, placing it flush against the top of the header batten, creating a very slim shelf. This detail really completes the look nicely. You can make it wider if you prefer to create a picture ledge, for instance.

Step 7: Caulk all the seams and board edges and fill in the wood knots and nail holes. Allow to dry. Then sand down the excess caulk and raised edges before painting. I recommend using a paint with primer included. I used Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17 and painted several coats.  

Have fun and get creative with it!

This article first appeared in the September 2020 issue of Home Magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.