How to Board and Batten

If you’ve been watching my Instagram stories or seen my recent post there, you know that I just completed doing Board and Batten on all the walls in Gracie’s room! I did it ALL BY MYSELF ? From start to finish! And if I can do it, you can too!! I’m going to answer all of the many questions I’ve been getting here and you can also watch all the stories with step by step instructions on my B&B  DIY highlight bubble on Instagram!

This is probably my most asked question! And the answer varies! I already had all of the tools that I needed so those were not a cost for me. Also, the room I did was relatively small (11×12 ft) with only one full wall. I spent $140 on all the wood trim and $30 on the paint. So, for me, I spent a total of $170 on this project. 

How much are you saving yourself doing it yourself?
I am not 100% sure, but a friend got a bid for something similar at $1000. If that is true, that’s over $800 in savings.

How long did it take you from start to finish?
It took me about 10-11 hours nonstop working, I did it over 4 days.

What tools did you need?
For this project, you will need a…

  1.  Miter Saw– This the one I have and it’s a great starter one. You can also rent them hourly from your local home improvement store.
  2. Nail gun and Air Compressor – This is the bundle that we got one year and it has been such a great thing to have!! You can also rent these. I used Gauge 16 nails 1.25 inches long.
  3. Putty and Knife– You’ll need these to fill in the nail holes.
  4. Sand Paper- to sand down the wood filler.
  5. Caulk Gun and Caulk– You will also want baby wipes for this step. They help so much!(you’ll use a lot)
  6. Level
  7. Paint, brush, roller, tray, tray liners and drop cloths.
What is Board and Batten’s function?
To be BEAUTIFUL!! haha But really, it adds beautiful texture and pattern to the walls. It makes even a small room feel bigger and creates a high-end look for a small cost.

What material are the boards?
I like to use Primed MDF trim. It is affordable, durable and I love that it comes primed (saves so much time).
Here are the links to the two boards I used  ONE, TWO

What is the width of the boards you used?
I used 3.5-inch width for the top trim piece that goes around the whole room.  I used 2.5-inch width for the vertical pieces.

Could Home Depot cut them for me if I don’t have a saw?
Technically yes, but I don’t think it would work. You need the cuts to be very precise and even after I have measured twice and cut I will need to go back and cut again.

How did you know how far apart to space them?
This is probably the hardest part and the hardest part to explain. Heres my process- I choose the focal wall and take its length. Let’s call this X. Then I decide about how far I want the vertical boards apart and the look I’m going for. In this case, I decided I was looking for about 14 inches apart.

You need to add to the 14 inches the width of your vertical board (2.5 inches for this project), so 16.5 inches. This is the value of one “section”. I will divide the length of the wall X by 16.5 and see if that comes close to a whole number.

So say my wall length is 144 inches (X). I divide that by 16.5 and get 8.72.  That means If I did the width of 16.5 for the sections there would be 8.72 of them (one of them would be smaller than the rest by about a quarter). At this point, I increase or decrease the width of the section by a quarter-inch (sometimes less until I get as close to a whole number as I can while also staying close to the section width I want.
If I reduced the section from 16.5 to 16.25 and divided X by that, it would equal 8.86 boards- better!
If I reduced the section to 16.125 (16 and 1/8 inches) and divided X by that I get 8.93 -PERFECT! Very close to a whole number while still a measurement on my measuring tape
– So 16.125 is the section width and we will round up to 9 boards on that wall neglecting the .64 inch difference. The difference between the boards for the last section will be slightly shorter than the others, but the eye won’t notice!

How did you use the spacer?
Creating a “Spacer” is SO helpful!! I took the section width that we just determined -16.125 inches- subtract the width of vertical board (2.5 inches) = 13.625 inches (13 and 3/8) That is the difference between the two boards. I cut two scrap pieces of trim to this length, wrote SPACER on them with a sharpie and then I can use this to place up as a spacer when putting each board up so I don’t have to measure each time. It makes things go so much faster!

Are you matching the top trim piece to the same width as your baseboards?
No. My baseboards are 5 inches wide.

How tall did you end up putting the trim?
The ceilings in Gracie’s room are 8 feet tall and from the floor to the top of the board and batten is 73 inches tall.

Do the boards need to be nailed into studs?
No. They are not weight-bearing and if you make sure you have enough nails (every 4-5 inches for vertical and 2-3 inches from the horizontal top trim. We’ve done this quite a few times now and never had an issue. They are very secure with consistent nailing.

Did you have to put in new molding at the bottom?
I did not because I have square molding.

What would you have done if you had angled floorboards?
I would have replaced them with square baseboards. This would have obviously increased the cost and time!

Why do you measure the height of each one? Wouldn’t they all be the same height?
No room is perfectly straight with perfectly level baseboards. I measured each one and they different up to half-inch in some places even though the top trim piece was level.

Why did you choose to have it not have it go to the ceiling?
We did to the ceiling in our entryway and I love how it looks. Since I knew I was painting it pink I didn’t want the whole room to be pink and wanted to break it up with some white. It also gives an illusion of taller ceilings since the ceiling is white too.

How did you do all this with your littles around?
I did it while Lila was at school (Gracie is really chill) or when they’re asleep at night. Or one day I had my Nanny for 5 hours and decided to do it during the day so I could film it with natural light for you:)

Where did you get the table that you put your miter saw on?
Ikea! It was like $10!

Would you recommend piecing together the vertical boards or is that a bad idea? 
I would not. It’s hard to have them line up perfectly and you can easily see it. I don’t think it ends up looking professional.

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