Wall Enhancements: Simple Board and Batten

In may homes you may walk into a sprawling entranceway with high ceilings. Decorating these large entryways can be overwhelming and expensive! Do you purchase art and create some sort of 20 foot tall artistic moment, do you paint the area to give it a little depth or do you ignore the area because you are not sure where to start?

For less than $100 and a weekend of work, I will guide you through a simple wall enhancement: Board and Batten. I recommend MDF boards for indoor Board and Batten based on lessons from this project. When I completed this project, I used pine and ended up spending a lot of time picking out boards and painting wood imperfections. MDF’s are perfect because they do not have wood knots and you will not have to scour the hardwood selection to find the straightest boards with minimal defections. Now some people may disagree, because they like the real wood feel. When painting white, MDF’s are gold, if you are staining the wood, go with Pine.

The starting point:

What will you need for the Board and Batten project?

  • Miter saw (we love our Dewalt)
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • 1X4 MDF boards
  • 1X2 MDF boards
  • 1X3 MDF boards
  • Baseboard shoe (only needed if flooring is wood/tile/laminate)
  • Chalking gun
  • Liquid Nails
  • Nail gun (you can always hammer in the nails if you do not have nail gun)
  • Finishing nails
  • Putty
  • light grade sandpaper
  • Chalk
  • Paint

Simple Design

Project Steps for Board and Batten

Step 1: Measure

Take your time on this step. If done correctly, you will hopefully only need to go to the hardware store once. Unfortunately, due to me rushing measuring at times, most of my projects have results in at least two trips to the hardware store. Mainly because I measured incorrectly, ended up under purchasing or didn’t make a list of items needed and forgot something.

What do you need to measure?
  1. First, determine the amount of 1×4 MDF boards needed. Measure the top and bottom pieces of your board and batten. If you have traditional baseboards, the bottom piece of board will actually replace your current baseboard. In my situation, the top vertical board and bottom vertical boards needed to be 16 feet each. I purchased (2) 1x4x10 and (2) 1x4x8. I got a little extra, just in case a little mishap occurred.
  2. Second, determine the amount of 1×2 MDF boards needed. The 1×2 will sit perpendicular on your top 1×4 only. This adds a nice finishing touch to your board and batten. If you want a slightly larger ledge on the top, you can increase this board to a 1×3. I wouldn’t go any larger. I purchased (1) 1x2x10 and (1) 1x2x8.
  3. Third, determine the amount of 1×3 MDF boards needed. This can get a bit complex. You will want to equally space out the vertical boards. In my design the boards are 14 inches apart, however, nobody is going to that close of attention, so if you need to move an inch in one way of the other to avoid an outlet, DO IT! I take the outlets into consideration when deciding the space between the boards, to avoid custom cutting around the outlets. This wall is about 25 feet tall and the vertical boards are 4.5 feet each. Each of the 7 vertical boards got their own 6 foot piece of 1x4x6 MDF board.
  4. Fourth, determine the amount of shoe needed. When you take off the existing baseboard, you might be able to preserve the shoe. I was not able to do this. The amount of shoe needed will equal the bottom horizontal board. In my case 16 feet.

Step 2: Create your shopping list and purchase materials

After you measure, it’s time to get to work. All hardware stores such as Menards, Lowes or Home Depot will have all the materials needed for this Board and Batten project.

Step 3: Get to work!

  • Remove the existing baseboard
  • Cut and install the top vertical board. Use a level to insure your board is level. If your board starts at 5 feet up on your wall, measure 5 feet up in multiple places on your wall, align the board and level the board. After you are happy with the placement, with your pencil make a line on the top and or bottom of the board across the wall. Remove the board, in an “S” pattern apply your liquid nails. Apply the board to the wall, make sure you are lined up with your pencil line and nail with the nail gun. Nail every 12-16 inches.
  • Cut and install the bottom vertical board. Use a level to insure your board is level across the bottom of your floor. Your flight might not be fully level, so making sure your board is level is very important. The shoe you place in front of the board will hide any gaps. Place a line on the wall to indicate proper placement. Remove the board, in an “S” pattern apply liquid nails. Apply the board to the wall, make sure you are lined up with the pencil markings, and nail with the nail gun.
  • Install all the vertical boards. All boards will be similar in length, but you will have a few variances. I recommend doing one at a time. Measure, cut, install. The same process will occur with each board. You will use the level, mark alignment, apply liquid nails and then nail with the nail gun.
  • Affix your top 1×2 to the top horizontal board in a perpendicular fashion.
  • Install the shoe (if on a hard surface)

Step 4: In Conclusion, add the finishing touches

  • In addition to installing the wood, you will need to chalk the wall. Apply chalk to each place a board meets the wall. Smooth using your finger.
  • Putty the nails and let dry.
  • Sand down the putty nail whole and wipe with a rag to remove any dust.
  • Paint your board and batten. I used a white semi gloss.

It’s time to sit back and relax!

Looking for other simple DIY projects?

Simple Kitchen DIY: Peel and Stick Wallpaper

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