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Easy DIY Board and Batten Wall Tutorial

Our home is a builder-grade house, which typically means - no custom wall treatments. But, wall treatments are probably the quickest and best way (in my opinion) to make your home look so much more custom! Depending on your wall texture too, it could be as simple as adding some paneling and painting.

This was our home when we first purchased it (Zillow picture in all its glory):

This space often felt a little drab and disconnected from the home. I wanted to brighten up the space while still creating a cozy dining nook feel.

This is what it looked like after we bought some furniture, took out the popcorn ceiling, and painted. P.S. notice the missing baseboards? We've been living like that for over a year. Oops.

We knew that we wanted to add some board and batten here for some time, but it took me a while to figure out exactly how I wanted it.

Finally, one weekend, we decided to tackle this project. And thankfully, it really did only take us a weekend to finish! Read below for a super simple board and batten DIY - something you can do to customize any room in your home, that is also very first-time DIYER friendly.

The most important part of this entire project was mapping out where we wanted the "batten" to be. I knew I wanted it to wrap around the room, but I had to get the spacing right otherwise the treatment would end with a wonky width.

I tried a couple different combinations, but settled on 37 inches. This allowed the room to look cohesive, not too narrow in between the "batten" boards, but also ensuring we started and ended the wall treatment with the same width.

I used my trusty painter's tape to draw it out, and it was off to Home Depot we went!

Another important step: Put up a thin MDF board if you have heavier textured walls. We have a builder-grade home from the 80s, so our whole house has knockdown texture. It's not super heavy, but you can see it in the picture below. While it's not a necessary step, I always feel board and batten (or any wall treatment) looks a million times better with no wall texture in between. It's a personal preference. Skip this step if you have flat walls or don't care about the texture peeking through.

The MDF also helped solve the problem of "how tall do we want the board and batten to be?" Ideally, I would have went 3/4 height of our 8-foot ceiling, but it would have been too much of a project to cover the seams perfectly. We already did that in our office, and decided it wasn't worth the headache, especially for a weekend project.

We went with MDF boards that were 4 feet tall, so our board and batten ended up being half the wall length (or 4 feet). This part is also a preference - you can make it any height you want depending on how tall your ceilings are, or what you think looks the best in your space. This is where taping it out really helps!

** Side note, make sure you use a nail gun and not just liquid nails for this. You don't need to hit the studs, but you do want to make sure it's really flat against the wall. Also, make sure to examine your pieces of MDF. We found a lot of bent pieces at our local Home Depot/Lowes. Especially if you're painting it white, you'll definitely see the dents/bends in the wood.

Now that the "board" was installed, it was time for the "batten!" We measured the length or the wall (make sure to have separate measurements for the bottom vs. the top, not all walls are 100% even)! We started with the perimeter, with one piece on the bottom as the baseboard, and another on the top to line it.

Once that was installed, we measured each piece in between (again, make sure to measure every distance. Just because one board measured to be 60 inches doesn't mean the next one won't be 60.5). The less gaps you have by cutting correctly, the better it will look in the end without needing to use a bunch of joint compound/wood filler.

** Remember, measure twice, cut once! You want these cuts to be as accurate as possible.

The size of the panels are at the bottom of the post, I linked the one we use below.

Once you're done with that, go around and cover up the nail holes with some joint compound. You can also use wood filler, but we decided to use mud as we already had it in our garage. It was probably overkill, and wood filler would work just fine.

As you can see, the nail holes are covered, and we just needed to fill in the spaces where the vertical boards meet the horizontal boards. You want to lay this on thicker, so that it fills in the cracks and makes a smooth service after you sand.

You want this to look seamless when you paint.

Once everything is mudded and looks good, go ahead and caulk all the seams! We caulked the inside of all the boards, as well as on top. This just makes it look uniform and seamless, like the board and batten was meant to be there! Then, sand the rough areas down and run your hand over it. It should feel smooth without any cracks, bumps, or patches.

This was our finished product before the final sand, and before the paint!

Make sure to wipe the walls down after sanding, and you're at the home stretch!

The final part is the one I dread the most - painting. We opted not to spray, as our walls are SW - Alabaster and I went with SW - Extra White (same as our baseboards around the house) for the board and batten. It would have probably been easier to spray, but we were tired of prep work and didn't want to cover the entire room for overspray. I found that rolling it looked fine, and didn't leave any visible streaks, so it worked out great. Just make sure to cover your floors because paint it really hard to get out, especially once it's dried.

I did 2 coats back to back, and it was done!

All in all, this took us a full weekend, and the hardest part was all the measurements since every wall was a different width. Filling in nail holes and seams is tedious, but super easy once you're in the swing of it. We decided for an all-white room, but I've seen so many color combinations that all look amazing.

This is what it looked like once we finished:

Materials Used:

  • Nail Gun (this one is ours)

  • Painter's tape

  • 4 Sheets of MDF (3/4 x 4 feet)

  • Joint compound (any brand is fine)

  • Caulk, but make sure it's paintable (this one is our favorite)

  • 1/2 x 5" Primed MDF Baseboard for the bottom panel

  • 1/2 x 4" Primed MDF Baseboard for the top and vertical boards (linked)

  • Sanding block (we used 120 grit, but could have done 80)

  • Paint (we used a gallon of Sherwin Williams, Extra White)

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