Are you wanting to make a big impact on a little budget? Well then, a board and batten wall is your way to go! We finally finished ours up, and it has completely changed the space. We could tell at step one when we put up the backer board that this was going to be impactful project, and the finished product sure did not disappoint. When we bought the house, we had a window on the dining room wall that looked through to our master bathroom. Weird, right? We thought so too when we toured the house, but decided to buy it anyway and figure out the awkward window later. We didn’t want to figure out a way to fill in the window hole, so the only other option was to cover it up. We decided to go with a board and batten in the dining room, and later we will put a different wall treatment on the bathroom side, so you will never even know the window was there.
I’ve seen a lot of board and batten walls done lately, and there are so many directions you can go in. I’ve seen squares, rectangles, a combo of the two, classic white, statement colors, molding, no molding. We decided to go with a combo of a few ideas. One, I knew I wanted to keep the wall white. We have a very small dining space that directly leads into our small living room. Although I love the bold colors I’ve seen lately, I was worried a dark color would make the space feel smaller. We also have a lot of colors in our decor, so I didn’t want the wall to clash with what we already have. The second thing that dictated our board and batten style was my window frame picture that I wanted to keep on that wall. (I have a beautiful vintage window frame from my great grandmother’s house. You can see more about it here.) We haven’t hung the frame back up yet, but it’s one of my favorite items, and we get a lot of compliments on it. We don’t have anywhere else to hang it, so we decided to make the middle square big enough to fit the frame. The rest of our squares on the wall were planned around the size of the middle square. Lastly, I knew I definitely wanted to line the inside of each square with molding. This was something that stood out to me on every Pinterest picture I looked at. I love the way the molding adds a touch of elegance and timelessness.
All and all, the project was pretty easy and the impact it made is huge! You can read below on the steps we took to make this wall happen, but first, let’s take a quick look at the before and after!
What you need:
Table Saw (You can have Home Depot cut your items if you don’t have a table saw, or alternatively a circular saw would work, too.)
How you make the Board and Batten:
*If you have smooth walls, you can omit this step. If your walls are textured, then you can either use this method, or you can skim coat the wall if you prefer.
You’re going to start by putting up your hardboard to cover the entire wall. First things first, remove all outlet covers and anything else on the wall, and mark your studs.
Cut your backer board to fit the size of your wall. You will have to use several boards for this step. Be sure your seams are lined up in places the batten will cover later on. For us, we were able to use three hardboards, and cut each so that the seams were where our three horizontal battens would be. This only required us to cut about a foot off both the length and the width of each hardboard. Don’t worry if your seams don’t match up exactly, as they will be covered later on.
When putting up the backer board, you will want to cover the back with liquid nails, place it on the wall, and then nail the board into the studs.
Be sure to cut out holes for any outlets you have on the wall. We measured where our outlet was on the board, and then used our Dremel to easily cut the hole out. (If you don’t have one of these tools, I highly suggest getting one. We use it for every single project we do.)
We used 1 x 4 inch primed pine boards from Home Depot, mainly because our Home Depot’s table saw was broken, so they couldn’t rip a sheet of MDF for us. We didn’t want to rip the MDF board ourselves, so out of convenience we chose the primed pine boards instead. However, if you’re trying to stay on a smaller budget, MDF was a fracton of the price. Just be sure whatever product you decide to use doesn’t have knots and is very smooth.
Start by framing the outside of your wall. We did the verticals sides first, and then the horizontals sides. Next, we moved onto the inside squares. Again, we started with the vertical battens first, and then did the horizontal battens. When cutting the horizontal battens, you will have to cut the width of each square, rather than being able to use one long batten that’s the length of the entire wall like we did for the verticals. When cutting the horizontal battens, cut them to be a really tight fit. You want all your square edges to all be as flush as possible, so your finish is smooth.
When putting up each batten, add liquid nails to the back, and then nail them into the wall. If your batten lies over a stud, your wood will stay on the wall no problem. We ran into a small issue where one of our battens did not stay on the wall because the nails weren’t going into a studs and the glue hadn’t bonded yet. We used tape to help secure the piece to the wall until the glue set a little. Be sure to use a level, and make sure each batten is level before nailing. Also, it’s not a bad idea to use a right angle on each corner, along with the level, to be sure all your squares are truly square. Some of our cuts were very tight, so we used a rubber mallet to squeeze them into place.
If any of your batten edges don’t sit flush to it’s neighbor, you can cut a little shim from your left over wood and squeeze it behind the board to bring it out ever so slightly and make it flush with the batten next to it. There’s only so much you can cover up with wood putty later on, and you want the wall to be completely seamless.
Once all the battens are on the wall, cut the molding to fit the inside of each square. Be sure to miter each cut at a forty five degree angle. Next, nail the molding into place. We didn’t use liquid nails on this step, and we had no problem with them staying in place.
Woo hoo! The wood is all up, so next you will want to use wood putty to fill all the seams and nail holes. Once dry, sand over all the spots you used wood putty.
Next, caulk all the seams. Be sure to remember to caulk the seams around the edges of the wall, where the molding meets the battens, and where the molding meets the backer board.
Once the caulk is dry, you can paint! We used Bear Premium Plus Ultra paint. We had a gallon of custom white in a semi gloss sheen from when we did our window trimmings and doors, so we used this color on the wall to keep a seamless white throughout the dining room. I used a roller for smooth surfaces for the entire wall, and a paint brush only for the molding. I was able to get a smooth finish with no lines, however, I know a lot of people use a paint sprayer instead. I did not want to prep my area for a paint sprayer, so I opted for a roller, and the results were great! Just be sure you have a lot of paint on your roller, so you don’t get roller lines.
Let’s take a second to admire the before and after one more time.
I am loving the finished product! It’s one step closer to us turning our builder grade house into a custom home. It has totally changed the way the space feels. It’s more elegant and grand now, and really added a touch of customization to this area that desperately needed it. If you’ve been contemplating doing a board and batten wall, I 10/10 recommend it! For less than $150 and a weekend of work, we were able to completely transform this living space.
Until next time DIYers! Thank you for reading!