Five Tips for Installing Board and Batten
I recently transformed my really messy entryway with a board and batten wall. I’ve been loving it so far- a beautiful place to put my things means I’m much more likely to actually hang up my bag as I walk through the door. Take a look:
I read so many wonderful blog posts before beginning this project, and they all made it seem so easy! And, for the most part, this was a relatively simple project, but there were some parts that were tricky that everyone attempting a board and batten project will want to stop and consider. So without further ado, here are my five tips for installing board and batten:
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5 Tips for Installing Board and Batten
1. Materials and Cost
There were so many different ways people created the board/batten combo. If you have smooth walls, you’re lucky- you can just add battens to the wall and call it a day. But for those of us with textured walls, we also need to consider what the background board will be to cover up that texture.
For the Board- I used a sheet of 1/4″ Plywood Underlayment that I had them cut down for me at Home Depot. It seemed like the most inexpensive and easiest option, but I know other people who used a hardboard panel as well.
For the Battens – Like many others, I used MDF Bender Boards, which cost $2.97 for an 8 ft length, but this will not be an option for much longer. Home Depot has discontinued this item, and I had to drive about an hour to find a Home Depot that still had some in stock.
I really did not want my battens to be very thick, which is why I made the drive. If you have access to a table saw, it’s not hard to purchase another piece of the 1/4″ Plywood Underlayment above, and cut the battens to the width you want.
If you don’t have table saw, then cutting uniform widths becomes much more difficult, and you’re better off buying another type of board.My backup option was these 1/4″ Poplar boards from Lowes. They cost $2.84 for a 4 ft length, which is almost double the MDF boards, but gets the job done.
2. The Wall Plan
Before you start putting up any boards, you absolutely must have a plan for your wall, otherwise you risk having a board seam showing, or uneven space between battens! I spent about 2 hours drawing things, googling ideas, and redrawing things. I eventually settled with the following plan:
It was to scale, and took into consideration the stud locations as well as where my board seams would be (I had Home Depot cut my underlayment into 2’x4′ pieces so it would fit into my car). I therefore knew where I needed to have battens based on that information.
I ultimately settled with having 8 1/4″ between battens and/or the beginning of a new batten every 12 inches. I was really worried at the time that these battens would be too close together and look funny, but it was the only way I could get an even space between battens and cover all of the seams.
I can’t emphasize how important drawing out the plan was for me. Every time I doubted myself while building the wall, I checked my plan and reassured myself that this was going to work. And it did. Have a plan.
3. Electrical Outlets
There will probably be an electrical outlet, or two, or five, along the wall you’re board/battening. Consider this when making your plan, so that you know exactly where it will fall. Will it fall on the board area? On a batten? Or half on each?
If you have an electrical outlet that falls only half on a batten, can you adjust the space between battens so that doesn’t happen? It’s much prettier, in my opinion, if the outlet falls completely on a board or batten, plus it’s easier to deal with.
I had an outlet that fell completely on a batten, so I built my boards around the outlet, then cut an appropriately sized hole in my batten to fit the outlet through.
Finally, I added an outlet extender to the outlet. Do you see the blue in the above picture? That’s the outlet extender. Without it, the plug would be a centimeter or so back from where the plate cover was, which would be both unattractive and difficult to use.
Important Safety Note: Always turn off power to the electrical outlet if you need to adjust/touch/move it in any way. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out my Breaker Box Basics post!
4. Strange Architectural Features
You’re now (maybe) prepared for working around any electrical outlets, but what about other strange features? What I mean by this- my wall ends at a stairwell, and I wanted my board/battens to mold to the railing and trim around the stairwell.
Maybe you have windows that have curvy trim, or some other interesting feature that you don’t feel like yanking out of the wall. I made a template with some scrap wood to fit the stairwell. I didn’t have one long enough to run the entire height of the stairwell I was working around, so I made one for the top railing piece, and one for the bottom trim area.
There was not a super great method to this- it was a lot of trial and error and testing my template until it fit well. I then used my template to cut out my board and batten to fit.
Is your board and batten wall just for looks, or does it have some sort of organizational purpose like mine does? I actively use my wall to keep my things organized by the door. That means that the hooks that I added at the top needed to not only look pretty, but be functional.
The top piece of my wall is some MDF baseboard trim turned upside down. Because it’s MDF, I had some concerns about the screws for the hooks holding if I hung heavy things from the hooks. And as a teacher who routinely carries a laptop, textbook, notebook, and stack of papers to grade to and from my workplace, I was going to hang heavy things from the hooks.
So, to make sure the hooks would hold, I put some of the plywood underlayment underneath the trim piece, and made sure that all my screws hit that piece.
I also placed two of my hooks where studs were, and then made sure that the screws for those hooks were long enough to hit the studs. This ensures my hooks were strong enough to hold heavy things, and that two of them were extra sturdy.
Have you ever done a board and batten project? If not, are you considering it? If so, how did it go? Do you have any tips for installing board and batten? I’d love to hear all about it!