My Top 5 Board and Batten Wall Tips

Check out my top 5 board and batten wall tips for a great way to add detail to any room. Wall details is one of the hottest trends in decor. Whether you choose an entire room or a feature wall, you can’t go wrong with board and batten.

How to DIY Board and Batten

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My top 5  board and batten wall tips:

Before I get to the details of our recent dining room makeover you must know the real story of how this came to be! I told my husband earlier in the summer I wanted to makeover the dining room and that I wanted to do this to the walls.  He didn’t quite understand what I meant…he doesn’t look at Pinterest, magazines or blogs (except this one of course), crazy I know!

I tried explaining my vision.

His response was, he saw no reason to make over a room that we barely ever use! What?! Sure there is I thought.  Nonetheless, I let the dream go and said I understand where he is coming from.

Fast forward to me coming home from Haven Conference in July to the BEST surprise ever!  He not only designed the wall layout, he had bought all of the supplies, removed all of the old trim, cut all of the MDF boards and started the process of hanging it all! It was exactly what I saw in my head.

OH, and he took a few pictures!!

There are many tutorials on how to do this so I just wanted to share with you my top 5 board and batten wall tips that make the install easier. Also, for authentic board and batten, you would actually add boards to the entire wall then add the battens. For our DIY project we chose to use our wall as the board part. Therefore, you could call this faux board and batten tips.

1. What you’ll need:

2. Carefully Remove Old Trim

The less damage to the wall, the less repair work, the less sanding you have to do.  WIN, WIN!

Using a blade you cut the caulk away from the old trim and the wall.  Then use a pry bar to pop the trim nails.  Go slow.

Dining Room-Board and Batten Details

We used MDF for this project because we wanted a smooth transition from our existing trim. Before you paint MDF with latex paint you have to paint it with oil based primer and let me tell you, it smells…BAD!

Here is where I appeared on scene, just in time to use the new finish nailer he picked up for this job.  That tool is the best time saver EVER!  I know I talk about Ryobi often and they have been very good to me as a blogger but this is not a sponsored post.  We bought this one ourselves because we LOVE the products!

**disclaimer…I was not wearing safety googles in the photo. In my excitement to test out the new tool I forgot to put them on. Otherwise, always be safe and wear your goggles.

Dining Room Board and Batten Tip - Ryobi Air Strike

3. Determine Detail

The wall height of the board and batten is pretty important but not exact.  This is the best part of the “how my husband read my mind!”  I had 60 inches in my head…he hung it at 58!  I knew this would be substantial and visually pleasing yet still allow me to hang things on the wall.

He knew that height would allow him to not have to cut extra boards to increase the height and were the perfect height as they were.

We make a great DIY team, even when we don’t work together 😉

Dining Room-Board and Batten Details

In order to keep our existing trim work and keep our house consistent, we (he) had to add detail where the existing trim on the stairs and base boards would meet the new MDF battens.  He did an amazing job. He did this by cutting one end of the board on an angle.

Dining Room-Board and Batten-Trim Detail

4. Time saver

Using a spacer keeps everything even.  Cut an extra piece of board the distance between all of the battens before you start nailing. This will make things go much faster.

** Update to a FAQ:

I get lots of emails asking me about nailing the boards into the studs. While the boards nearest the corners and door frames do land on the studs we didn’t do ours specifically to land on the stud. We did ours in a way that would be roughly stud width apart BUT decided to make them even distance on the wall.

We didn’t want our boards to look unevenly spaced so we measured our wall and then divided it up. Our spacer board ended up being 17 and a half inches. You will need to take your wall length and divide it up to get your specific distance.

ALSO, we did not glue the boards before we nailed them. They are light weight enough and basically decorative, so they hold up fine.

Notice how each corner has a piece of wood on the ends. This adds depth to the corners as well as allows us to keep each wall spaced evenly. When you are creating your batten widths take your most obvious wall as your measurement. This will be the wall that is first seen when you wall into the room.  Since this dining room has two entrances we went with the foyer view. That was also the only solid wall. The other walls had a window and stairs to work around.

Dining Room Board and Batten - Spacing


Dining Room DIY Board and Batten install

5. Less is more

The less work you have to do the more time you have for the fun stuff like decorating.  So, we decided that the existing wall would act as the “board” part of the board and batten.  No need to spend money there, just paint the wall the trim color and you are done!

My sister thought the less is more was meant for her…less work, more coffee drinking.

Dining Room Board and Batten

The dining room is now my favorite room and my inspiration for future room makeovers.

See the full dining room makeover here!

AND my Dining Room Updates as of Sept 2014.

You should see it NOW!  The black board and batten is so good.

Dining Room Makeover - DIY Board and Batten walls

DIY Board and Batten wall Treatment

Sonya Grey Signature


  1. Yes, we used the same paint on the boards and the wall in between. The goal is to make this all look like true board and batten not sheetrock wall. We did not cut angles in the corners, we just butted the boards together.

  2. We just bought some sample boards tonight. Yours looks great, and we are doing the same–painting the wall between the boards. However, my husband said we should use semi-gloss on the boards and the satin on the actual wall. Did you say that you did semi-gloss on both? Our top portion of the wall will be satin paint—Green Tea Leaves/Valspar. Did you cut angles in the corners? Thank you!

  3. Do you mean the white part of the wall between the pine boards? If so, yes. If you mean the colored walls at the top, no. I always use eggshell or satin there.

  4. Did you paint the wall with the same type finish as the trim. In other words are the walls a semi-gloss too?

  5. Hi, did you nail the MDF into studs? I did this in my previous home and my husband made a big deal out of having to hit the studs, which limited the distance of each board. Meaning I had to adjust the distance between the boards I wanted and compromise on them being exactly the same distance apart. If you didn’t hit stud, what did you do?

  6. That’s exactly what I was going to ask- what are the dimensions of your batten angle cuts? How long are they? Amazing work! I’d love to do something like this… I’m just not certain yet that I’m handy enough to pull it off.

  7. We didn’t want to waste the existing trim and because it already had a curved detail we decided to cut the end of new boards on an angel in order for them to blend well. It turned out really nice. ~Sonya

  8. Thank you for ALL the wonderful ideas. Been in our house 18 years and I’m ready for some (lots!!) of updating!!!

  9. Great post! Did you purchase your MDF at the correct width or did you rip strips off of larger sheets?

  10. I did this years ago on my kitchen island and then later in my dining room using a 42″ height to follow the height of the island bar top. I used 1/4″ wood because I didnt want to do the oil-base primer step and using the thin wood I didn’t need to do the special detail at the bottom near the baseboard. The thin wood just sat neatly on top of my baseboard:) For me there was lots of caulking involved to make sure there was no gap between the wood strips and the wall. My neighbor loved the look too and we did the same thing for her kitchen island. Skipped the board part letting the walls serve that purpose, and painted. It’s was fun and made a huge impact with not too much work or money:)

  11. You are absolutely right Carrie! I had just walked in from my trip and had to try the new tool…should have taken my hubby’s glasses. Next time for sure!

  12. Please always wear safety glasses around a brad nailer (that goes for the person operating the nailer and others working in the area). Safety first & foremost!

  13. Looks beautiful Sonya! We did this in our foyer and up the stairs. It’s such a great way to get a custom look.

  14. Great! But be careful with MDF in bathrooms, moisture is not a friend. Ask at the home improvement store if the oil based primer will be enough to seal the MDF from the steam. They may suggest wood.

  15. Perfect timing as I will be doing this in my daughters’ bathroom next month. Thanks!

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