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. Thanks for this super easy tutorial! Getting ready to do this in my hallway, but SUPER nervous about what damage might be behind when pulling off the old chair rail from the 70’s. How did you smooth out the area where you pulled yours off?

  2. Nice job. Thanks for the spacer hints, the corner hints, the problems of using MDF in the bathroom hint,

  3. It needs to look evenly spaced all the way around the room. So yes, carry the width between boards from wall to wall. I would take the walls on each side of that door as one long wall. Take the wall that is most obvious from where you enter the room and make those spaces how you would like. Then you will do the other walls based off that one. If you notice we have a piece of wood on both sides of every corner. Be sure to use the spacer tip to save time.

  4. We are thinking about doing this in our main floor powder room. All the walls are different widths (the toilet and sink are separated by a door frame…no door just a doorway)…would you suggest we use the same distance between the boards throughout or use a different distance on each wall? Would we carry the width from one wall to the next if separated by the door frame? Thanks:)

  5. I didn’t read every post but I read one asking about hitting the studs. Once you brad nail into the drywall and use caulking on the edges, not to mention the paint, those boards wont need to be nailed into studs. Cheers! I actually use different size trim and baseboards for all my work. 4.5″ for the base, 2.5 ” for the slats and 3.5 for the top rail. Also if you do use boards like i do make sure to cut both ends square or they will leave a gap due to rounded factory edge on end of boards. Oh yes and very nice work!

  6. The intention of my blog and DIY post are for people who want to create a look themselves in order to save money. While my husband and I can custom build we do not do it for this blog. I understand the importance of your craft and have great respect for it. When you have customers bring those photos to you, it is your time to educate them on the difference. I teach people how to paint and do projects themselves but if they want me to come to their house and do it, it cost a premium. AND as for the end result of my “faux” board and batten, it has not grown old and I love it just as much as I did years ago when we added it. ~Sonya

  7. Great DIY job. To he honest I am not a fan of DIY bloggers. Here’s why…I am a self employed finish carpenter and I receive many calls from customers asking for board and batten wainscoting. Many homeowners produce pics from Pinterest. But please note to get a true board and batten look you have to remove all the baseboards , shoe molding make sure all of the door and window casings are thick enough to accommodate the 1x material.
    I could show these photos to a customer and say is this want a quicker cheaper version. They would probably say yes. But the end result quickly grows old!

  8. Beautiful !! That’s exactly what I want for our Master bath. Now I see how easy it can be, Thank you to you AND your husband.

  9. Did you use any kind of adhesive since you didn’t worry about hitting studs?

  10. What type of white pant did you use for the board & batten? Was it a bright white or more off white? Also, what finish for board & batten? Flat, satin etc? Thank you

  11. Mine are drywall so once painted they do have a very slight texture from the paint and roller. It doesn’t bother me nor does it look obvious in the space. One it is all painted the same color it blends right in.

  12. Hi, Thanks for continuing to respond to comments! I keep seeing people using the existing wall as the board, but my walls have orange peel texture (it’s light, but it’s there). Are your wall smooth?

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