DIY Board and Batten

Nick and I recently spent a long weekend working on another house project, this time adding board and batten to our formal dining room. I’ve been planning to tackle this project for more than a year, and now that it’s done I’m so happy with how it turned out (better than I imagined) and it has become one of my favorite DIY projects!

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Before I get into the details of the project, I wanted to share a few before pictures of the room. The dining room is right off the living room and the main entrance to our house, so you can see it as soon as you enter our front door.

Blueprint Main

The dining room is sunny and large (it’s one of the biggest rooms in our house), but because our house has an eat-in kitchen with a small dining table this room doesn’t get a lot of use, except on holidays or other special occasions.

Here’s the view of the room from the front door of the house…

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This is a view of the room from the entrance to the kitchen and out the front window…

before1.jpg

And finally, a view from the corner of the room, looking straight into the kitchen and the living room to the right.

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It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but the room is painted a very light grey color, Toasted White by Glidden. The room was kind of a big box and lacked character, which is why we thought a board and batten treatment would be perfect.

toasted

There are countless step-by-step tutorials online for installing board and batten, but we followed this one by my favorite DIY bloggers, Young House Love.

Before heading to the hardware store and buying all of the materials we measured and re-measured the room to determine how much wood we needed to buy.

We wanted a more modern and simple look to our molding, so we picked up four pre-primed 1 x 3 pine boards for the top rail (these came in 8-foot lengths) and 108 feet of pre-primed lattice for the battens (these came in 12-foot lengths, which we cut down to 6-foot lengths for easier transport since we’d already determined we wanted our lattices 3-feet tall).

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As you can see in the photo above, we also marked (with blue painters tape ) where the battens would fall around the room, approximately every 16 inches, which was the width that we decided we liked the most. This gave us an idea of where we might run into trouble with a batten; for example, if it was too close to a corner, the edge of a window, or an electrical outlet (in those cases, we shortened the 16-inch width between the battens by an inch or so, which is nearly impossible to see when looking around the room). 

We also went around the room and tried to find our wall studs so that we could secure the top rail to as many  as possible (this is much harder than it sounds since this room is original to the house and the studs are covered in lath and plaster, which means a standard stud finder doesn’t work at all).

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Our next step was to re-measure the walls for our top rail and head outside to cut the 1 x 3 pine boards into the right lengths, which Nick did with our Dremel Saw-Max.

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Besides the wood, the other thing we purchased for this project was a small pancake air compressor with a nail gun attachment. I called around to our local hardware store and a few of the big-box stores to get quotes for renting a small air compressor and nail gun and was quoted about $70 for a 24-hour rental. The pancake compressor we bought only cost a few dollars more, and since this project took us two days it was worth it for us to buy our own. Also, the nail gun saved us so much time (compared to hammering) that Nick and I both agreed it was worth every penny.

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We spent the first part of the day measuring and buying our supplies, and the second part of the day measuring, cutting and attaching the top rail around the room. We ended up installing our top rail about 40 inches from the floor and used a laser level to ensure our boards stayed straight.

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One thing that wasn’t addressed in the tutorial we followed (since it wasn’t an issue for them) was how to deal with the ends of the walls, since we weren’t transitioning the board and batten into the adjoining rooms and there are no casings – you can see it in the photo above (right below the light switch) and a close-up in the photo below (at the entrance into the kitchen). Our solution was to cut the edge at a 45-degree angle and sand it level with the wall so the transition was a bit softer.

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The next day, Nick and I got back to work measuring, cutting and attaching the lattice pieces. Since the lattice pieces are very thin, and we had so many to cut, we hand cut those with a miter box right in the dining room rather than taking each piece outside to cut with the Dremel like we did with the top rail.

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Each piece of lattice had to be measured and cut since our 1920s home has done a fair bit of shifting over the years; the length of the lattice pieces varied by as much as a half inch as we made our way around the room.  The level below is sitting on one of our window sills and shows just how uneven our house has become 🙂

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One technique suggested in the tutorial we followed was to cut two exact pieces of scrap wood to help quickly and easily ensure an equal distance between the lattice pieces. This was such a time-saver and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone else tackling this type of project. Once we lined up the lattice and nailed it into place we simply pulled out the wood spacers and moved on to the next piece of lattice.

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After we made our way around the room and had all the lattice pieces in place, Nick and I got to work prepping the top rail and lattice for the final step of painting. Nick went around the room and filled all of the nail holes with wood filler, and after it dried he sanded it flat. We put about four nails in each piece of lattice (and dozens in the top rail), so filling the holes was a lot of work!

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While Nick filled the nail holes, I got out the caulk gun and filled all of the gaps between the boards and the wall. I have an obsession with caulking and Nick likes to tell people that I’m hermetically sealing our house…but seriously, in an old house, caulk does wonders to seal all those cracks and air leaks!

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Just to prove my point, in the photo below on the left, you can see what the lattice looks like after its been nailed to an uneven wall, which left a large gap at the top. The photo on the right shows what it looks like after the gap has been caulked – so much better, right!?

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After everything was caulked, sanded and wiped down we got to work painting. We painted the top rail and batten to match the existing baseboard (which is the same color throughout our entire house, Picket Fence by Glidden).

In hindsight, we probably should have painted the lower portion of the wall with one coat of the paint before nailing on the lattices, since cutting in the corners of each rectangle ended up being the most time consuming part of this entire project. Thankfully we were able to use a roller to paint the middle sections.

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Here’s the near final after one coat of paint. The room was looking very bland at this point, but I hoped that bringing back in the rest of our furniture and drapes would add more color to the space.

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And I was right! Here’s a picture of the final result, looking into the room from near the front door. I love the character and dimension that the board and batten brings to the room – no more boring box!

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A view out the front window…

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And the final view, looking into the kitchen and the living room.

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As I already said above, Nick and I are so pleased with the finished result and the change it brought to the room (and with ourselves for how well we worked together getting this project done in one weekend), so I can’t help but smile every time I walk through this room!

Anyone else ever tackle board and batten?

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2 thoughts on “DIY Board and Batten

  1. I love it! It looks amazing and it really does add some character to the room. You two make quite the team!! Can’t wait to see what you tackle next! Lots of luv – S

  2. Pingback: Making a splash (tiling the kitchen) | Isn't It Sweet

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