Easy Board and Batten

Hello again!

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, so I decided to whip out a quick project last Saturday. This time, I had to do a little work to convince my wife it was a project that she would like. 🙂 She was already pretty happy with our TV room and the updates we’ve made to it since we moved in, including the TV stand I built. (Hopefully I’ll cover THAT in a different blog post later).

I don’t have a great picture, but this is what it looked like before we moved in:

It was obviously built before the age of the big screen TV. Although the previous owners had used the 2×4’s seen in the picture above to mount a big screen TV to, which ended up being hung in FRONT of the shelving.

We removed the walls and shelving and – after replacing carpet and re-painting – we had this room looking like this:

This was MUCH more to our liking!

However, lately, I’ve had the hankering to add some board and batten in there. We used to have a picture wall in our old house, where I’d built a ledge and we used it to display family pictures. It was a great centerpiece that we both loved, and I thought it’d look great in this room. Plus, I’d had a couple of people recently ask me how to do board and batten – so I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone. Do a blog post explaining the process AND put up some new board and batten. And, it turns out – Leslie (and I) love the final result.

First of all, let’s talk about what you’re going to need to do this project.

Materials List
1x6 MDF Trim
1x4 MDF Trim
1/4" (or thickness of your choice) MDF
Painters Caulk
1x4 Pine

You only need the 1×4 pine board if you are planning on adding a ledge to the top of your board and batten. This is what you’d use to cut your triangular supports out of. It is perfectly fine to use another material. I used pine, because it is easy to paint and its what I had. Plus it’s a little cheaper than other types of wood. However, if using pine, make sure to get a high quality pine board, not something with lots of knots, otherwise it won’t paint as well.

Likewise, you only need the 1×4 MDF trim if you are planning on putting a shelf on top. This is the piece that will become the shelf ledge.

The painter’s caulk is pretty much the cheapest caulk you can find. You don’t need something meant for outdoor use. Just make sure it’s paintable, as you might end up using it to fill in gaps when you’re all done.

The 1/4″ MDF is what I like to use for the slats going vertically up and down the wall. They are thin enough that I generally can just butt them directly up against he baseboard moulding that is already in the room. They add texture to the walls, without being too substantial. If you use something thicker, you’ll need to bevel the bottom edge of each slat with your miter saw or router, so it isn’t thicker than the baseboard moulding where they butt up against each other.

It can be a little difficult to come across 1/4″ MDF. I used to be able to get it at Home Depot or Lowe’s – and depending on where you live – you possibly still can. The material I’ve always used has a melamine coating on one side and is generally used for making cabinets. So if Home Depot or Lowe’s doesn’t have it, try other places that sell lumber. Our local Do It Best store told me they could order it in. I ended up getting it from a local cabinet maker. It usually comes in sheets that are 8’x4′ or slightly larger.

It looks like this (keep in mind, this is already cut into 3″ strips):

Now when we did our TV room, we did it all in one Saturday. It went pretty fast, partly because I had the help of my lovely wife. (She REALLY didn’t want that room torn apart all weekend – so she was highly motivated to help!)

The very first thing to be done, is to cut your vertical slat material (1/4″ MDF for me) into 3″ strips. I’ve always done this using a straight edge and my circular saw. It is tedious work, and perhaps the hardest part of the whole project. I lucked out this time, because when I told the cabinet shop where I bought my MDF what I was doing, they quickly cut it into 3″ strips for me on their industrial, automated table saw. When I saw them doing that, I quickly realized that I needed a table saw like that, so, naturally, I inquired as to the cost and quickly determined that I will continue using my straight edge. 🙂

I spaced mine every 13 inches, so the quantity you will need depends on the size of your project. I needed 22 slats.

The next thing to do, is to cut your triangular supports from the 1×4 pine board. You’ll need one of these to go above each slat to hold your ledge up. You want to make sure the triangles are the right size, so they don’t extend past the front of the 1×4 MDF trim piece they will be supporting. I made them 3 1/2″ tall and 2 1/2″ deep, as shown. (Keep in mind, this is only if you’re putting a ledge above your board and batten)

An easy way to cut these triangles from a single piece of 1×4 pine is to follow the following steps:

First, make a small, straight cut on the 1×4 to ensure that your saw blade is aligned perfectly with the edge of the wood.

2nd, carefully set the miter saw angle to 37° to the left and without moving the board, make a cut. That’s your first triangle!

3rd, set the miter saw back to 0° and slide the board to the right just enough to cut off the angled edge from the previous cut, giving you your 2nd triangle.

And finally, repeat until you have the necessary number of triangles.

Now for this project, we decided to paint everything first. Paint the wall white. Paint the trim white. Then install.

To be clear – we have done this exact same thing, but painted afterwards. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not sure which method is easier. Suffice it to say, either way works. I’ll leave it to you to decide which method is better for you. One thing I learned, however, is that when painting your 3″ strips of vertical slats, it is best to paint them individually. I tried to stack them all together – as you’ll see in the pictures – and had problems with paint getting between them and making them stick. This led for the need to sand several of them and re-touch up the paint. I think it would have been better overall to paint them individually.

Of course, if you have a paint sprayer and a room for that – do it that way! I, unfortunately, do not. It’s all rollers and brushes around here…that’s probably why I HATE painting so much.

Lay everything out in the garage and put two coats of paint on every surface.

Next, decide how high to make the board and batten reach up onto your wall. After deciding, mark the wall where you want the middle of the 1×6 MDF trim to go, giving you a line to paint against.

And, just like before, paint with two coats (at least) of paint. The number of coats of paint depends on the quality of the paint and the previous color of your wall.

Once the trim pieces and the wall are all painted, it’s time to put the 1×6 MDF trim up as the upper edge of the board and batten.

  1. Identify where all the studs are, using a stud finder. Mark the stud locations with a pencil above where you will attach the 1×6 trim.
  2. Install the 1×6 trim. If two pieces need to be joined together to span the length of the wall, use a 45° joint, rather than just butting the two pieces together. Use a level to make sure that your pieces are going on straight. Continue to install all 1×6 trim pieces until you’ve finished with the area you want to cover with board and batten.

After the top rail is installed, using a measuring tape and pencil, mark the locations where you will install the vertical slats of 1/4″ MDF. Space the center of each slat 13″ from the next slat. You can start the first slat anywhere between 1-13″ from the edge of the wall and go from there. If you determine that a slat will be right over an outlet or light switch, go back and start a few inches in either direction and keep going until you can cover the whole wall without having any slats hit outlets or light switches.

Once the locations of each slat is marked, it is time to cut the slats to the correct length. Unfortunately, my experience tells me that you can’t just set your saw to a specified length and cut them all at once. There is enough variation in height due to uneven baseboards, an uneven upper rail, or any combination of the two. So, for best results, always measure for each vertical slat and cut individually. Verify each one fits well, and move on to the next.

I like to cut each slat in this manner – until all are cut – before installing any. Once they are cut, either mark the back of them so you know the spot that particular slat fits, or put them in order.

Slat installation is easy, and is done as follows:

First, place a bead of caulk along the back side of each slat.

Next, place the slat on the wall in the desired location. The center should be spaced 13″ from the center of the previous slat. (Note: always make sure to place your tools on the back of your wife’s new leather couches. She’ll like that. – OOPS! 😐 ) … hopefully she doesn’t look at these pictures… 🙂

Then, using your fist or a soft mallet, gently pound the slat against the wall, to spread the caulk, and hold the slat in place.

Make sure the slat is level,

And then nail the slat to the wall using 1″ brad nails spaced as needed to hold the slat tight against the wall. Based on the 13″ spacing, it’ll likely be nailed only into the drywall, but that’s OK. The nails serve to hold it in place until the caulk dries, and then it won’t be coming loose.

Once all slats are added as described, the board and batten installation is complete!

Now, if all you wanted was board and batten, the installation is complete. All that’s left is to caulk any large gaps, spackle the nail holes, sand and apply touch up paint. However, if you want a ledge for additional texture on your wall, or a place to put decorations or pictures, use the 1×4 MDF trim and install it sideways above the 1×6 upper rail already installed. If two pieces of 1×4 are needed to provide the ledge across the wall, use a 45° cut, rather than just butting the pieces together. Use 1.5 – 2.0″ brad nails every foot in the back of the 1×4 ledge, down into the 1×6 upper rail to hold it in place.

Once the ledge piece is installed, attach the triangular support pieces below. Place a small amount of wood glue on the back of the triangular pieces, and hold in place, snugly against the 1×6 rail behind and the 1×4 ledge above. Nail into place with a single 2″ brad nail about an inch above the bottom of the triangle – perpendicular with the hypotenuse of the triangle (hey, I’m an engineer, I can’t help it) – as shown in the picture below.

Once the glue dries, this will be plenty sturdy for your decorations, although I wouldn’t recommend hanging a hammock from the ledge.

When they’re all installed, you’ll be ready for spackle and paint!

Cover all your nail holes with spackle, use caulk as needed to fill any large gaps around the slats, and apply touch up paint. Then, move your furniture back into place and – voila! – you have a beautiful new accent wall ready to become a centerpiece in any room!

Easy DIY Board and Batten

Now, even though this is really the end of the post, it’s worth noting here that there are many variations that you can do following this same technique. Each can drastically change the way a room looks.

For example, you can use shorter slats, and bring them down from the ceiling, instead of up from the floor. You can use 1×4 MDF trim as the upper rail. It makes a perfect wall to put hooks on in a mud room. Keep scrolling for more ideas and additional pictures.  As always – thank you for pinning!!

Now…go get inspired and make your own perfect build!


Easy DIY Board and Batten


Easy DIY Board and Batten

Easy DIY Board and Batten

Easy DIY Board and Batten

Easy DIY Board and Batten

Easy DIY Board and Batten

Easy DIY Board and Batten

Easy DIY Board and Batten


2 thoughts on “Easy Board and Batten

  • September 4, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    This looks amazing! I love it. Thank you so much for the materials list and step-by-step instructions. I am definitely going to find a place for this in my house.

    P.S. I think I may know one of those people who asked you to post this. 🤔

    • September 4, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      Carli, thanks so much! I think you DO indeed know one the people who asked about board and batten. 🙂 Let me know when you figure out which wall you want done!


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