Home ProjectsInterior How to install a Board & Batten Wall

How to install a Board & Batten Wall

by Haylie

One of our favorite parts of our guest bathroom remodel was our board and batten wall that we installed. Incase you missed our post about our guest bath remodel, you can see all the magic here.

Ok ladies and gents, I’m going to give you a quick break down of how easy it is to install a board and batten wall! Being that we are still kinda newbies at this homeownership thing, I was actually intimidated about the idea of installing this wall. But fear not! I got my materials, put together a plan, did some math and got busy!

Here is what we used:

  • Painters tape
  • 1/2″ MDF 4×8′ sheet
  • Level
  • Circular saw
  • Killz primer
  • Foam roller
  • Paint brush
  • Nail gun and Nails (optional. You can also use finishing nails and a hammer. See Amber’s shiplap install post.)
  • Liquid nails (optional)
  • Caulk
  • Putty to fill nail holes and putty knife
  • Trim paint

There are a few ways you can go about installing board and batten. Some ways include placing a thin sheet MDF or wood over the wall and then installing batten on top. I guess that’s why they call it a “board” and “batten” wall. This method is typically used if your wall is not flat or smooth. It makes the treatment stand out from the wall a bit but if the condition of your wall is sub par it can really enhance the look of your wall treatment as a whole. Thankfully our walls were in good enough condition that we could bypass the extra work. I understand those who choose this method but it wasn’t necessary in our circumstance.


I wanted my wall installation to be painted white so when painting the room I taped off the area that I knew I would be using when installing the wall so that I wouldn’t have to paint over the dark grey. We started our install by measuring the space lengthwise where we wanted the treatment installed and determined how high we wanted the board and batten to go. I knew that I wanted to put hooks on the wall so guests could hang their towels to dry, so I wanted my wall to be pretty much at eye level, or about 60″ or 5 feet. Our wall was also 5 feet long between the shower and the corner of the wall. So our work space was 5 ft long and 5 ft high…. that made it easy to remember and to do additional calculations.


In considering the frequency of the planks or batten, I knew that I didn’t want to put a plank in the corner because my old house does not have square corners and that was not a battle that I wanted to fight. Not today! So, since I had 60″ to work with and I wanted at least 4 planks which were 3″ wide, I found that I could get exactly 4 planks if I were to space the planks out 10″ apart. To test my theory, I started from the corner and measured 10″ and used painters tape to mask out where my planks would go; factoring in the width of each plank.

The small space in between the tape was where my planks would go. The larger space between the tape line represents the spacing between the planks. The photo above is from when we were in the middle of renovations in this bathroom. To see more about that project check out our guest bath post from Tuesday.   Because we were replacing the baseboard molding, I wanted to wait until after the baseboards were installed before beginning with the install. We chose 1/2″ x 4″ molding which was a perfect fit for our plan.


Ok, so now we have a general plan of 3″ planks topped at 60″ tall spaced at 10″ apart. So here is our cut list:

  • 1- 60″L x 1/2″D x 6″H header
  • 1- 60″L x 2″D x 1/2″H cap for header
  • 1- 60″ long piece of cove molding
  • 4 – 3″W x 1/2″D x 48″H (60″ total height – 4″ baseboard – 6″ header = 48″) plank or batten pieces

We were able to get all of these cuts from one 4×8 foot board of 1/2″ thick MDF. We got the MDF and the cove molding from Home Depot. There is probably a better tool that you could use to make these cuts but seeing as how our tool supply is still limited, we used a circular saw. Like I said, probably not the most efficient tool that you could use but it worked fine for us in the meantime. If you also have limited tools you might be able to request assistance from your local hardware store. The home depot near us usually has an associate available to make cuts in the lumber department.

I used a 3 foot level as a straight edge and drew all my cut lines on the MDF and slowly and carefully made each cut. Once the cuts were made I started to prime all the pieces. I used a foam brush and Killz primer, sealant and stain blocker and applied about 4 coats. You will be able to see later that each coat was worth it because compared to the white wall they still don’t look white.


Now we are getting to the fun part! We started on the side closest to the corner and to be sure that we put the boards in the right place, I measured 10″ from the wall at the top of the board, the middle of the board, and the bottom of the board. We then place the board on top of the baseboard and nailed it in the middle first. We then held the level plum to the board and assured that it was level before nailing in the top and the bottom. I held the level and my husband manned the nail gun (which we rented from HomeDepot… another tool to add to our wish list). We continued on to the next board by measuring 10″ from the first board at the top, middle, and bottom of the board. Holding the level plum to one side and assuring that it remained level as Cole nailed it into place. We continued this process with the other two boards.

Next, we added our 1/2′ x 6″ header board. We rested it on top of the recently installed planks and it fit perfectly. This always makes me giddy. It is a rarity when your cuts to fit in a small space are perfect, at least for me it is. We confirmed it was level, and nailed it into place.

After our header board, we place our 1/2″x 2″ cap on the top of the header board. For this step we used liquid nails in addition to the nail gun. We put a bead of glue on the top edge of the header, placed the cap and nailed the cap into the header by making sure we were as close as possible to the wall.

Next, it was time to apply the cove molding. This we did solely with liquid nails. We applied the glue to the molding and then used painters tape to secure the cove molding and the cap until the glue dried.  Once the glue was dried we removed the tape and started filling the seems with caulk and the nail holes with putty.

Next up: Caulk. The little blue arrows in the photo above best explain where to caulk but ultimately if there is a seem…. fill it with caulk. 😀 Also, not indicated in the photo is the seem where the planks meet the baseboard and the header. These seems should also be caulked. Because I chose a pattern that avoided installing a plank in the corner, I did not have to calk the corner for the planks. I did however have to caulk where the header, cap and cove molding met the wall. This was a little tricky. A q-tip was supper handy in keeping the lines really clean. 


The last step of this install (we are so close) is to paint! We used a paint brush and a foam roller to paint the wall with trim paint. You could probably use eggshell but since this is in a bathroom I liked the idea of the easy to clean, bright look of semi-gloss trim paint. I usually hate semi-gloss about as much as I hate flat paint but it seemed to be the best option here.  We hung some antique iron hooks and just like that… we were done!  Now enjoy some pretty after photos!

So easy. Plan, cut, install, paint. I lucked out on this wall because I didn’t have to factor in corners or other structural/decorative elements. I know those types of scenarios could prove to be a bit more challenging but ultimately the hardest part about this wall installation is the planning. If you have a good plan you are pretty much golden. For more info on the full transformation, don’t forget to check out our guest bath reveal from Tuesday’s post. As always, we love to hear what you think! Let us know if you love it or if you have suggestions! I’d love a suggestion of what to put over our wall in terms of decor! Amber knows how long I have been trying to find the perfect piece to finish the space. 😉


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