DIY Board And Batten: How To Give Your Home Real Character
Pinch me: how’s it been four years to the date that I built this DIY board and batten?! Well, better late than never as they say. The time has come and I’m dishing the full deets on how to give your home real character just like this, even if you’ve never picked up a power tool.
In 2017, the year I kicked off this creative home design adventure, I decided to trust my gut on building and restoring features honoring the era of this 1934 Craftsman Bungalow.
With a toolbelt full of gusto and intuition (a nice way of saying zero professional training), I took on the two-and-a-half week long project to construct what is now this dining room’s most notable (and ostensibly original) feature.
A little bitta history: the dining room’s gone through a few iterations since we arrived in 2013. Initially, there was a simple chair rail and white kitchen cabinet “built-in credenza” that didn’t make sense, mostly for obstructing and throwing off the marquetry of the original hardwood floors.
I removed the built-in before we had the floors refinished and added a very close matching chair rail where the “built-in” once stood.
After a while, the chair rail didn’t feel like it was doing this quaint yet tall dining room justice, so I made the decision to take on the DIY three-quarter-high board and batten that exists today.
Fun fact: I took a poll on my Instagram to gather reader’s thoughts on whether this board and batten was the OG or an add-on. Not gonna lie, fronds; totally flattered at how many thought it was original!!
So, if it worked out this well for me (a.k.a. a chick who just picked up a nail gun one day), just imagine how incredible this classic detail will look in your home, too. Trust me, you’ll be bursting at the seams with pride after taking on this proj.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
● Lumber (in this case)
Cap Moulding, 1”x 3”
Cove Moulding, up to 1.5” tall
Top Rail, 1” x 5”
Vertical Stiles or Battens, 1”x 3”
Base Rail or Baseboard, 1”x 2”
● Miter Saw
● Nail Gun
● Air Compressor
● Power Drill
● Drill Bits
● Crowbar + Hammer
● Primer (preferably stain-killing to cover knots)
TAKE MEASUREMENTS, DO THE MATH
Grab a pencil, open a notebook; it’s time to do some math. Start by measuring the continuous or consecutive wall spaces where the board and batten will be installed, excluding the moulding around cased openings, windows or doorways. Whip up a quick doodle and mark each measurement.
These measurements will ascertain how much lumber is needed for the cap molding, cove molding, top rail and base rail. I used 1”x 3”, 1”x 5”, 1”x 2” common boards at varying lengths and a decorative cove moulding for extra character. It is highly recommended to purchase wood planks large enough to cover a continuous wall space seamlessly. It just looks betta.
A good starting point for deducing stile spacing is approximately 15-inches apart or about eight stiles every ten feet. This board and batten design features a total of 28 stiles, including the shorties under the triple windows. Take into account offsetting the stile placement underneath windows past the trim moulding when assessing the spacing.
PRO TIP: For an aesthetically-pleasing look, spacing between stiles does not have to be entirely exact on all continuous wall spaces. Determine the primary stile spacing by directly adjoining a vertical stile to all cased openings or doorways (not windows!). This may slightly alter spacing in each section about an inch, give or take.
HOW TO DETERMINE A THREE-QUARTER HEIGHT
To determine a three-quarter high board and batten, start by measuring from floor to ceiling (or in my case, the bottom of the crown moulding). Multiply the total height (100-inch) by .75 and you’ll land on an exact three-quarter height.
I wanted to leave a bit more room to showcase the bold Nana Wallpaper designed by Justina Blakeney from Hygge & West. These removable fabric tiles (now discontinued) are 32-inches tall. I shortened the board and batten six inches—from 75-inches to 69-inches high—to give the forever fabulous pink and green wallpaper prominence with just enough room to tuck away the excess.
MAKE IT HAPPEN AT HOME
DRAW OUT THE SCHEMATIC (FROM PAPER TO WALL)
With the plan made and lumber purchased, take your paper doodle and draw out placement on the wall with a pencil. Label the top rail and the location of each stile. Since each section may not be spaced exactly the same, this exercise will help to confirm spacing both physically and aesthetically, especially underneath windows.
This dining room has four continuous sections which includes wrap-around corners concluding at a stopping point (doorway or cased opening). Each section features optimal spacing to accommodate the aesthetic of adjoining the first and last stiles to existing moulding. The spacing varies from 14-inches to 14.5-inches to 15-inches to create a visual balance and uphold a classic design.
PRO TIP: for intersecting light switches or outlets, use a jigsaw and/or chisels to cut out an opening. Make sure to surround the entire fixture for a clean, sophisticated finish. An electrical extender box may be necessary to make up for the gap when attaching a switch plate or outlet cover—it was needed here!
LET’S BUILD THIS BISH
To start, I used a crowbar and hammer to remove the old chair rail as well as the decorative shoe base moulding and replaced it with a flat 1”x 2” plank as a base rail. This covered up any discrepancies from removal and left a clean starting point for the stiles to sit flush in the design.
PRO TIP: Make sure to patch any gaping holes in the wall by applying a joint compound and sanding until smooth.
It’s time to go to tool town. Beginning with horizontal boards, start by cutting and fastening the base rail. Measure each cut from corner-to-corner or corner-to-edge, then use a miter saw to make the necessary cuts. Tilt the blade 45-degrees in every corner, 90-degrees on any flat edge. Using a handy dandy nail gun, stagger the brad nails every five to seven inches. Repeat these steps for the top rail. Bing-bang-boom. 💥
MAKE IT HAPPEN AT HOME
When making miter saw cuts, remember to keep your longest measurement on the bottom side of the cut and where the table insert begins. My miter saw has a built-in laser to help line-up lumber real easy.
PRO TIP: Measure
twice five times, cut once.
Next up, cap and cove mouldings. The cap moulding rests atop the top rail and the cove moulding fills in the nook directly under the cap moulding and affixes to the top rail. Give the cap and cove mouldings a bit more pizzazz by cutting each edge side at an offset 45-degree angle.
To make this decorative edge cut, measure the depth of the existing moulding the cap moulding will adjoin. Mark the lumber (in this case, one-inch) and position the cap moulding skinny side facing-up when making the offset cut. This will ensure a snug fit where the mouldings meet. Make all corner cuts AFTER the flat edge cut has been made.
PRO TIP: Set up a workshop nearby to make cuts and quickly test them in place.
MAKE IT HAPPEN AT HOME
The final stile stretch! This is when it starts to feel real. Measure each vertical stile and make a straight, 90-degree angle cut on a miter saw. Place your stiles in the marked areas and stagger brad nails every five to seven inches to securely fasten to the wall.
Stiles underneath the triple window: this was a very critical detail. The window sill trim is skinnier than the one-inch deep stiles, so leaving them flat and uncut looked rather crass. A quick 65-degree angle cut does the trick! Here’s how to do it: measure the depth of the existing trim (here it’s about a half-inch deep). Place the stile wide side facing-up, shift the cut over to offset the half-inch depth, make the cut and voila! These shortie stiles have instant class.
BUT FIRST, I MADE ONE BIG AF MISTAKE
This board and batten was the third or fourth big ass build I took on in the bungalow. This house is old and nothing is plum, so I shimmed my planks. BIG MISTAKE.
Instead, nail or screw the planks until they are, literally, kissing the wall no matter how warped it may be. You will NOT be able to tell, I promise. This big time mistake led to several extra added hours of caulking time.
LET’S PRETTY-UP THESE PLANKS
As noted, I shimmed my planks and spent way too much time caulking the gaps. This is coming from a chick who loves the meticulous act of caulking, so please, heed my advice.
Next up was covering up those pine knots. The woody knots are impervious to paint over time. Using a heavy duty, stain-killing primer, I covered each knot with a healthy dollop prior to paint. Careful opening the container, because sometimes it might explode it yo’ face!
After a few coats of glossy white paint and killer statement wallpaper, this vibrant dining room was complete and feels like an OG to me. Or a 1970s Miami coke den if you ask my hubby. I’m so fine with that. 😂
The total cost for all the lumber in this project: $240 🤯 I felt like a lot more money than it does just four year later considering the MASSIVE impact and character this board and batten affords this Craftsman home. Withstanding the test of time and aging like a fine wine, I tells ya.
It looks original, it feels original, and I have a tremendous amount of pride and excitement to this day when talking about it. This was high design on a dime. This self-taught chick just went for it and I truly hope you do, too.
Here’s a great post with different board and batten styles to consider for your home.
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