How To: Board and Batten
Gregory Han
Feb 23, 2009

Title: How To: Board and Batten

Name: Karla and Will

Time: 3 days

Cost: $120.00

Karla and Will gave their family room a significant make-over with a DIY board and batten treatment (interior paneling that is composed of alternating wide boards and narrow wooden strips called battens), transforming the room with an extremely modest amount of investment compared to the interior decorative return. Click above for the pics and head below for all the instructions. Give Karla and Will a THUMBS UP if you find this project helpful....



  • Table Saw (or a circular saw)
  • Mitre Saw
  • Router
  • Nail Gun (or a good old fashioned hammer)
  • Level
  • 1 sheet of 1/2" MDF
  • 1 sheet of 3/4" MDF
  • 1 gallon of primer
  • 1 gallon semi-gloss paint


  1. We gave our family room a make-over by adding our own version of Board and Batten. What we wanted was "the look", for less. Meaning all of the bang for not a lot of buck! We wanted to have the vertical strips (the "batten") capped off by a horizontal band at the top and have our existing walls act as the "boards". This entire project was done using MDF. No reason to break the bank using real wood when it was going to be covered up with three coats of paint anyway! There were no "rules" followed on this! We adjusted the information that we found online to work for our real life rooms and what was aesthetically pleasing to us.

  2. We started by clearing everything off of our walls and moving all of our furniture to the center of the room. The whole process goes pretty quickly once all of the pieces are cut, so it's best to have the room ready to go!

  3. You will need to decide on the height of your Board and Batten. This will be based on personal preference and existing architecture in your room. We have a long, narrow window that we needed to accommodate, so we chose a height of 65".

  4. We used 3/4" MDF for the horizontal strip all the way around our room. We decided the height of the horizontal strip would be 3&1/2". To help the MDF blend in with the existing trim in our room (around our doors and windows) we beveled the outside corners of the horizontal strips at a 45 degree angle (this is called a chamfered edge).

  5. It is easiest to do all of your cuts for the horizontal strips at once, so keep track of all of your measurements on a piece of paper to take with you when you make your cuts.

  6. Once you have made all of your cuts from the 3/4" MDF for the horizontal strips, bring them all into the room and nail them into place. Be sure to use your level!

  7. We added a decorative trim on top of the horizontal strips. This was done using strips of MDF measuring 1&1/2" by 3/4". On the top we routered out a groove to act as a plate ledge and the bottom outside corner was routered out using a "cove" bit.

  8. Next we started on the vertical strips. These were done using the 1/2" MDF. We set the spacing at 12", but this is also based on personal preference. Be sure to keep in mind where your light switches and outlets are on your walls. It may be easier to decide your spacing based off of where these fall. No reason to create more work for yourself!

  9. We then measured out how many vertical strips we would need for each wall. We kept track with a list so that we could make all of the cuts at once. We also made the beveled cuts for the chamfered edge on the bottom of each vertical strip where it would meet up with our base boards.

  10. Once our vertical strips were cut, we started nailing them into place. Be sure to use your level! To make it easier on ourselves and save time, we cut a 12" scrap piece of MDF to use as a spacer. That way we weren't having to measure out 12" each time.

  11. The whole thing had to be primed and painted out with two coats of semi-gloss paint. My husband was nervous about our walls being glossy, but if this was the real thing (all wood!) it would be painted in glossy paint just like the rest of the trim and molding throughout our house. And I think this has a lot to do with people believing that we have actually paneled our walls in wood!

*True Board and Batten would have flat panels of wood lining the walls and then the strips would serve as seam covers. We were not about to cover all of our walls entirely in wood (goal: inexpensive), so by putting up only the strips and painting it all out in white we trick the eye into thinking that it really is paneled walls. I can tell you that until someone gets right up close to it or touches it, they do not realize that in between the strips is normal textured wall!

**We finished the install (including all of the cuts) in about 5 hours. It took 2 days to do the 3 coats of paint.**

We found some good info on the This Old House website.

Give Karla and Will a THUMBS UP if you find this project helpful....

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