Board and Batten (Without Removing Baseboards)

22 Materials
6 Hours

Hi friends! Comin’ at ya today with one of my favorite projects to date! I recently installed Board and Batten in our guest room and it has 100% MADE the space! While there are a ton of B&B tutorials out there, I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve for ya, including:

  1. The easiest way to deal with very textured walls.
  2. You don’t have to remove your baseboards.
  3. No complicated measuring here – using my method, depending on the length of your wall, your battens will be between approximately 8-16 inches apart.
  4. The easy way to deal with outlets and switches – probably not the most professional way, but hey, the goal is EASY here!

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Quick FYI:

We added plywood underlayment on the wall because our walls are textured - if you don't have textured walls, or you don't mind the texture, you can skip that step!

Step 1

Decide how high up your wall you want your board and batten to go. This tutorial is specific for board and batten wall of chair or plate rail height. If you wanted to do your full wall, you would just eliminate the 1″x4″, 1″x3″, and chair rail materials above, and instead purchase 1″x3″ trim to frame out the sides and top of your wall. Have your local hardware store cut your plywood underlayment to the appropriate height (keeping in mind to subtract your CURRENT baseboard height and another 0.75″ for the top 1″x3″ piece of trim you will add at the very end). For us, this was 56″, and the total height of our board and batten is approximately 60.75″.

Clear your space of clutter. Using your stud finder, mark your studs with a small pencil mark ABOVE where the top of your board and batten will be. Using your nail gun and 1″ nails, put up your plywood underlayment, nailing into the studs for a secure hold. (Be sure your nail gun is set so that your nail heads go fully into the wood, leaving you a small hole to fill with wood fill. You don’t want any nail heads sticking out if you can help it. If this happens, use a hammer and hit the protruding nail head until it is flush with the wood.)

Step 2:

When you get towards the end of the wall, you likely will need to cut your last piece of underlayment to fit. Measure the space from the edge of the wall to the nearest edge of installed underlayment. Use that measurement to mark your last piece of uninstalled underlayment, and carefully trace a line the length of the piece with a pencil. Using your jigsaw, carefully cut along your marked line. Gently sand your cut with 180 grit sandpaper, and install your final piece. Use wood fill to fill the seams between the pieces of underlayment and your nail holes. Sand until smooth once dry. Once dry, prime your underlayment with a large roller. You’ll want to lightly sand ALL your cuts to ensure the best results.

Step 3:

Using your nail gun and 1.5″ nails, install your baseboard (cut to the length of your wall with a miter saw) UPSIDE DOWN on top of your existing baseboards! This is the trick y’all! By doing this, it will give the appearance of you having larger chunky baseboards, but provide a base at the top big enough to closely match the depth of your 1″x2″ battens. Always nail into studs where you can. Use the pencil marks you previously made as a guide.

Step 4:

Next install your 1″x4″ (cut to the length of your wall with a miter saw) at the top of your plywood underlayment using 1″ nails. Be sure to use a level to ensure that it’s straight. Repeat this process using your 1″x3″ piece of wood, except install it laying on top of your 1″x4″. Be careful to nail as close to the wall as you can and as perpendicular to the floor as possible so you don’t have any nails that protrude out the front of your 1″x4″! Nail every 4-6″ to ensure your top trim piece is as stable as possible, especially if you plan to set things like art or mirrors on top of it!

Step 5:

Using your measuring tape, measure from the top of your baseboard to the bottom of your 1″x4″ on either end of your wall. Cut two 1″x2″ boards according to your measurements using your miter saw, and install at the very edge of each side of the wall with 1.25″ nails. Always use a level to ensure your battens are being installed straight up and down. And here is my “no complex measurements” trick! Use your measuring tape and measure the space BETWEEN your two battens at either end. Mark the exact middle point. Using a scrap piece of batten, hold up the middle of the batten to the point you just marked, and trace the edges of the batten with pencil. THIS is where you will install your next batten, repeating the same process above of measuring between the top of the baseboard and the bottom of the 1″x4″ piece of trim. (I measured for each batten separately because there are always slight variations, especially if your original baseboards were slightly off level.)

Step 6:

Repeat this process. Measure now BETWEEN the middle batten and the left most batten, as well as BETWEEN the middle batten and the right most batten, mark the middle point, and then mark the width of the batten, as described above. Install these two new battens accordingly. Repeat until your battens are as far apart or close together as you like. Ours are approximately 11.5″ apart. Now, it’s possible that using this trick you will run into the outlet or switch problem. This happened to me, and all I did was cut the batten on each end where it met the outlet cover at a 45 degree angle with my miter saw – see below. This isn’t the most “professional” way to solve this problem, and you may not want to do it if your outlet or switch is super prominent or visible. However, it was an EASY fix and it’s not very noticable if you ask me!

Step 7:

Once all your battens are installed, cut your decorative chair rail to the length of the wall. Using 1″ nails, install it right underneath your top 1″x3″ board.

Step 8:

 Using wood fill, fill all of your nail holes and anywhere you have two board meet together. For example, if you used two 6′ 1″x4″ boards joined in the middle along a 12′ wall.” Do NOT try to wood fill the seams. Sand until smooth once dry.

Step 9:

Using paintable caulk, caulk the SEAMS (I.e. where the battens meet the underlayment, in between the two baseboards, in between the wall and the trim, etc). Allow to dry overnight.

Step 10:

Clean up your area. Vacuum any dust from the floor and wipe off the entire space with a damp cloth to remove dust. No one likes crunchy paint! Once dry, it’s time to tape off your walls and floors with frog tape. Once taped, it’s time to paint! I used a 2.5″ angled brush to paint the corners, seams, and wood pieces, and a roller to paint the underlayment. We needed two coats and it is recommended to wait 2-4 hours between each. Again, the color is Sherwin Williams interior paint in Fresh Balsam and it is the PERFECT green! Allow to dry, remove your tape, and you're done!

Hope to see you over on the blog!

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Ana Ochoa - Sunrise Valley Farm Co.
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Frequently asked questions
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  • Angie Angie on Jul 19, 2022

    What color of white is on other walls?

  • Emmawilliams1 Emmawilliams1 on Jul 16, 2023

    Where did you purchase your stencil?

  • Susan Susan on Jul 17, 2023

    Great job. Bravo. Good to see such creativity and skill. Keep up the good work!

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