For this project we got to partner with a family in our community on a small remodeling project that they were doing in their home. Due to the number of electrical outlets and some of the angles on the wall it ended up being a fairly involved project. However the level of difficulty would go down significantly with a simple rectangle wall.

The concept of board and batten is to put up boards and cover the seams with batten. In this post we will refer to the ¼" sheets as "board," and the MDF trim as "batten." It is important to cover all the seams of the board, but more batten can be added for aesthetic purposes. Additionally, be aware that you can choose batten and baseboard pieces with larger or smaller depths to create different looks or dimension.

Step 1

To begin, remove any moulding from the wall. Start by cutting through the caulking between the moulding and the wall with a small knife. Use a pry bar to begin to pull away the moulding. A pry bar is a little smaller than a crow bar and used with a hammer or the butt of your drill it can be easier to get in to those tight spaces. With a putty knife remove the putty from any pieces of trim that you'll be reattaching at the end of the project. At this time remove the switch and outlet plates and unscrew them from the wall.

remove moulding from wall

board and batten wall removing moulding

removing moulding for board and batten

Step 2

Once the trim has been removed you can start measuring out the sheets of MDF to cut. Make sure to leave a slight gap between the wall and floor. This gives room for the floor to flex and bend without breaking. You should be able to slip that ¼" board right down inside that gap without it causing an issue for the floor. Make sure to measure up from the bottom of the gap when you're calculating height. Pay attention also to where you want seams so that you can position them underneath the batten. We cut the top of the sheets down so that the horizontal batten would line up with the banister that was already in place. Measure and mark for outlets.

measuring board and batten wall

Step 3

We did the straight, long cuts with a circular saw and used a RotoZip with a plunger router attachment for the outlets and detail work. Remember that you can always cut more, but you can't cut less. Err on the conservative side with the initial cuts.

You've heard the phrase, "Measure twice, cut once," right? We always recommend a double-check, but in this project in particular, spare yourself a bit of stress and follow the trusted truism. Place the board against the wall and check your cuts. Make sure that there is enough room for the outlets and switches. Make any necessary adjustments and check again.

saw for board and batten wall

Step 4

Next apply glue along the edges of the board, the outlet holes, and in a big "X" across the back. Use the nail gun to nail in place along the edges. Make sure you nail down any places that the sheet is buckling and isn't flat against the wall. Repeat the cutting, gluing, and nailing with all the sheets of MDF until the wall is completely covered. Don't worry if you end up with some gaps at the seams because remember they'll be covered up with the batten.

caulk for board and batten wall

staple for board and batten wall

Step 5

Now you are ready to screw the switches back in place. Because you are adding ¼" to the existing wall with the board, you will need to pull the electrical and light switches forward to compensate for the additional depth. Some electrical outlets are adjustable and will require that you simply adjust the depth via a screw. For our outlets and switches, we carefully pulled them forward and screwed them into place, attaching them to the newly applied board.

light switches board and batten wall

diy board and batten wall

Step 6

Now it's time to start putting trim back. We replaced the crown moulding with 1x4 MDF trim, and the bottom ½" baseboard with a 1x5 piece of MDF. This way the trim is slightly thicker than the batten and creates dimension.

trim over board batten wall

Step 7

Next cut the vertical batten pieces from the ½x4 MDF. Using a level position the batten pieces on the wall and nail in place. Because our wall did not have a perfect center to work with, we started by cutting the outermost vertical batten pieces first and working inward, adjusting slightly as we added each batten. Walls are not perfect, so measure each spot separately so that everything will be exact. We cut batten to cover all three of the seams. Then we cut batten for each halfway point. Use a level to position the batten pieces on the wall and nail in place.

The horizontal batten was cut from ½x4 also and fit between each of the vertical pieces and covered the horizontal seam.

mdf for board batten wall

installing trim over board wall

trim over batten wall

Step 8

When everything is in place use wood putty and your finger to cover up all the nail holes. Next comes caulking. Now this is the really tedious work. Make sure you have really good light in the room, so you can see the details of the caulk work. Lay down a drop cloth to protect your floor and remember that this is your opportunity to cover up any mistakes you've made. Caulking is an art, so if you're unfamiliar with it, here's a few videos we recommend. First, here is a link on how to cut open the tube of caulk so that your resulting caulk work is very easy to control and neatly done. And here is a video on how to caulk baseboards and seams.

caulk trim board batten wall

Step 9

After caulking is done and dried, tape up your electrical and, following the directions on the can, prime. Once the primer is dry it's time for a paint job, and after that all that's left is nailing the footer back on the bottom.

board batten wall

Congratulations on a job well done!

before and after board and batten wall