Workshop Series – how to board and batten (+ link party)

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Funky Junk Interiors and Mustard Seed Creations!

With a guest appearance by Karla of It’s the Little Things!

Today Miss Mustard Seed is going to start her new series on furniture painting, with the first installment on how to select the right piece before you even start. I so need this lesson myself as I tend to pick up ‘junk’, so see you there. 🙂

Today’s hot lesson on Funky Junk is…

photo courtesy of It’s the Little Things

~ How to Board and Batten

a Feature Wall ~

Have you tried the infamous board and batten wall treatment yet in your own home?

Board and batten is such a simple way to add major character to a plain wall. It’s easy, cheap, and anyone can do it, guaranteed! But I will add, it’s a little easier doing it the Funky Junk way. And you KNOW I’ve invented my own twist to it, yes? 🙂

The most common way to achieve the effect is to simply nail slats of wood directly on your drywall, to simulate a boarded effect with dimension. I have officially done it twice now.  I love the effect so very much I can’t wait to install it elsewhere!

Since I self taught myself, I have a few tips to pass along to you should you feel like giving it a whirl.

~ Board and batten in 7 steps ~

What you’ll need:



finishing nails or nail gun

countersink tool


finishing paint

wood strips

wood filler

sanding sponge

measuring tape

paintable caulk

caulking gun

1. Decide: Feature wall or full wrap?

A feature wall vs. a full wrap are both beautiful effects! It’s wise to know the difference on how to install the two so you can make a good decision about your given space.

Feature wall – boards look best going right to the ceiling. This treatment makes a great impact focusing on one wall or area. 

Full wrap – It’s The Little Things

Full wrap– boards look best going up 3/4 to allow some wall colour to peek over top. A lovely option if you have miles of drywall and wish to carry a continuous look throughout an entire room or more.

2. Choose your boards.

What kind? How thick?

The boards I personally chose were pine tongue and groove random scraps that happened to be pretty thin. So I did no special treatment where they hit the baseboard. But if they were thicker, I would have had to cut a 45 degree angle where they meet the base molding. If you want to cheat, go thin.

How wide?

Mine ranged from 1.5″ to 3.5″ as I did a random pattern using scraps, however alot of what size to use is determined by how close you wish to place the boards together. I suggest pick up a few samples to get a feel. You can make virtually any size work as long as they’re spaced appropriately for the given space.

3. Decide on crown molding first.

For a feature wall, at this stage, you really want to decide if you desire crown molding or not. I didn’t have the budget to do that, so I simply went flush to the ceiling with the treatment. If you want crown molding, it must go on first.

4. Position.

even sizes and spacing

‘funky’ random sizes and spacing

(no funny cracks about my cheater wall painting, ya hear?!?)

First decide how you want your wall to look. I personally chose random boards with random spacing so it would be easier to install, plus to add something abit different. Work around  plugs and wall switches if you can. This is the beauty of doing it the funky method. 🙂

5. Cut your boards to size.

If you are fortunate to own a compound miter saw but have never attempted to work with it, I highly encourage you to get lessons and use it! Cutting with this saw is like slicing butter with a knife. The cuts are so precise! I now officially have my saw set up like this permanently so I can quickly throw on a board, cut and off I go.

Tip 1: When making a cut, it’s important to see where the blade is cutting. You have to ensure you cut on the right side of the pencil mark if you are going for an exact number. The blades are thick and will mess with your precise measurements.

Tip 2: Be safe. Tie long hair back and get GOOD hearing and eye protection!

6. Attach your boards to the wall.

Because I chose a fun random pattern, I didn’t have to sweat over perfect spacing. However I still ensured I followed a few rules so they looked good.

a) Prepaint the wall first or not to prepaint?

 Your choice. But I personally saved no steps prepainting the wall as I did in my kitchen, so when I did the bedroom wall, I didn’t prepaint. Also remember if you plan to silicone the edges, you have to paint over that anyway. I vote to not prepaint the wall myself.

b) If you can, measure the placements of your wood slats wider than the paint roller. Makes painting a whole lot easier! This was a total fluke and I was mere fragments of an inch just right! So it bears repeating here.

c) Level it.

Each board got the level treatment so my lines didn’t go wonky on me.

d) Install

The pros would use a nail gun for install. Not having one, finishing nails worked just fine. You just have to be watchful that your wood doesn’t split on you. Sometimes predrilling a hole is safer, but I went for the gusto. I split only one, but it wasn’t anything a little wood filler couldn’t take care of. 🙂

Tip 1: Install a finishing nail in the CENTER of the board half way down the wall to start with. This will enable you to slightly rotate the board either way to straighten it later. Worked like a charm!

Tip 2: Make sure you use the right nails.

Finishing nails have a very small head so you can countersink them easily. After the nail is driven in the board, tap 1-2 times extra with a countersink tool to bury the level of the nail head for filler. The nail head has a slight indent that will keep the countersink tool in place.

Tip 3: Follow countersunk nails with a wood spackle or wood putty, NOT caulk.

The putty dries hard enough to sand and silicone stays rubbery.  You want to sand. A window frame installer saw me use paintable caulk instead of wood putty and boy did I get a well deserved lecture. (I LOVE knowing the right way to do stuff!)  I use this whipped variety called Shur Stik and apply it with a small putty knife or finger if just for tiny holes. It dries super fast and sands like a breeze.

Eggshell or semigloss? Read on!

7. Paint it

a) Paintable caulk first?

 Caulk is that goop you slide against the board and wall so you can fill in any gaps. I personally didn’t use it on mine in case I changed my mind on this wall treatment. Caulk is quite a job trying to remover later. Just know, you may see slight spaces here and there between the boards and wall if you forego the caulking step. Mine were minimal and it has a more rustic cottage look if it isn’t perfect anyway. 🙂 For a room with good lighting, or for a larger area, I’d do it right and caulk all the gaps.

(Want a video and tute on how to caulk? Just say the word)

b) Eggshell or semi gloss?

A true board and batten would be slightly glossy just as as moldings generally are. HOWEVER!!! I do not recommend this. You are using the drywall as your pretend board background and drywall is not as smooth as a board, so IMO it’s much better to camouflage that aspect. I suggest to use a high quality eggshell instead. The outcome is a very soft muted feel, rather than a bumpy sheen. The picture above is done in semi gloss and I couldn’t stand it. I changed it out to eggshell right after. 🙂

c) In your white / white paint, get 1 drop of black added.

This removes the white starkness out of the tone just a touch. Apparently for south facing walls, you don’t need to do this is what I’m told, so I’ll leave that one up to you. Ask your fav paint person. But I always mess with the white if going on a full wall to minimize the stark impact white can have.

First Timer?

If you’re going to try board and batten for the first time, I recommend start with a small area and just do a feature wall to get the feel of it. There’s alot of measuring if you wish to do it the standard way and you may be glad you only chose a feature wall to start with. Then again, do it my way (random boards and spacing), it becomes more fun and less chore. Ask me how I know. 🙂

A great beginner project would be my smaller scaleboard and batten backsplash tutorial  HERE.

Wish to go for the gusto and want a full wrap?

Karla’s livingroom (I know… gasp!)

The best tutorial I’ve ever found is at

Karla’s How to Board and Batten

Karla and her hubby take you through all the steps required to do a large scale project. Look at all those perfectly spaced boards! Or are they? 🙂 Read her article so you can learn a few of her cheat sheet methods as well. 🙂

Karla, thanks for the wonderful links! What do you think of my mini tutorial? Is there anything else you could add?

Karla ~ “Donna! I LOVE your tutorial! 🙂

I would just add, if people are going for the full wrap, not to be intimidated by the scope of the project! Putting the boards up and adding the top rail of molding really didn’t take that long (only about 5 hours – and that was for 2 good sized rooms, and we didn’t have any sort of “How To” to follow. We were flying by the seat of our pants for this one!). It was the multiple coats of paint and primer that was the real time consumer.

But if you’re looking for a way to add instant architecture to a space that is lacking character , board and batten is a fantastic way to do just that! We have no regret with our decision to wrap our entire kitchen and adjoining family room. To be honest, I’m still looking for another place in our home to add more board and batten! We like it that much! 🙂

Thanks so much for including me in a post from such a fantastic series. I am honored!”

Donna ~ “I’m honored to have you here Karla!

Karla created a brand new post for the very purpose of joining in the workshop series, so go and find out how she likes her board and batten after a year of living with it, plus other features they added. Check out the new ledge on the top rail. Wonderful!

Karla`s new post is HERE.

Donna – “So Miss Mustard Seed, what’s your take on board and batten?”

Miss Mustard Seed ~ “I think board and batten is one of the easiest ways to add some architectural detail to a room. I’ve never done it, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted to. I love the treatment on your backsplash and it was the reason I became a follower of your blog in the first place. So, hopefully I’ll have a project of my own to share one of these days!”

Donna ~ “I didn’t know that! Cool. Glad I did the kitchen even more now. :)” 

I now have a little surprise for you. 🙂

~ Board and batten link up! ~

Have you done this treatment  in your home? Please feel free to share your link with us so we can inspire others to give it a go! I’d love to see where you’ve placed it and your own tips and tricks.

 The link will be active for new additions until the next workshop. Remember to come back and visit them. 🙂

Any other questions either Karla or I could answer for you? Are you inspired to give it a go? You can do it!

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32 thoughts on “Workshop Series – how to board and batten (+ link party)

  1. Oh, I love this look in a home. However, the walls in the oldest part of my 100 year old home are wavy lump bumpy lathe and, I’ve been doing plaster treatments on them to even em’ out. The 1966 additions to my house most likely have barn wood..under gross fake paneling. My house and its two neighbors were allegedly brothels down by the railroad, way back when…AND the exterior of the other two houses is board and batten. : )

    Great post! I’m looking forward to seeing the links.

    : )

    Julie M.

  2. Great tutorial and great walls – gorgeous! I love wainscoting too, but I’ve only just started to “put it everywhere” 🙂
    One question: are you sure you mean to caulk the joints with silicone? In my experience, you can never paint silicone (it’s hydrophobic or water proof), the paint just beads up and wipes off. I learned that the hard way! I use some plain ‘ol paintable caulk instead. Happy DIYing!

  3. Christin, yes! Caulk! I meant to say caulk! I’ll change it in the post. Thanks so much! 🙂

    Karla’s looks intimidating because her house is so dang awesome! Focus on my pics and you’ll be fine. LOL

    FJ Donna

  4. What a great tutorial. And that living room in awua and white…with the direction decals on the ceiling……with all those windows….OH MY! Just fabulous.

    I love the board and batten treatment and would love to be able to use it somewhere. I just don’t know where. Maybe I’ll take a second look at my backsplash.

    Great post as always.

  5. Guess what my hubby and I did tonight…this very thing!! I hope to link it up sometime tomorrow as we are waiting for our boards glue to dry before we can paint and such. How relevant is this! Can’t wait to show my hubby this post.

  6. I love all these, and the tutorial is great! My husband and I want to do something like this in our house, but what is holding me back is that I have seen very few of these done in homes with vaulted ceilings. What is your take on that?

  7. So that’s what “board and batten” is! I am getting such an education here. I feel smarter today after reading. And a “counter sink tool”! Wow! I might have to find a reason to talk about that today! “Honey, we might need to use a countersink tool before we nail that thing in!” Oh, I feel so industrial! Cool!

    Karla’s home is beautiful!

    And Donna, you MAKE it all seem so easy. Thank you for that style of teaching!

  8. I have to do this in my downstairs bathroom… It will really play up the beach feel I’m going for… now to break it to my husband… not that he’ll have to lift a finger, but my many projects get to him. (:

  9. #8 Shannon,

    Vaulted ceiling area:

    I see no reason why you can’t do this treatement in a vaulted ceiling area, however I’d be inclined to think of the angular walls moreso as feature potential, rather than a full wrap. I often look inside my mom’s condo with a vaulted ceiling and think the middle wall that separates her kitchen and dining room that is vaulted could use some added detail, but not the entire space.

    Get creative with your thinking. I’ve restyled a home recently where we did feature walls here and there and when it came to the hallway, there’s board and batten running just down the side with the stairs but not the other side. It turned out beautiful! Photoshoot coming soon if I ever get over there to stage it.

    When looking at a space, think it terms of individual shapes per wall as opposed to the entire room being a full box. You’ll soon see many other possibilities that sway from the standard.

    I’ll get Karla involved and see what she has to say on the topic.

    #9 Kolein, you start using that fancy tool talk on your guy and he’ll be handing the tools to you instead of him doing it. Tread lightly in this area. 🙂

    Mandi! You used glue?!? Should I have used glue? No idea. 🙂 I guess no glue makes a potential change out easier. 🙂 The REAL woodworkers must be cringing by now.

    FJ Donna

  10. wow! Karla’s room is gorgeous. We have a victorian house, and I’m not sure I can pull off the board and batten in there. We have all stained trim and I don’t want to paint it (except maybe upstairs in the bedrooms.) Have you ever seen it done with wood trim?

  11. Ok, so here’s a tough one for you. Our whole house has oak trim. I {heart} the board and batten look, however, there’s no way in heck we can paint it white because we would be painting FOREVER! Is it possible to do a white board and batten in our bedroom even though we have oak trim? I’m sure I’m not the only person who has this problem, so if you can give me some advise, I’d be forever grateful!!! I hope I’m not destined for ugly plainess forever!

  12. I’ve thought about doing beadboard in the living room, but I love this idea! It’s the same idea, same feel, just a different look. Love it!

  13. #16 Katie and #18 Amy,

    White board and batten with wood trim?

    (your questions are similar so I’ll post to both of you)

    I have to tell you something funny. 🙂 In my last home, it was a 12 year old home built to an 1800’s floor plan. The woodwork around the doorways and such was AMAZING, however it was in… OAK. I lived with it for a few years until I could take it no more and started painting it a fresh cream tone. LOVED IT. Oak paints beautifully. 🙂

    That aside, I’m not certain white board and batten would look good against wood trim. I’d suggest to hang a white sheet on the wall and get some white boards, lean them on the blanket and stand back to grasp what it may look like.

    Another idea would be to do a coloured board and batten treatment, meaning, rather than white, paint it a colour that works well with the wood trim. I’m thinking the white may be too stark against the warmer wood tone. Perhaps an antique white with an undertone that matches your wood or some kind of soft mocha tone.

    I personally think white board and batten looks best against white woodwork because the batten idea is suppose to be an extension of your moldings and such. But there’s no reason you can’t bend your own twist into it and try new colours. 🙂

    Great to see the interest in this topic! Cool.

  14. OK, because of you I had a dream last night. Oh what a dream it was. I came home from shopping to find all of our furniture in the middle of the rooms and my husband was putting “board and batten” on all the walls. I was so happy, I ran over and kissed him and asked, “why are you doing this? noticing the piles of wood everywhere. He pointed to the computer.. Up on the screen was your blog! LOL!!!! (must have been the corned beef and cabbage I ate!)

  15. I need this look soooo much. Help!!! One problem…my home is painted paneling. NO KIDDING!! I thought we were going to be able to build on our farm but hubby lost his job of 25 years last week. Looks like I’m going to have to do some frugal decorating and stay put for a while. Can this be done with paneled walls?

    Help please!
    Love in Christ,

  16. Kolein, you’re truly crazier than even I. 🙂 (may all your dreams come true! LOL)

    #25 Dana,

    board and batten on wall paneling? I’m not sure about those indents paneling has. That could be a whole lotta wood filler. 🙂 I’m unsure if you’d even need it with wall paneling. I’d probably just suggest to paint your paneling in white to create a simulation of it.

    #26 Jennifer, very cool! I hope this helped you!

    FJ Donna

  17. I’ve been desperately searching for some pics with board and batten on extremely high ceilings (mine are 18 feet). I think it would add so much to the room that I would like to do this in, but not sure it would look weird with those super high ceilings (definitely don’t want to cut the room in half). Any advice or should I just scrap this idea in the heigh-ceilinged room;)

  18. hi everyone, I did Martha Stewart wall paper bead board in the kitchen for back splash and put some wood trim around it, I am also going to bead board my whole dining room with the Martha stewart wall paper bead board, it looks so real, would it look odd if I board and batton my living room being there is bead board in dining? I just have a large living room and want something more durable than the marth stewart nead board wall paper in living room, also I would like to make that little display shelf , where can I find that top piece of wood you have on there? thank you. love your board and batton

  19. Love this look! Can you give instructions on how to cut the pieces to go around the slightly round corners? I have the same walls.

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