How many of us have a space that is simply just that…a space? A room with no functionality that easily becomes a drop zone where we throw our things and sort through later (or never). A room that we know needs a purpose, but can never quite nail it down.
Welcome to my front room.
Prior to our renovation in 2018, this was our dining room. It wasn’t large by any stretch, but it fit our 6′ table and my mother’s dishes well enough.
But once we tore out walls and relocated our main level bathroom, this room was cut into and the size prohibited it from being used like that any longer.
So a Facebook Marketplace table was haggled and purchased and I had dreams of people gathering around that table for breakfast or a cozy book. And no one did. I never finished the space with chairs for around the table and something about it lacked any invitation for comfort. It could have been the very monochromatic gray look to the room, or it could have been the lack of character that it brought.
So instead of my comfortable dreams, it became the room to accumulate mail, school work, office supplies, tools, you name it. It was a drop zone for four years running.
After I rehabbed my main stairs and have been putting time and energy into our sitting area, I had a major Mouse and a Cookie situation happen to me.
It quickly became apparent that I needed to improve this space and make it FUNCTIONAL. No more wasted square footage. We have too many people and too much stuff for that.
First on the list, a touch of character. If I want people to gravitate to this space, I needed warmth and I needed dimension. Something that draws people to this space. That’s when I decided Board and Batten is exactly what I was looking for. A chance to create substance to the very plain walls in this area.
*Before we get started on this tutorial, I want to explain that I didn’t actually need the BOARD part of board and batten. My walls are extremely smooth, with no texture at all. I didn’t need to add the wall board to this area because there is no texture. If you have bumps, nicks, or texture of any kind, you will need to do additional steps to attach the board to the wall first to give that smooth appearance that is so crucial for this type of accent wall. For a great tutorial on how to attach BOARD and Batten, check out Making Manzanita’s Tutorial. They did a fabulous job of taking you through every last step of adding the board to your walls first to cover any texture.*
- Painter Tape
- 1×3 Top Choice whitewood boards
- 1×4 Top Choice whitewood boards
- Measuring Tape
- Miter Saw
- Construction Adhesive
- Brad Nailer
- Wood Filler
- Microfiber Towel
- Paintable Caulk
- 220 grit sandpaper – MUCH better price on Amazon than at Home Depot or Lowe’s!
- Paint – I used Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog
You can see much of this process in my Instagram Highlights under “Entryway.” Take a peek over there!
I’m a person that needs to visualize something fully before I jump in. I have to mull it over in my mind for awhile and then jump in feet first. So to start this project, I grabbed a few rolls of painters tape and I started to tape up my walls to determine the appropriate height of my top board and just how far apart I wanted my boards to be spaced vertically. If you follow someone else’s measurements, it may not work as well for your space. You have to do what fits YOURS.
So I put up painters tape to what I believed to be an appropriate place and then I moved it up and down, side to side, over the following days until I could see it exactly as I wanted it. And by using painters tape, it didn’t damage my walls and was easy to peel off and throw away when I had my measurements where I wanted them.
I ended up making my top, horizontal board 50″ inches above my baseboards. I wanted to do an additional horizontal piece in my batten to give a little more character instead of the simplicity of one, so I went higher with my top board to allow for that.
Commit to Your Vertical Boards
Each of my vertical boards are AROUND the same distance from one another. Now hear me out. I do not believe that this project needs to be perfectly symmetrical and even. I believe that the batten boards can be slightly varying in distance from one another as long as they are CLOSE in measurement. Sometimes it is not possible to have them exact if you are dealing with windows, doors, and turns in the wall. For this project, the majority of my vertical boards were at exactly 16 inches; however, around my door frame, I didn’t want to put the boards closer together, so the space is 16.75″ instead. Guess what? You can’t tell. I did it, I stared at it from every angle, and I’ve photographed it in every light. I. still. can’t. tell.
Replace Baseboards, If Necessary
My baseboards were 5″ tall baseboards with a beveled edge to them. The vertical boards wouldn’t have sat flush on those so I ripped out the old baseboards and replaced with solid 5″ baseboards instead that measured the same depth as my vertical trim boards (3/4″). To remove your existing boards, run a sharp utility knife along the caulk line at the very top of your baseboards. Then gently use a crow bar and a rubber mallet to pry the existing boards off the wall. They should come off relatively easily.
To install my new baseboards, I measured the length (measure twice, cut once!) and then cut my boards with my miter saw. At the corners, cut your boards at a 45 degree angle to fit snugly with the board on the corresponding wall. It looks more flush and finished this way.
Cut and Attach Vertical Boards
Now that my baseboards are installed, it was time to measure and cut my vertical running boards and attach using construction adhesive followed by a line of brad nails from a brad nailer. The adhesive will hold the board along the wall while you’re nailing it in. Be sure to use your level to level your boards prior to securing. Also, double check your measurement at each location before making your cuts because there is potential your floor might have a slight tilt or slope to it, making your measurements just slightly different at each location along your wall.
I did attach a trim board to flank every window, door frame, and corner of the room to give each space a finished appearance…except around my main door. This was personal preference but I think it gave a really good finished edge to each space, but the light switches made this difficult around our front door. My hope will be that maybe down the road when we replace our front door with a wood door, I’ll be able to add a piece in at that time to finish off this area, as well.
Additional Horizontal Board, Anyone?
I purposely made my top horizontal bar higher than normal to allow for a second horizonal board to run about 14″ below. This added a touch more character and depth to the room. If you are wanting a similar look, I recommend using a line of painters tape, as you did in the beginning, to visualize just where you want this second board to run. You can really go no wrong in your decision but it’s always nice to visualize first before beginning.
The steps are the same for this, as well. Measure, measure again, cut the boards, and attach using a brad nailer.
Wood Filler, Caulk, and Tidy Up the Boards
This step is crucial to take your project from DIY to craftsman. Run a thin line of caulk along every edge, and I do mean EVERY edge of your project, and swipe your finger along to fill in every seam. This will allow paint to rest along the caulk line instead of having large gaps between the boards that will be very noticeable.
Use wood filler to fill in every hole and allow to dry. My favorite is DAP with Dry-Dex because it starts pink and turns white when it is fully dry. You’ll need your wood filler to be fully dried or it won’t wipe clean and it will leave an uneven finish underneath your paint.
I learned a new trick of using a damp microfiber towel to rub off the remaining wood filler instead of sanding to get all of the extra off, only leaving behind the filler in the actual nail hole.
And finally, I took a palm sander and 220 grit sandpaper to my boards to clean up any rough edges from my saw and to smooth out any imperfections. This was not necessary, but I feel as though the paint can really show imperfections in the wood and this step just made everything a little more flawless.
This is where your dreams really do come true! For this project, I chose Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog and I knew from the moment I opened that paint can, this was going to warm up this room immediately. I love how the color contrasts against the Sherwin Williams Alabaster on the top portion of the wall. It’s the perfect warm, earthy tones I was looking for and it made this room into a place of comfort instead of cold nothingness of before!
Here’s the cost of every material, giving you the total cost, if you started without any materials. I took out the power tools for this number. If you don’t own any, you can always check your local hardware store as many will rent tools at a great price!
Keep in mind your cost is going to be significantly lower if you already have the base materials (sandpaper, paintbrush, cleaning materials, etc.) For me to complete this project, I spent just over $204.
Painter Tape – $9.98
1×4 white boards $6.85/board (4 total used)
1×3 whitewood boards – $4.11/board (22 total used)
Construction Adhesive – $8.97/tube (2 total used)
New Baseboards – $15.98 for 8′ boards (3 total used)
Wood Filler – $6.98
Microfiber Towel – $3.99
Caulk – $5.78/tube (3 total used)
220 grit sandpaper – $10.99/package of 70 on Amazon
Paint – I used Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog – $38.98
TOTAL IF NO PREVIOUS MATERIALS:: $271.96
MY TOTAL COST:: $204.74
This is a great beginner project for someone that wants to add a little something to their space. Tools that you can watch a quick YouTube tutorial on how to use and minimal steps to achieve something beautiful. If you’re thinking about doing something new, trying to make your house more of a home, THIS is your project! You’ve got this! I believe in you!!
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