Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Wagner. All opinions are my own.
Installing board and batten wainscoting yourself is a great and fairly inexpensive way to completely transform the look and feel of a room(s) in your home. There are many ways that you can approach this project, including the overall pattern, types of wood to use, and the sequence in which the various boards are installed.
Continue on to learn how I completely changed our dining room with DIY board and batten wainscoting!
Disclosure: The product links below may contain Home Depot affiliate links. I receive a percentage if you purchase via those links. However, this is no way changes the price for you.
Recommended Tools and Materials:
- 3/4″ x 3/4″ cove molding
- HDX Plastic Sheeting
- BEHR Paint
- KILZ 2 ALL PURPOSE 1 Gal. White Interior/Exterior
- DAP Alex White Painter’s All-Purpose Acrylic Latex Caulk
- DAP DryDex 32 oz. Spackling Paste
- Liquid Nails Interior Projects 10 oz. Tan Latex Construction Adhesive
- Wagner FLEXiO 3000 Paint Sprayer
- RYOBI 12 in. Sliding Miter Saw with Laser
- RYOBI 10 in. Table Saw with Rolling Stand
- RYOBI Cordless AirStrike 16-Gauge 2-1/2 in Straight Finish Nailer Kit
- RYOBI Cordless 5 in. Random Orbit Sander
- RYOBI 25 ft. Tape Measure
- RYOBI Whole Stud Detector
- The Home Depot Carpenter Pencils
- HDX Caulk Gun
- Stanley 12 in. Wonder Bar
- RYOBI 16 oz. All Purpose Hammer
- Husky 24 in. Box Beam Level
- Husky 48 in. Box Beam Level
- Karebac 220-Grit Sanding Discs
- 3M Safety Glasses
- RZ Mask Dust Mask
Step One: Board And Batten Wainscoting Measurements and Calculations
The first thing I did was sit down and calculate what kind of expense I was dealing with. I drew up an overall look at my dining room, measured all the wall lengths, then jotted all of those dimensions on my sheet of paper. As you can see above, there’s nothing fancy here; just dimensions and a material list.
I then priced the materials, which is partly shown on my diagram. For the wood rails and battens, I went with spruce even though it is a bit more expensive than pine. I have found that spruce is much easier to work with than pine for several reasons, including less knots, lighter weight, whiter color, and it’s easier to cut.
Once the cuts were made, I sanded every board super smooth with an orbital sander before nailing them up. For long baseboard and horizontal board spans, buy the longest board you can get for the needed length to minimize cuts.
The measurements I went with are shown in the two photos above. When it comes to the pattern itself, I found that your existing wall space will dictate the spacing of your vertical 1×3 boards, and not what someone else has done in their house. Sure, someone else’s spacing measurements like mine can be great for reference, but they may not work on your wall.
Go by what will work for your wall. You don’t want to use a particular spacing measurement if it means a terrible look on the ends, or if it causes your vertical 1×3’s to needlessly run over light switches and wall outlets, thus causing you to have to cut your boards around them.
As for studs, don’t expect to rely on them for your vertical 1×3’s. The horizontal 1×6 baseboard and 1×4’s, yes, but odds are, the studs wont line up for the spacing you need on the 1×3’s, which really isn’t a problem at all. I simply used a bead of Liquid Nails on the backside of the boards, and aimed my nails in at angle on those boards: From the top down, hit the center of the board, but nail at an angle: left, right, left, right.
One final tidbit before starting woodwork: Let your planks sit inside and acclimate in your home for a few days before using them so they can become accustomed to the temperature and climate.
Step Two: Board And Batten Wainscoting Wall Prep and Woodworking
The first step here for me was removing the existing baseboard by gently using a small pry bar. You don’t want to possibly damage your drywall by being too rough with the pry bar. Placing a piece of plywood or other thin board in between the pry bar and the wall will help to avoid wall damage.
Now the woodworking can begin. I used an air compressor and nail gun with 2 1/2″ nails for the bulk of this project (1″ nails for the cove molding). You definitely want to hit studs for the 1×6 baseboard and two horizontal 1×4’s above it. If you don’t have one, a stud finder is an accurate and inexpensive tool to buy to locate studs. Some of them can even detect electrical wires behind the drywall!
I cut 45 degree angles at the corners and at places where any boards met at the existing window and door trim.
My installation sequence was this: 1×6 Baseboards – 1×4 Rail – 1×4 Top Rail – 1×2 Cap Rail – 3/4 x 3/4 Cove Molding – 1×3 Batten Corners – 1×3 Battens.
Going back to batten spacing… this is the plan that worked for me: Once the baseboard and rails were up, I measured the wall out (rough measurements), cut the longer lower battens, and placed them where they were likely to be but did not fasten them to the wall. As the battens fit snug in-between the baseboard and lower rail, after visual inspection and final measurements, I was easily able to find the spacing pattern I needed by sliding the battens left or right as necessary.
Since the battens rarely landed on a stud, I lightly marked where the battens needed to be on the drywall with a pencil, pulled it off and added a 1/4″ bead of Liquid Nails along the center of the back of the board (starting an inch from the top and ending an inch from the bottom). Then I placed the batten back on the wall, made sure the board was pushed tight against the wall, verified the measurement (I always over-measure), and nailed it off (using the nail pattern previously mentioned).
After all the boards were up I tapped in any nail heads sticking out using a nail punch.
Step Three: Caulk, Spackling, Paint
Caulking all of the seams and gaps between the boards and the wall is a big job. As long as you can caulk neatly, it’s not a hard job… there’s just a lot of it. I recommend using DAP Alex White Painter’s All-Purpose Acrylic Latex Caulk as it’s easy to work with and, of course, you can paint over it. For any nail holes in the boards or drywall, use DAP DryDex 32 oz. Spackling Paste. Let all of that dry and sand off any excess with a minimum of 220 grit sandpaper.
After pulling off any light switch and outlet plates, taping over those electrical devices, and securing plastic over windows, doors, flooring, and ceiling if necessary (I painted my ceiling too), it’s time bring out the Wagner FLEXiO 3000 Paint Sprayer!
The FLEXiO 3000 can paint a wall 10 times faster than a brush, and it is AWESOME when having to cover over a ton of trim boards like the ones in this project. Read the manuals that are included thoroughly in order to learn how to properly apply a great-looking coat over your walls.
After paint, my final steps were plastic removal, clean-up, and minor touch-ups. We’ll be replacing our ceiling fan with a chandelier in the future, but for now, I refinished our fan with high quality DecoArt paint and wax, and I must say it turned out well. Other future dining room projects for us are new flooring and building a farmhouse table and chairs.
This board and batten wainscoting project wasn’t too difficult, especially after cutting down a huge amount of time and labor painting thanks to the Wagner FLEXiO 3000 Paint Sprayer!
I’ve got more DIY for you!