Last Updated on October 19, 2020 by Bryan Fiveash
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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!
Tools, Supplies, PPE, and Steps
- BEHR #S530-4 Jet Set
- BEHR #BL-W09 Bakery Box
- Gator 120 Grit Sanding Discs
- Gator 220 Grit Sanding Discs
- Gator 320 Grit Sanding Sponge
- 3/4″ x 3/4″ Cove Molding
Time needed: 3 days.
How To Install DIY Board And Batten Wainscoting
- Measure out the room to determine trim spacing.
- Remove existing baseboards.
- Install new 1×6 baseboards.
- Install 1×4 railing.
- Install 1×4 top railing.
- Install 1×2 cap railing.
- Install 3/4″ x 3×4″ cove molding.
- Install 1×3 batten corners.
- Install main 1×3 battens.
- Caulk and spackle all trim.
- Paint and touch-up.
Board And Batten Wainscoting Measurements and Calculations
First, I sat down to 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.
Wainscoting Pattern And Spacing
The measurements I went with are shown in the 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.
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 a 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.
Board Installation Sequence
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.
Board And Batten Wainscoting 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!
Wagner FLEXiO 3000
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!
Board And Batten Wainscoting Project Feedback
Has this article inspired you to take on your own board and batten wainscoting project? Please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your project plans and results.
Bryan is a husband of 17 years and a father of four. He worked in various construction trades in his younger years and more recently was a General Manager for a hand-forged iron furniture store and restaurant.
For several years he has worked full time on this blog and has partnered with various brands including The Home Depot, QUIKRETE, Ryobi, Sinkology, Rust-Oleum, Wagner, BEHR, Disney, Best Buy, and many more.