DIY Board & Batten Bedroom – The Real Truth About Adding an Accent Wall

Do you want to add a board and batten accent wall to your room? Or add board and batten to an entire room? I asked my handyman to help me with this one because I don’t own power tools, but before I share a tutorial I want to dispel some of the myths in case you are thinking about a project like this.

  1. This is not a quick DIY project. There’s a lot of measuring, cutting and painting required. It took us two and half full days to complete. We did do all four walls instead of just an accent wall.
  2. This is NOT a Traditional board and batten. This method is for a quickie board and batten-like molding that doesn’t use wood paneling as a backing. See the difference here.
  1. This is not something you can do for <$100. I found one tutorial claiming that it only costs $100. This is only possible if you own all of the equipment and you get paint at no cost. The wood can be purchased for around that price if you are ONLY doing an accent wall, but paint these days is $50 per gallon at most hardware stores, especially for trim paint.
  2. This quickie board and batten where your wall is NOT covered in wood paneling requires a smooth wall.

Equipment needed:

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  • Wood glue or liquid nails
  • Wood filler or wood putty
  • Nail gun and brad nails
  • Plywood wood paneling – see note below about thickness, I used 1/4 inch plywood. Get sheets that are 4 ft. x 8 ft.
  • A circular saw or table saw
  • A Miter saw
  • Paint
  • painter’s tape (optional)
  • Paint brushes and paint rollers
  • Level
table saw

I don’t own a table saw, miter saw or brad nailer. I brought in my trusty handyman who has ALL the equipment. This is a good option if you don’t have electric tools and you don’t want to buy them.

You can use MDF which is less expensive but I used plywood. You can read about the difference between MDF and Plywood. MDF is saves money, but Home Depot didn’t have 1/4 inch MDF boards.

The depth of the wood paneling you buy depends on how deep your baseboards are (if you already have baseboard moldings). If you have existing baseboards and you don’t want to remove them, get paneling that is LESS thick than the depth of your baseboards. For my baseboards measure 3/8 inches thick in most places, I needed to use 1/4 inch plywood.

What You Need to Think About Before You Start

You really need to consider a few things about YOUR room before you begin a project like this.

Do you have baseboards? If yes, do you want to keep them and build on top of them? I have baseboards and in older homes sometimes there are big problems when you try to remove them. My walls are built ON TOP of the baseboards. Removing them is not an option. I don’t know if this is unique to my house, but I haven’t seen it before.

If you have baseboards that you want to keep, the depth from the wall is important. If you don’t have baseboards, it’s almost easier because you can add baseboards and build your board and batten on top of that.

Do your walls have texture? If you live in a newer house you probably have smoother walls than if you live in an old home. The texture of your wall impacts how your board and batten will look. Authentic board and batten is wood paneling with moldings layered on top.

This tutorial and other “quick” board and batten copies DON’T use wood paneling underneath the trim. Instead, the wall is painted to match the trim, which gives the illusion of wood paneling. This works best with smooth walls.

Statement Wall or Room? Do you want an accent wall or do you want to do the whole room? This question affects the price and how long it will take. Before you can purchase your supplies you need to measure how much wall you want to cover.

Do You Need To Find Studs? This project does not require a stud finder. The wood can be mounted using ONLY wood glue. We used a brad nailer only because the glue doesn’t dry quickly. We nailed our boards in 2-3 spots, which basically holds the slats in place until the glue dries.

Batten Tutorial

1. Measure your wall(s). Measure each wall you want to cover. I spaced my vertical strips out approximately 12 inches, but there are some areas where the boards were closer. I recommend drawing your design plan on a piece of paper and marking the outlets. It might be worth adjusting the spacing slighting to avoid having to cut around outlets. Seeing the layout on a piece of paper helps you to figure that out.

2. Molding height – Decide how high you want your molding to go. A pretty standard height is 48 inches. Using a level and a pencil, draw a straight line to mark the top of the molding on your wall.

3. Cut horizontal boards – The top board is the first thing to mount. Use wood glue to attach the top board using the pencil line as a guide. If your house is old and all the walls are NOT LEVEL (my home) you might notice that the top molding looks crooked. That’s why you should use wood glue because you can adjust the molding to look straight before it dries.

Once the horizontal pieces are in place where you want them, use a nail gun to make sure they stay in place. You don’t need to go crazy with nails. One or two will do the trick and you have to fill the nail holes, so fewer is better.

4. Cut your vertical boards – I used 3-inch vertical pieces cut from 1/4 inch plywood. Glue the far edges in place first. Mark the left edge of where you want each vertical strip to go. For example, if you want 12 inches between each strip, use the level to mark the intervals. You will most likely have one end that is a little bit off, but once the trim is all painted it’s not noticeable. Use wood glue to attach each vertical strip. Once vertical battens are in place where you like the look, use one or two nails on each slat.

5. Add top rail – I wasn’t sure if I wanted a top rail. I saw photos with and without, but once I had the paneling in place I decided that a rail would add a more finished look. I used what Home Depot called an Outside Corner as the top rail. The top rail has to be cut using a miter saw to get the 45-degree angles. We used a small piece of wood behind the edge of the corner piece to brace it. There is a small gap between the trim and the paneling.

6. Apply wood filler – Fill the nail holes with wood filler and use it to seal up the corners.

7. Paint trim and wall. You can use painter’s tape to protect your existing walls or “cut in” if you want to skip this step. I used semi-gloss trim paint on both the walls and the wood. It took two coats. Board and batten makes a bigger impact if the paint color on the wall above is a contrasting color.

bedroom board and batten

What I Wish I Had Done Differently

This is what bugs me about most DIY posts. The real value for YOU in reading how I did this, is really what I learned that I would do differently. Most people don’t share that because then you see that their project isn’t perfect. NO PROFECT is perfect.

First, I wish I had put wood paneling over my textured walls before I started the project as a backer board. Second, I wish I had taken the time to sand the edges of the boards before gluing them to the wall. It’s a question of how much time you have.

If you have questions about how to build your own board and batten wall, ask them in the comments. My in-process photos were taken so quickly that they don’t do the best job of illustrating the process. 🤷‍♀️

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One Comment

  1. Great Project. I agree that it always cost more than you think it will. Thanks for sharing your project.

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