5 Mistakes To Avoid When DIYing Board And Batten Accent Walls + Entryways

Board and batten accent walls and entryways are supposed to be very easy DIYs. However if you are a novice home improvement DIYer there are a few mistakes you'll want to avoid and things to consider before getting started.

Mistakes To Avoid + Things To Consider:

Depending on where you plan to do your board and batten you have a few things to consider in order to avoid a handful of mistakes down the road:

  • Backing or no backing
  • Height
  • Baseboard + width
  • Framing + Spacing
  • Common vs Actual sizing
  • Shelf

I'm going to talk you through each of these and suggest you sketch and measure things before heading to the hardware store!

Backing or no backing:

If you have textured walls or are just looking for an ultra smooth finish choosing something like a eucaboard as a backing can make all the difference.

You'll want to make this decision first as it will dictate your batten spacing.

Backing boards like this typically come in 4ft x 8ft panels. Most people do 4ft tall battens and then will have them cut the 8ft panel down so it fits in their car. BUT before you tell them where to cut, you NEED to know your spacing (which I'll talk about further down) so the battens hide the seam of the backboard.

ALSO keep in mind any electrical outlets on the wall! If you do opt for backing, you'll need to cut those out of the backing board.

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Height

If you are doing a back, then I'd suggest doing 4ft high batten boards. Most come in 4ft or 8 ft, making it either unnecessary to cut or you can have them cut it in half at the store.

But keep the next bit in mind too:

Baseboard + width selection

Many people recommend doing a 1×2, 1×3, or 1×4 strip of wood for the battens.

This is fine, but it's important to keep in mind the depth of your base board and whether or not you want it to be the same depth or want to remove the baseboard all together.

In most cases, going with a 1 x (insert preferred height) the batten will protrude beyond the baseboard. If it's covered by a bench or furniture, you may not care.

If you're OCD and it's exposed it may drive you crazy. In which case you have a few options:

  • Choose a thinner wood strip. (For my entryway I personally went with a .5 x 1.5 board. These are more expensive)
  • Remove the baseboard and have the batten/backing go straight to the floor (this will adjust the height of your overall design so make sure to take that into account while sketching things out!)
  • Remove the baseboard and install a new one whose thickness matches your batten boards

Framing + Spacing the battens

If you went with a backing board, you'll want to make sure that you use a batten strip to cover the seam of your backing boards.

Depending on where the batten is too, you may want to frame out the wall.

For instance, in our entryway, I wanted the battens to frame out the area to make it look more complete. However in my sons room, if I do this, I'd probably skip a full frame since the battens go into his “closet” and you can't really see what's happening down there anyway and I'd just seal the edge off with some caulk and paint. There's no right or wrong way, just a personal preference on the final outcomes look.

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Many people also opt for a slightly wider top piece than their vertical battens.

For instance the most common board and batten is 1×3 battens and then a 1×4 top strip with a 1×4 shelf sitting on that top strip.

Another thing to keep in mind with spacing are electrical outlets! You don't want to plan everything, go to install and then realize there's an outlet where a batten should go!

Common vs actual sizing

While the common sizing of the batten strips will read “1×2″ or 1×4” etc. when mapping out your design, take into account the ACTUAL size of the wood strips.

For instance, many people use furring strips in a 1×4 which reads: “Common: 1 in. x 4 in. x 8 ft.; Actual: 0.75 in. x 3.50 in. x 96 in.” – you can find this info under “product overview” further down on most online listings.

NOTE: Since I didn't remove my baseboard, I went with a .5″ x 1.5″ x 4 ft poplar board.

Shelf or no shelf

You'll definitely need a top piece of wood to finish off your battens, but it can be nice to also add a shelf on top of that.

Keep in mind, the thicker/wider the shelf, and more weight you want it to load, the more support you'll need.

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Recap:

Just to recap all of that since planning is truly what makes this an easy project vs a headache. Decide whether or not you want backing. Measure it all out using the ACTUAL size.

Plan your cuts before going to the store if you'll need any (e.g. does the backing board need to be cut down to fit in your card? If so, make sure you're getting the cuts so the seam will hide behind a batten, otherwise you may need to go back and shift all your battens around!)

TIP: Sketch + measure:

Personally, I suggest sketching everything out and with measurements and cross checking your math.

In the case of my entryway, I started by figuring out how many “openings” I wanted and dividing that number from the total length of the wall. Then I got a rough idea of how many batten strips I'd need and could recalculate with the actual size to refine my measurements and sketch.

Supplies

Personally, I'd suggest doing a pick up order for your supplies.

You can skip the wood if you prefer to pick out your own pieces (definitely recommended as you can choose smoother with less defects) or if need any in-store cuts done, but having all the other stuff ready for you will make the hardware store trip faster and way less overwhelming if you're not a frequent DIY'er.

For this you'll need a few supplies:

Shop Home Depot:
Shop Lowes: 
Other things I got: 
Actual Wood Used:

Installation

Prepare your wall

When it comes to any DIY project, but especially those with paint a well prepared surface is KEY!

I opted to skip the backing since I don't have an electric saw at home and I would've needed to cut out two electrical outlets in the backing board.

Instead, I decided to sand down our walls. We live in an old Florida home and I'm pretty sure the walls used to be textured, so there are a lot of uneven grooves and things. I went over it with a rough grit then finished it with a super fine one. It's still pretty textured, but better than it was and this area doesn't get a ton of light so you have to really look to see the texture.

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After I sanded, I used a little diluted TSP to get rid of any dust and general build up on the wall.

If you skipped sanding, then you can hold off on using TSP or another cleaner until after the caulking step.

If removing your baseboard…

If you are removing your baseboard, this is the time to do it!

If doing a backing board…

If doing a backing board, you may still want to use some TSP before adding the liquid nails to the back. Definitely not necessary though.

Instead you'll use use liquid nails on the back of the backboard. Press it against the wall, then use the nail gun where the battens will go to secure it to the wall while the liquid nails cures.

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You may want to wipe it down with some TSP or a dust cloth to make sure it's totally clean after installing.

Adding the wood boards

If doing a new baseboard bottom, add some liquid nails to the back, press against the wall, and secure it with the nail gun.

From there, I'd suggest holding up your battens – without secure them – and just using them as a guide for securing your top board.

Using a laser level, and possibly even drawing a straight line on the wall, can be helpful in getting this as accurate as possible.

You'll secure the top board with some liquid nails, but I wouldn't suggest using the nail gun yet! Instead have someone hold it in place, while you double check it's level.

Then, while someone is still holding it in place, begin adding the batten strips.

Depending on the length of your area, you may do just one piece of top board at a time while adding more battens. My area was pretty small so I did the full top board piece, then the outer battens, then the middle pieces while my husband held the top board in place.

When adding the battens, apply liquid nails to the back, then start adhering it to the wall from the top down. This way if there are any gaps they are at the floor, rather than eye level.

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This is also a chance to wiggle things around so they fit just right before using the nail gun to secure them to the wall.

Once the batten strips are secure, use the nail gun to secure the top wood strip too.

Adding the shelf

If you went with a lightweight piece of wood (similar to your top board), then you can secure it the same way. Just add some liquid nails to the back edge of the wood (the inner seam where the wall and top board meet), and use your nail gun to stick the shelf to the top piece of wood.

Caulking

Fill in the seams with your caulk by just moving slow and steady. More is better in this case. Once the caulk is on the seam, use you finger to smooth it down and wipe away any excess. It's better to have excess then gaps that you need to keep going over.

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Make sure to hit every angle, left, right, top, bottom. If your nail gun drove the nails in deep, you can even use a little to smooth out the hole too.

Let everything set/cure according to the instructions on the material you used.

Prepare for paint

I'd suggest re-hitting everything with some TSP at this point or at the very least, using a dust cloth to wipe everything down.

Put a drop cloth down, use some painters tape to cover anything you don't want painted.

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Prime + Paint

While I know there are tons of 2 in 1 paint and primers out there, make sure it's compatible with wood and not just drywall so you have an even surface, especially if painting a light color!

Personally, I used a separate primer. Let that dry, then painted.

You'll also want to use a high density foam roller for a smoother finish

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Add your hooks + decor (optional)

Our entryway was just a hot mess which is why I wanted to do this project. The pre-built hook shelves were two small and we had this sectioned off wall which made it a really primed spot for something like this.

When it came time for hooks I knew I wanted a double hook – typically seen in bathrooms for a towel and robe. A lot of stuff tends to accumulate here and I didn't want a gazillion hooks, but wanted enough that our stuff wouldn't be on the bench all the time.

Customizing hooks

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any double hooks in the color I wanted! I found these which were super affordable, with not so great reviews mostly due to the poor glue. I figured they were cheap enough to try and make work.

Due to the current paint shortage, I couldn't get the exact spray paint I wanted, but found a fairly matte metallic bronze, that I added a clear satin enamel top coat too for added durability.

The hooks are aluminum, and the wall it's going onto is painted wood, so I didn't want to use a wood glue or gorilla glue tends as they tend to be a little too porous for metal.

Instead I tried this moldable glue called sugru which was really cool! It can be used for tons of different projects, including mounting hooks like this to a wall and holding up to 4.4 lbs.

Once again I mapped everything out before applying it to the wall. This time I used some sticky tack to see how everything would look before hand and just measured/used a pencil to mark where things would go directly on the wall.

To apply the sugru, I just rolled it into small pieces, pressed it flat on the back of the hook, then pressed it to where I had sketched out. I used a little level on the hook to make sure everything was set, and wiped away any excess so it had a smooth finish. You have 30 minutes to work with it and then it takes 24-48 hours to cure.

Decor

We follow montessori at home so it's important for us to have an organized space that fosters independence for our kids. So with this update, each person got their own shoe baskets so we could all stop digging in the same box.

I added some greenery and a few pictures frames. All in all I think this really elevated the space and it cost around $100!

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