Fair warning: this post is full of not-so-pretty pictures. This post is about a project under construction. We installed a DIY board and batten treatment in our dining room. It was the first project on the path of transformation for the dining room. Board and batten was a prominent element in our dining room mood board. Here was the extra bland and b-o-r-i-n-g dining room before:
We looked at bead-board paneling and wainscoting kits, but to get the style we wanted and a better price, we chose to go the DIY route. We spent about $150 on all the wood for this project. We used select pine 1x4s, 1x3s, and cove moulding trim. We also purchased an inexpensive ($20) laser level. You know we just had to have a new toy. In retrospect, we should have used this project as an excuse to get a nail gun. Since we didn’t have a nail gun, we used a good old-fashioned hammer for nailing. To avoid having to do too many nails we relied on screws and liquid nails.
The first step was to install the top rail. This is where the laser level came in handy. We used it to mark a level line across the wall. We decided to make our top rail even with the center of the window. This meant visually there was one continuous line around the room. The top of our rail was about 5ft from the floor and 4ft from the cieling. Along the level line we mounted 1x4s with screws. We screwed them near the top of the board, knowing we would be able to cover the screws with the cove moulding. We used a scarf joint to join boards at seems. A scarf joint (I just googled to find out what it was called) is a fancy term for cutting the end of the boards at a 45 degree angle and then overlapping them to create a more seamless joint. To create the ledge on top, we nailed 1×3 boards on top of the rail. We used scarf joints to join the boards on the ledge too. We used a nail set to sink the nails into the moulding. Then covered the nail holes with sand-able wood filler.
To finish off the top rail, we used liquid nails to install the cove moulding under the ledge. The liquid nails worked pretty well for this, but we had to hold each piece for several minutes and ultimately put a few nails in temporarily while the liquid nails dried. The above picture is after primer, but I wanted to show you the profile created with the cove moulding. This profile is visible on each side of the window and each side of the nook where the armoire is. We had to cut 45 degree angles here too to create a return. A return gives the corner a finished look. To do that, we just mitered the end of the cove moulding at a 45 degree angle. Then we cut another small piece of moulding mitered at 45 degrees to fit on the side and create the finished corner.
With the top rail done, the next step was the battens (vertical boards). We did not want to remove or replace the baseboards (no need to risk damaging our pretty floor). Instead, we cut the bottom of the battens at a 45 degree angle to taper towards the existing baseboard. We spaced our battens about 24″ apart to make the spacing even and accommodate obstacles on the wall, like the air return, outlets, and light switches. It was definitely wise to plan and measure this out in advance. We marked the placement of each batten along the wall. Then where each batten should be, we measured the exact height from the top of the baseboard to the bottom of the rail. We measured and cut each batten individually for the best fit…although your top rail is level, it doesn’t mean your baseboards are.
So the above picture looks scary, but I promise this all looks fabulous when it is done. Construction is never pretty. We tried to use only liquid nails to hold up the battens, but it was a pain. We both had to hold each batten for several minutes. Once the liquid nails started to set, we taped the battens with frog tape to hold them in place until the liquid nails dried. This only worked well for perfectly straight boards. If the batten had even a slight bow in it, we had to nail it in place. The liquid nails is not strong enough to grab the wood and pull it to the wall.
Once all the battens were in place (and scary tape removed), I applied paintable caulk to all the cracks and crevices. This included the edge of every batten, the top and bottom edges of the cove molding, the bottom of the rail where it met the wall, the top of the ledge where it met the wall, and any joints along the way. I used two tubes of caulking. This step is critical for getting a good finish in the end, so I spent a ton of time caulking. We were getting a little antsy to see a more finished look, so while I caulked, my husband started to put a first coat of paint above the board and batten.
I am going to leave you with a slightly more finished look. After caulking, I sanded all the boards and any spots where we used wood filler. Then I slapped a coat of primer over the board and batten. Notice already how those wall obstacles (air return and outlets) start to blend in?
Before the day was out, we also cut in and did a second coat on the teal walls above. The teal color was inspired by our love of the same color in the nursery. It is Plumage from our whole house color scheme. Okay, is it looking less scary now? Wait until you see the finished wall treatment!
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