There is an easy way to add a board and batten treatment without ripping out all your baseboards!

You really only have 3 options for dealing with the baseboards during a board and batten or wainscoting project:

  1. Remove the existing baseboard and replace with a new “baseboard” the same thickness as the battens and usually 4-6″ tall.  Optionally, you could apply the original baseboard back over the new “baseboard” piece to tie in with the rest of the baseboards in the room.
  2. Use very thin battens or bead board paneling that fits on top of the existing baseboard.  The top edge of most baseboards is no more than 1/4″ thick.  This option results in a pretty flat wall treatment without a lot of dimension.
  3. Keep the existing baseboards and create an optical illusion of sorts.  Cut the bottom of the battens at a 45-degree angle.  The point at the bottom will rest on top of the existing baseboard.

I successfully implemented option 3 in my dining room.  We did not want to remove the baseboards around the entire room, mostly because we did not want to risk damaging our beautiful wood floors.  At the same time we wanted to use 1/2″ thick wood for the battens on our wall treatment.

Teal Dining Room

To make the look seamless, we cut a 45-degree angle at the bottom of each batten.  When finished this gives the illusion that the baseboards support the battens and you don’t notice they are thinner.  Most people compliment the wall treatment and never notice the illusion at the baseboards.

Board and Batten

To make the 45-degree angle cuts we used a compound miter saw.  Before measuring for our batten cuts, we first hung the top board on the well.  The top board is the horizontal board that the top ledge rests on.  The battens run vertically from the top of the baseboard to the bottom of the top board.  We measured the length of each batten individually.  This is so important because there may be slight differences in the length if the baseboard is uneven.  For each batten we marked the length measurement on the wood.  Then using the compound miter saw we cut the 45-degree angle at the mark.

Board and Batten

In the corners, we took another shortcut.  Our battens are 3″ wide.  In the corner we applied a 3″ batten on one wall with the 45-degree angle at the bottom.  On the adjacent wall we attached a 2.5″ wide batten with the 45-degree angle at the bottom.  The corner battens appear to be two 3″ wide battens joined in the corner.  At the bottom where the two 45-angles meet there is a small void, which is only noticeable if you lay on the ground.  I do not expect people to be laying on the ground in my dining room.

Board and Batten corner

We were so relieved the project worked without having to remove and replace the baseboards.  We were able to keep our floors in pristine condition.  We also think keeping the existing baseboards saved a few hours of work and the cost of wood to make new baseboards.  We get lots of compliments on the wall treatment and no one notices the angled batten bottoms unless we point them out.


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15 Responses to How To Install Board and Batten without Replacing Baseboards

  1. Lauren H says:

    What an inventive way to make it all work, Jackie! Plus, I always try to accomplish things so they can be reversed back to the classic/traditional (probably b/c we’ve moved/sold so often).

  2. Thank you so much for posting this!!! I believe this is what we are going to do in our master bedroom!!

  3. sharon says:

    Looks amazing! What did you use to create the ledge at the top? Is it one kind of molding or a combination of a couple of things? Thanks for your help!

    • Jackie says:

      Sharon, thanks for writing. The top ledge is three pieces. A 1×4 attached directly against the wall horizontally on top of the battens. Then we placed a 1×3 on top sticking out as the ledge. Under the 1×3 we used a 1.5 inch cove molding. Hope this helps.

  4. sharon says:

    Thanks for the response!

  5. Shane says:

    How far apart did you place the battens?

    • Jackie says:

      Shane, I don’t recall the actual spacing…we just measured our wall and determined how far apart we wanted each batten. We had a large air return vent and some outlets to contend with, so we planned the spacing of the battens to accommodate those. A great tip is to use painter’s tape to mark where each batten would be located. This will help you make sure there aren’t any obstructions where a batten will be. It will also help you visualize the spacing before you put wood on the wall.

  6. Andria Vidal says:

    Hi Jackie, your dinning room project is amazing. I’ve been toying with the idea of putting in wainscoting in my living room but this is so much easier! I wanted to know how you actually installed the boards. With a nail gun, wood glue. It would be oh so helpful. Thank you!

    • Jackie says:

      Hi Andria. This is definitely still one of the best changes to our house. We tried using liquid nails but had to push the boards firmly against the wall and hold them until the glue set (long time). We ended up using some painters tape to help hold them in place and a few well placed nails on stubborn boards. If I did it again I would just use a nail gun on all of them. Before painting we applied caulk to all the seams. Good luck tackling your living room. I’d love to see when you get it done.

  7. Nicole says:

    Love this!!! Getting ready to start this project in my dinning room. What is the gorgeous blue paint color you chose for above the board and batten?

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks Nicole! The color in the dining room is Plumage by Martha Stewart available at Home Depot. We loved this same color so much we also used it in our nursery :)

  8. Brad says:

    This looks great! My wife and I want to try this in our house, too… but we don’t have enough courage just yet.

    Also, I found your blog through Jen @iheart! You ladies are inspiring. Thanks.

  9. Angela says:

    I saw your solution for inside corners. Do you have any suggestions for bottoms of outside corners? In my laundry room I have two outside corners.

  10. Josh says:

    Nice. So you didn’t use any mdf paneling between the battens? Is that a customary way to do it?

    • Jackie says:

      Josh, If your wall is pretty smooth, there is no need to put any type of paneling. If your wall has a lot of texture, and it would be obvious it is the wall peeking through, then you would need to cover it with a smooth panel before applying the battens.

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