Board and Batten on a Budget

Dining room collage

We have made many changes and updates to our once cookie cutter, builder grade house. Guys, it was bad… we purchased the home as a foreclosure, an investment. It was in good condition, had lots of natural light, and we loved the openness of the living space but the fixtures in the house were plain and had no personality. See??? Gah!!


We have chosen high quality products and installed them ourselves to save money. Some of the changes I think have had the biggest impact are changing out the cheap berber carpet for Pergo laminate wood flooring, painting the orange-y oak kitchen cabinets, painting the open living space one unified color and my favorite, the board and batten (B &B from here on out).

The long wall in our living room is 22′ high at its highest point. I needed a way to decorate the beast of a wall but I don’t love clutter on the walls so I didn’t want a large gallery of pictures. I wanted simple clean lines and I have always wanted to tackle a B & B project and it was perfect for this space. There are many board and batten tutorials out there. We looked at some inspiration photos but chose to go our own route.


See… board up on the left and just paint line on the right. We measured and marked the paint line with a pencil.

Instead of nailing MDF boards to the wall we chose to simply paint the wall white up to just under where the top of the wall feature would be. I chose Rust Scat paint in semi-gloss. Don’t be deterred by this semi gloss for the walls. The sheen is much like a satin but has the durability of a semi-gloss which is what I needed with the many sticky fingers in our house! This is also what I used on our kitchen cabinets and molding.

The boards we decided on were 1 x 3″ x 8′ unfinished pine boards. To reduce waste (and $$$) we chose to cut the 8′ boards in half. We replaced the floor base boards with the 1 x 3″ boards also so that we didn’t have any overhang from the vertical boards or awkward miter cuts to get the baseboard and B & B boards to meet flush. Therefore, our height we went for was 4′ + 3″ (from the new baseboard). This worked out perfect because the B & B would be just shorter than the mantle. I didn’t want the molding on the mantle to get lost since it is white also.

We sanded, primed and painted the boards. I used Kilz primer and the same Rust Scat semi gloss white for the finishing coat. If you get it on the wall and there are spots that need a touch up it is totally fine because the wall is already the same color which makes for easy painting! Yay!

Using the nail gun, we attached the new baseboard and the top board first and made sure they were level. No wonky boards here! Be super picky when you pick your lumber. When they are painted, nicks and blemishes will show up and you don’t want warped boards or they will be more difficult to nail to the wall.

We then put up our vertical boards. I did measure spacing between the boards. The common sense (and easier) route is to go every 16″, with the studs. If you can do that, that’s awesome! In our case, we realized that where we previously took down a wall the studs were off. Also, the spacing around the outlets on either side of the mantle were wonky. We did NOT want to move the outlets. So, we placed them at every stud, including at the end of each wall, and then “eyeballed” them, shifting just an inch or two. So, each board is nailed in a stud but they are not all centered on a stud. Does that make sense?


Almost finished, pre-caulk

Then… don’t skip this next step… it gives the project a finished, unified look. CAULK! We used white silicone caulk to fill in all the gaps. Touch up any spots that need paint and you are done!

I am no building expert… I’m a furniture painting, DIY-er housewife. So, if you have questions I didn’t answer please ask and I’ll um… ask my husband! 🙂 We sent the kids to the grandparents on a sunny day and finished this in a weekend. If you don’t have young kiddos and a monster wall like ours, it could be done in a day if you are super ambitious.

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If you have a wall that you would like to add a feature to or if you love a bold color on a wall but could use the contrast of a neutral white to tone it down, this is a great option. You can do so much to it also. You can put hooks into the top board for coats in an entryway or you could add molding and a shelf on top for more surface space in a room or bathroom. Please let me know if this inspires you and share pictures!


More info on the room:

Wall color is Benjamin Moore’s Northern Cliffs (mixed in Valspar Signature Satin from Lowes)

Canvases are from Check Groupon regularly for 2 for $49.99 deals!

The handsome handy man in the first picture is taken. ❤