A couple of people asked me for a tutorial on installing the board and batten we put up. I don’t really have one, but I can direct you to several good ones online and give you tips that helped us with the project. You’ll be shocked at how inexpensive and easy it was, especially for me, who did nothing but point her scepter in the direction of The Home Depot and told the minions to scurry.
Okay, I did more than that. My crowning achievement was figuring out it’s called board and batten. For years I referred to it as “the sticks on the wall that most of our neighbors have.” Actually, I can’t even take credit for that. In May I discovered The Nester’s blog and one of the early posts talked about the board and batten she put in her office. I took one look at the picture and said, “Hey, sticks on walls!”
In that post, Nester links to her favorite posts on installing B&B. I went through each post, as well as all the links at the end of the post, and agree with her assessment. The ones in the post, especially Karla’s, were the most helpful and all you need to do this project. I was in charge of measuring, budgeting, drawing up the plans, and sourcing materials/supplies. The Mister installed everything while we were in Lake Tahoe.
A quick comment on my pictures: everything is level and straight. If the B&B looks curved or crooked in the images, it’s a testament to my amateur photography skills. I believe that happened because I zoomed in with my lens for a few pictures. The images are a bit distorted as a consequence.
Before we embarked on this project, we had to decide on a few things. You will, too.
- Whether we should install board and batten (sticks) on the wall or just batten.
- Whether we should replace the baseboards.
- Whether we should replace the door case molding.
The Board v. Batten Issue
The first decision took seconds. We have slick wall plaster, not the textured or knock-down drywall you see in modern homes. To put smooth wood on top of smooth plaster seemed like a frivolous use of time and money, especially since odds were the walls would look like true boards when painted. We were right. You have to be inches from the wall before you realize it’s plaster. If you have textured drywall and loathe the idea of spending money on the boards, don’t be dismayed. I think most people who have tackled this project have textured walls and they also elected to do without the boards.
The Baseboard Issue
When you install B&B, you will most likely run into an issue with the baseboards. Most battens will extend farther than the top of the baseboard upon which they sit. How you handle this is a matter of preference. Nester chose to ignore the differences in depth. Kimba cut her boards at 45 degree angles. AnNicole used thin lattice strips. We replaced the baseboards.
First, we know how we are. It would bug us. Nester is right–it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful–but this board and batten was going all around the dining room, living room, and entry. If we were going to do it, we might as well do it, you know? Plus! This was the perfect excuse for me to get 6 inch baseboards because, folks, when you rip off 4 inch baseboards from plaster, you’re going to see wall damage. The 6 inch boards covered up all the holes nicely.
Our baseboards are very simple. Our baseboards aren’t really baseboards. They’re 6 inch boards of mdf, and we love them. You’ll see similar baseboards in most of the mid-century ranch homes in my neighborhood, but with rounded edges and only 2.5″-3″ in height. We’re not fans of ogee edges (or whatever the little scrolls and dips are called) on baseboards. We prefer things simple and easy to clean (allergies, remember?), and the spare look of the boards looks great in contrast to the jumbled pile of rocks we call a fireplace.
The Door Case Molding Issue
You will encounter the baseboard issue again, but this time with the door casings. This brought about a short debate between The Mister and I. I was worried that the new baseboards would be too deep and stick out noticeably. He reminded me that this is an older home with shifting walls, and that odds were this area by the kitchen (picture above) would be the worst case scenario. I agreed to “let it go” and he was right. Directly across the doorway you can see the same size baseboard against the same wall, this time almost a perfect fit. Older homes, crooked walls.
See what I mean?
That’s it! Trust me, it was simple (The Mister said so) and really makes the room look more open and taller, which is important when you have 8′ ceilings. The project cost roughly $300, double what most bloggers spent. We did several rooms and replaced the baseboards, so our version of B&B isn’t as budget friendly.
Here are some final notes on installation:
- It’s all mdf, all from Home Depot
- Baseboards first
- Next, top board
- Battens (sticks!) went down last
- Then primer everything, including the walls
- Then caulking, filling in nail holes, etc.
- Then paint (Benjamin Moore Cloud White in semi gloss)
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments. I kinda suck at these tutorial things. The lawyer in me can go on and on and on so I’m trying to keep this short. Short, she says, as she types the 937th word…