Board and Batten Installation Tips

It's been a crazy, busy, rainy weekend resulting in quite a bit of progress in our dining room. Which is a good thing seeing as we had set a goal of finishing off most of the decorating work before the holidays { can you believe Christmas is only a shockingly close 6 weeks away?}. I've got lots to cover this week, and I'll start by sharing our tips for installation of our beefed up board and batten. 

Start with your research. Search for inspirational images of what you want your moulding to look like. You can check out my pinterest board hereOnce you have an idea of what you want, try laying it out on the wall with pencil. Obviously, this is just a rough idea, but you'll get a good idea of sizing, spacing, and overall look. Then it's time to hit the lumber store to select you moulding. I shared our tips here.

While there are various tools you will use, there are a few things that are absolutely essential:  a large level, a compound mitre saw, and a nail gun.   The level's usefulness is pretty obvious while the compound mitre saw is key for making the angled cuts.  However, above all, the nail gun was a life saver for us.  Not only does it save you an immense amount of time, but it also prevents dents and dings on the trim that can happen when you are hammering away at those tiny finish nails.  For those of you who are intimidated by nail guns, don't be.  They aren't nearly as scary as they seem and pretty straightforward to figure out.  We were definitely first time nail gun users and had absolutely no issues. 

Compound mitre saw in action cutting a 45 degree angle for a corner piece.

So, while every pattern is different, the important steps to take are to start from the bottom, work in layers and install the vertical pieces last.  Our pattern had several horizontal trim pieces placed on top of the baseboard before the vertical pieces.  Rather than do one wall at a time, we found it easier to work in layers as you get comfortable with cutting those particular pieces.   Once the horizontal bottom layers were complete, the next step was to install the top horizontal board.  Why?  Well like many of you, our house is 88 years old, and our floors are not level.  So to ensure you have a level chair rail, install that portion of the pattern first and then cut the vertical pieces to fit.

A quick word on spacing those vertical pieces.  Measure and lay out the pattern ahead of time.  The spacing of those pieces is really up to you and also a function of the width of the board your choose.  We chose a 5 inch board and spaced them 15 inches apart so as to create a 20 inch repeating pattern that made it much easier to lay out around the room.  For our room and its dimensions, that spacing seemed to work almost perfectly, but every room is different.  Just figure out the spacing that allows you to get to the corner with roughly even spacing.  Not all of our squares are 15 inches wide, but they are within an inch or two and close enough that you wouldn't notice it.  Start on the end and work toward the corner.  Once you get to the corner, restart the pattern on the next wall and keep working in the same direction.

Board and batten can be a bit minimalistic, so try adding some interesting trim on the top to spice up the pattern{i.e., beef it up!}.   Also, how high should you make the pattern?  This, of course, is up to you, but if you are aiming to install a chair rail, as we did, then the standard height is about 36 inches and should be roughly 1/3 of the height of the room.  We opted to set the horizontal piece of the board and batten at 36 inches and then add the decorative pieces on top to make the total height 38 inches.

Last big tip...wood filler is your friend!  Mr. DD, while doing an amazing job, is not a professional carpenter and not every joint or seam is perfectly flush.  That is okay and shouldn't get you running to call the contractor.  Your cuts won't be perfect, but with a good slathering of wood filler and some sanding, you really can't tell once it is painted.  Use wood filler and not caulk as wood filler can be sanded smooth.  Caulk is really only meant for sealing corners and edges and we used plenty of that as well.

So there you have it.  Our take on board and batten.  Just remember, take your time (remember the old saying "measure twice cut once"), lay the pattern out first, and use a nail gun!  

And, now, because you've been so good to read all the way through this very wordy post, here's a little sneak peek at the board and batten all painted out and the wall color! Yeah. More to come later in the week, so come back by for info on custom paint colors and more. 

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until next time,