DIY Board and Batten

Posted by Ashley Robustelli on

This project is probably my favorite that we have tackled so far! It was relatively easy (luckily we have all the required tools already) and we completed it from start to finish in just 24 hours. 24 HOURS!!! I was amazed at that! And for only about $80, it completely transformed our laundry room and gave us the 'mud room' that our home was lacking!

I'll try my best to explain supplies, steps, tips and tricks that we learned along the way. There is also a video tutorial available on my Instagram profile.


  • table saw
  • miter saw
  • brand nailer
  • caulk gun 
  • sander with high grit fine sandpaper
  • level


  • caulk
  • liquid nails (construction-quality adhesive)
  • 2" brad nails
  • 4x8 hardboard sheets (only necessary if you have textured walls)
  • 1x3x8 primed MDF or pine (main vertical pieces)
  • 1x2x8 primed MDF or pine (skinny top ledge piece)
  • paint (ours is Sherwin Williams Web Grey)
  • 2" angled paint brush
  • paint roller and tray
  • hooks (optional)


First you'll want to measure your space and measure again. It helps a LOT to have all the dimensions you need when heading to the hardware store to purchase supplies! I drew a diagram of our wall on a piece of paper, which helped me visualize my design and decide on spacing between hooks and batten boards. Once your have your measurements, you can calculate how much materials you will need. Most primed MDF boards come in 8' or 12' lengths. It would also be helpful to visit the hardware store prior to getting your measurements so you can see what your supplies options and sizes are.

When deciding on spacing for YOUR wall(s), it completely depends on your goals. Will you have hooks between your boards? Or will this be an accent wall in your master bedroom or maybe dining room? My spacing was focused around my hooks. We have 5, so I knew I needed one to be completely centered on the wall. I started there and calculated symmetrical spacing for the remaining hooks to the outer walls. Then, I knew the vertical boards would be evenly spaced in the middle of each hook. I calculated those measurements to complete my batten portion of the diagram. As far as height on the wall, I decided to leave it at 4' high because the hardboard sheets come in 8x4' sheets. This made it easier so we did not have to meticulously cut down the boards to a specific size. Instead, we focused on keeping the existing measurement of 4' high and cutting down the width so we could completely cover the entire wall from left to right along the bottom. Our wall is just over 9' wide, so we needed (2) of the hardboard sheets. We kept one at 8x4' and cut one down to fill the remaining gap.

NOTE: I decided not to remove my ornate trim from the wall. This means my thick 1" batten boards stick out above my trim. This doesn't bother me at all, however it is popular to remove your trim from the wall and replace with a 1x4x8 primed MDF to even out your boards. You can google this. Photo examples are below. *If you decide to do replace your trim, this will be your FIRST STEP*



First ask yourself this question: Do I need hardboard? The quick answer is NO if you have smooth (non-textured) walls. But if you have textured walls, then the quick answer is YES. Is it absolutely necessary? No - you can certainly do this project without hardboard if you'd like (even with textured walls). But board and batten is meant to be smooth with clean lines, and you won't achieve that look if you leave your textured walls exposed. The hardboard provides a smooth, clean, and professional look to make this project really top notch! We almost skipped the hardboard (to save $), but I'm really glad we decided to use it (and our walls are textured).

So, the first step of application is attaching the hardboards along the wall. Skip this step if you are not using hardboard. You can use a table saw to cut these boards down yourself, or ask the hardware store (Lowes or Home Depot) to cut them down when purchasing. Before attaching to your wall, we highly recommend holding it up against the wall to decide on final placement prior to attaching, even if you know exactly where it's going (it's more helpful than you think). So we attached our first full hardboard sheet (8x4') to the wall by using a caulk gun to apply liquid nails to the back of the board, then securely pressing against the wall. We used a level too, of course! While my husband held the hardboard in place, I secured the edges using my nail gun and 2" brand nails. We then measured the remaining portion of our wall, cut down the next sheet of hardboard, and repeated the steps to apply. Step one: complete! The bottom portion of your wall should be completely covered in brown hardboard. You can worry about caulking the seams later.

Next, you'll want to add your top border. We used 1x3x8 primed MDF for this (the same width as our vertical batten boards). You can also use 1x4x8 primed MDF for a thicker look here. We decided to place this piece right on top of our applied hardboard to make things easy. Using the same application method, we first tested the placement, applied liquid nails to the back of the board, pressed into place using our level, and secured with brad nails. You will cut down additional boards if needed, until the entire top edge of the hardboard is covered with one long edge of primed MDF.

Then you'll add the vertical boards! Using your original diagram, measure out the placements of each board onto the wall and lightly mark with pencil. Using a miter saw, cut down each piece to required length. Because we kept the 4' height on our hardboard, and these primed MDF boards come 8' long, we were able to just cut them in half to create our 4' vertical boards to fit our space. As before, we tested placement, applied liquid nails, held into place using the pencil measurements we made on the wall (and the level!), and secured with nails. Repeat these steps with each of the vertical boards until all are in place.

The final board to attach is the skinny 2" top trim piece. This time we applied liquid nails directly on top of the highest horizontal board and pressed this trim piece directly into place on top. Keep in mind that this piece is NOT applied flat against the wall - it will jut out towards you. Photo below.


Once all of these boards are attached and secured, you are ready to move on!!! The next step is to caulk. My husband used interior caulk and a caulk gun to apply a thin line of caulk to EVERY seam where two materials meet. And I followed behind him to clean up the caulk. An easy way to do this is to dip your finger into a cup of water and wipe the caulk line before it dries. It will smooth the line and remove excess caulk. There is a learning curve and it was messy, but we got the job done! Don't forget to caulk over all nail holes, too. Once the caulk is dry, you'll want to use a fine sandpaper to sand the caulk and smooth it over. This will ensure a nice seamless paint job.

We actually FORGOT to sand ours! I didn't realize until after I painted, and by then it was too late! The result is visible caulk seams under the paint that were not smoothed out completely (example: where the pieces of hardboard meet or over some nail holes). This doesn't bother me in the long run, but I wish I wouldn't have forgotten this step.

After sanding... now you are ready to paint!

I used painters tape to tape off our baseboard and the top, left, and right wall edges against the board and batten. I started with my 2" angled brush to paint all edges, corners, and seams first. Then I switched to a small paint roller to fill in the rest. My paint only required one coat for full coverage, but I applied 2 coats anyway. I allowed the paint to dry overnight prior to attaching the hooks.

We attached our hooks along the top horizontal MDF piece, spaced evenly between each of the vertical boards. Once the hooks were attached, we were DONE! Because I'm a messy painter, I just needed to go back and do some touchups where it got a little messy around the edges. But otherwise we now have a fully functional mud room area and we are LOVING it!

HAVE QUESTIONS? Leave a comment on this post and I will answer as best as I can!



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