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I recently took the leap and updated our living room, entry, and hallway with board and batten, and I LOVE the results. Here’s everything you need to know before you tackle your own wall paneling home DIY project!

I recently took the leap and updated our living room, entry, and hallway with board and batten, and I LOVE the results. Here's everything you need to know before you tackle your own wall paneling home DIY project!

My new Board and Batten Living Room

Here’s a little peek at our new space:

white board and batten wall

What is Board and Batten?

Board and batten is a type of wainscoting, that has grown in popularity recently with the farmhouse decor and cottage trends. I love it, because it instantly adds character to any room, without looking too fussy.

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here when it comes to DIY tutorials. Here are a few of my favorite, and I think they are all essential reading before your tackle any DIY paneled project, no matter how big or small:

How to Create the Perfect Paneled Wall for Your Space

#1 Consider: Your Trim

How to design a board and batten wall that blends with baseboard trim.

At some point, your board and batten wall will meet up with your baseboards, window and door trim, and and other edging or details on your walls. Carefully consider this before your start making your wall. The biggest consideration here is how to handle your baseboard trim, since your boards will often be thicker than your trim. This leaves you with 3 options:

  1. If you are using boards any thicker than 18″ (and you probably are) there is a good chance that your vertical boards will protrude past your baseboard/trim at the bottom. If you want to keep your trim, you can use thin plywood or MDF cut into 3-4″ strips.
  2. Remove the trim. Install new trim to be flush with you board and batten. This would be my preferred choice if you are working on a small project or if you’re starting from scratch in a new build or remodel.
  3. Cut the bottom of the boards at a 45-degree angle, creating a sort of “optical illusion” where the two boards meet. School of Decorating has a fantastic tutorial all about how they created this effect in their dining room. Angled board and batten
  4. Oh, I lied. There are really 4 options here. #4 is basically #3 with a small tweak: Keep your baseboards their original color. In my case, my baseboards were stained wood to match our floors. Since I had so many linear feet to cover, I opted to leave the trim as-is and blend in with the floor. I would really only recommend this option if your baseboard trim matches your floors, or else you run the risk of creating a busy, disjointed look.

white board and batten hallway - everything you need to know before installing board and batten walls

(Yep, the trim along that back wall is white, and that door has seen much better days. Oh, the joys of living in an old home!)

#2 Consider: Whole or Partial Wall

So many patterns and colors to choose when creating a paneled wall.

There are basically two options for board and batten wall, with minor tweaks here and there:

  1. Paneling on the bottom 2/3 of the wall (usually painted white) with an accent color painted on the top 1/3 of wall. The presence and spacing of the horizontal board can vary.
  2. Full wall paneling, in a grid pattern – here’s a great tutorial from A Brick Home.

DIY grid board and batten wall

Here’s my spacing and colors. I ultimately chose Sherwin Williams “Repose Gray”. Keep in mind, I did the white paneling on all of our living room, entry space, and hallway. Because I chose to do two horizontal boards, I will hang larger, less busy items on the wall above.

Board and Batten spacing and Neutral Sherwin Williams Color Palette

#3 Consider: Spacing and Number of Boards

How far apart should you space boards and battens?

This really depends on 1) your personal preference, and 2) the size and scale of your space. Most vertical battens are spaced between 16 and 20 inches apart. You also have to decide the spacing of your horizontal boards. I’m a very visual person, so…

Masking tape is your friend here.

planning a board and batten wall

Even if you absolutely know what spacing and arrangement you want, I still highly recommend this step. It’s super simple: tape off the placement of your boards with masking tape. If you’re debating between two spacing options, tape one option on one wall and the other option on the other wall. Walk away for a day, and then come back to it. Which option are your drawn to?

how to plan a board and batten wall


Our finished living room, entryway, and hallway:

board and batten entry

board and batten entryway

board and batten living room

Aside from painting and refinishing our stairs, this was the first BIG house project I tackled in our new house. You can follow along on our home’s journey and see my before/after photos in this Home Tour Blog Post.

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