DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting

Article Posted By: Krista Aasen

DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting

Board and Batten is a type of wainscoting with simple, clean lines that can evoke a farmhouse or Shaker style. This simple DIY board and batten wainscoting project adds tons of character to your home. Since wainscoting is usually easy to care for and clean, this is a great addition to your entryway, mudroom or dining room.

Just follow these step-by-step instructions by DIY expert Krista Aasen.

DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting Project

Materials Needed


Clean and Prep the Walls

Here is what our entry hall looked like before we did this project.

An entry hall before installation of DIY board and batten wainscoting

It is really important to clean and prepare your walls properly before repainting them. I like to wash all my walls first with Mr. Clean.

Mixing Mr. Clean with water

Washing a wall with Mr. Clean and a wash cloth

I remove any really tough marks or spots using a Magic Eraser so that they don’t bleed through my fresh paint.

Using a Magic Eraser to remove marks from a wall

Once the walls are clean, fill all holes using a drywall filler.

You should also, measure and mark where on the wall you would like your DIY board and batten wainscoting to end.

A wall patched with drywall filler

Once this is dry, sand the spots smooth and remove any traces of dust left on the walls with a Swiffer Sweeper pad.

Swiffer Sweeper Pads

Removing dust left on a wall using a Swiffer Sweeper

Then, add two coats of your white Behr paint up to the point that you have marked on the wall. This makes the final painting work, once the battens have been installed, much easier to complete.

An entryway painted in preparation for installing board and batten wainscoting


Install the Trim Boards 

Now it is time to begin installing your MDF trim boards to create the cottage look of board and batten.

We started with 1 x 6 MDF baseboards. You may wish to install the baseboards first if you do not already have them in place.

Cutting 1 x 3 MDF pieces to be battens in a DIY board and batten wainscoting project

Cut your vertical 1 x 3 MDF pieces to the correct length. We chose to go with 48-in. vertical battens for ease of purchasing and cutting, as most trim is sold in 8 ft. to 16 ft. lengths. This gave us a finished height on the board and batten of 58½ inches (including the baseboard, chair rail, and top ledge piece).

Measuring 48-in. battens for a DIY board and batten wainscoting project

Measure the length of the area (each wall) where you plan to install your board and batten wainscoting and determine how far apart you want to space your vertical battens based on the ability to divide the space up evenly. We generally have about 13 in. of space from the center of one vertical batten strip to the center of the next batten strip. (It won’t be noticeable if you have to vary this a small amount from one wall to the next as long as the distance is within a close range.)

Measuring the distance between battens in a DIY board and batten waincoting project

Using a level to check that battens are straight and even in a DIY board and batten wainscoting project

Once you have the distance between battens determined, you can begin using your nail gun to nail them to the wall.

Use a level to check that they are straight and even.

Using a nail gun to nail battens to a wall in a DIY board and batten wainscoting project

We love our air compressor and nail gun, but if you don’t own one, you can rent a nail gun from The Home Depot. You can also use a regular hammer and small nails; it just won’t go quite as quickly.

Vertical battens installed in a board and batten wainscoting project

Battens installed to create board and batten wainscoting

Once all of your batten pieces are installed, it should look something like this.


Install the Chair Rail and Ledge Board

A man and his son using a stud finder, preparing to add a chair rail to board and batten wainscoting

Now it is time to install the chair rail (1 x 5 MDF), followed by the top ledge board (1 x 2 MDF – that sits flat on top the chair rail and creates a small ledge or shelf).

Before attaching your chair rail board, it is a good idea to try to find a few studs to nail into to make sure that this piece is nice and securely attached to the wall. You can use a stud finder to help you and mark the wall accordingly.

Close up a chair rail and batten in a board and batten wainscoting installation

Measure according to your space, and cut your trim boards to the correct length, angling the edges with a 45-degree miter cut in order to overlap two pieces for a longer stretch of trim.

The finishing touch is to fill all the nail holes with a spackling compound, let it dry, and then sand it smooth.

You can then do an additional coat or two of your Behr white paint over top of all the trim work and the wall space between.

DAP spackling compound

DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting


Done! Don’t you think that this DIY board and batten project made a huge difference to our entry hall?

DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting

DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting

DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting

DIY Board and Batten Wainscoting

We love how the DIY board and batten wainscoting turned out – it is the perfect DIY project for adding some unique interest and character to a space and creating a fun and welcoming entrance for our guests.

Krista Aasen blogs at The Happy Housie.

Check out more DIY projects and ideas here on The Home Depot Blog, and follow our Easy DIY pinboard on Pinterest.

Browse The Home Depot’s Cleaning Department for everything you need to keep your home clean.

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