Thursday, January 18, 2018

Board and Batten Tutorial

We have been in our house for a little over a year now.  When we were going through the building process and picking out our selections, we knew that we would end up with a few projects down the road.  Between being busy with the kids, making a few large furniture purchases, and taking forever to finally agree on decisions, decorating the house started off rather slow.  We finally got around to hanging pictures in our living room and we were blown away with what a difference it made!  It warmed up the downstairs tremendously.  From there we knew we needed to do something to our breakfast area, which is right off of the living room.  We brainstormed a few ideas and quickly agreed that it wasn't going to need much to dress it up.  I wanted it to feel somewhat casual since it wasn't our formal dining area, but still charming.  We decided on a modern board and batten for a wall treatment and some simple frames to hang above.   Prints can be found here.  
The board and batten was our first big project that we did all on our own.  (My stepdad helped us change out the lighting and thank goodness he did because we would have definitely been lost with that one!)  I did a TON of research and worked out a million measurements before diving in.  We were both a little intimidating at first but once we started, we realized that this was going to be a fairly easy project.  Here is what we did...

Supplies & Materials:
1/4 MDF (to use with our existing baseboards)
Cove Molding
Liquid Nails
Nails & a nail gun
Wood Putty

After much research, we decided to use MDF so that we could use our existing baseboards.  The tutorials I saw that involved ripping the baseboards off didn't look like something we wanted to get into and especially not with a new house.  The top of our baseboards come out about a quarter of an inch so that's what size MDF we went with.

Sidenote: Going with a thicker board and taking off the baseboards looks really nice.  In my opinion, the inner boxes stand out more and it gives off a little more drama and elegance to the space.  I would have definitely done this in my dining room but because this area calls for less formal dining, the shallow boxes work well in this space.

We bought the MDF in 2' x 4' sheets.  I read online that this can be a little tricky to find.  For example, Lowes didn't have it but Home Depot did.  I figured out the sizes I was going to go with and they are as follows.
Top board - 4" wide / Bottom board - 4" wide / Batten (vertical) - 3" wide

Here you will need to decide how tall you want your Board & Batten to be.  Ours is 34.5" from the floor and our ceilings are 9'.  You can find standard height suggestions on Pinterest.  We actually have a counter that comes out onto the wall so we used that as a guide for determining our height.  
I highly recommend taping it out and leaving it up for a couple days to be extra sure.  We were initially going to go with the height of the backsplash but after seeing it in tape, we changed our minds and I am so glad we did!

We cut the MDF into strips using a miter saw.  We measured the length of all of the walls, subtracting for the window, to get a total for the boards.  Figuring out the math for the battens is tricky and probably the most difficult part of the project.  I came up with a formula that I used to figure out the distance between each batten and will try my best to explain it.  I sketched mine out before I started the math because I work better with visuals.  My sketch gave me 9  battens on one wall so that's what I started with.  
Step 1: Measure the length of one wall (135") 
Step 2: Subtract the 2 end battens
(My battens are 3" so I subtracted 6" from the total wall length giving me 129")
Step 3: Multiply the remaining number of battens (7) x batten width (3") and subtract from remaining wall length
(7x3=21 and then 129-21=108")
Step 4: So far you have calculated the total amount of wall space accommodated for the battens.  The 108" is all of the wall space that will be in between the battens.  You will divide this number by the number of spaces you have in between your battens.  This is why the visual helped me.
(108"/8 spaces=13.5")
13.5 is the distance between each batten and according to this formula, all will be evenly spaced.  The measurements may vary on each wall.  I got each wall within 1/2"-1" difference of each other and you can't tell at all.

Once you have all of your calculations figured out and your boards cut, you are ready to begin.
We had a few little helpers throughout this project :)

 We started with attaching the bottom board to the wall.  Because we put them right on top of the existing baseboards, we didn't need to do any wall measurements.  We applied a little bit of Liquid Nails (wood glue) to the back of the board, put it on the wall and then nailed them with a nail gun to further secure them in place.
We applied the top boards the same way we did the bottom boards but here you will have to measure for the height that you want them installed.  Use a level to make sure everything is straight!   

The battens are installed the same way the boards are, with the Liquid Nails and nail gun.  We measured out the distance in-between, marking the walls with pencil.  Then we installed each batten, one at a time, measuring the length and nailing it in place before moving onto the next.  You will want to measure the length for each individual batten rather than cutting them all at the same length because some parts of the floor slope ever so slightly that you wouldn't notice it with the naked eye.  Always measure twice and cut once!
Production slowed down significantly after this little "helper" joined us.

The corner battens:
One of the corner battens needs to be longer than the other because it goes behind the other batten.  You will want it to be the width of the wood you use longer than the other pieces.  All of our battens were 3" in width and our corner pieces were 3.25" because our MDF was 1/4" thick.  This way the 2 corner battens are the same width once installed.  You will do this at every corner.

Underneath the window:
Our window came down into the Board & Batten space.  We made the battens butt right up to the window molding.

After all boards and battens are installed, you will move onto the ledge and molding.  We used a piece of wood and placed it right on top of the top board.  We used Liquid Nails and nailed it to the wall, nailing it at an angle.  We then installed the cove molding right underneath.  The cove molding will actually go on top of the top board so the width of our board will be a little less than what you started with. (See pic above.)  If you want the top board to still be the 4" then you need to accommodate for the cove molding before you cut your strips.
The molding we picked was just a very simple and standard piece of cove molding.  We wanted a simple look to this room but the molding is a great way to dress up the space with small details if you want to go in a different direction.

We started with the wood putty, applying it to all of the seams where the boards meet and also to the nail holes.  Once it was dry, we sanded it down to transition smoothly to the boards.

Next we caulked all the corners and edges so that everything looked smooth and finished against the wall.
Just a little side note here, if you  get caulk on your favorite sweatpants like I did, hand sanitizer removes it! :)

And for the last step, PAINT!  You may need a primer on the MDF because ours soaked the paint up pretty quickly.  I can't remember if we used a primer (I think we may have) but we ended up needed about 3 coats of paint on the MDF and only 2 on the walls.

See the full post of our breakfast room reveal here.



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