RG’s Complete Guide To Wood Paneling – Part 3 – Board and Batten

In this part of the ongoing series getting in-depth with real wood wall paneling, we’re going to cover the in’s and out’s of one of my favorite looks, board-and-batten paneling.

Let’s start off with some great pictures and general thoughts on the style, then I’ll link to another page with some detailed technical info that will really help you if you want to actually do this project.


Board-and-Batten Paneling

As you can see in the pictures here, board-and-batten simply refers to a style of paneling that traditionally was built-up of solid wide planks of lumber, such as 1×12’s, which were used to cover a wall surface and arranged vertically, so the boards were standing on end.

The seams created when these planks are jammed together in what’s known as a “butt-joint” are then covered with a much smaller strip of solid wood (traditionally a 1×3 or so); these are called batten strips.


Modern Versions Often Use Plywood

Board-and-batten is one of many traditional building ideas that, while originated out of necessity, is duplicated now mostly because it looks great! With the availability of plywood panels, drywall, and other wall surface materials, there is no real reason to have a seam to cover.

We often apply “batten” strips over plywood or drywall with no seam in sight! It just looks fabulous! The photo below from newlywoodwards is done with plywood panels.


The Parts Explained

This graphic from ThisOldHouse.com shows the parts:


  1. Cap Rail or Chair Rail
  2. Cove molding to add visual interest and detail
  3. A horizontal batten-like strip frames the panels and acts as a counter-balance to the baseboard. Leaving this out really detracts from the look.
  4. The batten strips themselves can be as small as 1/4″ x 1″ lattice strips, or as large as a 1″x4″ board (sometimes even 1×6 is used)
  5. The actual wall paneling (the “board”) can be wither plywood or solid lumber. If the wall surface is very smooth you can also use drywall or plaster (or just put the rest over what you have).
  6. Baseboard – usually without a profile at the top, so the batten strips can “die into” the base.
  7. Shoe molding – adds a little detail to the base and is sometimes necessary for practical reasons related to the flooring.

Can You Skip The Wall Paneling (Just Use The Drywall)?


In the photo above from DecoratingGuru.com, the “board” section is actually drywall.

I’ve seen an abundance of instruction online suggesting that you just go over the drywall with batten strips. I say be careful with that. For one thing, it can be hard to get everything to stay put without something solid to nail to, but the real danger is the surface texture.

Wood has a distinct look and drywall texture is clearly not the same! In the above picture they did a “slick finish” on the drywall first and it works. But don’t be fooled by pictures from a distance that show regular textured drywall done this way. It doesn’t look good up-close if the wall texture is heavy.

What About Finer Hardwoods?


The photos above and below, which are the former home of Melissa from The Inspired Room, show how great board and batten looks when it’s done with nice material; stained or clear finished. In this case, the material is mahogony, which is one of the nicest woods for clear finishing.


Melissa’s pictures show that board-and-batten used over the entire wall (rather than just as a wainscot) creates a really great look an can be a wonderful alternative to drywall or plaster. If you’re like me, your ability to nicely cut and nail a piece of wood on the wall far exceeds the drywall finishing skills! That’s part of why I love paneling!

If you really want to know about board-and-batten paneling, I’ve created another page that isn’t pretty (no pictures) but is a very useful resource if you just want to know what I know about this stuff! More of a bullet list than a well written report, read more info on board-and-batten paneling here.

Are you ready to give it a try? You can always hire someone to do it and armed with your new knowledge you should be able to make a great deal!

posts in this series:

Part 1 – Intro

Part 2 – Overview of Paneling Types
Post#3 – Board and Batten
Post#4 – V-Joint Tongue and Groove
Post#5 – Beadboard Inspiration


  1. says

    Love this post that you are doing. I am reading it backwards though. LOL. I have started with your part 3 first. I love the look of board and batten with it being painted white, but I gotta say that your last picture has me loving that look too. Never seen it stained before…well, maybe. Are Tudor homes the kind of homes with this on the walls in dark stain?

  2. says

    thanks for breaking down each piece that makes up the board and batten look. I would of never known. I am off to check out what exactly cove moulding is and looks like. I am thinking it’s moulding with some kinda groove in it or something. Not sure though.
    Thanks for taking the time to put this series together with all the wonderful info and pics.

  3. says

    Cheryl – you are very welcome! I hope it’s helpful for you! Cove molding is like a tiny piece of crown molding, sort of.

    Melissa – Thank YOU for having such pretty pictures to help me illustrate these ideas. I think I might have misspelled Mahogany, or is it Mahagony, or did I get it right! Too lazy at the moment to go find out! Pathetic, or is it pithetuck? :-)

  4. Meredith says

    Hi RG,

    You have some great information and a lot of insight on paneling! My house is a 1920 Arts and Crafts bungalow, and has original board and batten paneling throughout the living and dining room. Our project is more along the lines of sprucing up the original wood work opposed to installing new paneling, but was hoping you still may be able to provide some insight.

    Our existing paneling is dark ‘stain grade’ plywood (unsure what type of wood), at picture rail height. Overall it makes for a very dark feel, and we would like to paint it white to brighten up the space but still retain the character of the woodwork. Do you have experience painting plywood paneling?

    Here is our concern: A door in the house made of the same material had been painted before we got there and seems to have warped the whole door- its as if the paint de-laminated the plywood leaving it wavy brittle. When we tested a small area of the paneling with a water-based de-glosser to prep for painting our theory was strengthened as it also showed signs of warping, so we halted the project until we can investigate further. Is the problem simply water-based paints and primers? Will an oil based paint have the same result?

    Any insight would be hugely appreciated- we want to paint, but not if it destroys the paneling!

    Thank you!!


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