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.
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:
- Cap Rail or Chair Rail
- Cove molding to add visual interest and detail
- 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.
- 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)
- 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).
- Baseboard – usually without a profile at the top, so the batten strips can “die into” the base.
- 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: