The Board and Batten wainscoting in my bathroom was another key element to the design plan and is a very DIY-friendly project to try.
If you remember from my Closet Trim post, you know that it took me three tries to get the trim right. Well, I improved here, and it only took me two tries😂.
Haha, to be fair, I didn’t “need” to make any of these changes. I just wanted to. And that’s the beauty of DIY! If you don’t like it, you can change it!
So, before I started with the board and batten, I knew I’d have to do something with the window trim because it just wouldn’t match. I hadn’t discovered how easy it is to replace trim at this point, and I was a little intimated. I shouldn’t have been, it’s super easy, but I was. So, I got creative!
I decided to try just covering it with flat plywood! No clue where this idea came from, but it somehow worked and has held up perfectly! I grabbed a piece of 2’ x 4’ ¼” thick plywood from Home Depot, and one of our good friends ripped it down on the table saw for me. I measured the width beforehand, which was 3.5”, and he ripped each piece down for me to that size.
Once I had my pieces ripped down to the right width, I used my miter saw to cut them each down to the right height. Then, I just installed them using a hammer and small nails! Definitely could’ve used a nail gun, but I was about a week away from purchasing it, so I didn’t own it quite yet. But, honestly, the small nails went in smoothly so it was still really easy.
Once I had them in, I used spackle along the edges to make everything seamless and filled the nail holes. After that dried, I sanded it down with a sanding sponge and then painted it. For a quick, cheap upgrade, it worked out!
Simple Board and Batten
This type of DIY is very beginner-friendly, and if you’re interested in getting started, this is a great way!
- Measuring tape
- Nail gun
- Miter saw
Step 1: Planning
Planning ahead will definitely pay off in the end! First, you’ll want to determine how tall you want your trim to go on the wall. This is a design decision that is completely up to you.
Next, you’ll determine the width between each board. Because of my dimensions, each of my walls has a slightly different distance between the boards. But they are each close enough that you can’t tell. I found this calculator online from two of my fav DIY girls that looks like it’s pretty helpful! I marked the spots with painter’s tape so that I could remember where each one goes.
This will help you determine how many pieces of the boards you need. I tend to buy 8’ boards because that’s what will fit in my car! But, if you can get away with 10’ or 12’ that may save you a little money depending on how much you need.
Because I was doing this during the midst of the 2020 lumber price gouging, I decided to use common boards. I don’t recommend this, especially in a space like a bathroom where moisture can affect them. I personally really like the pre-primed wood if I’m going to paint or select grade if I’m going to stain. But, they are more costly, so you’ll want to pick and choose what makes sense for you.
I used 1×2’s for the cap, 1×3’s for the stiles, and 1×4’s for the rails. Because I used common boards, I had to prep the wood quite a bit. I started by giving them all a really good sanding. Then, I filled any big cracks or knots with wood filler and sanded again. Then, it was time to get them primed. I made sure to choose a primer that would seal them to protect them from moisture, but they still ended up with some issues, which I’ll talk about later!
Step 2: Top Rail
Now, it’s time to start installing! I like to start with the top rail, which I used a 1×4 for. I started with the long wall, and once I got the height placement correct, and checked for level, I just popped a few nails in with my Ryobi nail gun. Starting in the middle, I pop one nail in to get it sturdy, then I can re-check the level, and then add another nail under it. Then I move outwards and just nail down the board to get it sturdy.
Once that piece was installed, I moved on to the wall with the window, then the walls by the door. For the corners, I just did butt joints, because they are easier. This just means that each of the corners butts up to each other to form a 45º angle.
Step 3: Cap
For the cap, I used a 1×2 and followed the same order as I did the top rail, starting on the long wall. To install these, you’ll use a nail gun, but you’ll nail them from the top. It’s best to have these at a slight angle towards the wall so that you don’t risk missing the lower board and have them shoot out in front of it. I also did butt joints for this.
When I got to where the door is, I quickly realized that if I had this as a full cap, The door wouldn’t properly close. (PS: it still didn’t, but that’s coming up soon!). To fix this, I cut down a 1×2 to be the same width as the 1×4 below it. It meant it wasn’t a full cap, but it went in line with the cap it connected to on the next wall, so it looked more seamless.
Step 4: Lower Rail/Baseboard
If you’re installing flooring, you’ll want to wait to finish that part before doing this step. Otherwise, you can get right to it! You install this the same as you did the top rail but on the ground!
Step 5: Stiles
Next up are the stiles, which is just a fancy term for vertical boards.
First, measure the space between the top and bottom rail. I recommend measuring and cutting one at a time personally. Walls, especially in older homes, can be pretty wonky. So, even if your top rail is perfectly level, it doesn’t mean your floor is and even the slightest bit of difference can cause a gap.
Once you have your pieces cut, you install these the same way as your other pieces, with nails, while verifying that each piece is level. However, there may be pieces that you may need to add shims behind if either your wall is off or the board is off. Because of this, I recommend putting nails in the middle of the board first then making adjustments as needed. Sometimes you may need a full wood shim, but I found that having a couple of post-it notes was also helpful for small gaps. The key is to get the space where stiles and rales meet as flush as possible.
Another thing to think about is your corners. On the inside corners, you have two options. You could either make sure the two pieces match up perfectly next to each other, or you could substitute one of the 1×3’s for a 1×4 and make a butt joint. If you make a butt joint with two 1×3’s, one of the boards will eat ¾” of the other board and it’ll look smaller. This way, the 1/x4 is only a ¼” longer which is less noticeable.
For the outside corners, you also have two options. This time, you can do the butt joint, but with a 1×3 and 1×2, since the outside corner will add ¾”. Or, you can run the boards through a table saw at a mitered 45º angle. The first choice is a bit more DIY-friendly, which is what I did here.
Step 6: Finishing
Once everything is installed, it’s time for the finishing work. I like to start with wood filler since this takes longer to dry. Just fill in every nail hole you made, then add wood filler to each of the places where wood meets wood.
Next, you’ll grab some paintable caulk and add this to every part where wood meets the wall. This will usually be above the cap, then inside of each square. You can also add this to where the cap meets the top rail, since adding wood filler here would be too much and kind of tricky.
After the wood filler is dry, it’s time to start sanding. The trick here is that if you can feel it, you’ll be able to see it after painting. So take your time. This part sucks, honestly, but is so necessary. Then, make sure everything is nice and clean and prime if you haven’t already before moving on to painting!
And then you’re done!
My Thoughts on this style.
So, I lived with this style for a year. Then I ripped it all out.
This style is very simple to install, and would probably work for most people, but there are a few reasons it did not work for me.
First, because the boards are ¾” thick, a lot of dust would build up on top of the bottom rail. It doesn’t help that my cat loves hanging out in the bathroom so most of the build-up was caused by his hair, haha, but I like my bathroom to be clean, so I was constantly getting in these nooks and trying to clean it out.
Now, the second issue was related to the door closing. As I said, walls are wonky. The very first stile by the door kept hitting the door when you closed it in one spot. I had already caulked and wood filled and didn’t want to take it out, so we decided to try a wood planer to smooth it down. I allowed my husband to do this, and well, he’s not exactly the most precise worker 😆. He ended up hitting an area of the top rail pretty hard and it caused this crazy indentation that I couldn’t smooth out no matter how hard I tried. It looked pretty bad.
Third, as I mentioned, I used common boards. In the bathroom. Eventually, all of the imperfections started showing through because of the moisture and they just kept getting worse and worse. It got to the point where there was no point in trying to fix it. It was just time to come out.
Elevating the Board and Batten
- Lumber: ½ x 2, ½ x 3, ½ x 4 (these come in 2′ 3′ and 4′ options, depending on your needs)
- Brown board
- Bead molding
- Wood Filler
- Paintable Caulk
- Paint, paintbrush, and foam roller
- Measuring tape
- Nail gun
- Miter saw
- Table saw (optional)
Step 1: Planning
This is the same step as before. You want to determine how many of which type of boards you need, and buy accordingly! The main difference here is the addition of the bead molding.
Also, I did decide to change up the type of wood I purchased. I stumbled on these small boards at Lowe’s a few months earlier, and thought they’d work perfectly! They are thinner at ½”, and the wood is extremely smooth. They do come in 3’ and 4’ boards instead of 8’, but they are very affordable, so it was more cost-effective at the time based on lumber prices.
(difference in thickness of boards)
Step 2: Brown Board
If you have textured walls, brown hardboard is what will help make your walls nice and smooth! We have what is called “orange peel” texture, which didn’t bother me when I originally installed this, but I decided to give it a try this time. I was able to cover up the walls using two 4’x8’ boards, which only cost about $12 each at the time, so it was definitely worth it.
Because this wouldn’t fit in my car, we did have them cut it down at Home Depot. Did you know that they will do this for free?
The next thing you want to pay attention to is where to place the seams. Each seam should be covered by the stiles (aka battens), so make sure that when you’re cutting them down, you pay attention to where these will land.
Now, you can use a sealant when installing if you want, but I didn’t find this necessary. I just added some nails along the edges and it worked out perfectly! Definitely happy I went this route. The wall is so much smoother and it looks really professional.
Step 3: Top Rail
There were two main differences here: the length of the boards and the corners. Because the boards were 4’ instead of 8’, I did have to use multiple boards on the long wall. This would mean that I’d have a seam about halfway through, which could look unprofessional if I wasn’t careful.
The best way to blend two boards is by using a bevel cut instead of a straight cut. This is such as easy thing to do, and it makes such a smoother transition. Just do it 😉
Next, I did decide that instead of butt joints on the corners, I went with miter cuts here as well. Again, such a simple thing, but worth it.
Step 4: Cap
Since these boards are thinner, having a cap that was 1.5” wide, did look a little wrong. To remedy this, I ran the boards through a table saw and shaved off about a ¼”. I did the same thing with the side near the door to make the cap and top rail the same depth, but obviously, I trimmed off a full inch for this one. I also used mitered cuts for the corners. Again, highly recommend doing so!
Step 5: Stiles
This section was so much easier because I didn’t have to cut any of these down. I just used the entire 3’ board and lined it up with the top rail. Again, I made sure that they were level, and nailed into the middle so that I could add shims if necessary.
For the inside corners, because these boards were very straight, I was able to line them up perfectly, instead of using a thicker board to slide behind it like I did last time.
For the outside corner, I did opt to miter these seams. This meant running these boards through the table saw at a 45º angle. This was a bit tricky because while the boards were at a perfect angle, the wall wasn’t. I just squeezed them together as well as I could and popped in nails as I went!
Then, I took a screwdriver and pressed it gently against the seam to help close it up. The wood is pretty soft so it worked well. A little bit of wood filler and it was pretty close to perfect.
Step 6: Lower Rail/Baseboard
Part of the benefit of using 3’ boards for the stiles, is that it gave me the idea to do this double-layered baseboard. Under the lower rail, there was a couple of inches of space, so instead of paying more for 4’ stiles and having to deal with cutting them, I went with this option instead. I installed the lower rail the same as the top rail but leaving that gap underneath.
Also, I was more mindful of some of the obstacles, like the air return. I ended up using some leftover 1.5” boards and used those to go “around” these obstacles. This is a much more professional look than what I had before!
For the baseboard, I used my favorite PVC baseboard. I used this in my kitchen too and I love it. It’s so easy to work with! To prevent the baseboard from swinging in, I did add some scrap pieces under the bottom rail, then just nailed the baseboard in. Again, I used mitered cuts for the inside and outside corners.
Also, as you remember, the wall where the door closes is pretty tight, so I couldn’t have the baseboard sticking out. I did end up removing the bottom rail and cutting it down just enough so that the baseboard would fit underneath it instead. You don’t notice the difference unless you’re really looking at it, but it makes it much more seamless and the door properly closes now!
Step 7: Add Bead Molding
This next step is not necessary, but makes such a difference! I used this PVC bead molding, which again is very easy to work with! You’ll add bead molding to the inside of the panels, and under the cap.
For the inside panels, you’ll cut two long pieces and two short pieces, making sure to pay attention to the corners since these will need to be at 45º. I do recommend cutting them just slightly long here so that you can make sure to get a tight fit. Because the PVC is flexible, you can easily squeeze them in, and you don’t have to worry about any gaps.
The pieces under the cap are pretty straightforward, except that you want to make a return on any outside edges. I played around with a couple of different options but ended with this style which I liked the look of the most. Because the piece is so small though, you won’t be able to nail it in. Instead, you’ll want to take a small amount of wood glue and stick the piece together. After about an hour, it’ll be secure enough to install it!
Step 8: Finishing
And last but not least, the finishing touches. Again, you’ll wood fill any nail holes and where wood meets wood. Then, you’ll caulk where wood meets the wall, bead molding meets the wall or bead molding meets wood. Did you catch all that? 😆
Next, it’s time to sand. I did find it was a little more difficult to sand the bead molding because of the detail. So, in some of the spots where the wood filler was thick, I took a flat head screwdriver to help scrape some of the excess wood filler off. In the future, I’d probably just be more cautious of how much filler I’m putting on it. I’ve seen some girls on IG use a baby wipe to wipe off the excess while it’s still wet. If you go this route, you’d probably have to do a second layer because it’ll shrink as it dries, but it does seem like a cleaner solution!
Once all that is done, it was time to prime the wood, then paint! I ended up using Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace because it’s the color I used for my kitchen cabinets (coming soon!), so I had a bunch leftover. It’s a perfect white and it applies beautifully!
I am so happy that I decided to re-do the trim because I love this look so much better. Plus, it is significantly easier to clean! While I’m cleaning my bathroom, I just spray a cleaning cloth with my favorite Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning solution, then run the cloth over all of the trim. It takes about 30 seconds and it stays much cleaner because it’s not building up in the ledges as the other version did! The smoothness of each of these materials also helps with this a lot.
So, you’re probably wondering how much I spent on this. I spent about $100 on the boards for the original board and batten. The cost for the new materials was about $150. Definitely comparable, but to me, the second one is so worth it!
I said it earlier, but I’ll say it again here. One of the best things about DIY is that when you make a mistake, or you change your mind, you are in control of making changes! You don’t have to wait around for available help or pay way too much money to make these changes. I literally woke up one day and decided to start tearing out the old trim and began installing it that weekend!
Next week, I’ll share the flooring install went!