In Progress: DIY board & batten entryway

In the last post, I shared some of my ideas and inspiration images about how I wanted to make our entryway feel like a more clearly defined space in our open concept house. Michael and I decided to go the board and batten route. We read plenty of great blog posts that did a faux board and batten, but that wouldn't work for us because of our textured walls. So we ended up just mostly winging it, and it was a fair amount of work, but overall not too difficult. After all, we were able to do it ourselves and we are so new to the DIY home improvement world. 

Step One: Gather Supplies

This was actually one of the most complicated parts of the project as it also includes making measurements and being a smart shopper. Because each project will have different measurements, I won't bore you with details about our specific measurements BUT I will say that we managed to save a bit of money by using some very standard building materials and cutting them down to what we needed.

This is our complete list of everything we used for 22 linear feet of board and batten: 

  • Safety glasses and hearing protection (safety first!) 
  • 1/8" 2'x4' tempered hardboard - $54.89 (11 at $4.99/each)

We got this because our walls have an orange peel texture so we needed to get a smooth board that would well...be the board to our batten. Otherwise our wall would just end up looking like textured wall and batten and not quite right. 

  • 1"x6"x8' pine board - $65.92 (8 at $8.24 each)

This is the piece we shopped around for the most. We knew we wanted a 1" thick batten to be flush with our existing baseboard , but didn't go to the store with any other exact dimensions in mind. We decided that 3" wide and 48" tall would look best in our space. But the 1"x3"x8' boards were $10.21 each, and we would need 10 of them, so we opted to cut 5 of the 1"x6"x8' down to make 20 1x3x4 pieces. Make sense? For a little extra work in cutting boards, we saved about $35. 

  • Table saw
  • Hand saw 
  • Power sander
  • Leatherman multi tool 
  • Drill
  • Putty, spatula
  • 1 gallon semigloss paint in Sherwin Williams Slate Tile - $45.98
  • Nail gun

We already had one ready to go, but you can rent one of these for $40/day from Home Depot. 

That grand total for us was $206.79 and a day of hard work. 

Step Two: Prepping the materials 

To make the battens we measured and cut the 1"x6" boards in half lengthwise, and then in half again widthwise to end up with our desired 1"x3"x48" dimensions. It is important to measure each piece of wood before you cut them because they are not 100% true to the listed dimensions. Our boards ended up being just under 6" wide. After carefully taking that measurement, we divided it in half and set up our table saw to that specific measurement as well, ensuring that the blade cut an equal amount out of each side of the cut. We were working with some pretty small fractions, so I gladly let Michael do the math on this part and just trusted what he said. 

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Since our table saw is a small one, we did the cross cuts with our little hand saw. The last part of prepping our wood was to sand them down. We only sanded the side that would be visible after hanging them up on the wall.

Step Three: Laying it all out 

We cleared the space in front of the wall and laid out all of our pieces on the ground. First we laid down our freshly cut wood pieces and eyeballed what we thought would be a good distance between each of them. We landed on 19" boards and trimmed our tempered hardboard accordingly. Since the wall wasn't perfectly divisible by 19, the boards on the end are a little bit narrower. 

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While we were laying the pieces out, we also started to map out where holes would need to be cut for the outlets. Michael did this by measuring the distance from the top of the baseboard to the top and bottom of the outlet and then mapping those measurements on to the tempered hardboard. He will get the horizontal measurements once we get some things up on the wall. 

Step Four: Getting some boards and batten up on the wall 

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Hanging was easier than I anticipated it being. I expected Michael to need my help, but he proved it was a one man job. He just held the boards up to the wall and went at it with his nail gun. The most difficult part of it is measuring and cutting the holes for the outlets. We measured the horizontal measurements the same way we did the verticals, and then Michael pulled out his leatherman pocket knife and cut it...proof that you don't need anything fancy! He said, "it's like cutting through some tough steak" which probably says more about my cooking skills than anything else.

As we went along we used our super sophisticated iPhone level to make sure we were keeping things as straight as we could. Unless you have perfectly straight cuts, which are hard to do with a small table saw and the flexible material, you'll end up with a few little gaps in the wall like we did. 

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But don't worry about any gaps between your boards and battens. Putty can fill in any gap...even huge ones! 

Step Five: Adding the top board

Since we plan on adding some hooks to the top board, this one needed to be able to support some weight. Michael used his stud finder to mark out where the studs were and then secured the top board to the wall by countersinking some screws directly into the studs. I tested the hold by trying to rip this piece off of the wall and definitely could not, so I think it will do the trick. 

Step Six: Filling the gaps with putty 

This step is all about masking any imperfections. We ended up with some less than perfectly straight cuts on our boards, which gave us some little (ok, some huge) gaps that needed to be filled. I also went over all of the tiny holes that were left by the nail gun.

 This was one of the larger gaps that needed to be filled. At the end it looked like we were working with perfect materials because you really can't see the difference between the putty and the boards.

This was one of the larger gaps that needed to be filled. At the end it looked like we were working with perfect materials because you really can't see the difference between the putty and the boards.

 Just so you can see how much putty went into this. Michael joked that the wall was about 50% putty and 50% board & batten. 

Just so you can see how much putty went into this. Michael joked that the wall was about 50% putty and 50% board & batten. 

Step Seven: Prepping to paint 

Our walls were pretty dusty after the sanding, so that added another step to our paint prep. First we wiped the walls down with a damp cloth. It's important that you dust with a damp cloth so you can actually gather the dust instead of just fluffing it back up into the air. All of our other paint prep steps were pretty standard...drop cloth, painters tape, etc. 

Step Eight: Finishing

For this project, paint is pretty much the last step. Except as we know very well, paint does not hide any imperfections but rather highlights them. So after two coats of paint, we decided to return to step six and fix some things up with putty.

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We kept saying that it looks like it's part of the house...which is exactly what it is. It's a pretty permanent form of decoration. We could rip it out, but that will be a bigger project than putting it all up. I think what we really meant is that it feels like it is supposed to be part of this house. It fits the craftsman style of our home and warms it up so much. We keep looking back at photos of the white walls and wondering how we tolerated that sparse look for so long. 

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Overall, I could not be happier with the result of this project! It only took us a day and came in right around $200. That is not a lot of time or money for the huge impact it gives our space. 

Next up is finding a cute little plant and the right rug to finish styling our entryway!