Batten Board

Give a room or accent wall some personality with batten board wainscoting.  It breaks up bare walls, can be used in many different kinds of rooms, and is relatively inexpensive for a DIYer to install. Batten board wainscoting can be 3-feet tall, 6-feet tall, or really any height you like, and topped with a decorative cap or shelf.

I recently installed some batten board in a master bedroom.  Here’s what the room looked like before:

These are the steps I followed to install the batten board:

  1. Remove the existing door casing and baseboards
  2. Install new door casing (3-1/2″ x 3/4″ MDF)
  3. Install the new baseboards (6″ x 3/4″ MDF)
  4. Install the horizontal wainscot cap (3-1/2″ x 3/4″ MDF) , then the cap molding
  5. Install the vertical batten trim pieces (3-1/4″ x 1/2″ MDF) I recommend spacing these about 16″-18″ on center and so they miss any plugs and switches on the wall

The walls already had a smooth-wall drywall finish, so no smooth paneling was required behind the batten board trim.  Here’s how it looked after installing the batten board, before painting…

Then the batten board was painted a creme color and the walls above were painted blue.  Here are some after shots of the finished product…

They also installed batten board in their girls room and used a white, pink and black color scheme…

Here is a picture of tall batten board I installed in another home for the formal dining room.  They used wall paper above it.


DIY Material Cost Breakdown

  • batten board materials (about $5/lineal foot of wall)

12 Replies to Batten Board

  1. Ben & Alicia says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve desperately been trying to convince Ben do to this in our front dining/living room. Hopefully this post will sell him on my idea :) Another good one Kurt!

  2. Cliffie Johnson says:

    This adds such a clean crisp look. I like it!! Way to go Kurt!

  3. Ben Johnson says:

    Kurt – What do you do If the walls have a textured drywall finish? Do you put up the smooth paneling first before baseboards, door casing, cap, etc..?

    • Yes, install some smooth paneling with panel board adhesive (it comes in a caulk tube) before the other trim. Figure out your vertical batten spacing so that you can hide your panel joints with a vertical batten. Another option would be to skim coat the wainscot area with drywall mud and sand it smooth, then install the batten board. (This method wouldn’t require any smooth paneling).

  4. Steve says:

    Can you give us some details about the wainscot cap you used? Was it a pre-fab thing from a lumber yard/building center?

    • The wainscot cap is 3-1/2″ x 3/4″ MDF with a trim piece that fits over the top. You can check out a couple different options for the cap at under “remodeling”, “walls”. Unfortunately, they recently closed their doors due to the tough economy, but you could get something similar from places like Sunroc, BMC, Burton, etc.

  5. Greg says:

    Great work. How did you attach your trim boards to the wall? Did you nail, screw or use an adhesive like liquid nails?

  6. Greg says:

    Perfect. Thanks for the advise!

  7. Krista says:

    Looks GREAT! Thank you for sharing Kurt!

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