When you’re looking to create an accent wall, but want to do more than simply make it a different color, consider creating a board and batten wall. A board and batten wall is created by attaching thin pieces of wood to a wall in a pattern. This creates a textured effect that immediately captures your attention. Follow these steps to create your own rectangle pattern board and batten wall.
There are two things you need to do before you start: measure the width and height of your wall, and decide how much space you want between batten pieces. This will determine how big the rectangle pattern on your wall is. For this project, the wall we’ll be covering is 12 feet long and 8 feet high. First, add up the widths of MDF boards you’ll be using. Make sure to account for the fact that 1x4” boards are actually 1x3.5”. For the horizontal batten, we are going to use 12 MDF boards (42”), which will give us 11 spaces of 9.25” (101.75”) between each board. Vertically, we’ll use 10 MDF boards (35”), giving us nine 6.75” (60.75”) spaces between each board.
The first pieces you want to attach to the wall are the border pieces. These pieces around the top, bottom, left and right of your wall will act as the trim for your wall. If you have existing trim, remove it before placing the MDF as your new trim.
Take one of your boards, line it up parallel with your ceiling starting at the left corner, and nail it in place with your nail gun. For a 12’ wide room, you will need to cut one MDF board in half and line it up with the end of the first board to span the entire top of the wall. Repeat this process at the bottom of your wall.
For the left and right borders, cut 7” off two MDF boards. Nail one piece vertically against the edge of the wall. These pieces should fit right in between the top and bottom trim. Do the same thing to the other side, and you’re ready to move on.
Start attaching the horizontal pieces to your wall. Because you have a border on each side now, you need one full 8’ board and one board cut to 41”. These two pieces will fit between the top and bottom trim pieces. Set up your laser level to give you a straight line that starts 6.75” under the bottom edge of your trim. This is where you will attach your next piece to the wall. Move your laser level 6.75” under the next one. You will end up doing this 8 times in total, to give you 9 even spaces between each board ending with your bottom trim piece.
Once your horizontal pieces are on, the vertical pieces can be installed. This process involves a lot more cutting because these smaller vertical pieces need to fit between all the horizontal boards you’ve attached. Starting at the left border of the wall, set up your laser level vertically so that the beam is projecting a straight line 9.25” from the right edge of your horizontal trim piece. Cut one piece of MDF board to a length of 6.75”. You will need 9 pieces cut to this length for each vertical batten. There will be 10 vertical battens in total so you will need 90 pieces altogether. Install the first piece vertically between the top border and your next horizontal board. The left side of this piece should be straight up against the laser level. Nail it into place. Continue down, installing the 6.75” boards between the horizontal battens following the laser level until your last piece, which should bring you to your bottom border piece. Continue all the way to the right side of the wall where you will place your last vertical pieces 9.25” from the left edge of your wall’s right border.
At this point, you’re done attaching pieces to your wall and now it’s time to sand. MDF boards don’t need a lot of sanding as they are pretty smooth to begin with, but pay close attention to the edges of your boards where little burrs may have popped up while sawing or nailing. Apply nail hole filler to smooth spots where nails may have created bumps.
The next important step is applying a paintable caulking to your batten. You want to use this caulking on all seams and edges where the batten touches the wall. This will give your wall a seamless and professional appearance especially after painting.
The last step is to pick a paint you like and accent your wall with color. Generally, board and batten walls are painted entirely with the same color, covering over the batten and the wall behind it. Use a roller to roll the bigger areas and a smaller brush to get the paint into the edge. After it’s dried, you have a brand new wall to admire!