Master Bath Phase 2: Installing Board and Batten

In case you missed it, we’re telling the tale of our master bathroom renovation. Phase 1 was all about demolition and prep work.  You can catch up here!

Now, those of you who saw this photo last week and guessed we’d be installing board and batten were 100% correct.  And after several trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot to get the right materials, I’m here to share how we did it.

Note: We ended up not using the cove moulding (thin white piece) pictured above.

Once we’d decided on this particular treatment for our walls, I started doing some research.  There were great tutorials to be found all over the internet – from Thrifty Decor Chick’s to Centsational Girl’s to The Nester’s linky party.  Sadly, no single tutorial incorporated all the elements we wanted, so we had to learn from what had been done and make up a little on our own.

The most important part of this whole project?  The budget. I gave myself a budget of $50 or less to complete our board and batten project.  Believe me, had I chosen traditional trim pieces, it could have cost us well over $200.

My secret ingredient? These bundles of wood lath for $14.18.

After looking at trim, MDF, and lattice boards, these bundles of 50 -4′ long wood lath pieces are what we used.  I purchased one bundle and found them at Lowe’s, near the fencing kits.

It’s true that you get what you pay for, so before getting started, I opened the bundle and sorted the battens into Good, Ok, and Bad piles.  I needed about 15 battens, and my Good pile had about 15 pieces in it.  Score one for Miss Frugal!

Unlike MDF, these were pieces of real wood and they were a bit rough straight out of the bundle.  It took about 30 minutes with the palm sander to get them in paintable condition.

While I was prepping the battens, Stephen started cutting baseboards.  We chose to use the same type of boards for the baseboards, top boards, and a couple of shelves we added.

Want to know what these boards were?  Premium Furring Strips (about 3.5″ wide), also from Lowe’s.  We bought 6 at $1.98 a pop.

We don’t have a miter saw, so all the cutting had to be done by hand.  This was one time I think Stephen was thankful our bathroom is small!

As the pieces were cut, we installed them using a nail gun and brad nails.

Something important to note is that we rounded the edges of the baseboards where they hit the existing door trim because they were slightly thicker than the original woodwork. It ended up looking great and was a nice finishing touch.

Once the baseboards were in, we measured the battens and cut them all the same length.  The height of our board and batten was determined by the two light switches in the room.  I wanted enough space above the switches that we wouldn’t have to cut notches in the top boards or do anything fancy with our hand saw and miter box. 🙂

The boards were attached to the wall every 8 inches (center to center).  We made sure to use a level with each board and to check them for any warped sections before installing.

I’ve titled this photo “The Reverse Thinker.”  While it ended up being a funny shot, this was not a funny moment in our installation process.  This was the moment Stephen realized that, even though all the battens were the same height, the baseboard they were resting on was not level.

At first we thought this gave us 2 options: 1. Rip out the battens, sand down some new ones, and reinstall, or 2. Install the top board crooked and stare at it for the rest of our lives, wishing it were level.

There ended up being another solution, thank goodness!  Stephen got out the Dremel and, within minutes, cut off the tips of the offending battens.

The lesson was learned for the next wall section.  We checked the baseboard for level and installed ONE batten on the lower end of the baseboard.

Then Stephen installed the top board level, brought in the rest of the battens, and marked them to length.

As the boards were installed, it was my job to follow along behind and spackel all the nail holes and knots in the wood.

The majority of the walls were easy, but when it came to the vanity area, we hadn’t made up our minds yet.

Should we run the batten straight across and install a mirror over it?  It would look like the photo at the end of this post…  Hmmm…

Should we run the batten up and over the mirror?  Should the future countertop have a border of white trim or not?

After taking a peek at a couple of sketches, we decided to go with the sketch on the left, since we thought it looked like the cleanest and simplest option.

So Stephen started the framing.  The wall above the toilet was getting a special top board treatment, so I held a piece in place as a temporary marker while he measured.

Things were starting to come together!

The special treatment I mentioned for the wall above the toilet was a little shelf we built to hold art and to get some toiletries up off the countertop.

We simply ran a line of wood glue down one edge of the shelf board and clamped it to the top section of our board and batten.  It was the same process we used to make this shelf in our master bedroom.  After letting it dry for several hours, Stephen used drywall screws to secure it to the studs.

As always, I was right behind with my spackel and putty knife!

The wall to the right of the vanity also got a little shelf, but this one was extra special.  We cut the shelf board at an angle on one end so that we wouldn’t whack our shoulders on it in the middle of the night, coming through the doorway.

At this point, this was as complete as we could make the wall you see above and the area above the vanity.  Since we’re getting a new countertop, we wanted to wait for it to be installed before running the battens down to it.

Now that you’ve seen our installation process, let’s do a little recap.

Installing Board and Batten
Step 1: Install baseboards using a nail gun.
Step 2: Check baseboard along one wall for level.  Install ONE batten on the lowest end of the baseboard.
Step 3: Install top board (or top board + shelf) along the top of your ONE batten, making sure it’s level.  (Screw shelf sections into the studs, use a nail gun for everything else.)
Step 4: Measure, cut and install battens below the top board.
Step 5: Spackel nail holes and get ready to caulk!

In case you’re wondering how we did on our budget, let’s do a little calculation.

Board and Batten Materials
15 battens (from a 50 pack of wood lath) – $14.18
6 – 8 foot long 1×4″ premium furring strips – $11.88
Brad nails and drywall screws – already had
*1 tube white paintable silicone caulk – $4.98
*KILZ2 primer – already had
*Gloss white paint – already had
Total Material Cost:  $31.04 (before tax)

I’d say we blew that $50 budget out of the water!!  Yippee!

Now that you’ve seen the nitty gritty details on how we installed our board and batten, it’s time to check out our tips for making a bunch of wood lath boards and furring strips look HAWT.  Come back tomorrow to see what we did with the (*) items on our materials list!

Thanks for reading. 🙂
Update: Check out our finished bathroom here!


The Lettered Cottage Beyond The Picket Fence
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