Updated: Mar 24
For those of you eagled-eyed, you may have noticed that a lot of our work is photographed in our own home - mainly against the board and batten panelled accent wall in our very own living room.
We've had so many of you asking about this that we thought we'd share with you exactly how we achieved this ourselves on the cheap, so that you can create your own stunning board and batten accent wall.
Interior panelling was originally used to line the walls to insulate old spaces, but today it is used primarily for decoration as it adds distinct decorative detail and visual interest to an otherwise bland wall.
Having recently move to a new build property, our vintage furniture and lighting looked a little out of place against the plain stark freshly painted white walls, so we just knew we had to do something to really add our own character to the decor.
Quotes were coming in at around the £1000 mark for professionals to create a board and batten accent wall measuring approximately 4.64m x 2.23m in our modest size living room. Obviously this is not pocket change, so we wondered if we (two non professional decorators) could do this ourselves for less. And we succeeded - we actually managed to create this for less than a couple of hundred pounds!
Here we'll explain how, and we'll also point out any mistakes we made that could save you a lot of wasted time and money.
Step #1 - Measure your wall
Before you rush out to your local DIY store, you need to take the time to accurately measure your wall.
Measure the width and height at different points as walls and ceilings are rarely perfectly straight, and then go with the largest of the measurements for the height and width. It's best to shave some of the battens afterwards if needed (the pieces of vertical and horizontal wood, MDF or whatever), rather than having them too short.
With our measurements of 465cm wide and 223cm high, we could now start to plan the board and batten.
Step #2 - Plan your board and batten
For us this was the tricky part as we both suck at maths (hey - don't judge us... our skills lie elsewhere!), and actually took far longer than we had anticipated.
The reason for this is that we wanted perfect square panels rather than rectangles, so trying to figure this out along with how many rows and columns we would need to keep perfect squares over the entire wall took forever. As non-mathematicians (as well as non-professional decorators) and two people who prefer working with visuals, we found it easier to just put pen to paper (albeit it digitally on the computer) and work things out there.
We knew the wall measured 465cm wide and 223cm high, so we drew this out on the computer to scale (you could use squared maths paper to work this out).
Upon research it appeared that most people opt for a batten width of around 8cm, and the space between these tend to be anywhere from 40cm to 60cm.
We eventually worked out that in order to keep perfects squares we would need each square panel to be 57cmx57cm. This would give us 7 square panels across and 3 high. Most of the battens would be 8cm wide, but the top, bottom, left and right battens that would frame the wall would be slightly wider. This is ok as it is common to have a slightly wider frame in order to achieve equal size panels.
Phew! That was quite the challenge, but our plan looked something like this:
"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."
John Quincy Adams
Step #3 - Creating the battens
The battens would be painted anyway so there was no point in buying expensive wood when MDF would suffice. So we popped along to B&Q and purchased two large MDF boards 2.44m x 1.22m at a cost of around £32 each. The boards were available in depths of 6mm, 9mm, 12mm, or 18mm. We opted for the 12mm depth as this closely matched our existing skirting boards, also we didn't want the recess of the panels to be too shallow or too deep.
If you have access to a circular saw you could just take this home and cut it yourself, but we don't so we had B&Q cut it for us. Depending on which B&Q store you go to they may offer a number of cuts for free and then charge for the rest. Our local store offered the first 11 cuts for free and then charge 50p per cut thereafter. If memory serves me right I think we needed around 22 additional paid cuts which worked out around £11. To be honest this is not a bad price at all, and I think that even if we did have access to a circular saw we would probably have still got the MDF cut at the B&Q store anyway as it's far easier and less mess (MDF is very messy when cutting). The guy just pops it onto his huge cutting machine, types in the dimensions and away it goes.
He even helped us work out how many cuts we'd get from each board to reduce wastage by using a great app he recommended called CutList Optimizer.
Everything worked out as planned as per our plan diagram from earlier, and we ended up with the following MDF pieces:
For the frame
2x vertical battens at 2230mm x 91mm (for the left and right))
7x horizontal battens at 570mm x 160mm (for the top)
7x horizontal pieces at 57mm x 200mm (for the bottom)
For inside the frame
6x vertical pieces at 2230mm x 80mm
14x horizontal pieces at 570mm x 80mm
You'll also need something to stick the battens to the wall. There are a ton of adhesives available for this job, but we went for Evo-Stik Gripfill as it was on offer. I think we bought around 6 tubes of this (you'll use a lot more than you think you would), and remember to buy the gun to go with it. Something else you'll need is decorators caulk. This is for filling in any gaps (trust me - there will be lots of gaps as ceiling and walls are rarely perfectly straight!). It's also handy to have a saw to trim any battens that may be too long. We just used a jigsaw for speed, but a handsaw would do.
Step #4 - Fixing the battens to the wall
Back home with all of our freshly cut pieces of MDF, we were ready to get these battens up onto the wall. Working from left to right on the wall we applied a good amount of adhesive in a squiggly line along the length of a the first vertical batten (making sure it is one of the vertical frame pieces, slightly wider at 9cm wide), and pressed it into place on the wall so that it's sitting on top of the skirting board. Some people put panel pins in to secure it while the adhesive dries, but we didn't feel the need to do this.
Tip: Apply enough adhesive but don't over do it, and not too close to the edges. Otherwise when you firmly press the batten into place on the wall, the adhesive will ooze out from the edges and create a mess. Also some battens won't sit fully flush to the wall due to big gloops adhesive behind them.
With the first vertical batten in place we then started on the first column of horizontal battens. Starting with the bottom batten (one of the bigger pieces for the bottom of the frame) we applied adhesive and again firmly pressed it into place so that it sits onto of the skirting board.
We attached all of the horizontal battens for this column (including the top frame piece) before attaching the next vertical panel and butting it up tight against the previous horizontal battens.
Tip: Use an offcut or another piece of batten as a temporary support beneath the horizontal battens until the adhesive start to dry. Otherwise your horizontal battens will start to slide down the wall (unless you've nailed them to the wall).
Then we repeated the process right across the wall. Some of the vertical battens needed trimming as they were slightly too long by a few millimetres (we suspect the ceiling slopes down slightly at one end) so we used the jigsaw to do this. If we've done our maths correctly the last vertical piece for the the right hand frame should in theory slot into place nicely. But of course this isn't the case - things are never as straight forward as they should be!
Step #5 - Touching up
We ended up with a very slight gap between the far right wall and the last vertical (framing) batten. I can only put this down to either a slight error in our calculations, or that the walls are not straight. Either way, the gap was there - only a few millimetres, but noticeable. This is were the decorators caulk came to the rescue. We applied a thick-ish bead of caulk to the gap and smoothed it over with a damp rag.
It's also a good idea to apply the caulk over every join in the batten and smooth over with a damp rag removing any exxess so that the caulk only remains within any hairline gaps and not on the surface of the batten. If you don't do this then it's likely you will end up with slight but visible joints in the battens, when really you should be aiming for seamless joints. Also be sure to sand the joints once the caulk has dried so that everything is nice and flush. If you don't - any imperfections will show up once painted.
Step #6 - Painting
After a few sample pots of paint we'd decided on the colour dark blue with a slight green-ish undertone. As I mentioned earlier, neither of us are professional decorators, but we did know that we'd need to paint around the inner edge of the panels with a paint brush (known as cutting in) and then paint the larger surfaces and the battens with a small roller. Ok - sound pretty straight forward we thought. But of course things are neve that simple, and here we'll explain our errors and pitfalls so you don't make the same mistakes.
When working on an upcycling project, we fully understand that preparation is key. Stripping and sanding down those surfaces in order to get the perfect finish. So we also know that the same principle applies to decorating. But anyone would be forgiven for thinking that a newbuild home with freshly painted white walls would be perfectly sound and smooth, ready to simply paint over with hardly any prep work. Well apparently this is not the case, as beneath the white paint that the painters and decorators had applied just weeks beforehand, was dirt, dust, and fluff that had seemingly got caught in the decorators dirty roller and trapped beneath the paint. This wasn't noticeable at all with the white paint (white is very forgiving), but as soon as we applied the darker paint it immediately started to show every minor flaw. Especially in a certain light, the small bits and bumps under the paint are quite noticeable. Perhaps not at first glance, but certainly to the observing eye. Or perhaps we're just too picky. Either way, I'd definitely recommend a light sanding down of the entire wall before painting - even in a new build property.
We're both sticklers when it comes to quality, and usually this also applies to paint as we firmly believe you usually get what you pay for. We always use good quality paint when upcycling our furniture (Farrow & Ball), so we had decided to go with this brand for the board and batten wall project too. However, the colour we wanted was out of stock. Being a little impatient and not wanting to wait for the Farrow & Ball paint to come back into stock, we were lured into the concept of having a colour from the the Farrow & Ball palette matched instore and made up in a different brand of paint. Even better, the alternative brand of paint cost less and didn't require an undercoat/primer (Farrow & Ball insist on using their own undercoat). Sounds too good to be true right? And indeed it was!
As soon as we applied that first coat of paint I knew we'd made a mistake. The MDF soaked the paint up like a sponge, as did the newly built wall that had only ever had it's one initial white coat of paint. The paint just felt so thin and watery compared to other more expensive brands, and the fact that we were painting a dark colour onto a white wall without undercoat, I just knew this was going to take many many coats of paint. Needless to say we ended up buying another tin of paint to finish the project as we'd run out and the wall still looked really patchy. It actually ended up costing the same as it would for the more expensive paint with undercoat.
In addition to that, when they colour match another brand of paint instore, they basically scan the printed colour chart of that brand. Now we all know that those printed colour charts are never 100% accurate, so this means that the colour matched paint will never be 100% accurate either.
Ah well, we learn from our mistakes. And as my granny used to say "buy cheap, buy twice!". Next time we'll stick to our intuition.
This occurs when you've cut in around the inner edges with a brush, but the brush was loaded with too much paint. Or the paint was allowed to dry before going over the larger surfaces with the roller. The result of this is that the paint around the edges of the panels can often remain slightly darker than the other areas. We went over it many times to try to even it out, and eventually we did manage to get rid of the 'framing' effect. But occasionally in a certain light it is still noticeable due to the light reflecting on the brush strokes.
How to prevent this?
Don't overload the brush when cutting in
Make sure you roller the other surface of the panel while the edges are still wet
Get the roller as close a you can to the edges to minimise the brush strokes
How to fix this? Well - there is no way really to fix this other than to re-paint the whole wall again.
Despite the hiccups along the way we got there in the end and finally finished our beautiful board and batten wall to a standard that we were happy with. It was an interesting project, and we're really pleased we did it ourselves rather than pay somebody else to do it, and we still managed to keep it at under £200 for the entire project. There is a greater sense of satisfaction and achievement when you stand back and admire something that you did yourself.
We're really pleased with the end result and think it fits well with our style and furniture.
We really hope you enjoyed reading this post and have inspired you to create your own feature wall. This style really does look stunning and quite elegant.
Infact we're considering creating a similar wall in another room. This time the project should be a breeze now that we've figured out the potential pitfalls 😁🔨🪛🖌️🏡