s The Girls' Room: Board and Batten (How To) - The Kim Six Fix
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The Girls' Room: Board and Batten (How To)

Remember my inspiration room?

Well, when you look up "How to Install Board and Batten" you come up with a ton of examples of what to do when you have perfectly smooth walls, or if you don't care if your B&B looks perfectly real.  Unfortanately for me, I am neither of those.

So I was very pleased when I ran across this blog.  The Woodwords had the same problem I did.. highly textured walls (I have 1999 popcorn walls. *sigh*)  Therefore I decided to use their technique of covering the walls with plywood to make the 'board' part of the walls look more realistic.

Buuuutt... I couldn't find affordable birch plywood. My room is 12'x16' and I wanted to make my wainscoting 6 feet tall.  That would require about 12 sheets of 4x8 plywood.  At my Home Depot, the plywood was $24 a sheet!  I wasn't willing to spend $300.  Therefore I downgraded to MDF at only $8/sheet.  Which kept the cost under $100.

Unfortunately, unlike plywood, the MDF tends to warp really really easily, as you can see when we laid it out flat on the floor.  Not exactly flat!
Therefore as soon as we started installing it, I KNEW we were going to need not only paneling nails but also an adhesive to keep the panels flat.

 Installation was pretty straight forward.  I had the guys at Home Depot rip down the boards so they were 4x6. I then cut out holes for the outlets and switches with a drywall saw.  I only needed help wrangling the warped glue covered panels onto the wall while keeping them relatively close to level.

Because the panels are 4 feet wide, I decided to space the battens at 2 foot intervals in order to cover the seams between the MDF (and also hid the fact the warped boards tend to bow out where they are nailed directly into a stud. 

I decided not to prime and paint the panels before they were on the wall because managing the wobbly boards once they had wet paint on them would have been a nightmare. I figured it was easier to do it once they were all nicely secured to the wall,  plus it allowed me to paint over all the nail heads. 

Once the boards were up I primed them all.

I decided, since the girls were still sleeping in the room every night, I wanted to use a VOC free primer. I settled on Kilz Clean Start.  It is VOC free and low odor.

I was surprised how well it covered.  I knew I would still need multiple coats, but it worked as well as the regular Kilz which I used previously in my old kitchen remodel.

Now it was time to add the battens.  The first step was adding the top molding. I decided not to chintz out and used 5 inch wide top boards.  I knew I was going to run into problems blending the boards into the molding (and my windows have no molding so I would have to figure out how to blend those junctions.  At that point I KNEW I needed to upgrade my tool collection. 

Say hello to my new compound mitre saw: 

I needed almost 30 battens, each mitred on the bottom and cut to length, plus I needed nearly 30 feet of header, as well as molding the top boards.  I was NOT cutting those all with a circular saw:

This part of the project moved pretty quickly. The boards went up fast, I just had to make sure they were level:

Here is how I addressed where the boards met the door frame. I mitered the boards at a 45 degree angle. (Both the 5 inch header board and the 3 inch plate rail that went on top): 

I also had to miter the board where they met in the corners:

By the end of the cutting stage, I was really really really happy that I bought a chop saw.

After putting up the header boards, I realized painting them on the wall was going to be a pain, so I decided to prime all the rest of the boards before they went up on the walls.  I bought the absolute cheapest lumber I could find for this project and so instead of actual pine boards I was using 1x3 furring strips. I invested $20 in a palm sander and sanded the heck out of the boards

The boards went up pretty smoothly.  They are exactly 24 inches from each other (on center) because the MDF sheets were 4 feet wide and I covered each seam plus added one additional board for each sheet of MDF.

I got really lucky that none of the outlets/switches were in the way or I would have tweaked the spacing.   I did have to move the intercom call box over a few inches to miss the first batten, but it was easy to do since an intercom doesn't require an electric box in the wall, just a simple hole punched through the drywall.

Once the battens were up, I added a second coat of primer to everything.

It worked out really nice that the battens ended exactly in the far corner of the room.  The joint between the two sheets of MDF was pretty ugly, and the board covered it nicely:

A big lesson I learned when doing finish carpentry is that caulk can make up for a lot of mistakes.  I actually ended up going thru THREE tubes of caulk for this project. I wanted a clean look so I caulked every seam between the boards.  It really does make a difference, even before painting.  Just check out the corners and seams before caulking:
 After caulking:

I also spent a good deal of time countersinking and wood puttying the nail holes.  Talk about monotony!

Here you can get a better idea of how the 1x3 is set perpindicular to the 1x5 with the cove molding transitioning between the two boards:

 Lastly, I needed to paint the whole thing the final color.  I ended up settling on Martha Stewart's Glass of Milk.  I know I sound like I am obsessed with Martha's paint colors, but this was actually the chip that most closely matched the trim in the room.   You can see it is slightly more cream colored that the stark white primer. 
(The primer is on the panel closest to the window, the rest of the boards/battens are painted the final color)

I will reveal the final finished product in a whole new blog post.  But now for the big questions.  

Time Spent on Project:
Shopping Time: 3-4 hours
Installing MDF panels: 4 hours (only stage that required help)
Priming MDF: 2 hours
Measuring, Cutting and Sanding Batten and Headers: 4 hours
Painting Batten and Headers: 4 hours 
Second coat of primer: 3 hours
Caulking/Countersinking/Puttying: 3 hours
Final Painting (2 coats): 6 hours

30 work hours

Cost for the project:
MDF Sheets:  (10@$8.48) $84.80
Kilz: $18.47
Paneling Nails: (2@$2.37) $4.74
Caulk: (3@$2.28) $6.84
New Caulk Gun: $1.98
Paint: (2@$26.54) $53.08
Sandpaper: $3.47
1x3x8 inch Furring Strips/Battens: (30@1.52) $46.50
1x3x12 Plate Rail Top Pine Boards: (3@3.98) $11.94
1x5x12 Header Pine Boards: (3@ $15.98) $47.94
Cove Molding: (30@$.80/ft) $24.00
Corner Trim (for windows): (6@$1.10/ft) $6.60


Not included: Chop Saw, Palm Sander, Painting Supplies

I think it was well worth it!

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