How to DIY Faux Board and Batten Paneling - the easy way!

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By Ed and Robin

This spring, we saw another domino fall in our reno-cycle. You know, when you update one room (or even one thing in one room) and then it promptly makes another room seem tired and needy by comparison.

For us, it was the budget bathroom reno we did last spring.  You might remember: we updated our vanity and did our medicine cabinet makeover, put in a new peel & stick tile floor (which looks 300% better than it sounds), put up some beadboard wallpaper and added discount and vintage hardware. It's fresh and happy, but suddenly our nearby front hallway and dining room started showing their age. The paint looked a lot more blah. The walls looked a little more dented (kids! husbands!). And in general, things just needed a little more love.

Enter the batten paneling and plate rail idea. Robin had been entertaining it for a while (it actually started as part of another larger domino effect, involving curtains, chair reupholstering, a sideboard we found at the ReStore and a paint colour crisis). Confused? So were we, but it all came together.

We pulled it off and are happier with the paneling look than we even imagined!

Here's how it's done:

  • Batten strips (3/8" x 1 3/4"). 
    • We used Finger-jointed pine - a cheap option for anything you plan to paint.
    • We did 1 every 16 inches, so get measuring in your room to find out how many you need
  • Plate Rail (1/2" x 2 1/2" MDF): 
    • We kept the profile square and simple, as everything else wasn't. 
    • The width also had to line up with a pillar, a doorway, two corner cupboards and a window. It would have been very challenging if we picked a more ornate profile. (And anything more than a bevel has Robin calling it "fussy".)


1.  Draw your plate rail. 

Get a ruler, long level and a pencil and draw a line on the wall. Be sure to account for any weird openings, like doors with different heights and windows. It is easy to erase and change at this point - take advantage of this.

Robin showing where the plate rail will meet the top of the corner cupboards.  (She's also demo-ing her spooky, spooky translucent left hand.)

We lived with a pencil line for awhile, just to make sure we got it right.

Some shots of the original space, showing all the difficult bits.

2.  Measure, cut and attach the plate rail.

This may involve some mitre cuts, so plan ahead. Do the long runs first, and mitre/overlap any joints. We borrowed a nail gun and used trillions of nails.

Countersink the nails and fill the holes.

3. Prime and paint the rail and bare wall.

We did a test, based on what other blogs had said. Many people lamented not painting the walls before attaching the battens. We did one wall battens-first, then paint, and another wall of paint-first, then battens.  

As much fun as it is to jump right into battening, the wall we painted and primed first painted easier and faster (mostly because you can roll the whole thing)

See those painted battens in the background? Don't do it this way! Paint the wall before they go up.

4. Measure, Cut and Attach the Battens.

When planning out our battens, we treated each wall as a separate section, as our room was broken up with corner cupboards, doorways and Robin's big "art" piece.

Yours will be different, but the same idea of drawing lines in place and eyeballing the whole thing still applies.  Have we stressed this enough?  Good - let's move on!

We're idiots! We should have painted the wall first! 
When I build that time machine I am totally giving myself a swat in the back of the head... Anyhow, it was fun to see the project take shape so quickly.

5.  Fill the nail holes and sand your battens.

Poly Filla, sweet coverer-upper of shoddy mitres, gaps in unsmooth walls and general maker-beautifuller of things...

6. Prime, paint.

And if you are painting white, like us, repeat the painting part for 4-5 coats. Holy cow - it takes a lot of coats of white paint to cover.  We did not expect this.


The finished room.  (Well, sort of finished.  Robin has plans for some DIY art in the frames and possibly painting the buffet.)

We love the way the pillar looks with a cap on it.  This is our unexpected favourite part!

We are absolutely in love with it.  It makes the room feel fresh and finished.  We are still toying with the idea of a new colour above the plate rail - maybe something more dramatic than beige - is there such a thing?

Any questions?  Feel free to leave a comment.


  1. It looks so lovely! Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a beautiful way to add character to any space!

    1. We totally agree, Shauna. And it is so much easier and less expensive than it looks. Thanks for your comment! :)

  3. Looking nice!! I was going for the panel look but I was concerned about formaldehyde. Then found out Masonite is steamed and pressed not glued which is what causes formaldehyde to seep out overtime, not good for people with respiratory conditions or anyone. And it's a green way to remodel your space. Thanks for the ideas.


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