The half bath in our house is mere 4ft by 5ft. It’s tiny! So I wanted something that would make a bold statement while, at the same time, not making it feel too small and claustrophobic. Board and batten seemed to be the perfect choice for this room. I’m still getting used to taking before pictures, so these were taken mid-reno. There are no photos of this purple bathroom in all its’ bordered glory! (Did I mention the previous owners put borders in almost every room? Yup, they were crazy for them!)
Ok, so the first step in this project was getting that old baseboard and door trim out of there. This is not required, but we are working on converting all of the trim in the house to a Craftsman style. I had a little more cleanup than expected due to some water damage, but if I’ve learned anything over the last few years, it is that nothing ever goes completely as you expect it to. You can see some of this mess in the photo below. You also see in the upper left hand corner where I had started leveling out the textured wall.
While evening out your walls is not completely necessary, it will make for a more finished look. It allows your boards to sit flush against the wall much easier. The process for this is fairly straight-forward. Thin down some joint compound with water and use either a trowel or a large drywall knife to spread and smooth your mixture on the wall. The heavier the texture, the more coats it will take. Once your wall is mostly flat and smooth (I say mostly because there will be some ridges and lines in the joint compound), you need to do a light sanding over it. Use a very fine grit for this. I used a sanding sponge so as not to put too much pressure in any one spot. This will put dust all over your house. Trust me, it’s a mess! So very worth it, though.
Once everything is nice and smooth, you are ready to start measuring walls for your board lengths. You will want to start with your baseboards if you’re replacing those. I used the same width board for the baseboards, upper boards, and the door trim. I used 1 x 4s and jointed/planed them down to be nice and straight. This also makes the boards all the exact same size- I went with 3 1/4 x 1/2 for those of you planing. If you don’t have access to these tools, just make sure you are using the straightest pieces you can find. I used a plinth block at the base of the door frame. This block was 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 3/4. You can go higher/wider if you prefer or even leave this part out. I used 2″ brad nails in my Ryobi cordless nail gun (I love that thing!) to nail all of the boards to the wall.
I framed the door at this point. You can use these boards to frame straight across the top of the door, but I chose to add a little more decoration to mine. I took a piece of 1/4 inch thick stock and a piece of 1/2 inch stock that were milled down to 1 1/4″ and placed them on the bottom and top, respectively, of the 1 x 4. These boards overhang the 1 x 4 by 3/4″ on the front and sides. I glued and nailed them together before nailing the whole thing above the door. (See the picture below to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.) I used the same process for framing the mirror.
In some of the photos above you can see a gap between my baseboard and the floor. This is due to the previous homeowners not installing the tile close enough to the wall. The tile had been placed without the previous molding being removed and the tile had even been grouted to it. In some places there was almost an inch gap from the wall to the tile. New tile was not something I was prepared to tackle at this point so I had to come up with another option. I found some 1/4 x 1/4 inch strips that I cut to size and nailed to the front of the baseboard. I ended up really liking the extra touch it added.
At this point, I was ready to install the upper boards. I placed these at 46″ above the floor, but you can decide what height you would like. After the upper boards are in place, you can measure, cut, and mount your vertical boards. The placement of these is completely up to you. I went with 10 1/2 inches between each board. I recommend beginning in the middle of the room and moving outward.
If you are putting a mirror in between boards, make sure to cut these ahead of time. As you can see, I forgot to do this and had to remove the board, cut it, then put them back on.
The last boards, if you choose to install them, are those for the top rail, or shelf. I used the same 1/2″ by 1 1/4″ that I used to top the door frame. Nail these straight down into the 1 x 4 rails.
Once all of your lumber is in place, you should fill any nail holes and give everything a final sanding before priming and painting the boards and the wall behind it. Check out my post here to see the complete bathroom remodel!