How to to transform a foyer with Board and Batten wainscoting

how to make board and batten wainscoting

For those of you who have been following along with this project on Facebook you know that we’ve been working on this project for almost 2 months and that we’ve hit some snags (like noro-virus and a rotted out wall), but thank God for small miracles because this project is finally done!

The foyer was never in particularly bad shape to begin with (well except for the scuffed up floors which we replaced before moving in), but we dreamed of this space as a grand entrance to our home that would really “wow” guests.

foyer beforeA couple of weeks back I shared our vision of this space with a mood board that we dubbed “Industrial Chic“. By far the biggest and longest part of this makeover was the board and batten wainscoting that we thought would bring a refined element to the entrance, so that is what we started with. Board and batten wainscot is made up of straight lines that create squares and rectangles. We had done this design before in Sophie’s nursery, but this time I wanted a high wainscot so we decided to go with a design with squares stacked on top of rectangles. Since we also used the board and batten design on our fireplace and kitchen island, this design helped tie the whole house together.

The first thing we needed to do was remove all of the door casings and chair rail. This was easy enough to do, but this is where we also ran into our first problem. It’s hard to tell in the picture below but if you look closely you may notice that above the white line the wall is smooth, while below the white line the wall is textured. That’s because above the chair rail is actually wallpaper that has been painted over……..sigh.

remove all the moldingsWe didn’t want to go through all the effort of removing the wallpaper, especially as it is holding up well, so our solution was plywood. We cut the plywood to 72 in high and attached it to the walls with adhesive and a nail gun. This effectively got rid of our two texture problem. If your walls are all smooth already than you can skip this step and save time and money.

DIY wainscoting Next, we add the horizontal pieces that make up the top of the wainscot, the separation between the squares and rectangles, and the baseboard. These were cut out of the same plywood that we used for the back. See my post on our island cover panel for more on cutting plywood.how to make board and batten wainscotingFinally, we added in all of the vertical pieces that make up the squares and rectangles.

high wainscotingHere’s a run down of all the measurements to achieve this look:

How to make wainscotingThe reason the bottom pice is 7.5 inches high instead of 3.5 is that the baseboards we choose are 4 in. You want to make sure that the height of the paneling that shows above the baseboard is equal to all the rest of the paneling. Make sure before you start adding the paneling you also consider the layout of the wall and where seams might lie. We were able to cover all the seams with a piece of panel.

The last step in the wainscot build out was to attach the finishing pieces. We used pine 1×2’s for the cap piece as I wanted a slight ledge around the top.  We added 4 in baseboards to the bottom with 1/4 round on top to finish off the floors.

wainscot tutorialOnce we had all the paneling installed, Cody started the tedious step of caulking all the seams and nail holes. Followed by the even more tedious step of sanding down everything.

caulking wainscotingFinally, we were able to paint. It took 1 coat of primer and 3 coats of white paint (Valspar Ultra White in Semi-gloss) to cover it completely. We used a foam roller for the walls and cut in with a brush around the edges.  This was by far the worst part of the project as we also had to paint all of the door moldings, 3 doors, and the crown molding. At one point I considered giving-up, but we soldiered on and look at the results:

wainscot in foyerThe wall color is Seal by Martha Stewart for Glidden (available at Home Depot). This was my first time using Glidden paint and I have some thoughts on it, but I’ll save that for another post.wainscot with hooksThe long wall by the door looked a little bare, so we added these hooks for guests to hang up their coats and purses. All of the hooks are from Target. The coat hooks were $3.59 a piece and the robe hooks for $3.99 for a two pack.white wainscotThe back of the front doors got a coat of nice bright white paint to match the rest of the trim. It makes me hate the front doors slightly less.

DIY wainscotingMy favorite part of the foyer is where the wainscot runs into the bathroom and closet doors. I love all the texture created by the doors, molding, and wainscot. I particularly love the contrast of the new door knobs against all of the white. The knobs are Weslock Impresa (the same we put in the kitchen).Board and batten in foyerAnd here is a before and after comparison. I love how much brighter the foyer is now; unfortunately those stairs are like a huge energy suck. I’m hoping to getting around to making over the stairs sometime this summer.

We still have to build a console table for this space, install a new light fixture, and decorate, but now that the wainscot is finally done I feel like the whole project is wrapping up. Here is a quick break down on the cost of the wainscoting:

1×2                       13.32

wall hooks         14.76

baseboards      50.88

shoe molding   11.7

plywood            97.79

paint                   29.97

Total                   $218.42

As you can see this wasn’t a “cheap” project and it certainly involved a lot of sweat equity, but the change it made is quite dramatic and we feel that it is a classic addition to the space that will last through multiple makeovers.

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    • Thanks Christy. The project was a pain, but it’s so rewarding seeing how nice it looks now. We have a million unfinished projects around here too. We were just talking about taking a break from larger projects to try to wrap them all up.

  1. I know this post is older, but I just wanted to say that I really like the more low profile thickness of your boards. How thick was the plywood u used? 1/4″ maybe? Looks a lot better than the thick boards used by most. I think this is the route I’m going to go. Good job!