One day to create a spectacular feature wall like this DIY wainscoting (faux board & batten). Tips, tricks, video, costs, and what not to do to DIY your own.

 Oh guys!

This might be one of my favourite DIY’s of all-time!
I’ve done the faux board and batten in my bedroom – and I love it – but trimming it out and putting in the extra detailing really takes it from “gorgeous” to WOWZA!!!

I’ve done a time-lapse movie of the process (a bit further down) so you can see me working like an ant, but I’ll show a few pics here to detail the DIY wainscoting more clearly.

This was my dining room before:

dining room before, bleeker beige

Wall colour: Benjamin Moore “Bleeker Beige”

It was nice.  I liked it.

Past-tense.

I refinished the sideboard a few years ago, and it’s gorgeous – but it’s always been too big for the room.  There wasn’t much room between the unit and the chair for anyone to comfortably slide in and out.

I love my Ronin table from Pier One, but the black didn’t really go with the cherry of the floors – which were damaged from the day we moved in 15 years go.  (Big dogs and maple don’t go well together)

The area rug has been pee’d on far too many times (our Berner is old and incontinent), and I’m exhausted with cleaning it myself and hiring out for a professional.

Dining room before

The curtains are too dark and the chandelier is dated.

I decided it was time for a makeover and the first change was to create a feature wall that doesn’t require art or a mirror to fill it out.

I spent HOURS creating a detailed plan on how I wanted the DIY wainscoting laid out.  I wanted a square in the centre of the wall so it feels centred when looking in from the doorway.  I accounted 3 ½” for the width of the MDF boards and the length and height of the wall…

laying out wainscoting plans

I appeared to be perfect.

I was even able to calculate how many boards to buy and how much trim.  I was SO PROUD of myself.

But I was wrong.

GRRRRR!!!

Come layout time my vertical rows were measured perfectly, but I was WAY off in my horizontal rows.  I hid it in the end, but this is just my little warning to you; don’t use construction adhesive until you are beyond positive that your spacing is perfect.

Is it ALWAYS necessary for me to learn the hard way? 🤦🏻‍♀️

I used 3 ½” pre-primed MDF boards that were a ½” thick.  Home Depot sells them in bundles of ten 8′ boards for about $44.50/pack.  I used 19 boards for my 12′ wall.

As you can see in the video, I used spacers (scrap wood cut to length to create an easy template).  This should have made installing the trim work easy as well since every piece would have been cut to the same spacer size.

trimming out wainscoting

BUT, walls are rarely perfectly straight or perfectly square, so I brought my mitre saw inside and cut each piece individually to be sure I had the best fit.

I wanted a pre-primed trim, but the only thing available with this type of profile in ½” thick trim was this poplar.  It worked out in the end because it was less expensive than the same trim (that was sold out) in the MDF.  

This is a bit tedious, but for consistency in my cutting I kept the largest edge of my poplar trim against the mitre saw fence… which meant I had to swing the mitre back and forth to 45º on either side of centre before cutting each strip. 

Just how my brain works folks 🤷🏻‍♀️.

DIY wainscoting, DIY board & batten

Pretty sure I got my stair-master workout going up and down this little ladder all day – but my DIY wainscoting was really looking good!

Confession time: I wasn’t going to add an MDF board along my baseboards.  My measuring was so off, and I couldn’t move the boards because of the construction adhesive, that I had to add an extra row along the baseboard to make everything look squared up.

To try and clean it up a bit, I cut the bottom of each vertical board at a 45º bevel so that it tapers down from the ½” board to the top of the baseboard.  For the horizontal pieces of my DIY board & batten, I ran the MDF over the table saw to get the same bevel.  Not necessary, just something I did.

DIY wainscoting, DIY board & batten

I have one more tip for you – and my friend taught me this – see the outlet box in the middle of the room?  I was planning on cutting the vertical MDF around it and then just living with a recessed plug.

No need my friends!  You can unscrew the outlet box at the top and bottom and it has enough ‘give’ that you can pull it forward and attach it right to the board, so that your end product will have your outlet box flush with your finished wall!  SO MUCH BETTER!!

The worst part of the entire DIY wainscoting project was the caulking – hands down.  I am TERRIBLE with caulk (I know – giggle away here).  I had it smudged and smeared everywhere and I even managed to cut my finger while trying to press it into each little nook and cranny so my wall actually has traces of blood all over it.  A UV light over this wall would look like a Jackson Pollock painting. 😂

It took a good hour to try and get every single corner and seam – BUT there was an upside;

DIY wainscoting, DIY board & batten

I had so much caulking smooshed all over the place that I had to sand the board and batten down with 220 grit on my random orbit sander, which allowed me to see all of the little gaps I’d missed.

Extra work, but with a great silver lining.

Even though I used pre-primed MDF for my DIY board & batten, the poplar wasn’t primed, and the new sanded areas needed primer as well, so I gave all of the trimwork one coat.

DIY wainscoting, DIY board & batten

Two coats of Benjamin Moore’s “Pale Oak” and you tell me if it was worth it!

DIY wainscoting, DIY board & batten

It is absolutely spectacular – and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out!

DIY wainscoting, DIY board & batten

Getting all of it pieced together, caulked, sanded, primed and first coat of paint was all done in one day!

DIY wainscoting, DIY board & batten

Do you think it would be okay if I didn’t put my dining room furniture back in?  I don’t want anything to block this view. (happy sigh)

DIY Wainscoting / DIY board & batten

  • (2) 10-packs primed MDF (3 ½” x ½” x 96″) = $89 CDN
  • (20) boards ½” poplar trim = $123
  • (1) tube trim caulking = $5
  • (1) tube construction adhesive (optional) = $5
  • (1) quart primer – $30
  • (1) gallon Benjamin Moore Select in Pale Oak = $80
  • Total:  $332 CDN.   (approx. $262 US or €220 Euro)

This is totally doable guys – really.

A mitre saw, a sander, a paintbrush and a nailer (or hammer and finishing nails) are all you need to create a gorgeous feature wall and up the value of your home at the same time!

Don’t think the “Dining Room Makeover” is finished here folks – that’s a sneak peek of the floor I just refinished this week!  Stay tuned!

Have a great one!