Board and Batten on a Staircase Wall Easy DIY Step-by-Step Guide

Board and Batten on Stairs // Tantrums and Tools

Installing board and batten on a staircase wall was way easier than I anticipated. And the transformation was unbelievable.

So, if you’re looking for an affordable way to spice up your stairs, this DIY step-by-step guide is for you. Keep reading to learn exactly how I installed board and batten up my stairs.


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Stair Wall Board and Batten Paneling Step-By-Step DIY Guide

white painted stairs with board and batten on a staircase wall

Board and batten is an easy beginner DIY project that packs a lot of bang for your buck.

The hardest part about installing board and batten on stairs is the amount of caulking. Properly caulking all the nail holes and seams takes time and patience, but the outcome is worth it!

Also, it’s a little annoying to work on the staircase.

And determining where to stop your pattern takes some thought.

But other than that, this project is super easy and a great beginner DIY project.

Grab your power tools and let’s get to work!

board and batten on a staircase wall

Step 1: Determining a Board and Batten Layout

To help me visualize things, I tested the layout of each batten on my stair wall with using painter’s tape.

I placed the top horizontal batten to give the illusion that this accent wall carried all the way up the staircase. But in reality, it stopped about halfway up. From the ground, you can’t see this because it’s right behind as far up as you can see from the ground.

I love the look of board and batten that goes all the way to the top of the stair wall, but my approach made things a little easier to install. Especially since I’m afraid of heights.

Staircase walls are taller than you think! And working on stairs makes it even scarier. I was not into any of that!

A popular height for board and batten is somewhere between half and three-quarters up the wall. Doing so allows you to have either wallpaper or an accent paint color above the board and batten accent wall.

  • The first thing to you’ll need to think about is how far apart you want each vertical board to be.
  • The next thing you need to determine is if you’ll add any horizontal boards.
  • Personally, I think the horizonal boards add a nice design touch and make the wall paneling design look more intentional.
  • Compared to when it’s strictly vertical boards; to me this looks a little unfinished. To me it looks like the studs of a newly framed wall.
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Step 2: Gather Supplies

Once you have your layout, you can easily count how pieces of wood you’ll need to create each batten. In my case, my ceilings were 8′ so this made things pretty simple!

You can do any width for the battens; there is no right or wrong answer. It depends on what you think looks best!

For reference, I used 1×4 pine for my top horizontal batten and 1×3 pine for everything else.

Step 3: Working with the Existing Trim and Molding

Installing board and batten on a staircase wall is slightly trickier because you will have to cut the bottom of each batten at an angle.

Also, if you have existing molding, you will need to remove it or get creative to make the batten and molding fit together. This is where my multi-tool came in handy!

The existing ceiling molding was not as thick as the batten, so instead of removing and replacing this, I measured and cut out a section of the existing molding to integrate the batten into.

You may not encounter this with your board and batten on stairs, but if you do, this is what worked for me! Here is a close up of my ceiling molding and what it looked like when I cut out a section:

Molding marked for cut to place board and batten
molding with cut out for board and batten

Step 4: Installation

To install, I went board by board working from the left up to the top of the stairs.

I cut one batten, installed it onto the wall using my brad nailer, and then moved on to the next batten.

I put a nail in every six-ish inches. And if a batten was slightly bowed, I made sure to add a nail over that spot. This helped to cut down on the amount of caulk needed later in this process.

If your wall is a smooth surface, you’ll only need to apply battens (the vertical boards).

It your walls have a texture, you can consider first adding a board to your wall, followed by the batten on top of this.

The only difference between board and batten and board and batten on stairs is the bottom of the battens that go up the staircase need cutting at a 45-degree angle, which is actually super simple using this good miter saw.

Step 5: Caulking Board and Batten

The most tedious yet essential step in installing board and batten is caulking every nail hole and along every edge. Hence, the need for LOTS of caulk. I used two tubes of DAP paintable caulk because I’ve had good luck with this brand adhering.

You want your caulk to adhere because over time with temperature changes things can shift or crack, and you don’t want to have to fix all of this down the road.

Whichever caulk to go with, just make sure it is paintable!

Step 6: Painting Board and Batten

The last step to installing board and batten is priming and painting.

You might be wondering if you should paint the wall before attaching the battens or paint everything all at once after the battens are up.

I’ve always done it all at once; it just seems to make more sense to me to do it this way. I applied two coats of Zinsser 123, followed by two coats of Behr Scuff Defense paint.

Board and Batten FAQ’s

Using Glue and Nails vs Nails Only

Nails were plenty enough for me! I ultimately decided the batten is not very heavy and nailing it to the wall will surface would suffice.

Also, using glue will completely destroy the wall if for some reason I ever decide someday to take this down.

Board and Batten Spacing and Layout

I went with what looked good and what flowed with the existing space. I knew I did not want to take the board and batten all the way to the ceiling because I just couldn’t not work that high up.

So, using the horizonal line of the ither side of the staircase, I stopped just behind here to give the illusion that the board and batten went all the way up, but in reality, it did not 🙂 See the image below for what I’m talking about.

Where did you stop the wall design on stairs?

The top horizonal piece in my design sits on the trim piece of the top of the stairs. Here is what I’m talking about:

where to stop board and batten on a staircase wall

Paint the wall before or after installing wall paneling?

I painted everything all at once, after the paneling had been installed. There is no actual difference between the two methods. So, go with which ever makes most sense to you!

Board and Batten Paint Color

You’re looking at board and batten painted in the color Alabaster. Pretty, right?!

Where do you put the railing?

I chose to not install the railing after putting up this accent wall. The reason being, on the left side, there is a railing. And the space between the top of the stairs and this railing is only a few steps.

This decision obviously prioritized design over function and it’s not to code and doesn’t meet safety regulations. So, don’t take this as advice 😉 It’s what worked for my layout and the agility of us who use these stairs.

What Is Board and Batten

Board and batten is a traditional pattern for a wall treatment or house siding. It’s pretty simple in design but has a significant impact, and the best part is it’s also inexpensive and easy to install!

The batten is the vertical piece spaced apart in whatever interval you desire:

what is the batten in board and batten

The board is a smooth backing:

what is the board in board and batten

Board and Batten Material for Interior Walls

For my board and batten staircase wall, I used cheap-o wood from Home Depot. The most important thing to look for with wood is not the type (that is if you’re painting it), but rather how straight the board is.

Board and Batten Staircase Before & After

The most unexpected outcome of this project was how much taller the ceilings feel. This design also gives a customized, luxury look. But really, it was so inexpensive to add!

before and after of a staircase wall with diy board and batten on a stair wall

I hope you feel more confident about installing board and batten on a staircase now that I’ve covered all the essential steps.

PS- Don’t forget to Pin this for later!

white board and batten on a stair wall
board and batten on a staircase wall

Hey Friend!

project planner pack

Every successful DIY project starts with a plan. That’s why I created the Project Planner Pack.

It’s everything you need to complete your project on time and on budget.

Unleash your creativity with a click, download your Planner Pack and start your DIY journey today!


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