Board and Batten Siding

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Board and Batten Siding

Before we bought our cabin, my wife and I visited the wine country of northern California. While there, we stayed in a terrific, cozy, barn-modern style cottage that became a big part of our inspiration to buy a cabin. A big part of the the charm of this cottage was its’ traditional board and batten style siding.

Looking to bring some of that charm to our new cabin project in Minnesota, we decided on board and batten siding for our our exterior wall rebuild.

Board and batten siding has its roots in Norway and Sweden, where it was originally used to protect the exterior of log buildings. The siding became a popular siding on homes and barns in the Western United States during the mid to late 1800s.

Today, board and batten siding has regained popularity, especially with the rise of modern rustic architecture styles in the United States.

Cottage with board and batten siding.

Vacation cottage in Northern California with board and batten siding.

 

How to Board and Batten

Board and batten siding is fairly simple siding system of gaped wide vertical boards with narrow overlying vertical battens to cover the gaps. The technique is time-tested, durable, easy to repair and allows for the natural expansion and contraction of the siding material.

While traditional board and batten siding uses wider boards and overlying narrower battens, there are multiple variations of the traditional narrow over wide technique. Reverse board and batten or batten and board, for example, installs wider boards over narrow battens. Board and board just alternates overlapping wide boards with no battens.

Traditional board and batten siding in steps:

  1. Install wide vertical boards (typically 6″ to 12″) – space to allow expansion and contraction between boards.
  2. Install overlying battens (typically 2″ to 4″) – these cover the gaps between the boards and hold the edges of the boards down.

When installing the boards, place fasteners at the center of the siding boards to allow boards to expand and contract. Fasten battens between boards to cover gaps and hold down board edges while still allowing them to move.

Board and batten siding diagrammed:

Diagram of board and batten siding.

Board and batten siding is made up of wider vertically installed boards with overlapping narrower battens. Nailing allows boards to move as needed.

 

The Nitty Gritty of Board and Batten Siding

When installing board and batten siding, or any vertical siding, you will have to deal with the challenge of fastening vertical boards to a vertical stud wall.

Boards installed up and down (vertically) do not regularly intersect stud framing members like horizontally laid boards do. Traditionally, this problem was addressed by adding horizontal framing pieces (blocking) between the vertical studs.

While this method works, installing blocking is a lot of work and may be impractical for remodeling work. Blocking also reduces the space in the wall cavity for insulation and can make it hard to run wires and plumbing in walls.

Alternatively, you can beef up the sheathing of the wall and fasten the siding to the sheathing instead of the studs. To do this, you will need to use sufficiently thick sheathing – at least 1 1/4″ for nails or 1/2″ for screws.

For this project, I did just that. I used thicker plywood sheathing that I could fasten the siding to without having to install framing blocks. I used 3/4″ plywood. This thickness plywood is more than thick enough to hold the screws I planned to use to attach the siding. It was also a huge structural upgrade for my exterior walls.

With this plywood, I used deck screws as fasteners. Screws work well, especially if driven into plywood sheathing of 1/2″ or greater thickness. Nails will also work, but you will need much thicker sheathing for sufficient hold.

Fasteners for Board and Batten Siding 
 Nails Screws
 fasten toat least 1 1/4″ solid wood (studs)at least 1/2″ plywood
 gradeexterior grade – stainless, coated or galvanizedexterior grade – stainless, coated or galvanized 
style siding: spiral or ring shank flat head coarse thread 
 length (boards)siding thickness + 1 1/2″ siding thickness + 3/4″ 
 length (battens) batten + siding thickness + 1 1/2″batten + siding thickness + 3/4″ 

 

If using nails to fasten your siding, use exterior grade nails designed specifically for installing wood siding. Use exterior grade ring-shank or spiral shank style nails for siding.

Nails should also be compatible with the specific wood species you are using. Some woods will react with certain fasteners causing discoloration at the fastener site. Stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized nails are typically the best choices.

Many siding nails will have specially designed tips to help prevent splitting of the siding. Nails will need to be long enough to pass through the siding and into a solid wood substrate at least 1 1/4″.

Typical nails for one-inch thick siding are 2 1/2″ long and 3 to 3 1/2″ long for battens. Remember to add length for any material (like furring strips or rain screen mat) between the siding and sheathing.

I used screws for this project. If you plan to use screws, look for an exterior grade screw (stainless or coated) compatible with the wood species you will be using. Most deck screws will work well. I used DeckMate deck screws (green color) purchased locally from the home depot.

Screws need to be long enough to pass through the siding and into a suitable (solid wood or plywood) substrate 1/2″ or more. If using 1/2″ sheathing, the screws should penetrate 1/4″ or more through the sheathing. Fastener lengths need to consider the thickness of the siding boards and any material (rain screen membrane or furring strips) between the siding and the sheathing.

For my project, my screw lengths were based on:

  • siding and batten 1″ material (true thickness of 7/8″)
  • rain screen membrane 1/4″
  • 3/4″ plywood sheathing

Therefore the screws I used to fasten the boards and battens were:

Siding boards: DeckMate 2″ #8 Star bit flat-head deck screws

Batten boards: DeckMate 3″ #8 Star bit flat-head deck screws

Deck screws used to install board and batten siding.

I used DeckMate deck screws to install my board and batten siding – a shorter 2″ screw for the boards and a longer 3″ screw for the battens

If you are planning on using nails, they should look something like ones below; either hot dipped galvanized steel or stainless steel.

Hot dipped ring shank siding nails for installing cedar siding.

If you choose to use nails to fasten your siding, use hot dipped galvanized or stainless steel ring shank or spiral shank nails designed for siding.

 

Choosing A Material For Your Siding

Board and batten siding can be constructed from a variety of materials. Wood, engineered wood products, fiber cement boards, polymer (vinyl) products are all suitable for board and batten. Of these, fiber cement boards and wood are excellent choices, and both have advantages and disadvantages.

Cement board products (HardiePanel, etc.) have the advantages of concrete; low maintenance, long life, dimensional stability and moisture and fire resistance.

Natural wood boards have the advantages of wood; natural beauty, the ability to take a stain, improved sound and thermal insulation and easy of cutting and installation.

Cement board products also have the disadvantages of concrete; heavy weight, difficult to cut and install, silica dust formation when cutting, and an artificial look.

Wood products have the disadvantages of wood; dimensional instability, tenancy to crack or split, need for repeat staining, susceptibility to woodpeckers, insects and rot, and the lack of fire resistance.

Despite the compelling advantages of cement board products, I chose natural cedar for my board and batten siding.

To improve the lifespan of the finish and to save time, I ordered prefinished cedar siding. Cedar offers the advantages of natural wood but is also naturally resistant to insects and rot due to the extracts in cedar.

The Huge Advantages Of PreFinished Siding 

When using natural wood as a siding material, one of the biggest challenges is protecting the wood from moisture and rot.

While several species of wood have naturally enhanced protection against moisture and decay, and perform satisfactorily when installed unfinished, most will benefit from an applied stain or paint.

If you are planning to apply a finish to wood siding, follow best practices and finish all six sides of your boards. In addition, if you plan to use a solid color stain or paint, you should first apply at least one coat of a suitable primer before finishing the boards.

Properly applied finishes take time. Applying a coat or two of primer, allowing it to dry and then applying a coat or two of finish is a long process. Not only is this time-consuming, but the quality of the finish is very dependent on the conditions, tools, products and process used to apply any primer or finish.

So, how can you improve the quality of your finish and save tons of time? Buy your wood siding prefinished.

Yes, it may cost more (maybe), but for many of us, it is more than worth it. I found the price of ordering prefinished fairly competitive with the cost of what I could get the unfinished wood for locally. My cost for 1″ x 10″ knotty western red cedar in mixed 8′ and 16′ lengths was less than $2.50 / lineal ft (this was late 2011 when I ordered the material)!

Most of the local lumber yards had their 1″ x 10″ unfinished cedar very close to this price. I haven’t priced prefinished material lately, but even if it is priced a buck or so a foot more, you will have to think long and hard about finishing it yourself.

Prefinished cedar boards for board and batten siding install.

A load of 10″ x 1″ x 16 ft prefinished cedar boards from Michigan Prestain ready to be installed!

It is hard to explain just how awesome it was to receive my shipment of factory finished wood and simply start putting it up.

Ordering prefinished material saves a ton of time, and the siding is sealed with a professionally applied, factory finish. You will need to prime and paint cut ends, but that is easy. The supplier I ordered from also recommends a field coat of finish after the product is installed. Again, a fairly easy step – especially when compared to painting rough cedar from scratch. The field coat also provides the benefits of sealing over your fasteners.

In addition to the time-saving benefits of prefinished siding, you will have the durability of a top quality finished applied under perfect factory conditions typically by sophisticated finishing machinery. I ordered my prefinished cedar from Cedar Shingles Direct of Wyoming, Michigan. Their factory applies a Cabot finish of your choice – for us a latex solid stain applied over a solvent base primer.

Consider Adding A Vented Rainscreen Under Your New Siding 

Exterior wall construction has changed over the years. Traditionally, exterior walls were built from wood framing sheathed with boards, OSB or plywood, covered with a weather-resistant barrier (WRB) and finished with siding, stucco or similar.

This style of wall construction (known as “redundant barrier”), worked well and has been popular for more than 100 years. Unfortunately, this style of wall construction when coupled with newer “airtight” construction and the growing use of synthetic house wraps, can be prone to water trapping with resulting rot and mold problems.

Recognizing this and accepting the inevitability that all walls will eventually leak, newer wall construction now focuses on building walls that can dry.

Building Walls That Dry

Rain screen wall construction originated in Norway as a method to protect exterior walls from driving rains. Walls constructed in this way not only protect the inner wall from weather but are designed to dry out if wet.

Vented rain screen walls separate the exterior siding from the underlying weather-proof barrier and sheathing below. Such construction allows penetrated water to drain out of the wall and air to freely flow within this space and drying of the wall assembly.

Building a rain screen wall system requires a bit of additional work when building walls compared to traditional techniques but the reward is a long lasting wall that can hold up very well to water.

To construct a vented rain screen wall, simply add a vented airspace between the WRB and siding within your wall construction:

TRADITIONAL WALL: framing | sheathing | weather-resistant barrier | siding
RAIN SCREEN WALL: framing | sheathing | weather-resistant barrier | vented airspace | siding

The airspace in a rain screen wall system is the key to the rain screen wall. This space creates a pressure break within the wall, allows water to drain and promotes air movement and drying within the wall.

This airspace within the rain screen wall designed wall can be created by a variety of methods – two common methods are:

  1. furring strips
  2. rain screen spacer mats.

Furring strips are thin strips of wood, or other material can be installed vertically to lift the siding off the weather-proof barrier covered sheathing. Furring strips can be created using 1/4″ or thicker material cut from sheathing, or other, or you can use one of the many manufactured products.

Rain screen spacer mats provide another method of creating a vented airspace. These mats are typically made from tangled plastic fibers that create a three-dimensional mat that allow air and water to move through the mat while providing spacing between the WRB and siding material. Several manufactured spacer mats are available to create a rain screen wall using this technique.

For my rainscreen wall build, I used a product by Keene called Driwall Rainscreen 020-1. This product provides a 1/4″ airspace and is installed between your weather-resistant membrane covered sheathing and the siding.

In addition to helping to keep walls dry, rain screen wall construction can help protect your weather-resistant barrier (WRB). Many weather-resistant barriers degrade after exposure to certain tannins and wood extracts. Separating the WRB from the siding boards via a rain-screen wall design may help limit contact of the two.

Rainscreen wall construction using Driwall Mat by Keene.

Rainscreen wall construction using Driwall Rainscreen Mat by Keene installed over builders felt before installing the board and batten siding

For this re-siding project, I used an underlying vented rainscreen style wall. Fortunately, there are many commercially available products that make constructing a rain screen wall fairly easy. For my wall, I added a rainscreen mat to add an airspace between my weatherproof membrane and my siding.

Here are the layers I used to build my exterior wall (from inside to out):

  1. 2×4 studs 16″ oc
  2. R-13 Fibergalss batt insulation 
  3. 3/4 Plywood (CDX exposure 1)
  4. 30# builders felt (roofing felt)
  5. Driwall Rainscreen mat by Keene
  6. Cedar board and batten siding

 

Closeup of rainscreen wall profile showing airspace created by Keene Driwall rainscreen mat.

Closeup of rainscreen wall profile showing airspace created by Keene Driwall rainscreen mat

If you are interested in reading more about the details of building a vented rain screen exterior wall please see my article “How and Why to Build a Rainscreen Wall”.

Plan For The Install Of Your New Board and Batten Siding

Once you have settled on the details of your wall reconstruction, the final task is installing the siding boards.

To install your siding, you will need sufficient access to your walls. Ladders are sufficient, but scaffolding is best. If you can, borrow, rent or buy some scaffolding for the project. Scaffolding will give you a stable, safe platform to work from and is much safer than ladders or ladders with planks.

You will also need to gather all necessary tools and supplies. Although I did much of my siding install alone, a helper is great to have if you can get one. For my project, I found it best to set up a few specific stations for individual tasks.

I had a station for measuring, and cutting the boards. I had a station for marking and starting the fasteners (I pre-installed the screws before putting the siding boards on the wall). I found having several small areas for each task allowed me to keep my tools organized and my workflow efficient.

As for your siding material, plan ahead. If using wood, your stock should have time to acclimate to your job site for some time. I also found it much easier to have the boards and battens primed and stained prior to putting them up.

For most of my material, it was already primed and stained as I ordered it factory finished (I highly recommend doing this!). I did, however, need some additional material that I had to prime and finish myself. I used the weekends prior to the start of the install to prime, finish and allowed the boards to dry.

For most of my material, it was already primed and stained as I ordered it factory finished (I highly recommend doing this!). I did, however, need some additional material that I had to prime and finish myself. I used the weekends prior to the start of the install to prime, finish and allowed the boards to dry.

Then, with the material finished and ready to install, I simply primed the cut ends prior to installation. After the boards had been installed, I finished the entire surface with a final field coat of finish.

 

 

How to Install Board and Batten Siding

Preparation and Materials

Board and Batten Siding – Project Overview

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Time: Days to Weeks
  • Cost: $2 – $6+ per sq ft of wall

Board and Batten Siding – Project Big Picture

  1. Prep wall (remove old siding, etc.).
  2. Replace insulation, sheathing, WRB, flashing (optional).
  3. Add rainscreen (optional).
  4. Install skirtboard (optional) and drip flashing.
  5. Install boards.
  6. Install top and window trim.
  7. Install battens.
Materials – Board and Batten Siding Install
ItemWhat I usedCost
Prefinished Cedar – siding boardsPrestained Cedar 1″x10″ in Cabot Solid dark slate$2.36 / ln ft
Prefinished Cedar – siding battensPrestained Cedar 1″x3″ in Cabot Solid dark slate$0.62 / ln ft
Prefinished Cedar – trimPrestained Cedar 1″x4″ in Cabot Solid ultra white$0.65 / ln ft
Screws for BoardsGrip Rite #10 3" star bit deck screws in green.$25 / 5 lb
Screws for BattensGrip Rite #10 3" star bit deck screws in green.$25 / 5 lb
Screws for Trim$65 / 10 lb
Siding Primer
Awesome product!
$36 / gal
Siding Stain
Color = dark slate
$36 / gal
Flashing Tape$25 / 100′ roll
Tools / Supplies for Board and Batten Siding
ItemWhat I usedCost
Scaffold Tower$750
Cordless Drill/Driver$180
Power Miter Saw (similar product)$350 
Circular Saw$175
Saw Blade$15
Level$35
Nylon/Poly Paint Brushes$10-$20 ea
Mini 6.5″ Roller$8 ea
Paint Pail / Tray$15 ea
Paint Tray Liners$5 / 3pc
Hammer$30
Tape Measure$20
Chalkline$10
Utility Knife$10
Denatured Alcohol$8 / qt
Rags$20

Additional Materials and Tools if Planning on Wall Rebuild (insulation, sheathing, WRB, rainscreen)

Additional Materials for Wall Rebuild
ItemWhat I usedCost
Insulation$60 / 105 sf
Sheathing 23/32 Exterior Plywood$25 / 4′ x 8′
Weather-resistant barrier$30 / 216 sf
Rainscreen Mat (similar product)$150 / 150 sf
Cap Nails$24 / 2000
Flashing Tape$25 / 100′ roll
Additional Tools / Supplies for Wall Rebuild
ItemWhat I usedCost
Framing Nailer$225
Framing Nails$65 / 3600
Compressor$150

Board and Batten Siding, How To – Step by Step

    1. Order Materials and Supplies, Organize Tools.

      Plan for your project by ordering the necessary materials and supplies. I ordered by cedar siding boards from Michigan PreStain. The process took several weeks and required shipping from Michigan to my site in Minnesota, so plan ahead if you will be pre-ordering material.

      Prestained boards ready for board and batten siding install.

      Pre-stained cedar 1″ x 10″ and 1″ x 3″ boards for board and batten siding

      If using local material, order and purchase the material early enough to give yourself time to acclimate the material and possibly apply a coat of primer and finish prior to installing.

      Order any other materials you plan to use prior to your planned install. I used 3/4″ plywood and R-13 fiberglass batt insulation that I ordered and had delivered from my local Home Depot.

      Exterior wall construction - delivery of plywood and fiberglass insulation

      Plywood and fiberglass insulation ordered and delivered prior to beginning project

    2. Consider Pre-staining or Pre-painting Siding.

      If you are not purchasing a pre-stained siding product, consider painting or staining your material prior to installing it. At the very least prime the backs of the boards prior to putting them up if you plan to finish them once installed.

      Most of my material was ordered pre-stained from Michigan Pre-stain, but I did need additional material that I purchased from a local lumber yard.

      For the local lumber yard material, I did pre-finish the siding by first applying a solvent-based primer coat and two additional latex finish coats. I had done this the weekend before I installed the siding, allowing it to dry prior to installing the boards.

      Painting or staining all six sides of the siding boards provides the best protection for the boards and may help prevent negative interactions between your weatherproof barrier (house wrap, asphalt felt, etc.) and extracts and tannins from your siding boards.

      Extracts from siding boards, especially cedar, can degrade house wraps and their water resistance. Sealing the backside of siding boards can limit the amount of extracts house wraps are exposed to.

      Pre-painting of boards before install for board and batten siding.

      Battens arranged on saw horses and primed and finish coated prior to installing.

      Boards primed with Cabot Problem Solver primer prior to install.

      Boards primed with Cabot Problem-Solver solvent-based Primer prior to install.

    3. Plan Siding Install.

      With all the preliminary work completed, plan for the installation of your board and batten siding. The general order of my board and batten project was as follows: 

      Install weather-proof barrier, flashing and rainscreen (see rainscreen wall article for more details)

       1. Install sheathing, weather-resistant barrier. 
       2. Install peel and stick window flashing.
       3. Install rainscreen spacer mat.

      Install board and batten siding and trim

       1. Install 10″ x 1″ water table (skirt board) and metal flashing at base of wall.
       2. Install 10″ x 1″ vertical siding boards from top of water board to top of wall spaced 1″ apart.
       3. Install 3″ x 1″ border trim at top of siding.
       4. Install 4″ x 1″ window and door trim (casing).
       5. Install 3″ x 1″ vertical siding battens over siding board gaps.
       6. Install 4″ x 1″ corner trim
       7. Apply field coat of finish

      The above is an overview of the entire process. Before putting up boards, you will first need to plan board selection, layout, and fastener use. The next two steps will briefly discuss these issues before we begin with the siding install.

    4. Prepare For Siding Install By Planning the Board Spacing and Layout for Siding Install.

      With the skirt board installed and the drip edge flashing in place, begin the board installation for your siding. Before starting to install your siding, spend a bit of time to consider the layout and spacing of your siding.

      For traditional board and batten siding, boards are installed first. These boards are spaced to allow for natural expansion and contraction of the siding material. The correct amount of spacing depends on the material you are using, but, in general, should be great enough to allow for board movement yet narrow enough to be sufficiently covered with installed battens.

      Using 10″ wide boards and 3″ wide battens for our siding, we used a ~ 7/8″ gap between boards. This just so happens to be the thickness of the 1″ material we were using, so scrap pieces of material worked well to gap the boards.

      Space boards using space piece of cedar board for board and batten siding install.

      Spacing board install with spare pieces of cedar material gives 7/8″ spacing

      When deciding how much spacing to have between the boards, consider the material you are using (wood, cement board, etc.) and the amount of expected expansion and contraction of that material. Obviously, wood will have much more movement compared to cement board.

      In addition, consider the width of the battens you would like to use. Narrower battens will obviously require a narrower gap between boards. To get an idea of the needed width for the battens, consider the main functions of the battens: 1) cover the gaps between boards 2) to hold down the edges of the boards they are installed over.

      Battens, in general, should be wide enough to cover the planned gap plus at least 3/4″ overlap on each side of the gap. For my install; a 1″ board gap plus the 3/4″ edge overlaps which equals 2 1/2″. The actual width of 1″ x 3″ lumber is 2 1/2″ – exactly the width I needed.

      So, for my board and batten siding, I used; 1″ x 3″ battens over 1″ x 10″ boards spaced 1″ apart.

      Battens are wide enough to cover gaps between boards and allow for board expansion and contraction.

      Battens cover the gaps between boards and hold down their edges. They should be wide enough to provide sufficient overlap to allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the boards underneath.

      No matter what width of boards you plan to use, I would not recommend using battens that are less than 3″ nominal width (1″ x 3″ boards).

      As above, the actual width of 3″ battens is only 2 1/2″. This doesn’t leave a lot of overlap of the boards, especially if your batten boards are not very straight.

      Some warping and twists can be straightened when installing the battens, but if too much correction is attempted battens can split or crack. Most will use 1″ x 3″ or 1″ x 4″ boards for batten.

    5. Prepare for Siding Install By Planning Fastener Schedule.

      Properly installed board and batten siding is secure but free to expand and contract naturally. When installing, place fasteners in a manner that will not significantly limit the natural movement of the siding boards.

      In general, boards should be fastened near the center of their widths while the edges of the fastened boards are allowed to move. This style of fastening boards may seem contrary to traditional methods of fastened boards, with fasteners placed close to the edges of the material.

      The beauty of the board and batten system comes from the coordination of the center fastened boards and the securing overlying battens at the boards edges. The system is secure, yet still allows movement.

      Fastening boards:

      boards less than 10″ wide: use a single fastener placed at the center of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board
      boards 10″ or wider: use two fasteners placed at the “middle thirds” position of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board
      (see below diagram below)

      Fastening battens:

      battens both 3″ and 4″ wide: use a single fastener placed in the center of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board (matches pattern of boards)
      – battens should not be fastened to the boards directly, but to the underlying studs or cladding between the board gaps allowing the board edges to move freely under the battens.
      -batten fasteners should pass between the boards through the gap between them and should not penetrate or restrict the movement of the board it is installed over.

      Board and batten siding nailing pattern.

      Fasten board and batten siding by nailing the boards at the center and battens between the gaps of the boards. For wider boards use 2 fasteners and for narrower boards and battens, use 1 fastener.

      Fasten board and batten siding with nails or screws every 2' along the board.

      Fasten board and battens using nails or screws at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the board length.

      Prior to installing the boards (and battens), I recommend pre-drill pilot holes for your fasteners. Pre-drilling is a good idea even if you plan on using nails. A small pilot hole will help you avoid splits in your boards and help keep your fasteners in line and straight.

      To create consistent pilot holes between boards, I made a few drill jigs using spare pieces of siding material.

      Spare piece of wood used as jig to pre-drill holes for fasteners for board and batten boards.

      Spare block of siding material used as jig to guide pilot hole pre-drilling on ends of the boards.

      After drilling the pilot holes, I pre-installed the fasteners (screws in my case) in the holes, making it very easy to fasten the boards and battens once on the wall.

      Use a single row of centered fasteners for battens in board and batten siding.

      Use a single centered fastener for battens. Use a fastener at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the width. Fasteners are pre-installed into pre-drilled pilot holes to speed installation.

    6. Begin Siding Install With Skirt Board (Water Table) And Drip Flashing at Base of Wall.

      For my board and batten project, I used a skirt board (a.k.a. band board, water table) at the base of my siding. I used the same 1″ x 10″ cedar material for this skirt as the boards for the siding.

      Prior to installing the skirt board, I beveled the bottom edge of the board using a 45-degree router bit to help direct water away from the wall. After running the router over one edge, I re-primed and re-painted the routered edge. The boards were then installed as the water table at the base of the wall.

      Preparing skirt board for board and batten siding install.

      The same 1″ x 10″ cedar boards used for skirt board (water table) at base of wall. Router with a 45 degree bit used to bevel bottom edge of board.

      These skirt boards were installed at the base of the wall with the bottom edge (bevel out) starting just at or slightly below the level of the rim joist.

      Align bottom edge of skirt board with bottom edge of rain screen mat.

      Bottom edge of water table (skirt board) aligned with insect screen wrapped bottom edge of rainscreen drain mat (more info on rainscreen wall install)

      Of note, this is the same level as the insect screen installed at the bottom edge of the rainscreen mat. Once positioned correctly, fasten the boards to the wall with three fasteners every 18″.

      With the skirt boards installed, set and fasten a drip edge over the skirt board. You have options here, but I used a pre-painted gray metal flashing piece.

      Beginning install of board and batten siding using skirt board and drip edge flashing.

      Closeup of bottom detail of board and batten siding install – skirtboard, metal flashing drip edge over skirt board on top of rainscreen mat.

      Set the flashing over the top edge of the skirt board and fasten using a few roofing nails. You will not need many fasteners, as the siding boards, once installed, will hold the flashing secure.

      While traditional flashing techniques suggest that the top edge of flashing pieces should be under the weather-resistant barrier, with the vented rainscreen wall design, I decided to install this flashing piece on top of the rainscreen mat.

      The reason I did this is to allow an uninterrupted flow of air through the rainscreen mat. If I had installed the flashing piece back to and under the asphalt felt (WRB), it would interrupt the flow of air through the rainscreen wall at this point.

    7. Next Install The Siding Boards.

      With the skirt board and top metal flashing in place, begin installing the boards of your board and batten siding.

      You may start installing boards anywhere along your wall without a problem. I typically start at one corner of the wall and work across the wall. Some will begin at the edge of a window or doorway in an effort to decrease the number of difficult cuts needed.

      In general spacing should be fairly consistent, but you can cheat a bit and vary board spacing a bit to avoid awkward cuts or very narrow boards.

      Start your board install with a single board. Use a level to plumb the board and then fasten to the wall. Remember that fasteners should be penetrating into solid wood (thick plywood or framing (blocking).

      If you use screws to fasten the siding, thick plywood (3/4″ or more) sheathing is typically a sufficient base for the screws.

      If you plan to use nails, they need to penetrate 1 1/2″ of solid wood – which usually means horizontal stud blocking installed every 2 feet.

      It is the enormous hassle and disadvantages of horizontal blocking that led me to use thicker plywood sheathing and screws to attach the siding.

      Continue installing boards along the wall, cutting them as needed to fit around windows and other obstructions.

      Installing boards for board and batten siding install.

      Installing 10″ wide boards across wall with 1″ spacing. Cut boards to fit around windows with slight gap. Window trim (casing) will cover siding gaps around windows.

      Install of boards for board and batten siding on cabin.

      Another wall showing the installation of the boards

      Continue installing the base “boards”, working around windows and other obstructions. Cut boards to fit with a slight gap (1/4″ – 1/2″ or so) around windows.

      Windows should be flashed to your weather resistant barrier prior to installing the siding.

      Boards installed around window for board and batten siding.

      Continue installing boards. Cut boards as necessary to fit around windows and doorways leaving slight gap around windows which will be covered later with window trim. Notice nails used initially to fasten siding, these were removed and replaced with screws after I decided to use screws for the siding instead of nails.

      When working boards around windows and other areas requiring cutting, you can adjust your board spacing slightly of adjacent boards to help the boards fit better or avoid some cuts.

      Be sure to re-finish the cut surfaces of boards before installing them. Notice the white primer added to the cut edge of the board bordering the right side of the window in the above image.

      Board cut to fit around window for board and batten siding install.

      Cut boards to fit around windows. Apply primer to cut edge prior to installing.

      Despite the images above showing nails used to fasten the siding, I decided to change over to screws for the install of both the boards and the battens.

      At first I thought I would just use screws in the field of the siding where there was no horizontal framing and nails at the tops and bottoms. Soon I found it better to just use screws.

      Once the boards installed, I applied a quick field coat of finish. Even with pre-stained material, the supplier recommends a field-applied coat of finish after installing the boards.

      I could have waited until the battens were installed, but I found it much easier to use the opportunity of the flat surface of just the boards to apply a coat of finish. I used the same finish used at the factory for the pre-finish; Cabot solid color acrylic stain in dark slate.

      Once the battens and trim are installed, I applied an additional coat of finish to cover battens. Notice the image below demonstrating how the field-applied finish coat covers the fasteners on the boards (image just for demonstration of the painting finish – at this point the battens are not yet installed).

      Field coat of solid stain showing coverage of fasteners.

      Close up of boards showing fastener sealing of field coat of finish applied before the battens were installed (for demo of the finish only, batten should not yet be installed).

    8. Install Top Trim (If using).

      Prior to installing the battens, install any trim pieces at the top or bottom of the siding install. Trim pieces are not necessary. If you plan to use one, installing these pieces first will make it easier to measure and cut the battens to the proper length.

      For my project, I used a horizontal trim piece at the top of the siding, but none at the bottom. The top trim piece is simply a batten turned and installed horizontally. I gapped the top of this trim piece with the surface above for the top ventilation of my rainscreen wall.

      Top trim piece at top of board and batten siding install.

      Top trim piece installed at top edge of siding. Trim piece is gapped slightly at top to allow ventilation of rainscreen designed wall construction.

      If you are installing board and batten siding over a vented rainscreen wall, you may need to design a more elaborate trim detail at the top of your walls to protect the top ventilation from rain and other elements.

      My top gap was well protected by my generous 12″ overhang and did not need additional protection.

    9. Install Window and Door Trim.

      Install the window and door casings at this time. There are countless window and door trim styles that can be used. I opted for a very basic butt-joined flush edge box casing for the windows and doors. I used 4″ x 1″ cedar material that I ordered pre-finished in white. I installed the trim pieces using trim head screws with white heads.

      Prior to installing the window trim, I applied peel-and-stick flashing tape to all windows. The flashing tape was applied prior to the siding install, sealing the frame of the window with the asphalt roofing felt I used for the weather-resistant barrier.

      I did not add additional flashing above the windows, but I did keep and re-use the vinyl drip cap strip on my windows. See my article on building a rainscreen wall for a more detailed discussion of how to flash existing windows with flashing tape.

      Windows flashed with peel and stick flashing tape prior to installing window trim.

      Flash windows with peel-and-stick flashing tape prior to installing trim.

      After the windows are properly flashed, install window trim. For my trim, I used pre-finished 1″x 4″ cedar boards. I installed them using painted trim screws. Once installed, I caulked the top and side pieces to the outside edge of the window frame.

      Painted cedar wood trim for board and batten siding install.

      Simple painted 4″ cedar trim for the windows.

    10. Install Battens.

      With the boards and trim pieces installed, now install the battens. When fastening the battens use a row of single centered fasteners that pass through the gaps between the boards and do not penetrate the boards. These fasteners will need to be long enough to pass 1 – 1 1/2″ into framing or sheathing.

      For my project, I pre-drilled and installed screws into the battens. These pre-installed screws were passed 1/2″ or so through the back of the battens to make it easier to position and install the battens.

      At the bottom of the battens, consider beveling the bottom edge to help shed water away from the wall. I did this using my compound miter saw when cutting the battens. After cutting the battens, remember to re-seal the cut ends with primer.

      Primer applied to seal cut ends of beveled battens.

      Bottom edge of battens beveled to shed water. Primer applied to cut ends.

      Prepare battens for install by pre-installing fasteners.

      Fasteners pre-installed through battens.

      When cutting battens to length consider the details of your planned install. I am using a rainscreen wall construction and plan to vent the top of the wall out between a slight gap above the siding and below the top trim. To finish the top edge of the board and batten siding, I will install a 3″ board (same material as used for the battens), horizontally flush with the top edge of the siding boards.

      Image showing batten length from top trim piece to bottom bevel edge.

      Image showing top trim piece (which is a batten installed horizontally) with butt end joined battens. Length of battens is from this trim to bottom of siding.

      The battens will butt up against this trim piece. Therefore, the length of the batten will be the length from the bottom of this trim piece to the bottom of the siding.

      Keep in mind the bottom bevel of the batten, which will lengthen the batten by the amount of bevel you plan to add (I beveled my batten bottom edge 15 degrees).

      Align and center battens in gaps between siding boards.

      Align batten between board gaps. Center batten so pre-installed fasteners are between boards.

      Center batten between siding boards.

      Adjust batten so it is centered between boards.

      Level used to plumb batten before fastening to wall.

      Use level to plumb batten prior to fastening.

      Secure batten by driving fastener.

      Drive fasteners to secure batten. Do not over drive fastener – head should be just flush with board surface.

      Continue installing battens. When installing battens, do not caulk the lateral edges of the battens. The battens should be snug against the boards, but allow the boards to move under the batten in response to changes in humidity and temperature.

    11. Install Corner Trim Pieces.

      Finally, finish the outside corners with trim pieces. For these corner boards, I used the same trim material (1″ x 4″ cedar) that I used for the windows. Unlike the window trim, these boards were pre-finished the same color as the main siding.

      Install the corner boards butt-joined and fastened with screws.

      Cedar board and batten siding - corners finished with 1" x 4" cedar boards butt-joined.

      Corners finished with 1″ x 4″ cedar boards butt-joined.

    12. Apply Final Field Coat Of Finish.

      Although I purchased pre-finished cedar for my board and batten siding project, the supplier of the pre-finished material recommended applying a final field coat of finish.

      As I noted above, I applied a rolled on finish coat just after installing the boards. This coat went on very easily as the boards have a finish already applied that matches the color of this field coat. One big advantage of applying a field coat is the covering and sealing of fasteners. This was especially beneficial in covering the deck screws I chose for this project.

      After the battens and the rest of the trim are installed, Applied another field coat of finish, mainly to cover the battens and trim. I did carry this finish onto the boards to ensure good coverage of the outside corner of the batten against the boards.

    13. Enjoy Your New Siding.

 

Board and Batten Siding Install Follow up

The siding was installed during the fall of 2011.

Update March, 2015

As of this year, 2015, the siding has been in service for 3 1/2 years. Other than needing the occasional cleaning with a stiff broom to remove cob webs and pine needles, our siding as been maintenance free. The siding still looks like we just put it up. The finish has no signs of age and has not chipped, peeled or failed in any way.

I have also not had any issues with the installed siding boards. None of the boards have cracked, warped or otherwise misbehaved. There has been no issues with water or signs of moisture issues on the exterior or interior of our cabin – it seems as if the combination of the vented rainscreen wall and the cedar board and batten siding are a perfect match. If I had to do it again, I would not do anything differently. I am very pleased with our board and batten siding!

 

Board and Batten Siding Image Gallery

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Originally published December 7, 2014 by Cabin DIY

23 comments

  • Amy May 16, 2015   Reply →
    Amy

    Thanks so much for sharing such a detailed post on your siding installation!

    I’m building a tiny house down in Georgia and would like to install board and batten on the lower part of my wall. However, we used 1/2″ plywood to sheath the exterior (as well as 3/8″ plastic furring strips for the rainscreen). It seems a little unclear to me on whether we could move forward with the board/batten installation if we chose not to install blocking behind the plywood, and used screws. Any further thoughts on the matter?

    • Cabin DIY May 17, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Amy!

      From my reading (and experience), you can install vertical siding boards – like board-and-batten siding – using screws into 1/2″ plywood sheathing.

      Here is a recommendation from the excellent building publication Fine Homebuilding:

      You can also use plywood sheathing ( 1/2 in. or
      thicker) as a substrate for the siding (and thereby
      skip the blocking) if you attach the boards and
      the battens with screws. Screws should extend
      at least 1/4 in. beyond the inside face of the sheathing…

      John Birchard. Installing Board-and-Batten Siding. Fine Homebuilding 75 pp 52-56. July 1, 1992.

      Remember to use exterior grade screws and beware some galvanized screws can discolor cedar and other natural woods. I used coated deck screws for my project and have had no issues with discoloration.

      Structurally the screws have performed very well since we installed them.

      Good luck with your home build! Please feel free to reply with a photo of your board and batten project.

      Gary

  • Susan June 27, 2015   Reply →
    Susan

    My builder moved on to another job and left the board and battens under a tarp in the yard for 5 months. It’s yellow pine and was cut with a band saw. Should I attempt to use it on the outside after some bleaching or use it inside after some bleaching? It was spaced and appears to be still straight, just discolored in places.

    • Cabin DIY June 28, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for visiting and thanks for the question. The decision regarding how to use the wood you have depends on many factors. From your description, it sounds like the wood was intentionally placed and set to air-dry and has been protected from rain and direct sunlight. It may be fine to use as you would like.

      I don’t think you would need to bleach the wood unless you wanted to do so for aesthetic reasons, and likely would result in uneven color and tone if you used it just to remove the discoloration in places. Also, the time required to bleach the wood properly – sanding, bleaching, drying – might not be worth it depending on the amount of wood you would need to treat.

      If you have access to the mill that cut the wood, I would contact them and ask for suggestions. For board and batten siding (and any siding), using properly dried wood is preferred and will result in less movement and possible twisting of the boards as the dry and equilibrate with the environment. For your boards, if stacked and set up properly, they should be near dry and likely ready to use.

      Here is a link to some further information regarding drying wood from WoodMagazine.com: drying wood fresh cut wood

      Gary

  • Roy August 7, 2015   Reply →
    Roy

    I am using 10 inch board and 3 inch batten western red cedar. Using screws to fasten boards to sheating. Some people have suggested using scews on one side of the board only for wood expansion and you show using 2 screws near the middle. Does your method allow for expansion and if I do use 2 screws, could I install the screws at the outer edge of the board so that the screws would be hidden after I install the batten over the boards?

    Thanks
    Roy

    • Cabin DIY August 9, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Roy,

      Thanks for the question. From my reading and experience, there are many methods to fasten board and batten siding. I would guess the most important detail is to allow the batten fasteners to pass between assembled board without penetrating them. This will allow the boards to slide and move under the battens allowing for expansion and contraction.

      For my install, as you can see in the pictures, I’ve chosen to fasten the boards with two screws placed equally spaced at the center of the boards. My board and batten siding has been up for over three years without a single board bowing, cracking or otherwise failing with this fastener pattern. That said, I have read many who use the technique you describe with a fastener on a single side. Again, I suspect as long as you do not fasten both edges of the boards, a variety of method will work. Also, finishing the boards and battens on all six sides, and using dry, acclimated lumber will likely help minimize exaggerated movements of the siding boards.

      Enjoy your project and feel free to upload a few images.

      Gary

  • Ron October 21, 2015   Reply →
    Ron

    Excellent instructions on the Board and batten DYI projects. Just
    one question. I am using board and batten for siding on a chicken
    coop, can I use 5/8″ CDX for sheathing? Will it hold the screws?

    • Cabin DIY October 21, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Ron,

      Yes, when using screws generally 1/2″ or greater plywood is sufficient to provide a sound fastener base for your siding. 5/8″ CDX plywood should provide excellent hold for screw-fastened board and batten siding. Consider your project, 5/8″ should work very well.

      CDIY

  • Lauren April 4, 2016   Reply →
    Lauren

    The cabin looks gorgeous! What paint and colors did you use?

    Thanks for the article,
    Lauren

    • Cabin DIY April 4, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Thanks Lauren,

      The colors are Dark Slate and White (trim) from Cabot. The stain was factory applied by Michigan PreStain.

      G

  • Dawn April 17, 2016   Reply →
    Dawn

    Can you give us an estimate on how much it cost you to reside the cabin? Roughly.

    • Cabin DIY April 17, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Dawn,

      Sure. I’ll break it down by items, some of which you may not need for your project:

      Estimated Square feet of siding coverage: 760 sq ft.

      • 23/32 exterior plywood sheathing (28 4’x8′ sheets): $600
      • 30# Asphalt Felt (4 rolls): $80
      • Keen Building products Driwall Rainscreen 020-1 (3 rolls): $550
      • Pre-finished Red Cedar 1x10s boards 960 lineal feet: $2500
      • Pre-finished Red Cedar 1x3s battens 960 lineal feet: $650
      • Pre-finished Red Cedar 1x3s trim 300 lineal feet: $200
      • Painted metal drip edge flashing: $150
      • Exterior screws: $150
      • Paint and supplies for field coat of pre-painted cedar boards: $150
      •  
      • Grand Total (not including tools, labor, etc.): $5,030

      So, not too bad considering I used pre-stained cedar (from Michigain Prestain). I believe the price of pre-stained cedar is a bit higher now. I would definitely recommend using pre-painted or pre-stained cedar if you can – mine has held up well and still looks new.

      Gary

  • Liz and Ken Mitchell April 25, 2016   Reply →
    Liz and Ken Mitchell

    Very good and helpful information as we are learning how to put up 6inch under windows and around chimney. Thank you for putting this detailed information on here, we loved this. Liz and Ken

  • Jesse Zamora August 9, 2016   Reply →
    Jesse Zamora

    I have installed hardi 4×8 sheets and 1×4 battens of hardi now I am ready to paint, do o need to caulk each batten board, of do what is the best call to use and the best paint, using brush and roller?

    • Cabin DIY August 9, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Jesse,

      You do not typically need to or want to caulk between the boards and battens. One of the main concepts of board and batten siding is to allow the boards to move under the battens, and caulk would limit the ability of the system to expand and contract. Obviously, if using Hardi board material, allow the system to expand and contract is much less important. In addition to allowing movement, an un-caulked board and batten sided wall will dry better if water gets behind the siding. It is important that you have a proper weather resistant barrier under the siding to prevent water passing into the sheathing and/or framing of the wall.

      G

  • Dennis September 1, 2016   Reply →
    Dennis

    do I caulk around windows? they are leaking from old caulk I think

    • Cabin DIY September 11, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Dennis,

      I did caulk around the windows, filling the gap between the window frame and the trim boards. I did not caulk the outer edge of the trim board to the siding.

      Here is an image of the detail on my window caulking for this project:

      Close up of window caulking detail for board and batten siding. Caulk the gap between the window frame and the widow trim board. No caulk is applied to the outside (siding) edge of the window trim.
      Closeup of window caulking detail for board and batten install - caulk inner edge between window frame and trim board. No caulk applied to outside edge of trim board.

      While caulking around the frame of the window is important, the details of your window install below the siding is probably more important. Ideally, windows should be installed in a fashion that seals the windows to the weather resistant barrier (house wrap, tar paper, etc.). Water should be able to flow down the inside of the wall and around windows without leaks.

      When windows are installed, house wrap should be cut with a shingle-like “flap” at the top of the window, and sealed to the window with specialized window flashing tape. Depending on the specifics of the window, the bottom portion of the window may be left unsealed to allow moisture to escape.

      Window manufacturers will include specific install instructions which should be referenced when installing new windows. These instructions can also be helpful in understanding the general concepts currently used for window installation. Here is an example from Anderson Windows: Anderson Window Installation Guide

  • Kenny October 4, 2016   Reply →
    Kenny

    Great, detailed article. We have just purchased a small lake home that has board and batten siding on the main level of the house. The house has an unfinished walk-out basement on the lake side that we are planning on finishing out this year. The outside of this basement is currently cinder block walls. About a third of the way through you article, you listed the layers of your construction:

    ————————————————————————————————-
    Here are the layers I used to build my exterior wall (from inside to out):

    2×4 studs 16″ oc
    R-13 Fibergalss batt insulation
    3/4 Plywood (CDX exposure 1)
    30# builders felt (roofing felt)
    Driwall Rainscreen mat by Keene
    Cedar board and batten siding

    ————————————————————————————————-

    In my case, where I do not have the wall studs and insulation, what would you recommend as layers for my project starting with the base layer of cinder block? I am wondering if I install the moisture barrier next to the block, followed by furring strips, then the rainscreen, and then the board and batten, if that will work. Or should I install 1/2″ plywood to the block walls, then follow your layers indicated above?

    I appreciate your thoughts!

    • Cabin DIY October 5, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Kenny,

      Thanks for the positive words and thanks for the question.

      In considering your wall build, I would recommend an excellent article by Joseph Lstiburek of Building Science Corp which discusses general concepts regarding moisture barriers and directly answers your question regarding building over cement block (see partway down the article to Figure 1: Concrete Block With Exterior Insulation and Brick or Stone Veneer).

      I would recommend following his advice and assemble your wall layers as follows from inside to out (block outward):
      concrete block
      weather resistant barrier – vapor and air (paint-on or membrane)
      exterior rigid foam insulation (thickness may be limited by the need to match existing board and batten siding above)
      drain plane (rainscreen mat or furring strip or similar)
      cedar board and batten siding

      Reading Joseph’s article will give you a general sense of do’s and don’t regarding vapor barriers and should offer some insights to your specific build. For example, if you have an impermeable barrier installed under the interior walls, you may want to use a semi-permeable barrier on the outside to allow the wall to dry if needed.

      I hope this helps and good luck with the project!

      [email protected]

  • carmine faro December 16, 2016   Reply →
    carmine faro

    Hello… As I write this (12/2016) I’m hoping this site is still up and running… I have a few questions…

    First, does the rainscreen layer extend beyond the painted metal drip edge? In other words, does the rainscreen layer reach down to match (and go behind) the bottom of the watertable board? A cross-sectional graphic would be helpful to understand the construction.

    Second, what additional guidance would you provide where a home is more than one level? My home is two stories, so understanding how to handle the install of board and battens for these long length conditions is of great interest to me.

    Third, it seems that a careful measuring and layout of how the boards (and battens) get installed on any particular elevation is important, but still, issues can remain. For instance, did you adjust the gap between the boards to accommodate the width of the exterior wall, or did you cut certain boards to accommodate the width of the exterior wall? If the latter, how many boards were cut to make the layout work and where were those cut boards installed on any particular elevation? And secondarily, what if (notwithstanding layout) the window trim partially covers or entirely covers a gap over which a batten would occur?

    • Cabin DIY December 16, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Carmine,

      Thanks for the questions. It may help to look at my article on rainscreen wall design here which includes some better diagrams of the wall build. I will respond more completely to your questions this weekend. Thanks!

      Gary

  • GARY PICKENS March 15, 2017   Reply →
    GARY PICKENS

    Would you know the pros and cons of installing 4×8 sheets of plywood and then just placing battens over top of that?
    Thanks,
    Gary P

    • Cabin DIY March 19, 2017   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for the question. I believe you could use exterior grade plywood as a cladding material with battens over it to give the look of traditional board and batten siding. The downside would be the durability and look of the plywood. Here is a discussion about this very topic:

      Using plywood as exterior cladding – Green Building Advisor

      Gary

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