Cheap Board and Batten Accent Wall (No Wood or MDF needed!)

A board and batten accent wall brings massive transformation and interest to any room. It is simply a nice accent to look at and brings that immediate “wow” factor which will distinguish your home from any other typical builder grade home around you.

At a time when wood prices are high (including MDF Panels) I started thinking outside of the box. My favorite cheap material which works perfectly for these kind of wall decorations: Drywall (Sheetrock)! Yes, it is the cheapest material which comes in panels of 4x8ft (or even larger) and is just thick enough to serve as board and batten and no one is ever gonna notice the difference. Read a long how I transform drywall into an accent wall.

Layout and Measurements

First I determine my desired layout and width of the boards. In this case, I wanted equal spaced squares with a board width of 4.5 inches. I wanted each square to be roughly 17-20″ wide. It took me a little time to figure out the right size of square as the wall itself is not a square (it is 159″ wide and 96″ tall).

I optimized the square size by focusing on the width of the wall by using the wainscoting calculator. The calculator gives exact measurements by simply providing the board (stile) width and wall width. You can either way dictate how many panels (squares) you want or provide a rough estimate of the desired size of each panel (square) and the calculator shows different layout options. I settled with 7 squares horizontally and 4 squares vertically. The bottom board is about 1″ wider (above the baseboard) than the other boards but this is barely noticeable.

Preparation of the Drywall Boards

Then, I cut the drywall into boards using a table saw. This is very dusty and messy which is really the only downside of this project. I made sure I had a very good dust mask (3M Respirator with P100 filters), goggles and hearing protection. I recommend doing this work outside or using a dust collection system in a well ventilated area. Before proceeding with the installation, I also removed the baseboard which will be re-installed at the end.

Installation of the Accent Wall

First I installed the vertical boards since no cutting was needed given an 8ft ceiling. I used heavy duty liquid nails and my brad nailer. I used the laser level throughout the installation to verify boards are level. While all squares should be equal, it’s best to remeasure again the exact length before cutting the horizontal boards. I used the miter saw to cut each board to the right length. With the aid of the laser level, I then installed the horizontal boards with heavy duty liquid nails and brad nailer.

Finishing Touches

To smooth out any transitions and the cutting sides of the drywall, I used Easy Sand 45 Minute Lightweight Joint compound. Once dried it can be sanded to a very smooth surface and the transition between boards becomes invisible. I used a drywall sanding sponge to smooth out all edges. The sanding takes a little bit of time but it is worth the effort.

Finally, I reinstalled the baseboard and caulked any gaps between wall, ceiling and baseboard. Final step, the color! I chose a mustard yellow to brighten up the room. The color itself was too dense and aggressive on the entire wall. I wanted a slightly faded look. That’s why I simply mixed the yellow with parts of SW Agreeable Grey. and used the spray paint gun to apply. Now, this is an accent wall!

If this cheap drywall hack does not convince you yet or just got you hooked to learn more, have a look at my other drywall creations: DIY Projects

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