There is an easy way to add a board and batten treatment without ripping out all your baseboards!
You really only have 3 options for dealing with the baseboards during a board and batten or wainscoting project:
- Remove the existing baseboard and replace with a new “baseboard” the same thickness as the battens and usually 4-6″ tall. Optionally, you could apply the original baseboard back over the new “baseboard” piece to tie in with the rest of the baseboards in the room.
- Use very thin battens or bead board paneling that fits on top of the existing baseboard. The top edge of most baseboards is no more than 1/4″ thick. This option results in a pretty flat wall treatment without a lot of dimension.
- Keep the existing baseboards and create an optical illusion of sorts. Cut the bottom of the battens at a 45-degree angle. The point at the bottom will rest on top of the existing baseboard.
I successfully implemented option 3 in my dining room. We did not want to remove the baseboards around the entire room, mostly because we did not want to risk damaging our beautiful wood floors. At the same time we wanted to use 1/2″ thick wood for the battens on our wall treatment.
To make the look seamless, we cut a 45-degree angle at the bottom of each batten. When finished this gives the illusion that the baseboards support the battens and you don’t notice they are thinner. Most people compliment the wall treatment and never notice the illusion at the baseboards.
To make the 45-degree angle cuts we used a compound miter saw. Before measuring for our batten cuts, we first hung the top board on the well. The top board is the horizontal board that the top ledge rests on. The battens run vertically from the top of the baseboard to the bottom of the top board. We measured the length of each batten individually. This is so important because there may be slight differences in the length if the baseboard is uneven. For each batten we marked the length measurement on the wood. Then using the compound miter saw we cut the 45-degree angle at the mark.
In the corners, we took another shortcut. Our battens are 3″ wide. In the corner we applied a 3″ batten on one wall with the 45-degree angle at the bottom. On the adjacent wall we attached a 2.5″ wide batten with the 45-degree angle at the bottom. The corner battens appear to be two 3″ wide battens joined in the corner. At the bottom where the two 45-angles meet there is a small void, which is only noticeable if you lay on the ground. I do not expect people to be laying on the ground in my dining room.
We were so relieved the project worked without having to remove and replace the baseboards. We were able to keep our floors in pristine condition. We also think keeping the existing baseboards saved a few hours of work and the cost of wood to make new baseboards. We get lots of compliments on the wall treatment and no one notices the angled batten bottoms unless we point them out.