How to Install Exterior Board and Batten Siding

Give your home the desirable modern farmhouse look with board-and-batten siding. We'll show you the right way to install vertical boards and battens.

Touch Up Paint

James Yochum

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 12 hours
  • Total Time: 1 day
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

You've heard of board-and-batten as a trendy interior wall finishing, but did you know you can also use the material as exterior siding? True board-and-batten is made with vertically installed wide boards and narrow battens fastened over the gaps between the boards. In appearance, board-and-batten siding can look rustic or modern, depending on how rough the lumber is and its chosen finish.

Perhaps the most common board-and-batten arrangement uses 1x10 boards and 1x2 or 1x3 batten. You can also use 1x8 or 1x12 boards and 1x4 battens. To seal out moisture, the boards should be in sound condition and free of any open knots—the battens themselves should lap at least 3/4 inch onto the boards on both sides. Cedar is a good lumber of choice because it's soft; harder wood, such as pressure-treated pine, will not seal as well and is more likely to crack after installation. Board-and-batten can be installed onto solid plywood or OSB sheathing, though if your sheathing is not solid, you will need to first attach horizontal furring strips.

In general, you can expect to spend about a day installing 800 square feet of siding if you have a helping hand. Before you begin, cover the sheathing with building wrap and install trim boards and flashings. You should also make sure you're comfortable measuring, laying out a job, driving nails, and cutting with a power saw before you take on this task.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Hammer or nail gun
  • Miter saw or circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Drill
  • Pry bar
  • Level
  • Caulking gun
  • Utility knife
  • T-bevel
  • Tin snips
  • Stapler


  • Boards and battens
  • Board for the water table
  • Z-flashing
  • Stainless-steel or galvanized siding nails
  • Caulk
  • Primer


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    Better Homes & Gardens

    Prep Your Exterior

    Prepare the exterior walls of your home as you would for other wood sidings by applying building wrap, self-stick flashings at the corners and around windows and doors, and metal flashings as required.

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    Better Homes & Gardens

    Install Water Table Boards

    Around the entire house, install a 1x6 or wider water table, with its bottom edge 2 inches below the sill plate. Snap level chalk lines to help you keep the water-table boards straight and attach them by driving two or three nails in at each stud. If the boards are not long enough to span across a wall, join them with a scarf joint or a simple butt joint. Attach drip cap or Z-flashing over the water table.

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    Better Homes & Gardens

    Plan Your Layout

    On each exterior wall, measure from the corners to plan a layout that avoids narrow slivers next to doors and windows. Take into account both the width of the boards and the thickness of the gap between boards. For instance, if you are installing 1x10 boards that are 9-3/8 inches wide (measure to be sure because they can vary in width) with a 5/8-inch gap, figure 10 inches for each board.

    In some areas, it's common to attach vertical 1x2 furring strips before installing board-and-batten siding. If your sheathing is not solid plywood or OSB, these strips are needed to provide a nailing surface. Attach strips around windows and doors, then lay out and attach horizontal strips every 16 inches. Nail the strips to framing members.

    Furring strips bring the siding out from the sheathing 3/4 inch. As a result, you may need to rip-cut and attach wood extenders onto your window and doorjambs so there will not be a gap between the trim and the jambs.

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    Better Homes & Gardens

    Place The First Board

    You may rip-cut the first board to achieve the desired layout. Cut the length to fit or to a determined height if you will stack boards on top. Place the board on the water table about 1/4-inch shy of the corner, use a level to check that it is plumb, and drive pairs of nails in every 16 inches. Place the nails about 2 inches from the sides of the board—the nails should be long enough to poke through the sheathing.

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    Attach Next Boards

    Attach the next boards in the same manner. Use spacers (5/8-inch plywood is shown here) to maintain fairly consistent gaps. Every third or fourth board, check for plumb and make adjustments as needed. (The battens will cover the most modest imperfections.) When you meet a window or door siding, cut the board so that it's about 1/4-inch above the trim's drip-cap flashing.

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    Capture The Angle

    Use a T-bevel to capture the angle at a rake end. Wherever possible, cut the angle first, then hold the piece in place and mark the other side for cutting to length.

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    Install Flashings

    Where boards are not long enough to reach all the way up to an eave or rake, install all the boards at the same height. Cut and install Z-flashing over the boards and install the upper pieces 1/4-inch above the flashing.

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    Better Homes & Gardens

    Install Battens

    Install the battens to cover the gaps. Drive nails (which will need to be longer than the board nails) through the gaps; avoid driving through the boards. Use a level to make sure the boards are plumb. If a batten is crooked, stretch a string alongside it and force it straight as you nail.

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