It’s a big reveal day on the blog today! I have so many details to share about the steps we took to take our basement bathroom from zero to hero with a few wooden boards and lattice strips. But, first, here is a little photo tour.
We started here (photo from the house listing)…
All my plans came to life and I am thrilled with the result. I want to give a good explanation of our personal take on board & batten, but I will say that the tutorial we found the most helpful and followed the most closely is over at Young House Love.
They also seemed to have a much smoother time with it than I did, so maybe you should listen to them, but I will share my process anyway. This is wordy. Hold onto your houses, ladies and gents.
1. Replace the medicine cabinet with a larger mirror.
The tiny medicine cabinet mirror was driving me crazy. Way too small, and the little shelves inside weren’t very useful anyway, so we pulled the medicine cabinet out of the wall, covered the giant hole with a piece of plywood, and hung a new mirror that I picked up at home goods over it.
2. Paint the top half of the room.
I think you could easily do this before or after the board and batten project. I had to touch up around the edges once I was done anyway, but it was nice having it painted once I finished the project. The color is Gibraltar by Sherwin Williams color matched to Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Satin for bathroom durability. We just used a quart, and it was just the right amount. Don’t you love the rich navy?
3. Add the horizontal boards.
We used 1×3″ pine boards, and I learned a few very important lessons along the way.
1. 1 inch boards are actually only 3/4 of an inch in width.
WHAT?? This ROCKED MY WORLD. And messed everything up. I measured for the room based on 1 inch boards fitting perfectly together, and then I had them pre-cut in store. Then I got the boards home and every.single.one was too short. AH! I was able to exchange one uncut 6′ board for an 8′ board, re-cut everything, and finally end up with the correct measurements. In retrospect, I wish we had just cut the boards down at home to begin with instead of trying to get such specific measurements (Like 34.25″, etc) in store. Lesson learned.
In total, we used three 8′ boards and one 6′ board.
2. Make sure you let your wood acclimate to your house.
We let the boards sit somewhere between 3 days and a week in the house before we used them on the wall because they will expand and contract based on the atmosphere in your house.
3. Uneven walls can create problems.
Let me explain.
After reading the Young House Love description, installing pine boards to the wall sounded like a cinch. Of course they had a pneumatic brad nailer (which we didn’t have), but still, I felt confident that with some liquid nails (heavy duty glue) and some long skinny nails, we could make this happen pretty easily.
That was before I realized that the floor is very un-level and the walls are bowed. The floor is SO un-level in fact that from the left side of the room to the right side is a 2 inch difference!! Also, the wall is really wavy. Thank you, poorly finished basement in an old house.
I will save you the gory details, but after some tears and frustration and the boards falling off the wall like this…
I realized that I was going to have to use screws. I really wanted to stick to nails because they are so much easier to cover up, but I had to use screws into the studs on the wall. I chose some 2.5″ drywall screws and some skinny wood screws. And with the help of a friend (Jeremy was out of town), and a lot of frustration with our electric screwdriver, I finally got them mounted. PTL.
Also, because the whole room is uneven, as I mentioned, I had to align the main back board with the vanity instead of being actually level. It’s a mind trick, because it looks level, but this is what the level has to say about that.
So, in the end, we installed the boards by cutting pine boards to fit, leveling according to the vanity, and using screws into the studs of the wall approximately 3 feet from the baseboards (give or take 2 inches :-)).
4. Install the vertical battens.
As per the Young House Love suggestion, we used lattice boards from Home Depot. These are sold by the foot, and I got them cut to 3 feet in store. Sixteen total.
Here we run into the problem of the uneven floors again. And here is where I realized how uneven they really are. I had to cut over an inch off of some of the battens, and I had to ADD length to the battens on the other side. I just cut an extra amount to fit in the space, glued it on with liquid nails, and filled in the gap with spackle.
After measuring the correct lengths, I placed them 18 inches apart (just a personal preference thing), and taped them up onto the walls to hold into place. All of the studs aren’t exactly symmetrical, so I wasn’t able to mount each batten to a stud, so I used a combination of liquid nails and skinny nails to attach them to the wall.
Side note: John & Sherry at YHL used a board to double check their spacing as they went. I wish I had done that because one of the boards got off in the spacing and is a little bit wrong. I won’t tell you which one; you may not even notice. But once you attach with liquid nails, it is nearly impossible to move without pulling off drywall. So be very certain of your spacing as you go!
If I was mounting to a stud, I didn’t use any liquid nails, but on the other spots, I squirted a bit of liquid nails on the back and then used 3 nails each. No pneumatic nail gun = use a hammer. It took longer, but it was a lot cheaper than buying a nail gun for this project.
Once I got the battens mounted, I got really excited. The stress was over (did I mention the tears and frustration from this project), and it was really starting to come to life. Also, we had guests coming, so I cleaned up and left it this way for several days.
5. Fill the spaces.
Next, I used some basic spackle to fill the nail holes on the battens and the screw holes on the boards as best as I could. I didn’t get all of the screw holes filled perfectly. Any tips for making screws disappear into wood?
Then, I used some paintable painter’s caulk along the top edge and around any of the battens that weren’t flush with the wall. This is an important step to making the wood look level with the wall. Because of our uneven walls, this was really important, and I had some very large gaps to fill in certain spots.
5. Prime & Paint
This part is pretty self explanatory. I used a foam roller and a hand held brush for cutting in around the edges. 2 coats of Zinnser 1-2-3 stain blocking primer, and 2 coats of White Dove by Benjamin Moore.
I love the warmth of White Dove, and I already had the paint from painting the spare room in the basement but it doesn’t match the baseboards exactly…which is something I didn’t think about at first. I may go back and paint the baseboards and the door/door frame. I haven’t decided.
Finally, I touched up with the blue around the edges of the boards, and voila! I’m so pleased with the result. It is exactly what I wanted.
After some serious blood, sweat, and tears (Did I mention I stepped on a massive glass splinter in the process that was stuck in my foot and caused intermittent bleeding for a full week. That’s where the blood comes in), I have come away with a bathroom makeover that makes a serious statement and is the start of bringing our basement from boring to awesome.
And here is a final little before and after…
Next, I need to add some more storage and accessorize! For now, I will just enjoy this little basement oasis.