How to Paint Board and Batten Siding

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Board and batten siding is a rough style of planking that is often applied to barns and shedlike structures. The alternating vertical layout of wide boards and narrow strips of batten, placed at every seam, can also be an attractive rustic style for a house or vacation cabin. If green (wood that is not completely dried) boards are used, it is best to wait until the wood is completely cured before caulking and applying the top coat.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire brush
  • Liquid soap or detergent
  • Plastic scrub brush with long handle
  • Garden hose
  • Hammer
  • Galvanized common nails
  • Flat pry bar
  • Primer-sealer
  • 6-inch paintbrush
  • Paint sprayer (optional)
  • Exterior-grade silicone caulk
  • Exterior house paint (latex or oil)
  • 3-inch angled paintbrush

Check the type of wood (if you are painting the siding for the first time) on the side of the building. Some woods such as cedar, which are commonly used for board and batten siding, do not take well to paint because of the excess oil in the wood. In this case, it is best to forgo the paint and use an exterior stain or sealer instead. Cypress or redwood may cause similar problems.

Inspect the new wood to see whether it is completely cured and dry. Of course, if you are painting an older house this step is not necessary, but for new siding it is very important that the wood is completely dry. Green wood is often used to make board and batten. If the wood is still green, it is best to wait (this could take weeks or even months) until the wood is cured and dry.

Use the wire brush to rid the wood of any excess debris or algae growth. Clean the wood thoroughly with soap and water. Using a long-handled scrub brush to clean the wood is perfectly OK. Just make sure you rinse the area with a garden hose before you begin painting.

Check the boards and battens for tightness. Nail any boards that are loose. You will need 2 1/2-inch ringed stainless-steel nails for the boards and 3 1/2-inch stainless-steel ringed nails for the battens. Do not nail the battens to the boards, but instead drive the nails through the center of the batten, so that it passes between the two boards and finds the furring strips that are usually installed behind the boards and battens. The furring strips should run horizontally at intervals of 1 foot or more, so you will have to search for each furring strip. They should not be hard to find--just check the nailing pattern on the face of the boards and battens. Any nails that run through both the boards and battens will have to be removed with the pry bar and hammer. Likewise, look for any nail that does not reach the furring strips.

Spot prime any knots or oily areas with a brush and heavy-duty, exterior-grade, sealer-primer paint.

Apply the primer coat with a wide house-painting brush or a paint sprayer.

Caulk along the edge of the battens where necessary. Use an exterior grade silicone caulk.

Apply the top coat with a paint sprayer or large house-painting brush. Make sure you do not leave any drip marks because the board and batten style has a tendency to drip.

Tips & Warnings

  • Replace any damaged battens before painting. If repainting, keep a sharp eye out for termite or bug damage to the boards and battens. Replace any damaged wood.
  • Be aware of any power lines that attach to the house, especially if you are using an aluminum ladder to paint. Wooden ladders are heavier but greatly lessen the chance of electrocution.

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