BUILD Blog


Board & Batten Siding
July 8, 2008, 6:47 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Diagrams

Board and batten siding is the underdog of siding systems, but we like it for the following reasons:
It has the potential to be visually clean and crisp
It has a timeless look and weathers nicely if implemented correctly
The system takes the natural expansion and contraction of materials into consideration
It’s been around for a long time, carpenters and siders are familiar with it
It’s durable

So why isn’t board and batten siding more prominent in modern architecture? A quick Google-image search suggests that most board & batten siding systems are associated with traditional architectures – country cottages and old leaning barns. The word “rustic” comes up often when researching board and batten systems. But technically the system has everything necessary to be a serious, modern strategy for siding. So the BUILD research and development team has put together a guide to board and batten siding systems. These diagrams are just departure points – coordinate with your structural engineer for unusual situations and the use of panel products.

1. Horizontal spacers can be placed behind the board & battens for better air circulation, the spacers also provide a uniform nailer backing to the system.
2. The fasteners and pattern will depend on the size of the batten.
3. A variety of products can be used in lieu of building paper including VaproShield products.
4. 1/2″ sheathing can be used if blocking is installed behind at fastener locations. We recommend just bumping up the sheathing to 3/4″.
5. The fastener pattern for panels depends entirely on the panel product used and the overall geometry.

With wood boards the fasteners should be centered on the board so that the board can expand and contract in both directions. Using fasteners at the edges will cause the boards to crack over time.

We’ve also tracked down several modern applications. Let us know of any sharp B&B applications you know of out there.

Dogtrot House in Poplarville, MS by Waggonner & Ball Architects

[photo by Kerri McCaffety, Mac Ball, Catherine Smith]

Donald Barbour House in Kentfield, CA by John Marsh Davis
The batten geometry integrates with the structural columns… nice.

[photo by Alan Weintraub]

House for an art collector in Therwill Switzerland by Herzog & de Meuron, 1986
Precast concrete panels and pine slats

[photo by Hisao Suzuki]

Wood Residence on Vashon Island, WA by James Cutler Architects
Cedar board and battens

Irby House at Sea Ranch, CA by Obie G. Bowman, 2001
Redwood board and battens

[photo by Tom Rider]

Girvin Cabin on Decatur Island, WA by Miller Hull


[photo from Miller Hull Architects of the Pacific Northwest by Sheri Olson]

City Hall on Bainbridge Island, WA by Miller Hull, 2000


[photo from Miller Hull Architects of the Pacific Northwest by Sheri Olson]

Nickerson House in Seattle, WA
Painted Hardi-board and wood battens, anybody know the architect of this one?

[photo by BUILD llc]

Shack at hinkle farm by Jeffery S. Broadhurst

[via materialicio.us]

“Barn Doors Open” in Falmouth, Maine by Kaplan Thompson Architects
The added volume uses a reverse board & batten system.

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10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

the House for an art collector was worked on by annette gigon (of gigon_guyer) who has gone on to do a number of sick rainscreens, but alas, no board and batten.

breuer did some board and batten, or was that formwork for concrete, i can’t recall…

Comment by mike

Where can I find more info and pictures of the Donald Barbour House?

Altho not traditonal B&B, FLW’s Usonians have walls that are B&B.

Comment by JS

JS – there is a great book out titled “Forgotten Modern, California Houses 1940-1970” by Alan Hess. The Barbour House is featured on pages 212-219.

Comment by Anonymous

ray & mary johnston’s fremont lofts have a fairly nice board and batten as well…

Comment by mike

What are the pros and cons of cement board vs. wood vertical battens? For a DIYer, products like Hardi-Board seem problematic, but might last longer with lower maintenance. What reclaimed wood materials can be used as battens? Is there a cheap but effective, and more energy efficient method of achieving the aesthetic?

Comment by ek

ek – we don’t recommend using cement board as the battens (only the boards). The best solution for the boards is probably 12” wide cedar planks in either the 1” or 5/4” thickness. The tighter the grain the longer the boards will last, 1st growth cedar will have the tightest grain. Any cedar boards in these dimensions are expensive though – while cement boards may not have the same life-span, they are a more cost effective material out of the gate. We still recommend using cedar battens even with the cement type boards. As far as reclaimed woods for the battens go – you still want to stick with woods that are resistant to rot (cedar, teak, Ipe, Bangkirai). If you are painting the siding system anyway, Trex would make an excellent batten. A similar look can also be achieved by using standing seam metal roofing as the siding – it comes in a variety of dimensions and can have up to a 50 year warranty (on roofs, not sure about siding). A standing seam metal siding system would be the most enduring system of anything mentioned.

Comment by buildllc

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