What is Board and Batten Siding?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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Board and batten siding is often called board and batt, or barn siding. It is a type of rustic wood siding often found in more rural areas on country homes, barns, and other outbuildings. Board and batten siding consists of wide boards laid vertically with narrower strips of wood, called battens, covering the gaps. This type of siding is thought to have originated in Sweden and Norway, and it became popular in North America during the middle of the 19th century.

The boards that make up board and batten siding can vary greatly in width. On average, they are often around eight inches (20 centimeters) in width. They can, however, be as wide as twelve inches (30.5 centimeters) and as narrow as six inches (15 centimeters). The thickness of these boards is not usually less than one inch (2.5 centimeters) thick, since thinner boards typically do not hold up to the elements as well.


When the boards are fastened to the side of the building, a gap of around one inch (2.5 centimeters) is left between them. These gaps are then covered by narrow strips of wood called battens. Depending on the width of the boards used for the board and batten siding, the width of the battens can vary. Wider boards will often have wider gaps between them, which can be covered by battens up to four inches (10 centimeters) wide. Narrower boards, on the other hand, typically have smaller gaps between them, and these gaps are covered by battens as narrow as 3/4 of an inch (2 centimeters).

While a number of different woods are used for board and batten siding, cedar seems to be one of the most popular choices. The reason for this is that cedar has a natural resistance to decaying, therefore making it extremely durable. Other popular wood choices for board and batten siding include poplar, pine, oak, and hemlock.

Regardless of the type of wood used for board and batten siding, it will need to be treated to help endure the elements. Though wood is very durable, it can be susceptible to rot and decay. To prevent this, treating the wood with a water repellent, staining it, or painting it is highly recommended.

Maintenance for wood siding also differs from other types of siding, such as brick siding or aluminum siding. Unlike other exterior siding, wood generally has to be retreated, re-stained, or repainted every five to seven years. In wetter climates, it may have to be done more often. Board and batten siding should be inspected at least yearly for any damaged, split, or rotten boards. To prevent further damage, these boards should be replaced as soon as possible.


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