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Building Board-and-Batten Doors

Construction How-To, Doors, Outdoors February 18, 2015 Sonia








By Rob Robillard

Building a board-and-batten door is a task that can be completed in a relatively short period of time and is a project that is suitable for novice woodworkers. In this article we will show you how to build a board-and batten-door using rough sawn, shiplap lumber.

Board-and-Batten Construction

A batten door is a simple door constructed of boards in a row, parallel, throughout the whole of its length held together by perpendicular and diagonal support battens. This kind of door is secured using battens that are nailed or fastened with screws in a crosswise manner. They are often used on barns and storage sheds.

Batten doors have a historical almost country or rustic look and are famous for their basic design. Because there are many different boards in its design, batten doors are extremely stable doors. There is also no technical joinery in a batten door, and its strength is derived from the fasteners used in its construction.If you were building a traditional batten door you would use the clinch-nail method. The clinch-nail method requires that the nail is driven through the door and then the shank is bent over. Traditionally, handmade wrought nails were the best to use for clinching. Wrought iron nails were preferred since the metal grain runs with the length of the nail and are thus less likely to break when clinched. Old style “cut nails” tend to break when clinched.

In our article we will be using modern black-colored screws.

Several Configurations of Batten Doors

When deciding on how to build a board-and-batten door you need to consider style, security and door thickness. The four door types listed below are all board-and-batten construction but vary slightly in construction.

1.  Two horizontal battens with one long diagonal brace

2.  Three horizontal battens and two diagonal braces

3. Battens and braces on both sides of the door

4.  Picture framed door with battens and braces


Batten doors can be made with tongue-and-groove boards, shiplap or simple boards that are typically suitable for outdoor use. Tongue-and-groove and shiplap doors offer weather resistance by closing off the seams.

Cedar is often the preferred lumber for its inherent resistance to rot and insect infestation, but Eastern White Pine will suffice as well.

Building the Door

The boards used in a board-and-batten door expand and contract in different humidity conditions and the boards will move in different directions. People building board and batten doors often error by trying to glue the edge joints or the battens to the boards. Don’t waste your time trying to glue these boards, as the joint will fail.

When choosing fasteners, in the case of screws, make sure you choose the proper length. Choose a length that allows you to securely fasten the battens to the door panel boards but does not penetrate the panel on the opposite side. If you plan on countersinking your screws keep that depth in mind as well.

To build the door, first measure your door opening.

Cut the cedar or pine boards into battens long enough to fill the space from side to side. This includes horizontal battens and vertical pieces if using picture-frame style construction.

On a flat surface, lay enough vertically-oriented boards to fill the opening and figure out an appropriate starting-board width and ending-board width. Measure and calculate to determine an equal measurement for both end boards to avoid having one odd size.

A circular saw with ripping gauge serves as an excellent tool combo for making long, accurate cuts.

A circular saw with ripping gauge serves as an excellent tool combo for making long, accurate cuts.

Rip your starting and ending boards to maintain the size you determined

Assemble the boards, leaving them slightly longer than the finished height of the doorway.

With a framing square and pencil, lay out the exact measurements of the batten locations on the finished door.

Prime and paint (or stain) all edges of all the boards to be used.

Check for square at every joint before fastening.

Check for square at every joint before fastening.