We're Seeing Board and Batten Siding Everywhere—Is This a Home Trend That's Here to Stay?
Many home trends stand the test of time, but not all hold firm through the decades. In recent years, countless homeowners across the country have opted for board and batten exterior siding, hoping that it, too, withstands the ebb and flow of the design cycle. But is this an exterior home trend that's here to stay? We tapped a handful of design experts to answer that very question.
The History of Board and Batten Siding
For those unfamiliar with the trend, board and batten is a style of siding where strips of wood molding are placed in a consistent pattern across the wall, typically vertically. This adds instant, but subtle dimension to any space. "Board and batten siding is thought to have originated in Sweden and Norway, and became popular in North America during the middle of the 19th century," says Gil Walsh, an interior designer and the founder of GW Interiors. "It was known as 'barn siding' and was used for outbuildings, such as barns and sheds."
The original goal of board and batten siding was utilitarian. By covering the gaps in the wide wood planks with thinner strips of wood, spaces were better protected against the elements. Board and batten has since evolved into a purely artistic choice—it enjoyed a notable revival thanks in part to the rise of the "farmhouse chic" and "coastal living" aesthetics, and today is used in design themes that extend well beyond those two design sensibilities. "Today, board and batten imparts a simple, rustic, handmade quality to even new homes built in contemporary styles," says Walsh. "The added texture creates character, and forms shadow lines altering the home's appearance as the day progresses and the sun shifts."
Aaron Neubert, an architect based in Los Angeles, agrees, adding that board and batten siding is also a reflection of designers and manufacturers putting greater focus on reinvesting in the value of craftsmanship in the domestic space.
The Future of the Board and Batten Siding Trend
The experts we spoke to each believe that board and batten siding is here to stay. However—as is the case with any trend—it's apt to evolve over time. "Board and batten is a timeless siding technique that can be [enjoyed] in various architectural styles—from vernacular and Victorian to modern and contemporary," notes Neubert. "Architects will continue to experiment with this siding technique for the foreseeable future."
Using the Board and Batten Look Inside
Speaking of evolution: This previously exterior-only siding trend has migrated inside the home. Jenn Feldman, an interior designer and the founder of Jenn Feldman Designs, notes that homeowners are implementing board and batten overlays to break up plain walls in their bathrooms and dining rooms, and to help minimize the volume of walls in rooms with high ceilings. "In newer builds, where staircases and hallways are a huge part of the home's real estate, it can create a richness and warmth to these areas that flat or plain walls cannot," says Feldman.
How to Get Board and Batten Siding
Those who are captured by the board and batten aesthetic—and determined to bring it into their space—have two options: DIY or hire out. The latter is arguably the easier route and ensures a high quality finish, though it's more expensive compared to doing it yourself. "Most homeowners choose to hire a company to install the board and batten on the exterior of the home given the sheer size of the [project]," says Walsh.
What to Expect When Hiring a Pro
Cost varies dramatically depending on the contractor, materials chosen (wood, fiber cement, sheet goods, and metal are common choices), the home's size, and how much of your siding will get this treatment, notes Walsh. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere between $3 to $13 per square foot of space. The whole process can take anywhere from a day to a week depending on key variables, and you'll need to factor in the cost and time of re-painting.
Creating board and batten siding on your own can be done, says Neubert. However, nailing a polished look requires refined expertise, an understanding of housing structure, a keen sense of the safety precautions required, and a hefty dose of patience. Unless you're highly experienced, doing it on your own takes longer—so that's something to factor in, too.
How Long Board and Batten Siding Lasts
When built with high quality materials and maintained properly, board and batten siding can last for up to 25 years. Inspection of your siding is key regardless of its material; generally speaking, you'll want to look for (and quickly fix) any damaged areas and make sure the exterior is properly sealed against the elements.
Upkeep by Material
"Depending on the chosen material, upkeep will [vary]," says Neubert. "Some fiber cement products are integrally colored and require little maintenance aside from general cleaning, while other products require periodic painting."
He adds that metal and vinyl also require minimal maintenance, but that they may not achieve the same look and feel of genuine wood. "A true wood board and batten siding—depending on environmental conditions—will require the most upkeep to maintain a pristine appearance," says Neubert. "However, some things are worth the effort."