Build a Board-and-Batten Door

Follow these steps to make a board-and-batten door for a pantry or shed.

| April/May 2018

Board-and-batten doors are a mainstay of the oldest and simplest North American homes. The originals were probably painted, and required a bit of rope or a thumb latch to stay closed. This type of door is rustic, light-duty, and simple to make. On the other hand, board-and-batten doors are about three steps above animal skins stretched over a stick frame. Putting them in your house may elicit accusations of advanced camping, as they’re thin, don’t insulate well, and aren’t dimensionally stable. But they do look nice, so they’re great in situations where insulation and stability aren’t primary considerations, such as in pantries, closets, or sheds.

These doors have a definite front (the boards) and back (the batten). You can butt the boards together, but over time, they’ll shrink and leave gaps. A better method is to shiplap or tongue-and-groove them. The traditional way to secure the boards to the battens was with clinched nails. These can be decorative if you use rosehead nails or cut nails. The more modern alternative is to use screws that can’t be seen from the front.

Board-and-batten construction isn’t particularly rigid, and allows the members to twist relatively easily. Exterior doors won’t seal well against the jamb. You can clinch nails through most hardwoods, but pine is easier to work with and more traditional.


• Six 1-by-6 pine boards, 10 feet long

• 1 pound (about 35 to 40) 3-inch rosehead nails

3/14/2018 8:49:21 AM

I have built plenty of these doors over the last 30 years, mostly board and batten for barns, but also some tongue and groove in a log home that required 4' wide doors, and for a 16' wide driveway gate which required 2 - 8' sections that met in the middle. This gate used 8" wide boards with 1 1/2" spacing between the vertical boards to allow the wind to pass through. In any case, on all of these doors the Z braces were opposite the ones in your picture, i.e. the bottom of the Z brace was next to the hinge side of the door and the top of the Z brace was at the latch side. I feel this gives the door more support and keeps it from sagging. I have had no problems with sagging, twisting etc....

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