While the bare brick look is trendy, many people still prefer a smooth wall. One way to achieve this is by attaching plasterboard over the masonry, using wood battens to provide support.
Battening a wall is a good method to use if you want to install insulation, as the battens provide a gap between wall and plasterboard. This gap is perfect for placing insulation before the plasterboard is secure.
This guide will teach you how to batten a wall with vertical and horizontal wood battens to ensure a stable framework to attach plasterboard.
Don’t fancy doing this job yourself?
Then find top builders in your area by clicking the button below:
Tools and Materials
- Spirit level
- Measuring tape
- Metal ruler
- Hand saw
- Cordless drill with bits for wood and masonry
- Impact driver
- Plastic wedges (if the wall is uneven)
- Wall plugs
- Wood screws
- Insulation (if using)
- Plasterboard sheets
- Plasterboard screws
How to Batten a Wall – Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Check Wall Level
Place spirit level vertically against a bare wall and check if the wall is level. Wood battens can be attached directly to a level wall, but if the wall slants out at any point then plastic wedges need to be placed behind the battens so they are level.
2. Measure and Cut Batten
Measure and cut batten that will run along the wall under the ceiling. Mark line to be cut with a pencil and metal ruler. Cut ends at an angle (if walls have a slant) so they fit snugly into corners. You might need to cut more than one batten to cover the full length of the wall.
3. Mark Drill Points
Place batten in position and mark drill points using a pencil. You want to place several marks evenly spaced out along the batten so that the fixing will go through to the centre of the individual brick behind. This is stronger than fixing into the mortar, or at the edge of the individual brick.
4. Drill Holes in Batten
Place the wood on a workbench and drill holes using a wood bit.
5. Drill Holes in Wall
Place drilled wood in position and drill through the holes and into the wall using a masonry bit.
6. Insert Wall Plugs
Remove wood and push wall plugs into the holes in the wall, lightly hammering them in for a tight fit.
7. Screw Batten in Place
Place the wood in position. Push screws through wood into rawl plug and hand-turn so the screw is held steady. Drill into place using an impact driver.
8. Repeat for Floor Batten
Repeat Steps 2 through to 7, this time using the for the length of the wall along the floor and fixing the batten on the wall against the floor.
9. Repeat for Vertical Battens at Edges of Wall
Repeat steps 2 through to 7, this time measuring between the horizontal battens to find the length of the vertical battens. The first and last vertical battens might need to be fitted at an angle to compensate for unlevel walls.
10. Repeat for all other Vertical Battens
Measure plasterboard width. Place the second batten so that the first piece of plasterboard will completely cover first batten and half of the second. This second batten (and every batten thereafter apart from the last) must be horizontally and vertically plumb, so check using a spirit level.. Repeat steps 3 through 8 to fix battens in place.
Pro Tip: If the wall has window frames or doorways, the batten must be placed hard up against the frame even if not plumb level.
11. Fix Further Horizontal Battens if Needed
If the plasterboard is not as tall as a wall then measure, cut and fix horizontal battens in between uprights to fix top and bottom of plasterboard panels to.
12. Attach Plasterboard
Fix plasterboard on top of battens using plasterboard screws, having first placed a layer of insulation in between battens if you wish. Stagger the joins if you can to create a more durable surface for plastering. Screw until the metal head is flush with plasterboard but take care not to over-screw as the plasterboard could split.
You should now know how to batten a wall, so that you can create a strong wooden framework to affix plasterboard to. We’ve covered; making sure the battens are level, that the whole frame fits the wall accurately, and that they are close enough to ensure the plasterboard will cover them easily.
When your plasterboard wall is finished, you may want to fix items to it. E.g. shelves, paintings, etc. These items require special fixings which you can find more about in this guide to the best plasterboard fixings.