How to Build Batter Boards

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-150
What You'll Need
Four pegs
100-foot measuring tape
12 2x4 boards
8 1x6x9-inch batter boards
16 nails
Mallet or hammer

When building a house or structure, batter boards are used to mark the framework during initial excavation. Batter boards ensure that all of the foundation walls are at the right angles. If they aren’t squared and level, they could make your foundation, and therefore your house, not level. Learn how to construct your own batter boards in preparation for any future projects that might need them.

Step 1 - Peg the Corners

You will be using the building plans to put up your batter boards, so make sure that they are somewhere visible and easily accessible. Your pegs are used as guides for building your batter boards, and once the foundation is made, they will be disregarded. Because of this, your pegs can be made out of any building material.

According to the building plans, place your first peg in one of the corners of the structure. Using the measurements in the plans, find the proper distance from the first pegged corner to where the second corner should be and install another. Once again using the measurements from the building plan, measure from the second pegged corner to where the third peg should go and add it. Repeat to place the final peg.

With a 100-foot measuring tape, measure from corner to corner diagonally, and repeat for the other two corners. Both measurements should be the same. If they are not, you will need to revisit the building plans and double check your measurements and stake positions.

Step 2 - Place Support Stakes

You will need 12 stakes made out of 2x4s. Each corner requires two stakes in addition to the pegs, so measure out four feet diagonally from the first corner stake and hammer another into the ground. Measure eight feet from this one to the left and the right, placing the other two stakes. Repeat for the remaining three corners. Don’t worry about whether or not you drive the stakes in equally; you will be marking and leveling the cross boards later.

Step 3 - Place Your Batter Boards

At the corner where the ground is highest, make a level mark about six inches up on the outside of all three stakes. Using that corner as a guide, make level marks on the remaining stakes.

Once you have achieved a level line and all of the stakes have been marked, nail the batter boards to the outside of the stakes. When nailing, make sure that the top of each batter board is flush with the level line. Double check that each batter board is level, once you have attached it. When done, each corner’s batter boards should make an L-shape.

Step 4 - Place the Strings

Secure a piece of string from batter board to batter board width-wise and then length-wise. Make sure the string is taut and passes directly over the guide pegs. Attach the string between two guide nails.

Step 5 - Check Your Diagonals and Parallels

Next, you need to double check to make sure that you have a perfect square. Measure the distance between the strings on the horizontal and vertical lines. Both horizontals should be the same distance and both verticals should be the same distance. Next, check the diagonals to make sure that they are equal as well. If your measurements are off, you will need to make some adjustments. Once everything is equal, you have a perfect square to start building your foundation.