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What is a Batterboard?

When you’re building a deck, pouring a patio, laying out a foundation, or doing other similar types of construction, part of the layout process often involves a setup referred to as “batterboards.”

So what are batterboards and why do you need them?

Batterboards ensure a “square” layout. That is, they guarantee that all four corners of a layout will be at true 90-degree angles.

These temporary guides are typically cobbled together on site from five wood scraps: three stakes driven into the ground in the form of a right angle and two horizontal lengths joined to the stakes, as shown in this illustration.

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Batterboards Layout

Batterboards are placed just beyond the corners of the proposed building site so they don’t get in the way of actual construction.

Strings are tightly stretched between batterboard pairs and fastened to partially driven nails or notches cut into the horizontal members. The strings, which indicate the proper alignment of foundations or walls, are easy to adjust back and forth until everything lines up perfectly.

You know the corners are square when you measure diagonally from corner to corner and the measurements match.

Batterboards are so named because they were originally used to check the “batter,” or receding upward incline, of a masonry wall.

About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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