Expert Tips for Updating Skirting Boards

When renovating a house, an area that tends to go amiss is the skirting boards. Whether you’re looking to change up the overall style of your home, or just want to give each room a new lease on life, updating skirting boards can end up making a subtle, yet impactful difference.

However, at A Fancy Home, we appreciate you may not know where to start. That’s why we asked for expert advice from Skirting 4 U.

Tips for Updating Skirting Boards

For many people, even the idea of updating skirting boards can become exhausting, and the cost of a professional can prevent them from even taking the first step towards a fresher and restored home.

Instead, we compiled a list of tips and tricks for updating skirting boards easily and effectively:

Mounting skirting boards to the wall

What You Will Need

If you’re updating skirting boards for the first time, it may be overwhelming because it’s necessary to have quite a few tools to get the job done well. Before getting started, you’ll need to ensure that you have the right equipment available.


Sandpaper is primarily used before any undercoat or paint can be applied but is also necessary to tidy up uneven paint or other imperfections on the skirting board.

Cleaning Cloth

It’s essential to use a cleaning cloth before any painting can begin. It’s used to remove any dust, hair or dirt that may ruin the paintwork.

Sugar Soap

The use of sugar soap affects how well the paint applies to a skirting board. However, its effectiveness varies depending on the type of paint that is used.

1.5” Paint Brush (Ideal)

If you’re unable to use this type of paint brush, any kind of brush will work; however, it’s highly recommended that you use a 1.5” angled brush. These help to reduce brush marks and offer a smoother paint flow and they do this while keeping the shape of the brush itself!

Paint of Choice

Most of the time your skirting, (if you have purchased it new), will not come with an option for paint. Painting skirting boards can open up to a whole variety of options, rather than a white MDF or wooden finish.

Undercoat, Primer, and Varnish

Using these three products can help the overall finish of your skirting boards. It is because they’re used to help the paint go on smoothly, protect the paint from chipping, and gives an overall better finish than bare paint.

Dust Sheets or Newspaper

Often, people find that the task of installing or updating skirting boards is a messy job. The use of dust sheets and newspapers will protect other areas of your house.

Masking Tape

Masking tape is often used along the carpet line and wall directly above from the skirting boards so as not to let carpet brush against the wet skirting, or let paint drip onto either surface. It aids in an overall neater paint job.

Paint Guard

This tool is like the masking tape. It works in the same way, although it cannot be left on until dried, unlike the masking tape, as it’s a handheld device.

Wood Glue

If removing and installing the skirting boards, wood glue is a great adhesive when it comes to ensuring a good fit for the wall.

When Should I Replace My Skirting Boards?

Measuring the wall while updating skirting boards

To the untrained eye, finding the symptoms of a damaged skirting board can be quite difficult, especially if you’re trying to catch signs of damage early on. We hope that this list may help you in spotting any of the following symptoms of damage and low-quality boards:

Cracked Board / Wet Rot

Although the two don’t always come together, cracked boards and wet rot are a big problem with skirting boards.

Rotten boards are sometimes hard to spot but can lead to cracking in the skirting and a bowing shape. The rotting of the wood can also lead to numerous health risks, such as childhood asthma and other respiratory problems. (Not to be dramatic but it’s true!)

Separation from the Wall

Over time skirting boards can come away from the wall, leaving a slight gap between the two. It can be for numerous reasons, but the most common are either house settling (though, this is more often the cause of cracking) and improper installation.

Flaking Paint

When your skirting boards get older, a bit of ‘wear and tear’ can occur. Varnish can wear down over time, causing paint to become more exposed than it was when it was freshly painted. As well as this, any knocking of furniture or small animals leaving chew marks can speed up this process.

To spot flaking paint (especially on MDF skirting boards), look for any separation in colour on your skirting. Small cracks on the surface of your skirting board can also be due to paint flaking.

Bad Wire Maintenance

When a new router, television or other similar device gets installed, wire maintenance may start to look messy. Pushing the wiring against the skirting board often isn’t the best thing to do, so the best call to action is a skirting board cover.

A skirting board cover acts in the same way that your standard skirting board would. However, the difference is that behind the skirting board cover is a gap where wiring can sit. By having this gap, it hides any wiring behind the board.

Making Sure the Area is Protected

Empty room with skirting and large windows

When chopping vegetables, you don’t work straight onto the countertop; you use a board to protect from mess and damage. Updating skirting boards will bring paint, dust, potential scratch marks to walls, and other potential hazards to your flooring and furniture.

Here are a few different steps that you can take to protect your surrounding area when updating your skirting:

Clear the Surrounding Area

The best way to ensure nothing gets in the way is to move everything out of the room. If possible, moving objects such as nearby sofas and tables can open your available workspace.

Lay Down Dust Sheets

Dust sheets are a worker’s best friend. With renovation comes dust and paint, which is the last thing that you want on your floor and furniture. By laying down dust sheets around your work area, you will be able to catch a large percentage, if not all, of any dust and paint that may fall.

Remove the Skirting Board (Optional)

It is an optional step, but by removing your skirting boards before painting (or leaving them off before installing), you’ll be able to get a much better angle for painting than if you were to be keeping them attached.

It is because when the skirting board is installed, you must reach a much lower angle to paint, and there’s no method for manipulation of the boards. Whereas when painting them uninstalled you’re able to work quicker and easier in unrestricted angles.

If you’d prefer to keep the boards on the wall, then masking tape may help the tidiness of your work.

White paint pot and brush

Use Masking Tape or a Paint Guard

When updating skirting boards with paint while still attached to the wall, a useful tip may be to use a paint guard or masking tape to help prevent paint from running onto the flooring or wall.

The use of a paint guard is helpful, but not necessary. If you are painting nearby to a carpet, the pressure of the paint guard may push the carpet away, but once removed, the carpet can bounce back and leave a mark in the fresh paint. If you are using masking tape, however, you can leave it alone until all the paint has dried; leaving you a paint-free floor. It also helps as you do not have to hold it in the place like you would a paint guard.

If you do not have dust sheets, any old newspapers should be fine for protection.

How to Prepare Your Skirting Boards and Paint Them

Updating skirting boards with paint

Once you’ve prepared your tools and area, finally time to update the skirting boards. Whether you’re giving a fresh coat of paint to the current boards, or if you’ve purchased them new, follow this list to get a high-quality finish on your skirting boards:

1.   Sand Down Your Surface

To begin, you will want to use sanding paper on your skirting boards to get rid of any old paint or unevenness on the board itself. It will make a smoother and more streak-free application later.

2.   Clean the Surface Down

After sanding, you may be left with a large amount of dust on your skirting boards. It’s essential to clean the boards with a damp cleaning cloth after sanding to achieve an even coat of paint.

3.   Tape Up the Edges (Optional)

If you’re painting the skirting boards while they are attached to the wall, and you don’t own a paint guard, this is the perfect time to use masking tape to separate the boards from your floor, walls, and doors. It will ensure that when painting, you can get a quicker application and are less likely to apply any paint to another surface.

4.   Apply an Undercoat

Once your skirting is completely dry after cleaning, use a thin layer of undercoat on your boards with a paintbrush, working with the grain.

5.   Choose Your Paint/Top Coat

Now is time for the fun part. Once the undercoat is dry, and you’ve decided on paint colour or top coat finish, it’s time to start painting. Again, work slowly with the grain to avoid any spillage and uneven coating. If your paint is quite thick, mix in a small amount of water to thin it out.

And viola! Expert tips for updating skirting boards. For more home improvement articles like A Fancy Home on Facebook to be kept up-to-date on all things interior design and DIY.

Written by Holly Campbell from Skirting 4 U.