DIY Guide To Painting Skirting Boards

One of the projects on our long guest bedroom makeover to-do list is stripping, sanding and painting the skirting boards.

Some of you have asked, if wouldn’t be quicker and easier just to replace them. It’s something we hadn’t really considered, as the skirting boards are still the original ones that have been in the house for over a hundred years. It seems a shame to remove original features. The skirting boards are also higher than the ones that are now available, so we’d have to replaster the wall over the skirting boards to make up for the difference. For us it just seemed to make more sense to keep the original ones.

How To Paint Skirting Boards

We’re painting our skirting boards from scratch, but we also use the same method to repaint and freshen them up after a while. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid scratches and scuffs from cleaning and vacuuming, whilst they hold up very well, it’s inevitable that the odd touch will be required.

Luckily it’s quick and easy to do, this is what you will need.

  • Sandpaper and sanding block – we started sanding with 80 grit paper, and then finished with 180 grit and 240 grit for sanding between coats of paint. If you are only repainting your skirting you’ll only need the finer grades.
  • Painters Tape
  • Paper or dust sheets to cover your floor
  • Paint of your choice – We’re using the same Dulux Pure Brilliant White Eggshell paint for all woodwork though out the house
  • Paintbrush we love this Purdy Paint Brush

A few weeks ago, we already stripped the old paint of the skirting boards, but before we can start to paint them, they will need to be sanded. Sanding will remove any paint residue and imperfections.

How To Paint Skirting Boards

With a nice, smooth service prepared you can start to think about the painting.

Start by covering the floor with paper or dust sheets. We didn’t bother covering anything with painters tape as we’ve had a fair amount of practise painting and find that we can achieve a straight line with just the paint brush.

Before you get your paintbrush out, make sure you’ve removed any dust and dirt of the skirting boards.

How To Paint Skirting Boards

The paint we’re using doesn’t require an undercoat, so we could get stuck straight into the painting.

5 Top Tips

  1. Don’t forget to treat the knots in the wood with knotting solution first! If you miss them, they’ll seep through the paint and show up as yellow marks.
  2. Try to apply a really thin coat of paint and use long brush strokes – it’ll help to achieve a smooth finish.
  3. Something else we like to do, it attach a piece of masking tape or an elastic band over the can of paint. If you have too much paint on the brush, you can wipe it on the tape.

How To Paint Skirting Boards

4.  While working, we also like to keep all supplies in a small box. That way you are less likely to mess up your floor and it also keeps everything together in one place.

How To Paint Skirting Boards

5. Instead over taping the floor, we push a piece of paper into the gap between the skirting board and the floor. Just keep sliding it along to cover the area you’re painting. This method works particularly well in corners.

How To Paint Skirting Boards

There’s still a lot more to do in the bedroom, but the first bit of skirting board in corner of room is done.

How To Paint Skirting Boards

While painting the upstairs skirting, we also finally got round to touching up the skirting board in the hallway.

How to paint skirting boards

We’d already done most of it, but after removing the laminate flooring and sanding the floor there was a little edge left that needed painting.

Edwardian Hallway

There’s still loads to do in the bedroom, including sorting out the window (more on that tomorrow), attaching a picture rail, sorting the electrics and plumbing and then painting and decorating everywhere. With some overnight guests visiting soon, we’d better get a move on!

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  1. Kerrie says

    The piece of paper on the floor is such a simple idea, but what a beauty of an idea! I never thought of that. I’m just about to do my whole house so this post was excellent timing for me, thanks so much. cheers

    • says

      Thanks Kerrie, glad we could help – just make sure to push the paper right into the gap. Good luck with the painting!

  2. MarieRoxanne says

    Painting is a lot of work, and most of the work is in the preparation. (Taping things off, making sure you have drop cloths etc…)
    I like to paint the skirting boards (baseboards is what we call them) the same color as the wall instead of the traditional white, so are the door and window frames. So they sort of “disappear” instead of being a focus in the room. For me, my eye stops abruptly at the change of color. I have a black wall and the rest are a creamy yellow and the skirting boards are a match just so it flows more easily.

    • says

      I love the idea of painting the baseboards the same colour as the wall – especially with a black wall! Having said that, I actually like the way the white boards are set off against the colour of the room. It’s definitely something to think about in some of the other rooms though!

  3. says

    Good advice! I love the cardboard box- as soon as I saw the picture, I thought “YES! You can slide it along as you move!” And I love the idea of just sliding the paper along. I hate taping things, and I’m always looking for a way to not tape things. Especially the floor.

    • says

      Thanks Leslie! We’re always keen to find things that make our lives easier. I can’t believe we’d not thought of the box sooner – it made life so much easier! Sliding the paper along the floor works really well and it saves soooo much time not having to tape everything.

  4. says

    Painting the kitchen (and maybe dining-room) skirting boards is on my to-do list for the summer, so I appreciate you sharing your tips. I also use a cardboard box to store everything when I have an on-going project.

    • says

      I can’t believe what a huge difference painting the skirting has made. Everything feels so much fresher. Glad that you can use some of our tips! Good luck with the painting!

  5. says

    I’ve never heard of sanding between coats of paint – how does this change the finished product? Do you have to let it dry for a long time before sanding?

    • says

      Good question, Bonnie. It’s almost the most important step! When you paint wood, little air bubbles will rise to the surface – if you feel it when it’s dry, you’ll notice little bumps all across it. Basically you’re just sanding and smoothing away all of these little air bumps. It’s important to let the paint dry completely before sanding, then using a really fine sandpaper (at least 240 grit) just lightly sand the surface. Try to apply even pressure and be careful around the edges. Then, after cleaning as usual, you can apply your next coat of paint. Give it a try (it’s how the professionals do it), your paint finish will be sooo much smoother!

  6. says

    On the sanding between coats, with natural timber its not too critical (in our experience), but with a product like MDF its absolutely essential to give it a sanding as the paint causes the MDF to fur. You’ve done a very nice job here Christine!

  7. mark says

    Hi,do I really need to sand down the skirting boards?,im a tad lazy with diy and not enough time on my hands.

    Many thanks.

    • says

      Being lazy DIYers ourselves, we know exactly what you mean, Mark! Really it all depends on the condition of your skirting boards and how picky you are about the finish. If your skirting looks okay now and just really need freshening up, it should be fine to (more or less) just paint them. Any paint finish is only ever going to be as good as the surface of whatever it is you are painting though, so if they (or the paint) are chipped and damaged, even the best paint job in the world won’t completely cover any imperfections. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and our skirting had been covered in a ridiculous amount of paint, so I thought it was best to completely strip them first.

      Assuming your skirting boards are in a decent condition, we would give them a good clean with some sugar soap, then very lightly sand them with some fine sandpaper (roughly 240grit), wipe them again to remove any dust from sanding and then paint them. We’re only talking a very light and quick sand – it probably shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes to do all of the sanding in an average sized room.
      Good luck!

  8. Julia says

    some good idea’s just about to do my skirting boards, but before I do going to go and get fine sand paper,

  9. says

    We moved into our house + painted the walls a neutral magnolia.
    Now, after 2 years, we have decided which rooms to add colour ( not just accessorise – which is a very good idea + Very Cost Effective ) We have papered feature walls.
    My question is, that whilst I know about, and planning to sand the skirting boards, is it the sealant that is used, the has added a dirty smudge in the corners ? Think it should have been caulk and not sealant to fill in the gaps… It won’t take paint…
    Please advise / any tips ????

    • says

      From your description, it sounds like that a silicone sealant has been used instead of a decorators caulk. Whilst you can easily paint over caulk, silicone on the other hand wont accept a paint finish. It’s really annoying (we’ve discovered similar problems in our house along the way) but the only real option you have is to remove the silicone and than caulk the gaps.
      Sorry we couldn’t give you an easier option!


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