How to Paint Skirting Boards

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You’ll be pleased to know painting skirting boards isn’t a difficult job. However, it’s one of those jobs most people don’t enjoy. Especially because it involves lots of crouching and crawling around the floor.

Typically, there are two scenarios – painting new skirting boards or repainting your existing skirting boards.

If you’re painting new skirting boards, it’s better to do it before fixing them to the wall. You’ll need to make sure they’re prepared and primed before painting.

DIY tools needed for painting skirting boards

Here’s a list of the DIY tools you’ll need to do this job. Some of them are optional depending on your circumstances.

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Preparing the room and skirting board

The first thing you want to do is move all the furniture away from the skirting board. If the room’s big enough, move it to the centre of the room. If it’s not, move the furniture out of the room. You need plenty of space to move around, so an empty room is the best option.

Lift up the carpet if you can. If you can’t lift up the carpet, try pulling it back so you have enough room to work. You must be careful here as pulled back carpet can easily slip and fall back into place, sending dust and bits of dirt all over your newly painted surfaces.

If you don’t want want to risk it, and I wouldn’t blame you, leave the carpet in place and read the next section on how to protect your carpet.

How to paint skirting boards with the carpet down

You really don’t want to get paint on your carpet. It’s not a good look. If you must paint skirting boards with the carpet down, use masking tape to protect it.

Masking tape comes in various widths. For protecting your carpet when painting skirting boards, you’ll need to use 2″ (at least) masking tape.

  • Use a pair of scissors to cut your masking tape so you have a straight edge.
  • Place the cut straight edge in one corner of the room with the cut straight edge up against the skirting board of one wall, and the roll next to the skirting board of another wall.
  • Now run the masking tape along the carpet as tight as you can to the skirting board. When you reach the other corner, use a scraper to mark and cut the masking tape so you have a nice, straight edge.
  • Check the masking tape is straight and protecting all of your carpet.
  • Now repeat this process for the rest of the room.

You should also follow this method if you have tiled or wooden flooring.

How to paint skirting boards without getting paint on the walls

You have two options here. The first is to mask the wall using good quality painter’s tape (masking tape will do the job, but painter’s tape is better) or use a tool called a paint shield.

Paint shields are handy tools that let you place a surface between your brush and the wall while you paint the skirting board.

What’s the difference between masking tape and painter’s tape? The main difference between the two is what happens when you remove them from the surface you’re protecting. As you might expect, painter’s tape is aimed at professionals who want a top-notch finish to their work. As long as it’s removed within a certain timeframe, painter’s tape, unlike masking tape, shouldn’t leave any residue behind or damage the surface it’s protecting.

Sanding the skirting board

For this stage, wear a dust mask and use a sanding block.

Grab some medium to fine grade sandpaper and start sanding along the skirting board. Go with the grain, not against it. The goal is to remove the top layer of paint. You don’t want to remove the whole layer. You want to make the skirting board smooth to the touch and ‘scratched’ to the eye.

Depending upon the size of your room and the condition of your skirting, this job can take a while. You might need knee pads or a cushion to lean on. Watch out for bits or tools on the floor – kneeling on one of those can hurt!

Sand down the entire length of the skirting. When you’re finished, vacuum the room to get rid of the dust. Wash the skirting board with sugar soap. Doing this helps remove grease and grime and improves adhesion when applying the new paint.

Painting the skirting board

Now you’ve completed the prep work, it’s time to crack on with some painting.

If you’re repainting existing skirting board, you’ll need at least two coats of paint. If you’re painting new skirting, you’ll need to apply primer first, then two coats of paint in the colour of your choice.

Traditionally, we’ve used gloss paint for skirting boards. This gives a shiny, hard-wearing finish. If you’d like something more subtle, with a mid-sheen finish, try satinwood instead.

Use a good quality 2” brush for this job. Start by dipping your brush into the paint. Remove the excess by scraping one side of the brush against the edge of the paint tin. You want a good amount of paint on the brush but you don’t want too much. You want to avoid drips.

Taking your time, start painting the top of the skirting board moving from right to left if you’re right-handed, and left to right if you’re left-handed. When you finish painting the top of the skirting board, move back to your starting position and paint the bottom edge. When that’s done, go back and paint the middle section.

As you’re painting, keep an eye out for drips and use your brush to remove them.

Apply the second coat of paint

Allow plenty of time for the paint to dry before applying the second coat. The time you need to allow should be written on the paint tin.

Before you start applying the second coat, sand down the skirting board. Look out for the slight lumps and bumps that occurred when you applied the first coat. It’s worth taking a few minutes to do this as it helps achieve a more professional and cleaner finish. Use a fine grade sandpaper and don’t apply too much pressure.

After sanding, remove the dust from the surface of the skirting board (use a vacuum cleaner for best results). Wipe the skirting down with a damp cloth, and let it dry before applying the next coat of paint.

Before you start painting again, make sure the painter’s tape and other methods of protection are still in place. Now, go through the painting process again for the second coat.

When you’re finished, allow the paint to dry before removing the masking tape, floor protection and tidying up. Always take your time removing painter’s/masking tape. You don’t want to pull off bits of paint, plaster or wallpaper and ruining the look you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

That’s it. I hope you’ve found this article useful and feel confident enough to paint your skirting boards.

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