Painting skirting boards isn’t difficult. But it’s one of those essential jobs most people don’t enjoy 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.
Here’s a list of the tools you’ll need to do this job. Some of them are optional depending on your circumstances.
- Good quality 2″ paint brush
- Primer (optional)
- Painter’s tape
- Low tack floor protector (optional)
- Newspaper or dust sheets to protect your floor
- Thin card
- Fine sandpaper
- Sugar soap and cloth
- Water, sponge, damp cloth
- Old clothes or overalls
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. 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 surface.
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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.
If you have a wooden or tiled floor, using masking tape around the edges to protect it. Have a damp cloth to hand in case you need to remove smudges.
How to Protect Your Carpet
You really don’t want to get paint on your carpet. It’s not a good look. If you must paint the skirting board without removing the carpet, use low tack adhesive film placed as close to the skirting as possible. This protects the carpet, but could still leave a tiny gap between its edge and your skirting.
Painter’s tape is a better option. Run it along the carpet as close as possible to the skirting. If you can, tuck it under the skirting board. If you can’t do that, don’t worry. Get hold of a few strips of thin card (think the thickness of a Corn Flakes box) to slide under the skirting board as you go. Put the card under the skirting board and paint the area above it. If you miss, the paint goes onto the card and not the carpet.
Another option is to use masking tape attached to newspaper. Run the masking tape along the edge of the newspaper. Place the tape on the floor so it’s as close as possible to the skirting board. Once again, if you can, put the masking tape under the skirting board.
How to Protect Your Walls
Use a good quality painter’s tape to mask the wall above the skirting board. To protect your wall, and to leave the paint or wallpaper in place when you remove the painter’s tape, spend a few pounds on a decent product. Mask every wall before you start painting.
Sanding the Skirting Board
For this stage, wear a dusk 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. You want to remove the gloss shine off 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 (like this one). 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.
How to Paint Skirting Boards – Video
(not sure about the colour!)