Fitting Skirting Board

Fitting new skirting board takes longer than you would think, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a very rewarding job, and not too tricky either.

Steps-by-step guide to fitting new skirting board

Measuring up

First, you’ll need to know how big your room is. Measure the total length along the wall that the skirting board will cover, and add 20%, just to make sure.
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Buying Materials

For fitting skirting board to brick and plaster walls you’ll need:

Painting skirting board

If you have time for paint to dry before you start fitting, it’s much easier to paint skirting board before you fit it. However you’ll still need to touch up the paintwork here and there after fitting. Rest the skirting board on some thin pieces of wood before you start, preferably on a couple of small work benches or something similar. If you rest the skirting on old newspaper, the newspaper will stick to the paint. Not a good thing!

Start with a single coat of good wood primer. Once dry, follow this with a couple of coats of topcoat in your chosen colour. Oil-based gloss topcoats can take a week to thoroughly dry, so I hope you’ve found somewhere for it out of the way, and protected from the rain! Water based gloss paints dry much faster, but the quality of finish is not as "glossy".


Painting skirting board is easier before fitting

Cutting to size

"Measure twice, cut once" as they say!

Where skirting board joins together at a 90° corner, they should be cut at 45° each, as shown below. It’s far too easy to cut the corners the wrong way around, so sketch out how you plan to fit the skirting board, and measure the lengths you need first.

Using a mitre block is a great way to ensure your cuts are exactly 45°. Accuracy is key, and you'll usually find a simple mitre block can offer greater accuracy than an electric mitre saw.



A bird’s eye view of Skirting board


For long sections of wall, join two sections together using 45° cuts as shown in the first picture. External joints can also be created with 45° cuts, shown in the second picture

Internal joints can be made with 45° cuts too, but in this case we have used a coping joint. One section of skirting is fitted snug to the wall. The second is cut at 45° and then cut with a coping saw to follow the line of the other section of skirting. These joints take more time, but produce better results, especially where the walls are not at exactly 90° to each other.

Fitting

Skirting board should be attached firmly to the wall. If you have wood flooring, it’s usually fitted on top, but for carpets, fit the skirting first, and lay the carpet to meet the skirting board. If you’re plastering, you should do this before fitting the skirting.

Skirting board can be fixed to the wall using glue, nails, or screws. Glue is quick and simple, but you may find it difficult to press the board really close to the wall, thus leaving big gaps to fill. Nails are good if you have something wooden to attach the board to, but are useless for attaching to plasterwork.

If you’re attaching the board to a plastered or brick surface, first drill 4mm holes in the board where you want to attach the screws. These should be about half way up the board, and in a line along the board, not more than 1m apart. Each section should be held by at least two screws, but if your wall is none too straight you may want to put the screws closer together to pull the skirting against the wall.

Use a countersink to ensure that the screw head will be flush with the surface of the board when it’s attached, then hold the skirting board up to the wall, and mark through the holes with a screw or the drill bit to pinpoint where you need to drill into the wall.

Now use the 6mm masonry bit in a hammer action drill to make a hole to the depth that the screws extends out of the skirting board. In each hole fit a wall plug, then screw the board in place.


Drilling 4 mm holes in the skirting and creating a countersunk hole for the screw head

Once the countersunk holes in the skirting have been made, hold the skirting up to the wall, and mark, then drill the 6mm holes for the wall plugs.

Push in the wall plugs, then screw the skirting to the wall.

When all the skirting is in place, use decorator’s caulk to fill the gaps, then paint over the caulk and screw heads to leave a neat finish, and beautiful new skirting board!

See also the skirting board frequently asked questions page.