How Paint Skirting Boards Like A Pro

Ever wondered how to paint skirting boards like a pro. The good news is that it’s a relatively simple process if you follow the method below.

In just 5 steps I will teach you how to achieve a beautiful finish on skirting boards. Bonus, the tips and tricks you will learn below apply when painting other areas of woodwork.

Not sure if your should paint skirting boards or walls first, I answer the question below.

1) Preparing The Area

Move any furniture that is in your way into the centre of the room. Use painters masking tape to tape off your floor (wood, laminate, vinyl, tiles, carpet) before painting.

Cutting in the bottom of the skirting is easy once the floor is taped.

Tip: I highly recommend Scotchblue Masking Tape, easy to apply, easy to remove, stops paint bleeding through onto the surface (floor) below.

2) Clean the skirting boards

Most skirting boards due to their location, next to the floor are dirty, covered in dust, hair and grime. To clean the boards use either a simple solution of washing detergent and warm water or a degreaser.

Tip: Zinsser Professional Degreaser Stain Remover is excellent at removing grease and grime. A light spray, wait 30 seconds and then wipe clean.

Sanding skirting boards before removing the grime, will only push the dirt into the grain of the wood.

3) How To Sand Skirting Boards

Do I need to sand skirting boards before painting, YES. There are two main reasons for sanding, 1) Skirting boards that are years old have most probably been neglected, rough, covered in grit that has been painted over. This needs to be removed prior to painting.

2) The second reason for sanding is to degloss the surface in preparation for the new paint. Gloss paint in particular cannot be painted over without deglossing, (removing the shine) before painting.

What about new, primed skirting boards, do they need sanded, YES. A light sand with a 120 Grade Sanding Block and you will be amazed at how smooth the skirting boards feels after. 

Sanding woodwork causes micro scratches in the substrate, these very fine scratches help your new paint stick to the surface.

Tip: I find that a 120 Grade Sanding Block is perfect for the job, as it moulds to the contours of the skirting. For excessively rough sections, use 120 Grade or 80 Grade Sandpaper to remove more material.

4) Best Filler For Skirting Boards

After sanding, ensure that you remove the dust from the skirting boards using a damp cloth. The next step is to caulk the edge of the skirting where it meets the wall and caulk any gaps at the mitre joints.

Recommended Reading: How To Fill Gaps With Caulk.

Any protruding nails heads should be driven below the surface using a hammer and Nail Punch. Then fill the hole with Toupret Wood Filler, wait until dry and then sand flush with the surface using 120 grade sandpaper.

Primer paint should be used on bare wood, or any surface that has flaky, patchy paint or fresh filler. Priming ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface.

Tip: Zinsser Bullseye Primer Sealer is an excellent water based primer. I always paint a coat of primer on skirting boards, even if they are already primed.

Primer enhances the finish, stabilizes the surface below and blocks stains. Most common painting problems arise from poor preparation and inadequate adhesion to the surface below.

5) How To Paint Skirting Boards

Once the primer is dry, sand with a 120 Grade Sanding Block, then remove the dust with a damp cloth. Apply an undercoat to your skirting boards and leave to dry. Your now ready to apply the finishing coats of paint.

Tip: Johnstones Trade Aqua Undercoat is an excellent water based undercoat.

What type of paint should I use for skirting boards, the choice is yours, (gloss, satin, eggshell). With the advancements in paint technology, an eggshell finish is now as durable as gloss.

My personal choice is an eggshell finish, modern, hard wearing and stylish.

Before applying your final top coat of paint, sand the skirting boards lightly one last time and wipe clean. When painting any type of woodwork, it is extremely important to use a professional paint brush. A good quality brush will not only hold more paint, but greatly reduces brush marks.

Always paint in one direction, long strokes horizontally across the skirting boards. Finish laying off the paint with light brush strokes.

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Paint Skirting Boards Or Walls First

There are mixed opinions on whether to paint skirting boards or walls first. I’m going to form my answer based on a novice painter who is tasked with painting skirting boards.

One of the most difficult parts of painting is cutting in. Trying to create a straight line around the edge of skirting boards is challenging, especially for a novice. It is much easier to remove the constraints and paint without having to worry about getting paint onto the walls.

I follow this method, and here is why, I can apply more paint to the top edge of the skirting board. This seals, bridges the gap and primes the caulk between the skirting boards and wall.

How do I create a straight line when painting the walls? I wait until the skirting boards are dry, (24 hours), then tape the edge of the boards. I use Scotchblue Painters Masking Tape 36mm, this allows the masking tape to hang over the skirting boards creating a paint shield.

You can now roll the walls with having to worry about paint getting onto the skirting boards below. Once finished, remove the tape and you have beautiful straight lines around the room.

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