Considering giving your skirting boards a fresh lick of paint but unsure where to start? Choosing the right paint is crucial for both aesthetic appeal and durability. Skirting boards are often exposed to wear and tear from daily activities, so you must select a paint that can withstand this and maintain a pristine appearance.

There are various factors to consider when selecting the paint for your skirting boards, including whether to go for retail or trade paint, oil-based or water-based paint, and the finish you want to achieve.

Trade paint is generally preferred by professionals for its quality; however, retail paint can be more accessible and affordable for smaller projects. Oil-based paint is known for its durability and resistance to damage, which makes it a popular choice for skirting boards. However, water-based paint options, such as satinwood or eggshell, are noted for their ease of application and quicker drying times.

As our discussion unfolds, we will deliberate on various paint options and explore the ideal choices to help you achieve the perfect finish for your skirting boards.


So What’s the Best Paint for Skirting Boards?

While this may seem like a subjective answer, there are advantages to using certain paints on specific materials, or to create a certain type of aesthetic. Ultimately, it’s down to what look you are going for, so let’s explore what pain works best for which material.


Selecting the Right Type of Paint

A person is painting skirting boards with a small brush, carefully applying a smooth, even coat of paint along the edges of the floor

When painting your skirting boards, there are several factors to consider in order to achieve the best results. In this section, we’ll discuss the differences between water-based and oil-based paints, the various finishes available, and the specialist skirting board paints on the market.


Water-Based vs Oil-Based Paint

Water-Based Paint:

  • Quicker drying time, usually around 1-2 hours
  • Low odour with fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
  • Easier to clean up with soap and water
  • Retains colour longer and is less prone to yellowing
  • Less durable compared to oil-based paint

Oil-Based Paint:

  • More durable, stands up better to wear and tear
  • Longer drying time, typically 6-8 hours
  • Stronger odour and higher VOCs
  • Clean-up requires solvents such as white spirit or paint thinner
  • Prone to yellowing over time


For skirting boards, oil-based paint is generally recommended due to its durability and ability to withstand wear and tear. However, water-based paint can still be used if you prefer a more eco-friendly option with faster drying time and lower odour.


Satin, Gloss, and Matt Finishes

When choosing a paint for your skirting boards, consider the finish you’d like to achieve. There are three main options:

  1. Satin Finish: These paints provide a slight sheen and are in-between gloss and matt finishes. They are durable, easy to clean, and work well in most modern interiors.
  2. Gloss Finish: This option offers a high shine, which can add a polished look to your room. Gloss finishes are hard-wearing and easy to clean. However, they can accentuate imperfections on the surface.
  3. Matt Finish: Matt paints provide a flat, non-reflective surface that minimises the appearance of imperfections. Although typically less durable than satin or gloss paints, they can still adequately protect skirting boards.


Specialist Skirting Board Paints

Aside from the general paints, there are also specialist skirting board paints on the market. These are formulated specifically for this purpose, offering enhanced durability and adhesion properties. One example is Leyland Hardwearing Acrylic Eggshell, a high-quality paint designed to stand up to the demands of skirting boards.


Preparation Before Painting

A can of white paint sits open next to a neatly arranged set of skirting boards, ready for painting

Cleaning and Sanding

Before you start painting your skirting boards, you must thoroughly clean and sand them. First, use a sugar soap solution and a sponge to wipe down the skirting boards, removing any dust, dirt, or grime. Don’t forget to clean in the crevices and corners. Once the boards are clean and dry, you can move on to sanding.

For sanding, use a fine-grit sandpaper (around 120 grit) and lightly sand the surface of the skirting boards. This step helps to create a smooth, even surface for the paint to adhere to and improves the overall finish. If you’re working with bare wood, you may need to sand it more thoroughly to remove rough spots and uneven areas.


Applying Primer and Undercoat

After cleaning and sanding your skirting boards, it’s time to apply primer and undercoat. These layers are essential for ensuring proper paint adhesion and a professional-looking finish. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Mask off the area: Use masking tape to protect the walls and floors adjacent to the skirting boards. This step will help you achieve a clean, neat edge when painting.
  2. Apply primer: Choose a primer specifically designed for wood surfaces. Apply a thin, even coat using a paintbrush or small roller. Allow the primer to dry for the recommended time on the product label.
  3. Lightly sand the primer: Once the primer is dry, lightly sand the surface using a fine-grit sandpaper. This step helps to create a smooth finish for the undercoat.
  4. Apply undercoat: Choose an undercoat compatible with your chosen paint. Apply a thin, even layer using a paintbrush or small roller. Allow the undercoat to dry for the recommended time on the product label.


Painting Techniques and Tips

Using Brushes and Rollers

When painting skirting boards, make sure to use the proper tools, such as brushes and rollers. For an optimal result, choose a brush that is the appropriate size for your skirting boards, typically a 1-2 inch brush. This will allow for better control and precision. If you prefer rollers, a mini roller can provide an even application. However, it may be difficult to achieve sharp edges without masking tape.


Achieving a Smooth Finish

To achieve a smooth finish on your skirting boards, adhere to these steps:

  1. Preparation: Ensure the surface is clean, sanded, and free of dust. Applying primer can help create a solid foundation for the paint.
  2. Latex or oil-based paint: Choose a durable paint type, such as oil-based or satinwood paint, as it can withstand wear and tear.
  3. Masking tape: To create sharp lines and protect your walls, apply masking tape above and below the skirting board.
  4. Working in sections: Tackle small sections of approximately half a meter at a time, ensuring even coverage by painting along the length of the board.
  5. Feathering: Try to feather out your brush strokes to avoid visible lines on the skirting boards.


Applying Multiple Coats

When painting skirting boards, applying multiple coats is often necessary to achieve a professional finish.

  • First coat: Allow the first coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Sanding: Lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper to remove any imperfections and ensure better adhesion for the second coat.
  • Second coat: Apply the second coat, making sure to maintain even coverage and smooth brush strokes.


Maintaining Your Skirting Boards

A hand holding a paintbrush, applying a smooth coat of paint to a clean and well-maintained skirting board. The room is well-lit, with the paint can and other painting supplies nearby

Dealing with Wear and Tear

Skirting boards are prone to wear and tear due to their low position on walls, making them susceptible to scuffs, scratches, and scrapes from daily activities. To ensure your skirting boards remain in good condition, you must use a durable paint that can withstand this treatment. Oil-based paints are generally more hard-wearing than water-based options and can better handle the wear that skirting boards experience.

In case you notice any chipping or damage to the paint on your skirting boards, make sure to promptly address the issue by applying a fresh coat of suitable paint. This will not only enhance the appearance of your room but also protect the skirting boards from further damage.


Regular Skirting Board Cleaning Methods

To keep your skirting boards looking neat and clean, adopt a simple maintenance routine. Here are some steps you can take for an effective cleaning process:

  1. Dusting: Use a soft, dry cloth or a duster to gently remove any dust and dirt from the skirting boards. You should do this on a regular basis, ideally once a week.
  2. Vacuuming: Use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to get rid of any stubborn dirt or debris lodged in the crevices of the skirting boards.
  3. Wiping down: For a more thorough clean, consider wiping down the skirting boards using a damp cloth with a mild cleaning solution. Once you clean the boards, wipe them down with a dry cloth to remove any moisture.

A well-maintained skirting board with easy-to-wipe-clean paint will not only be aesthetically pleasing but will also extend its lifespan and reduce the frequency of repainting. Remember to address any scuffed or damaged areas as soon as possible to maintain the overall appearance and functionality of your skirting boards.

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