How to paint skirting boards

Preparation is important. use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean the room. Do this before you start so there is less dust around. Now sand the previous paint on the boards down to a smooth matt surface. Now vacuum again. Wipe the boards with a gentle sugar soap solution to remove last bits of dust. Finally lay newspaper, card, plastic or even tin foil to catch drips and you are now ready to paint.

A word about brushes for painting skirting boards.

You don’t need a new brush to paint a skirting board, but it must be a soft clean brush. 2 inches wide seems about the perfect choice for me, but whatever you like or have available in terms of width is fine.

How to apply paint to skirting boards

First, working right to left (or left to right if you are left handed) cut in the top of the board. Apply gloss paint thinly and evenly in long slow strokes. Enjoy the sensation. Drips should be caught with a damp cloth now, rather than later.

Next, paint the bottom edge of the board. If you are using plastic carpet protectors (sold in DIY shops) make sure to clean thouroughly before moving them along. Gloss paint does seem to have a mind of its own and a deep and abiding love of shag-pile. In short, be careful and take your time.

The middle of the skirting is the easy bit, but again beware of drips.

For a really first class finish, once dry, sand with a fine grade paper to remove any lumps and bumps before applying a second coat. Use 160 grit or higher grade to smooth the surface. a hand sander is fine but if you are happy with an electric one, go ahead and try that. Always wipe down the surface with a damp cloth (or a tack cloth) before applying the next coat.

The sanding between coats is the bit most people miss out, but it is the most important step toward getting a smooth surface. The reason for this is that paint tries to dry flat. If the surface is bumpy you are effectively creating little ledges and so new layers of paint sit on these ledges. Effectively adding more paint makes it even bumpier. The problem is compounded by each successive coat of paint you apply.

Paint on a skirting board

paint lumps

In the magnified illustration above left, three layers of green paint have been applied to a brown skirting board without sanding between coats (A). Each successive coat compounds the mistake of the earlier coat leaving a very uneven surface. Compare this with one on the right where there has been sanding between each coat (B) and you can see how much smoother the finish can be.

So, once a layer is dry, it is essential to smooth it down flat before adding the next layer.

If you have used emulsion or satin finish paint you should consider adding a further coat or two of polyurethane varnish to ensure your handiwork is protected for years to come. If you have kids in the house, consider 3 layers of varnish. Again, sand the varnish between coats. Although it is see through, the varnish has a different refractive index to the air, so bumps will in fact be highly visible, even though the varnish itself cannot be seen.

We hope you found this information about how to paint a skirting board useful.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Loves to learn new things and make stuff...properly. Born and living in the Thames Valley west of London, England. I have an office job during the day, but evenings and weekends are all about making.