How to paint skirting board & trim

Although often overlooked when decorating, skirting boards add the perfect finishing touches to any room. While practical, these fixtures are subject to wear and tear and need regular maintenance. Besides cleaning, finding durable paint in the right shade and finish can make a massive difference to your space’s look and feel. Our guide explores how to transform your skirting boards with high-quality paint from Dulux Decorator Centre.

How to prepare skirting boards for painting

While it may be tempting to start painting over the existing shade, there are a few steps you should take to prepare skirting boards for painting to ensure a smooth, long-lasting finish.

1. Protect flooring and furniture

Before you begin, protect your flooring and furniture to prevent damage or paint spillages. Lay down some dust sheets or a carpet protector, securing them as close to the skirting boards as possible.

You could also use a piece of cardboard to protect the floor – tuck it underneath the skirting board and secure it with tape. If you have large pieces of furniture that will stay in the room while painting, cover them with dust sheets. In addition to covering the flooring and furniture, you can also protect your clothes with protective paint gear.

2. Clean the area

Skirting boards are a haven for dust and debris, so cleaning them thoroughly before painting is vital. Dirt can prevent paint from adhering to the surface, making chipping or peeling more likely.

Dilute some sugar soap liquid concentrate into a bucket of warm water and wipe the solution over the skirting boards with a sponge. Ensure the area is dry before applying primer, knotting solution or paint.

3. Prime unpainted skirting boards

If you’re working with unpainted skirting boards, apply a primer before the painting stage for a professional finish and long-lasting results. Browse our extensive range of wood primers to find the perfect product for the job.

4. Sand the skirting boards

Once the primer is dry, lightly sand the skirting boards with fine sandpaper. This will give your paintwork a smooth finish.

5. Apply knotting solution

To achieve an opaque finish on your skirting boards, apply a knotting solution to ensure dark spots and knots in the wood aren’t visible through the paint. Apply a thin coat and leave it to dry before you start painting. 

Do you paint skirting boards before walls?

If you’re painting the whole room, including walls and ceilings, always start with the skirting. Emulsion paint is used on walls, which is easy to wipe off if you splash some onto your woodwork. However, it’s tricky to get rid of unwanted gloss paint that’s sprayed onto emulsion.

Best paint for skirting boards

Discover the best paint for skirting boards at Dulux Decorator Centre to find the right shade and finish for any job.

Oil-based or gloss paint

Most skirting boards are painted with oil-based or gloss paints because of their hardwearing properties. While it may be tempting to use any old tin of emulsion you have lying around, doing so means your skirting boards can quickly become dirty. Discover the range of Dulux Trade High Gloss paints to find the perfect shade for your skirting boards.

Satin finish paints

If you prefer a matt finish to gloss, browse our satin paint in various shades. Dulux Quick Dry Satinwood paint is water-based and offers excellent protection against wear and tear on all interior wood, including skirting boards.

Dulux Trade Diamond paints

For a durable, washable, scuff-resistant and stain-repelling emulsion paint that can be applied straight to the surface, choose Dulux Trade Diamond Eggshell. We offer a range of shades and various finishes to suit your preference.

Alongside our paints, you’ll find premium interior woodcare products, including oils, stains and varnishes for a natural wood finish on your skirting boards.

What brush to use for painting skirting boards

Since skirting boards are relatively narrow and often have grooves, we recommend using a 2” paintbrush for a neat finish. A short-handled brush may be easier to manoeuvre at various angles. Browse Dulux professional paintbrushes to find the best tools for your project.

How to paint skirting boards

Once you’ve cleaned, primed and prepped your skirting boards for painting, follow these simple steps to get the best results.

1. Apply painter’s tape

Run a line of painter’s tape along the base of the floor, as close to the skirting board as you can. This will ensure a clean edge and protects the floor.

2. Cut in

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Using a 2” brush, apply your chosen paint to the top of the skirting board, where it meets the wall. Paint with long sweeping motions in the direction of the wood grain.

3. Fill in with your chosen colour

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Paint the rest of each skirting board to complete the first coat. We recommend painting from one side of the room to the other, allowing the paint to dry between coats.

4. Sand between coats

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Allow the first coat to dry, and then use fine-grade sandpaper to go over the skirting before you apply a second coat. This helps remove any drip marks or bumps from the first coat. For fast drying and a premium finish, use Dulux Trade Satinwood paint. Its hardwearing and dirt-resistant formula will help your skirting boards look fresh for longer.

5. Remove tape and tidy up

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Once you’ve finished the second coat, remove the painter’s tape at the base of your wall while the paint is still wet, but make sure all paint is dry before getting rid of your floor protection. Let the paint dry overnight before moving the furniture back into place.

How many coats of paint should you use on skirting boards?

Two coats should be sufficient on most skirting boards if you have used a knotting solution to cover any dark marks. This should provide an opaque, streak-free finish and even coverage. You can always apply a third coat or touch up any areas once the second coat is dry.

How to keep skirting boards clean

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Keeping your newly painted skirting boards clean will help them look great for longer. We recommend a combination of wet and dry techniques for the best results.

Use a dry paintbrush to remove dust

Use a small, dry paintbrush to remove dust from skirting boards. Try an extra thin paintbrush to access any grooves in the skirting boards.

Vacuum the skirting boards

Vacuum cleaners are quick and easy to use, removing dust build-up on skirting boards. Use the brush attachment to avoid scratching the paintwork and vacuum every few weeks to keep them looking spick and span.

Try a skirting board mop

Skirting board mops are designed for cleaning this tricky area. They have a long handle for manoeuvrability and a cleaning head that can get between the grooves of skirting boards. It’s best to use a damp skirting board mop after you’ve removed as much dust as possible with a dry paintbrush or vacuum.

Skirting board colour ideas

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White skirting boards

White skirting boards are popular in modern and traditional homes, adding a clean, timeless finish to any room. Browse our range of interior wood paint to find your perfect shade.

Black skirting boards

Black skirting boards can make a statement, especially in modern homes. They create contrast against lighter shades on the walls and will complement monochrome wallpapers or darker paint colours if white skirting is too stark. Choose Dulux Trade High Gloss in Black for skirting and other interior wood.

Natural wood skirting boards

If you love the look of natural wood skirting boards, browse our interior woodcare range. From varnishes to stains, oils and wood preservers, find products to enhance the natural shade and finish of your skirting.  

Bold skirting boards

Want your skirting boards to make a statement? Choose a bold shade that complements your wallpaper and furniture or match your skirting with the walls for fluidity. For example, jewel-toned colours like forest green, navy blue and deep purple make a great alternative to black skirting boards, especially when paired with printed wallpaper.

Ready to start redecorating? Explore the rest of our blog for more colour inspiration and helpful painting guides.

Related articles:

How to paint floors for the perfect finish

Painting over wallpaper for pros

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Dulux Decorator Centre
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